It has taken me six months, but with the help of the Lose It app I have lost fifteen pounds. I’ve changed the way I eat, certainly the amount I eat, because apparently my daily calorie limit is about 1,200 a day. I did not know this. I thought if I just didn’t eat a lot of junk food, I was doing fine. I thought if I exercised more, I would lose weight. I was wrong.

Here are some of the other things I have learned.

First and foremost, pooping is a privilege, not a right. Who knew? Apparently, you have to have a certain amount of daily fiber, which I was getting back in the blissful days when I just ate whatever I wanted, didn’t think about it, and just lived my life. But then I got the Lose It app, and its slogan should be: “You now have to count your calories every day for the rest of your life, and you have to make every single dang stupid calorie count.” So until I figured out how to live within my caloric means, I had to make either-or choices, and I erred on the side of protein.

Protein doesn’t make you poop.  This I also did not know, so yeah, that was a cranky couple of days.  Another thing I learned: Protein also doesn’t feed your brain.

You have to have some carbs. Carbs are good for the brain. I thought I was being so virtuous and Paleo, just eating lean meats, and some fruits and vegetables, but clearly not enough (see above). Then I started having problems remembering words. I am a writer, and I could not think of words! I don’t know how to convey the horror of this, except maybe the gaping maw of the Sarlacc – the sand monster in the pit near Jabba the Hut’s place, in whose belly, as C-3PO explains, “you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a thousand years.” That’s how scary it is for me not to be able to think right.

I told my husband, Mark, this. Mark is a doctor. He said, “It’s the diet. You need carbs. Eat a cracker. Drink a Coke.”

Mark, a very wise husband in addition to being an excellent physician, knows my love of the Mexican Coke, which is made with cane sugar the way Coke used to be – not “Original” Coke (original, my butt!), which has high-fructose corn syrup, and not that crap with the green label and stevia. Mexican Coke is God’s Coke! I usually drink one bottle over the course of a day, a little shot at a time. But I digress. Mark was right. I was convinced I was doing the right thing, just eating protein and some vegetables and fruit (again, clearly not enough). And yet – in my job as a medical writer, I cover a lot of research on dementia, and I had myself all worked up, thinking: “Oh, God, it’s starting!” So I Googled “on a diet can’t think” and found all kinds of articles talking about how your brain needs carbs, and how the lack of carbs actually hurts your brain.  My daughter, Blair, has been telling me that I need to worry more about eating a balanced diet than counting calories.  I didn’t listen to her, either.  I now publicly acknowledge that she was right, too.

I started eating more carbs, and I immediately felt better and could think again.  I am considering stockpiling Tater Tots.

Carbs are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Actually, the greatest thing since sliced bread is unsliced bread. A nice ciabatta, or rustic Tuscan loaf with olives, or some sourdough, or my new favorite, jalapeño cheddar. With a little dish of olive oil, some salt sprinkled in there, and some herbs. Oh, sweet Lord, I’m salivating just thinking about it.

When I lost 10 pounds, the Lose It app sent me a congratulatory message, saying that 10 pounds is what an average watermelon weighs, and I had lost the equivalent of that. That made me feel really good. I imagined carrying a watermelon around, and how heavy that was. The weight loss has been so gradual, I haven’t really noticed that I am no longer carrying around a watermelon. I just feel better. I want to lose about three more pounds.

The thing is, the more weight I have lost, the more I realize, food is good. Food is really good. Out here in the mountains of Arizona, I think about water a lot, and at least once a day, as I’m watering my plants, the words “water is life” pop into my head. I put water in my piano, to keep the humidity up. I water my indoor plants. I water my outdoor plants. We even installed a mist system to cool down the back deck and help our plants with very tiny amounts of water. I had never seen such a thing until we moved here and went down to Phoenix, where they have them outside just about every store and restaurant. So, definitely, water is life. Go, water! But food is life, too, and when you don’t eat enough, you feel like crap. If you don’t eat the right kinds of food – just Cheetos, for instance, or just junk food, or not enough salt, not enough carbs or protein – you feel like crap. And take it from me: not enough fiber, you feel like crap. Oh, the irony.


© Janet Farrar Worthington

Okay, so I’m trying to lose some weight. It’s just a few pounds, but even though I have been exercising regularly for years, for sinister and mysterious reasons those extra pounds have not come off.

It’s my dang tummy. I’m the Pop’n’Fresh Dough Girl. My youngest kid, Josh, says it’s “extra muscle,” and I always blame it on having borne three children –at least, I tell my kids it’s their fault – but Josh is 14, so I’m pretty sure the old statute of limitations clock is counting down on that excuse. Deep down I know, as Jimmy Buffet says, it’s my own damn fault.

Having said that, I hasten to add that belly fat is notoriously evil. It’s the “heart attack” fat, and it does not give up its hold without a fight. Because it’s winter, and this is when the kids and I always rewatch the entire “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy, I am also thinking, “Friendship with Saruman is not lightly turned aside.”

Like Tolkein’s nasty wizard, Saruman, belly fat is creepy. And, like a barnacle on a whale – oh no, I guess that makes me the whale – it’s tenacious.

News flash: I finally know why. It’s CALORIES!

Now, you may be thinking, “Duh, Sherlock,” and you’re absolutely right. Of course it’s calories. But in my defense, I really thought I was eating a pretty healthy diet. I don’t drink soda, I don’t eat a lot of fried foods, I eat lots of veggies and lean meats. I exercise.

IT DOESN’T MATTER. I now understand this with bleak certainty.

I can’t eat the way my kids eat. I can’t eat the way I used to eat, and exercise alone is not going to do it.

If you were around in the ‘80s, maybe you remember a Joe Jackson song with these lyrics: “Everything gives you cancer, there’s no cure, there’s no answer.” Well, as I finally understand that, at least in our society, everything has more calories than you think.

What caused this blinding flash of insight?

I got an app.

It’s called Lose It. The app makes it very easy to log in every single thing you eat or drink. I have mixed feelings about it.

Just as Gollum loves and hates the One Ring to Rule Them All, as he loves and hates himself, I love and hate this app.

Well, mostly I hate it, but I’m going to keep using it, because it’s working.

No sugar-coating this, although I would love to have anything sugar-coated at this point in the diet: The app is a giant fun-sucker. I now have to think about every single thing I put in my body. I thought I was doing that before, by making healthy food choices, but that’s not enough.

Because I am a fairly small in stature person, and because I’m of a certain age, my daily caloric intake is … not a lot. It was 1,333 calories. Then I lost a couple pounds and as a reward – that bastard app lowered my daily caloric intake! Now I am allowed a miserable aliquot of 1,313 calories. It’s not losing the 20 calories that bugs me so much; it’s the principle of the thing. Here I am, painstakingly recording every single mouthful of food and sip of beverage, and I get punished for success.

I have lost three and a half pounds. If you were to check the app, you would only see that I have lost two and a half pounds, because I lied about my starting weight. I didn’t want anyone to know. I lied about my weight on my driver’s license, too. I regret nothing.

So, breakfast. A two-pack of Nature Valley Granola Bars, peanut butter flavor, is 190 calories. I don’t drink coffee, but I drink a lot of unsweet tea, which is good – no calories there. But I really need my daily one or two Starbucks Very Berry Hibiscus packs, which I buy in bulk on Amazon and mix into cold water. They have caffeine. They also have 70 calories each. How about a yogurt? Well, the ones I like range from 140 to 170 calories.  I can have either the granola bars or a yogurt, then have the other as a snack later in the day.

Lunch: Stripping my life down to basics, a lone can of Starkist Solid Light Yellowfin Tuna packed in extra virgin olive oil is 230 calories. It’s less if you get it packed in water, but geez, I need the oil. It tastes better.  I add lemon juice, just a squirt – I don’t count it, sue me – and some spices, and it’s pretty good.

Dinner is tough. A relaxing glass of wine is 125 calories for 5 ounces. An even more relaxing 8-ounce glass of wine is 200 calories. God help you if you want cheese, which I love. Or a carb. I love carbs.

Last night, we got takeout from Chipotle. I had 650 calories left from my calorie-pinching breakfast and lunch, but it was still tough not to go over that limit. Fortunately Chipotle puts calorie counts on the interwebs, so I was able to figure out what I was allowed to eat by this app that I hate and to which I have voluntarily ceded control of my life.

I got a bowl – just having a burrito adds 300 calories, right off the bat. White rice or brown rice? I always get brown rice. Besides being able to virtue-signal about having brown rice, it’s supposed to be healthier – or so I’ve always read. But brown rice has 200 calories, and white rice has 185 calories. In the end, it didn’t even matter. I got NO RICE, because I wanted guacamole, and that was 200 calories. I got NO CHEESE, because that would have been an extra 100 calories, and I wanted to have my 5-ounce glass of wine. It goes without saying that I got NO SOUR CREAM. I did get the fajita vegetables – just 20 calories – and lettuce – a whopping 5 calories. I got tomato salsa, just 20 calories. I got NO CHIPS, which I really wanted. You know why? Because they are a stinking 570 calories. Well, that explains a lot!  Nor did I get the queso dip. I don’t even know how many calories there are in that, because I couldn’t get the chips, so at this point I was losing my will to go on.

Tonight, I made turkey chili, 230 calories for a cup. I added black olives, 5 calories a pop, and one ounce of grated cheese, 100 calories. I had an Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Hard Cider, 190 calories. I spiced up the chili, with Josh’s help.

Josh is reading George Orwell’s 1984 now, and just as Winston said, “If there is hope, it lies in the proles,” I was thinking, “If there’s hope, it lies in the spices.” Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman will always have Paris, and by golly, I will always have my spices.

Because I was hungry and no longer thinking clearly, my brain just kind of took it from there.

“Well, Lose It app, you’ll never get my spices! Because I’ll never report or count them! Ha!” And believe me, that “Ha!” was every bit as dashing and bold as anything Errol Flynn ever uttered as Robin Hood in the best movie version of that story.

Then I flashed to Jimmy Cagney as the “come get me, copper – you’ll never take me alive” wacko gangster Cody Jarrett in “White Heat,” as he goes out in a literal blaze of glory: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”

Then, I don’t know what happened, but I went leprechaun. “They can take my carbs, but they’ll never get me spices! They’re after me Lucky Charms! They’re magically delicious!”

What I wouldn’t give for those marshmallow hearts, moons, stars, and clovers – that frosted oat cereal with the sweet surprises.   I normally don’t even like that cereal, but now I want it.  I want it bad.  Just add it to the list of things I won’t be having until I reach my weight loss goal – and even then, I’ll just have a very small portion.

Now I understand how this app got its name. Because I’m losing it. I’m really losing it.

© Janet Farrar Worthington

I look like I’ve been in a bar fight.

My face is all swollen up: imagine a Cabbage Patch doll, but with bruising.

I have no energy and I feel like crap.   I joke, “You should see the other guy,” but really, he looks perfectly fine. He’s a dentist. Read more

I have come to realize that something remarkable happens when we hit a certain age:  Apparently, we can get all the calories we need from air.

Everything else makes us gain weight.

No kidding, I used to be able to scarf down a big old piece of cake, go for a run, and it was as if the cake had never happened.  I got spoiled.

Now, as my daughter’s wedding approaches and I face the thought of being immortalized in numerous photographs that will forever be on display, I am shaping up.  It’s not easy, but it’s happening.

You may not know that I have two blogs, reflecting my two different lives; this is one, and the other, because I am a health and science writer by trade, is a men’s health blog called  Recently, I wrote in that blog about my battle to be Fit and Trim, which is also the name of a dog food.  These blogs don’t usually cross over, but this is consuming my life, so it’s spilled over here because I want to share it with you, in case you’re in the same boat.

There was a Woody Allen movie a long time ago, I forget which one, and this man is cradling a large chunk of earth in both arms like a baby.  “I have a little plot of land,” he says.  “One day I hope to build on it.”  Well, I don’t have a little plot, but I have a little pot.  This is where my body likes to store fat.  I don’t have “junk in the trunk,” or thunder thighs or back fat.  No, instead, my body wants to put on fat right in the tummy, where it causes the heart to work hardest.  So yeah, I’ve got heart attack fat.  It’s not much, but it’s more than I want.

You know how they say the only things left after the apocalypse will be cockroaches and Twinkies?  Well, I can add one item to this list:  belly fat.  It’s the guest who came to dinner and decided never to leave.  It’s ring around the collar:  you’ve tried soaking – you get the idea.

So that’s what I’ve been working on, and I have to say, I am seeing results.  The tummy is getting smaller.  If you think about the belly button as the equator, the tummy is going down from the North Pole and moving up from the South Pole.  It’s shrinking.  Today, I was really excited about how far it had come, and I showed my husband, who happens to be a gastroenterologist.

“Look at this!”  I crowed.  Then I added, “Although I still have heartburn. I had hoped that would get better.”

He cast a professional eye, and said, “There’s still a good bit left, and because it presses right on the stomach, you need to lose more of that before the reflux will go away.”

Thanks, Hon! That was a good talk.  Very inspirational.

Still, it’s happening.

The Struggle is Real, but Not Real Hard

My kids got me to start going to the gym a few years ago.  Then I stopped doing weights and started running, but although I enjoyed it, I got plantar fasciitis and was hobbling around every morning when I got out of bed.

Then my daughter sent me a link to this great website called  After doing just weights, and then switching to just cardio, I have finally figured out that it’s better to do both.  (I also want to state publicly that my daughter tried to tell me this, years ago, but I didn’t get it.  I do now.)

None of this is as hard as you might think.  Here’s the routine I have been doing:

I don’t even do all of it!  It starts with crunches.  I don’t do them!  I go to my local YMCA, and frankly, the floor is gross.  They have mats you can use, but they’re gross, too.  I don’t want to be on them.  This is not your fancy clientele, as evidenced by the sign over the water fountain telling people not to spit in it.  Sometimes people don’t read the sign, that’s all I’m going to say.  (There are also a lot of guys who are heavy groaners; they do their exercises and grunt so much with each one, it sounds like they’re dying.  I struggle not to have inappropriate laughter, which would not go over well, I’m sure.)

There are 12 exercises, and before you think, “oh, Lord, how long will that take,” let me reassure you that each one just takes a few minutes.  And again – I don’t do them all!  It’s not that bad.

barbellI start with the “barbell bench press.”  I do 40 pounds.  Don’t laugh; it used to be 30.  That’s okay.  If 40 gets easy, I will move up to 50.  Baby steps, people.  Then I do the dumbbell shoulder press.  I do 12 pounds each; again, you could laugh at the girly lack of weight, but it used to be 10 pounds.  One-arm dumbbell row, 25 pounds; it used to be 15.  Wide-grip lat pulldown:  I do 55 pounds.  It used to be 40.  Seated cable rows: I do 40 pounds.  That hasn’t changed, but I was doing it wrong at first, and now that I’m doing it right, that’s a good weight for me.  Barbell curl:  I don’t do it, but I do the dumbbell curls instead; 15 pounds, used to be 10.  Triceps pushdown:  I do 45 pounds.  I used to do 40.  Barbell full squat:  The pole that holds the barbells weighs 45 pounds; I add 50 to that.  Leg extensions: I do 50 pounds; used to do 30 when I started.  Lying leg curls: I do 50 pounds.  I don’t like them, so I often don’t do them.  And that’s okay, because I’m doing the other stuff.

Then I do 20 minutes on the treadmill; I used to run, now I walk briskly.  I also have Molly, my Chocolate Lab who is insane, and I take her for long walks, too.  Combining both the weights and the walking really has made a huge difference for me.

Molly the dogAnother thing: I have changed what I eat.  This has been difficult, because God help me, I love comfort food.  I love macaroni and cheese, the kind you bake in the oven that gets the crust on it.  I love meatloaf.  I love mashed potatoes, and then I like to take green peas on my plate and bury them in there – a surprise in every bite!  I love bread.  I love cookies and cakes and pie and custard.

I grew up in the South, and when I go to South Carolina to visit my family, I gravitate to fried chicken, fried okra, fried catfish… notice a theme here?  Fried foods – well, it’s not what they serve in the health spas, okay?  It’s not very good for you.

Also, sweet tea is the house wine in the South.  I am now drinking my tea straight, without the cup of sugar in each gallon.  My relatives are still speaking to me.

My point here is that I’m eating food that is better for me, and in return, I actually feel better for it.

You may find a diet that is perfect for you, and if that’s the case, more power to you.  I have found that slow and steady wins the race.

Every Little Thing Makes a Difference

Here’s my best tip: Every single little thing you do makes a tiny difference.  Have mustard instead of mayo.  If you get a sandwich, skip the cheese.  Get it on whole-grain bread.

Don’t get chips with it.  If you say, “No way, I’m getting chips,” of course that is your right, and it’s your life.  How about maybe you get the small size instead of the “sharing size?”  At least there are fewer chips in there.  You’ve got to start somewhere.

Chicken has fewer calories than beef.

healthy foodDrink only water or something with no calories, like unsweetened tea.  Avoid soda like the plague.  Alcohol has a lot of calories.  You could start to lose weight right away if you just cut back on that.  Watch out for juice; it has a lot more calories than you think.  Eat a piece of fruit instead.  If you go to Starbucks, get a Refresher, which only has about 35 calories, instead of a Frappucino.  Don’t rely on diet drinks; that’s a whole ‘nother blog post, but they still make your body crave sweet things, and this does bad things to your insulin receptors.

Make the effort to limit processed food.  Yes, when you’re tired and you just want to eat something fast, it’s a pain to cook from scratch.  I know this.  I have never been one to make a bunch of meals ahead of time, so I can’t recommend that approach, although a lot of people do it.  But it’s not that hard to get a piece of chicken and cook it.  You can buy frozen brown rice and microwave it; it takes three minutes.  Or cut up that chicken and stick it on top of a storebought salad mix, then add a simple vinaigrette dressing.

Fast food is bad.  Now, you may say, “But I have no choice, I’m on the road, I can’t carry food all the time.”  Keeping in mind that you actually could carry granola bars and fruit, I’ll say, “Okay, then watch your calories.”  McDonald’s posts the calories right on the sign.  If you just have to have a burger, limit your portion size, as the doctors say.  Get one of their original small hamburgers, not a cheeseburger.  Get a small fry instead of a large.  For God’s sake, don’t get a soda.  Your insulin receptors will thank you. It’s not great, and I wish you would do something else, but at least you will save hundreds of calories right there.  (I will note here that some nutritionists would say I’m being a traitor to the cause:  “Eek! Fast food burgers and fries are evil!  Shun them!  Get a salad instead.”  But a lot of people feel that when their doctor gives them a diet, it’s “my way or the highway,” and if they leave the highway once, they might as well just stay off-road.  I am hoping you will stay on the road for the long haul.)

Speaking of salads: Salads are good, but if you load them up with a creamy ranch dressing, lots of cheese and croutons, maybe some ham or bacon for good measure, with a big side of bread and butter, you are defeating your purpose.

Take the stairs.

Don’t drive circles around the parking lot looking for that lazy spot right in front of the store.  Park farther away from the store and walk.

walkingWhen you start to exercise, don’t start with heavy weights.  Work up to it.  Don’t get on the treadmill, run fast and then poop out after two minutes.  Start by walking slowly.  In my opinion, it’s better to walk slowly for 20 minutes than speed-walk for five.  If you don’t have access to a treadmill, set a timer and walk for 20 minutes, at any speed you choose.  Anything you do is more than you would accomplish by just sitting still.  Trying means a lot.

Don’t get discouraged.  The worst thing you can do is try something, decide it’s too hard, then quit because you just know it’s never going to happen, and that you’re a loser, or whatever you might say to yourself.  You’re not a loser, because you’re trying.  No judgment, only encouragement.  You are making the effort.

Baby steps.

If I can do this, I know you can, too.

© Janet Farrar Worthington

“The man who is well wears a crown that only the sick can see.” — Sir William Osler.

“Today is a good day to have a good day.” — Joanna Gaines.

Two of my favorite sayings just came true for me, when I had to stay overnight in the hospital after what I had hoped would be an outpatient surgical procedure.  The first was said by Osler, a legendary physician from more than a century ago, widely considered to be the Father of Internal Medicine.  Actually, I don’t know who coined the second phrase, but I heard it from Joanna Gaines on the HGTV show, “Fixer Upper.”

What Osler meant was that, you don’t know how good you have it until you don’t feel well.  The most basic things that you took for granted even a few hours earlier seem like privileges, and you think, “Oh, man, I was so fortunate, and I didn’t even know it.”  Then, if some or all of those essential things are restored to you, you realize that you have the makings of a good day.  A great day, even.

For example:  If you are lying in a bed and you don’t have these gripper things Velcro’d to your legs from ankle to knee, rhythmically squeezing first the left leg and then the right so you don’t get a blood clot, that’s a pretty good day right there.  If you want to get up from bed, or even turn over, and you can move your legs and your abdominal muscles are working even though you just had surgery, way to go!  If you want to get up, and you don’t have an IV connected to your left arm and a blood pressure thing connected to your right arm, along with the Velcro leg things mentioned above, congrats!  You’re free!  You are untethered, friend!

If you get up, despite having the IV pole, and manage to walk a lap or two around the nurses’ station on your hospital floor, fist bump!  If you manage to make it to the room toilet and something — even a few drops — comes out, you are on your way to having a good day.  In my case, the anesthesiologist told my husband I was “a lightweight” — meaning, the least bit of anesthesia just knocks me out, makes itself comfortable in my body, and doesn’t want to leave.  So when I managed to eat a Popsicle and drink a styrofoam cup of iced Shasta ginger ale — and thought those were the best things I had ever had in my life — they just sat there in my stomach, not getting absorbed.  Then they came back up.  Several times.  At last, when I finally achieved urine, it was a victory.  Things were moving along!  And then, my friends, if you have not had any food for 24 hours and you have had abdominal surgery and, when you go to the bathroom, you manage to achieve a small toot, let me tell you:  Tchaikovsky himself could not have written the cannon fire in the 1812 Overture to be any more triumphant.  The system is working!  Doctors and nurses really get excited when the old digestive tract fires back up.

But this is not about what happened to me so much as what it made me realize.  Just about everything is a gift of some kind.  We don’t always see it, but it is.  Tired at work?  Hey, at least (I hope) you got to get up, dress yourself,  eat whatever you wanted to, have a big cup of something with caffeine (which also means you don’t now have a righteous caffeine-withdrawal headache), and you either drove or walked or rode a bike or some form of public transportation to get there.   If you also had to get your kids and/or spouse up, maybe chuck some laundry in the washer, maybe put something in the Crock Pot for supper, you could look at it as a burden.  But I hope you will look at it as a privilege, because nobody had to do those things for you because you weren’t able to do it yourself.

The very best part about all this, and my recovery, is, as always, my family and friends.  My kids — Blair, Andy, and Josh, plus Kevin, Andy’s best friend, who’s visiting us this summer — have been wonderful, doing anything I needed them to do, and not letting me do much at all.  I am not good at not pushing myself, but they have done (literally) the heavy lifting when I really needed it.  Blair, my daughter, has been especially incredible, driving Josh to school, cooking meals, going to the grocery store, etc.  My friend, Marion, sent me a card that said she was wearing pajamas in solidarity with me (I love that!).   Cassie, Gena, and Leigh listened to me worrying about everything that could go wrong (and nothing did, as far as I can tell!).  I didn’t really announce it at church or among my friends, but the people who knew, like Bev, sent cards and called and checked in, and I was in their prayers.  My buddies in the praise band and choir were there for me.  Catherine fixed us meals that were feasts — twice.  My dad, my brother, Bradley, and sister-in-law, Carole, and mother-in-law, Sally, keep checking in.

And, as always, Mark was there, holding my hand before surgery, just sitting by the gurney in pre-op and being with me when the case before mine was delayed and I started to fidget.  When I didn’t bounce back right away, he was with me in the hospital room, and when it became clear that I wasn’t going to get to go home, he just slept there, wearing his same clothes, with no toothbrush or pillow.  He slept on a pullout sofa in the room, helped me get up to go to the bathroom in the night, cheered with me when I managed to achieve urine, then got up at 6 a.m., went home, took a shower, and went to work, where he spent the next nine hours taking care of his own patients.

If you have people in your life who give a crap about you, who love you, who take care of you when you’re sick, who do stuff for you when you need it, then be happy.  You have won the game, buddy.  If you’re fairly healthy on top of that, then you’ve got a lot of reasons to celebrate.  You’re wearing a crown that only someone who isn’t feeling as well as you can see.  You’ve also, I hope, got a lot more to be thankful for than you know.  Many reasons why today is a good day to have a good day.

P.S.  If I ever complain or feel sorry for myself, you have my permission to give me a swift kick — but gently, please — I’ve still got stitches.

It’s spring here in the mountains of Arizona, and everything is blooming. Big clouds of pollen are blowing off the trees, and apparently all that stuff is just going right up my nose. I’ve had a stuffy nose for days, and then a headache from the stuffiness. So today, in desperation, I rooted around my old purses and suitcases, looking for Sudafed — not unlike a bum searching for cigarette butts with a little bit of good left in them. It was sad. I found a lone, little red pill, and took it. (Fun fact: I also found that I have tucked away a lot of extra feminine hygiene products over the years, so if there’s ever an apocalypse, I can do a bustling business on the black market. I can barter!) As always, once I took that little red pill, my head started to open up and I feel so much better now. I don’t always need Sudafed, but nothing else works as well as it does. I don’t even take the whole dose — two pills. I just take one! I am so not a danger on any of the government lists I’m probably on for buying this semi-controlled substance.

I hate to buy it. I feel like a criminal, giving my ID and signing a little book. Stupid government. Stupid meth heads. I’m not going to make meth with it! I just want to achieve breathing in both nostrils! The lame Sudafed substitute — PE — doesn’t work nearly as well.  I tried to buy a 48-pack at Safeway, and the young pharmacy clerk looked at me like I was ready to dance with Satan.  “A 24-pack is the most you can buy,” he said reproachfully.  You moron.  I’ve bought the 48-pack at Wal-Mart before.  I know it exists.  This poor dude probably has not known a life where Sudafed could just be bought, like the beautiful nose-opener it is.  And yet, people can buy Benadryl, which makes you sleepy and you probably shouldn’t drive on it, by the truckload.  Buy it until the cows come home!  But Sudafed?  God forbid!

In tribute to Sudafed, I have written these haikus:

Precious Sudafed
You always open my head
So that I can breathe

Gift to nasal passages
Red pills, and red tape

I will not make meth
Can’t even do chemistry
Not that good at math

I just want to breathe
No longer to be stuffy
So here’s my I.D.

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.

Captain Crunch’s Peanut Butter CRACK.  That’s what it should be called.  I have a problem.  I love this cereal.  I’m Sherlock Holmes, it’s cocaine.  I’m our dog, Roxy, and the Captain is rawhide.  I’m not going to lie; the Captain and I have a history.  I thought it was over long ago.  Then, my son, Andy, bought some, I had a couple pieces and all bets were off.  We reconnected.  That box is gone and I just went and bought another box.   I don’t even put it in milk, I just eat it right out of the box.

Don’t  judge me.  Carl Jung would judge me.  He said:  “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine, or idealism.”  Way to bring down the room, Carl.  Go sit on the downer couch with Edgar Allan Poe, who said, “I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge.  It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.”  Edgar — or do you prefer Edgar Allan, or simply Mr. Creepy — you missed out, buddy.  If you had self-medicated with the Captain, maybe you would have cheered up a little and not written about tell-tale hearts, brick wall tombs, and ravens.  Also, you could have worked a fun maze on the back of the box.

Remember the loser couch in the snobby Omega fraternity in “Animal House,” where Larry Kroger and Kent Dorfman are taken to sit with Jugdish, Mohammat, Sidney and Clayton?  “Don’t be shy about helping yourselves to punch and cookies.”  Maybe Edgar and Carl could sit there for fun party smalltalk.

My diet is not without balance.  Because I also have Whipstone Farm.  Here in Prescott, Arizona, we have great local farms, and we bought a farm share with Whipstone.  Every Tuesday we pick up a huge bag of fresh vegetables.  We got the flower share, too, so in addition to eating greens, carrots, turnips, tomatoes, and broccoli just about every day, we will have fresh-cut flowers in the house until October.  Pretty nice!  My younger son, Josh, is my farm buddy.  He goes with me to pick up the veggies, and then he helps me find recipes.  His favorite vegetable is kohlrabi.  We never had it before we started the farm share last year.  It’s in the cabbage family, a funky-looking bulb with long stalks sticking up like antennae and leaves at the top.  We blanch the greens and then toss them in sesame oil and soy sauce, and we cut up the bulb and make a quick pickle, with rice vinegar, a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

In the movie, “The Natural,” Robert Redford plays this kind of mythic baseball player, Kim Basinger is a temptress out to ruin his game, and Glenn Close is his childhood sweetheart, who stands for all that is right and good.  She stands up as he is batting, and when he sees her in the crowd, he hits one out of the park.  I’m not saying the Captain is all bad, or that kohlrabi is Glenn Close, which would be weird.  I’m hoping for moderation in all things.

And maybe another handful of Peanut Butter Crunch.


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.