November 30, 2011

How I Lost 7 Pounds On Thanksgiving Day

When I left off with my travel tale, things were wonderful. However, on Tuesday, I started having some GI problems during the day. I didn’t think much about it while I was lying by the pool, but when I went to dinner that night, I started having some major stomachaches. I had planned for my last night to be a special dinner at the upscale Italian restaurant at the hotel – and it turned out to be a good thing that I wasn’t going far from home. By the end of the meal, my stomach was killing me, so I was glad I didn’t have far to walk to get back to my room and be able to lie in bed. Unfortunately, I did not sleep well at all that night – having to get up multiple times to hit the bathroom. Despite basically having nothing left in me, by morning, I felt awful.

Since it didn’t really matter whether I laid in bed or laid by the pool, I chose the pool to take advantage of my last day in the Peruvian sun. Despite trying to settle my stomach with a ginger ale, by 11am, I decided I really needed to be closer to a bathroom, and headed back to my room. Amidst the stomachaches and bathroom runs, I managed to pack up my stuff and get prepped for the long journey that lay ahead. I figured the best thing for me was just to get home – no matter how difficult the trip might be.

While the bus I took was incredibly luxurious (plush leather seats that reclined almost to lie-flats? Yes, please!), I couldn’t really enjoy it because of the sickness that had set in. Not only was I shivering with chills and just trying to sleep it off when I was in my seat, but I also spent about half of the 5 hour bus ride in the not-so-comfy bus bathroom, praying for my stomach to settle down. My absence and awful appearance did not go unnoticed – half the bus asked me if I was okay or needed anything, but all I could do was shake my head miserably and try to sleep if I could.

From the bus station, I took a cab to the airport, and once through security, promptly headed to the lounge so I could get online and update my mom on my progress home. The nice thing about flying home to arrive on Thanksgiving Day was that my mom would be coming for the holiday and could pick me up at the airport. I wanted nothing more than for her to be there to make me feel better and not alone! Alas, the wifi in the lounge was pretty weak, and while I was able to get her a message that I had made it as far as Lima Airport, I kept getting cut off when I tried to chat with her. Knowing that I would see her in just a few hours, though, I didn’t worry too much, and just dozed as I waited for my flight.

The flight itself was the worst I had ever taken – not because of any discomfort of the seats or poor service, but because I was so deathly ill. I didn’t know if you were allowed to reenter the US as sick as I was, so I tried not to make a big deal about how sick I was in front of the flight attendants, but it was hard to hide the fact that a seatbelt would have been of more use to me in the bathroom than it was in my own seat!

Finally, I arrived back in New York, and I was never happier to see my mom than after making it through customs and heading out into the arrivals hall. My mom had brought me some Zico coconut water that I fortunately had in my fridge, and I sipped it gratefully. I was so happy to be back in the US, where I didn’t have to be as careful about what I ate or drank – I figured a day or two of rest and safe food/drink would probably clear it up.

While I was thankful for American food and water, I was not thankful for how my Thanksgiving got ruined. Recognizing that I was in no shape to cook, I called off my plans for the traditional feast (feeling horribly guilty in leaving a friend with no Thanksgiving plans, though I later learned he was able to find a cheap last minute plane ticket and surprise his family!). Meanwhile, my mom stocked me up on Pepto Bismol, coconut water, Gatorade, and crackers – you know, all the classic comestibles of a Thanksgiving feast. We spent the day lying in bed watching TV (though I refused to watch my DVR copy of the parade) until I dozed off around 6pm – the last part probably not being too different than what many tryptophan-drugged Americans were doing.

I woke up on Black Friday feeling just like the rest of the country – with a stomachache. But while most people get that from eating too much turkey/stuffing/pie and also tend to feel heavy and bloated, I woke up feeling light and float-y. Stepping on the scale, I soon learned the reason why – I had lost 7 pounds in the last day, and my face looked sunken and gaunt. Looking in the mirror, I couldn’t even see the tan I had gotten in Peru – I just looked white as a sheet! This was not the kind of weight loss you want, despite the fact that I was now at the weight I’ve been striving to achieve for months. It did provide an interesting glimpse into my goal weight, though, and getting to see it in such close proximity to my current weight gave me some new perspective – in that I honestly didn’t look that much different from my usual self. I realize that the water weight I lost from being dehydrated is different than fat loss from eating right and exercising, but somehow it eased the pressure of weight loss to realize that I wasn’t that far from where I wanted to be. While I’ve never suffered from an eating disorder, sometimes I get a bit more worked up than I should about what I do or don’t eat or how much I exercise. Seeing that a few pounds are just that – a few pounds, and not a huge deal – was in some ways a better de-stressor for my vacation than having eaten perfectly and exercised perfectly and actually lost a pound or two. Maybe this was what I needed to lighten up on myself a little bit.

It was good that I got this “my diet doesn’t matter” perspective, because it’s now Tuesday night, and I’ve been on a high-carb-low-protein-minimal-fruits-and-veggies diet pretty much ever since. I spent all day Friday working my way through various boxes of crackers (by getting different flavors and textures, it was almost like having a choice of what food to eat). By Saturday, I had branched out into English muffins and banana bread, but an unfortunate morning of bathroom encounters after starting to return to normal eating on Sunday has left me leery of straying from the all-carb-all-the-time extravaganza I’m having. On that plan, aside from some extra bathroom trips, I’m mostly functioning normally, and was even able to get in a pretty awesome workout this morning! See that, salmonella? You can’t stop me! (Note: I have no idea if I have salmonella or some other kind of food poisoning, since I can think of any number of things I ate/drank in Peru that might be responsible for my gastrointestinal rebellion. I haven’t been to a doctor yet, but plan to go if things aren’t completely cleared up by the end of the week).

On the Thanksgiving front, I am still totally bummed out that I didn’t get to celebrate my favorite holiday. I mean, this is the one that I have an entire Excel workbook devoted to! (One sheet lists recipes and which dish they go into, another lists the timing of when to make them, a third is an ingredients master/shopping list, and the fourth is my list of what serving dish/utensils go with which item – you laugh, but last year when my brother and his wife surprised me 30 minutes before dinner (you know, that time when most cooks are going crazy trying to get everything done), I politely welcomed them and then let them know that in 1.5 minutes I needed to start making the gravy. So there!). Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, and there is no way I am going 24 months in between the Thanksgiving-only dishes of lemon sage turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and caramel pumpkin gingersnap cheesecake! I’ve decided to either do the same menu for Christmas, if I can get enough family members to come for that, or else invite a group of friends over for a Friendsgiving celebration at a totally random time of year (February?). Either way, the Thanksgiving weight gain will be coming my way in the next few months – and I can’t wait!

And hey, that gives me extra time to refine my spreadsheets.


2 thoughts on “How I Lost 7 Pounds On Thanksgiving Day”

  1. Awww 🙁 Sorry to hear about your sickness! Could you really be so sick you wouldn’t be let back into the country?? That would be awful!!!Did you drink the water? I know that sometimes completely safe and clean water can have foreign bacteria that we aren’t used to :/

    Glad you are feeling better!!

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