Besides my poop being uniquely pungent, I’ve been totally fine transitioning from vegetarian to carnivorous. I’m surprised but also not surprised, since I was fine going from gf+vegan to vegetarian as well. I guess the trend is that my reactions are all personal so I should stop attempting to mimic studies/anecdotes from the internet.

I’ve been off methotrexate and enbrel for about a month now, and haven’t felt any major changes. I have been noticing morning stiffness in my hands in the morning (about 30 min) but that may also be an effect of weather changes up here. It’s been getting chilly up here these past few weeks… Four blanket weather for me. Love being cozy in bed with my blankets :)

Other than that, nothing new in my life. I had my first design review at work and it went well. I was barely nervous which I guess means my coworkers have done a good job making me feel comfortable with things. I remember always reading about how female engineers get stepped on in work because they’re too shy to express their opinions strongly, or even to ask questions and be judged unpreparedly, whereas men tend to have no qualms asking questions without thinking them through first. I think I’m in a happy medium place and I’m glad.

Coming up on my 24th birthday soon!

gluteus, gluten, gluttony

I’ve been really consistent with exercising since moving to Norcal, which I’m really glad about. There’s that fear of starting “the daily grind” and having to sit on one’s ass the entire day, then being too pooped when the work day ends to do anything but sit on one’s ass some more. I signed up for a six-month membership of eight yoga classes a month, which means at a minimum I’ll be doing that almost twice a week. I finally understand the appeal of gym memberships; gotta get my $$$ worth and not skip. Eight times a month is definitely doable, and it may be a good thing that I get some rest days.

Even if I’m not cycling to work yet, I’m still glad to have that option for cardio. I ran for 20 minutes on the treadmill today and felt my knees starting to give out, so I guess that’s still not a viable option. But I really missed running – maybe I’ll try inserting a few miles a month into my routine :)

BUT ANYWAY I went to the gym today because of yesterday and today’s carb loading. Yesterday was my first day of gluten in eight months, and ate more than half a loaf of sourdough. It was freaking delicious and I couldn’t stop. Today, my manager brought donuts and bagels to work… so I had a few of those too. And then my coworker Ben gave me his Monopoly McFlurry coupon so I treated myself to that too. And then I felt sad about the impending loss of my almost-abs (I can almost, almost see subtle side shadows in the mornings!) so I had some motivation to do some cardio. Not bad, right? Everything in moderation?

Re: losing my gluten free and vegan dietary restrictions and turning vegetarian –
I’m happy that I don’t have to consciously omit things from my daily eats, but I think I’ll still try to keep relatively low levels of empty gluten and carbs in my diet. Going to make a conscious effort to maintain meals consisting of more vegetables than grains… after my party next week. I mean, a girl’s gotta live a little right? Heh. I’m going to commit to a vegetarian diet for either 6 or 9 months. Since I’m a “diet non-responder,” i.e. my RA didn’t go away on the most restrictive diet, it’s unlikely that it’ll get any better on less restrictions (only no meat). But seeing as I’m used to a vegan diet right now and I’m still enjoying the resurrection of my relationship with bread, I might as well stay on the healthy side and avoid meats for as long as I can manage. Unless I see/feel iron or B12 deficiencies, I see myself staying vegetarian for awhile. (Pescetarian is highly likely though – I miss fish.)

road trip

This post has gotten ridiculously belated (about a month and a half) because of a major change in priorities in my life. I need to figure some things out…

Stanley and my first stop up the coast of California was Santa Barbara! I had only ever been when Je was visiting colleges (2003?) so I was kind of excited to see what the area was actually like, having heard of the amazingness that was SB by the ocean. Because of LA traffic, we arrived later than expected and missed our tour of the Santa Barbara Courthouse. We walked around and enjoyed the weather and took some photos at the top of the tower.

Since Stanley and I were both vegan during our trip, there was a dearth of appropriate eateries :( In Santa Barbara, we had an average kale salad and an above average vegan+gf “thin mint.” I should have gotten more of those thin mints… We stopped by Mission Santa Barbara (without going in…) before heading to Solvang!

We walked around Solvang, being unhappy that we couldn’t eat any Danish danishes. The Hans Christian Andersen museum was a tiny room with old books in all languages. I didn’t know that he wrote some of the stories that were there!

We stayed the night in San Luis Obispo, and woke up early the next day to go hiking!

We went to Bishop Peak around 9am – the weather was nice, and it was a really nice day for a hike. The trail was about half shaded, and we saw a good number of people also hiking that day. And even a few people running up and down! (I think the total hike was about 4 miles, don’t remember.)

Super annoying thing: On our way down, we saw a couple girls with a dog on their way up. They weren’t carrying any water bottles or anything, and their dog was obviously parched. As we walked by, the dog sat down and didn’t want to keep going – obviously tired and thirsty. The (presumed) owner was getting frustrated at her dog, trying to pull it to keep walking. I offered some water for the dog, and told her to make a bowl with her hands. The dog drank it up and probably could have used much more. I mean, you don’t have to bring water for yourself if you’re lazy, but please, please always take care of your dog. Made me super sad.

After our hike, we went to Big Sky Cafe in downtown SLO for lunch. We were starving! We filled our stomachs and water bottles and got back in the car to continue our way up the coast.

I had considered stopping at Big Sur, but it didn’t really seem convenient. Instead, we went to the teeny tiny Limekiln State Park. It was a quaint little campground with two short (5 minutes?) hikes. One went to the lime kilns in question (used to purify? lime that was mined from the mountain/vein) and the other to a waterfall. We rested here (I needed a break from the curvy PCH) and ate some snacks by the ocean. When we were about to head out, a couple of guys came back from their kayaking with their day’s catch in haul! They had caught maybe 20 or so giant fish. They were super ugly and amazing, and I wondered what it’d be like to roast a fish you just plucked out of the ocean. Possibly made it a bucket list item.

Our last city stop of the road trip was Santa Cruz. We spent nearly a full day hanging out at the Natural Bridges State Park and Boardwalk. At the Boardwalk, Stanley and I got the most amazing salad ever at The Picnic Basket. It had olive tapenade, avocados, asparagus, citrus dressing, pistachios, kumquats… and some how worked together spectacularly. It was the market salad of the day, but I do plan on going back there for another go at their salads someday soon.

After Santa Cruz, we headed to SJ. Home sweet home!

People need to stop giving me dietary advice that they don’t follow themselves. You can spew as much information as you want at me but I’m only going to accept the ones that you have actually made a priority in your life – the ones that you honestly believe are good for you, not the ones you read about online or saw on TV.

Also I am as busy as ever now that I’m working full time!!! Not a bad thing, but I’m excited to get into a more regular routine after July 4th weekend.

leaving LA

Backtracking a bit in the timeline of my life to get my blog caught up…

I accepted the offer from MiaSolé (Alt-0233 to get e avec accent aigu é) at the end of April. It was a bit of a rush, since I had also gotten an internship offer from Baxter for which I needed to respond ASAP, while still waiting on MiaSolé to go through second and third round interviews, and decisions. To save time, we conducted Skype and phone interviews so I didn’t have to fly up to norcal for a day. It all worked out, and I heard back in time to not be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Happy! Everything worked out pretty much perfectly, and I set my start date for 5/29.

I spent the majority of May in LA packing up my apartment, having lunches and dinners with some LA peeps (Phyllis, Frances, Daniel, Layla, Dorothy. Neel…) and finishing up some research things. I had started my vegan + gf diet May first, but I was wary about buying a bunch of groceries right before moving out, so the first couple weeks of my new eating regime pretty much sucked. Now that more than a month has passed though, things are a lot better. But not to get distracted, back to my last month in LA.

One of my weekends was spent hitting up my LA bucket list spots with Stanley (Beverly Hills sign and farmer’s market, Culver City Steps). The BHFM was pretty big; some things seemed a bit overpriced but not unexpectedly so for BH. We picked up some cherries and fresh squeezed OJ (yummm) and I don’t remember what else, and headed to Century City to watch the matinee (11:30ish!) Iron Man 3. During the movie I ate like two pounds of cherries and didn’t get allergic, which was amazing and I loved it. But then my stomach was full of cherries…

Culver city steps was pretty awesome, much more intense than I had expected. Instead of parking on the bottom and actually perusing the steps like normal people, we drove to the top and just took a look at the view. We went a few flights of stairs down and up, and I was surprisingly tired after just a few steps! I think because the delta elevation is really high with the taller-than-normal steps, I was out of breath in just a few seconds. Seriously would have been a great workout had Stanley and I been prepared. Oh well, next time!

During the last LA weekend, I went hiking with the MAE boys (Lucas, Cristhian, Raymond, Grant + Grant’s brother)) to the Hollywood sign. The trail we chose (starting at Canyon drive) was probably around 6 miles round trip with all our extra excursions.

It took us about four and a half hours from start to finish, hilariously long, because we lunched at the top and took a million breaks in between. Grant’s brother also has juvenile arthritis so he was hurting; we waiting for him and rested a lot. (But he seemed to be in a much worse condition than I was, I wonder what made him think hiking was a good idea?) We went to the peak to see the back of the sign, and then to the front for a more scenic view.

(You can see DTLA and Griffith Observatory in the background of the above picture!) I’m glad I finally did this trail, but probably wouldn’t do it ever again. Recommended as a one-time adventure.

The next day was spent in Arcadia – I hung out with Stan, Wes and Yao getting boba and other misc things. We stumbled upon a batting range + miniature arcade which was fantastic! Since it was a super small arcade (which still had the essentials) the machines were really cheap and we spent a little more than an hour there. We played air hockey, pacman, DDR (I missed it, I used to play daily during my summer in RISD) wrestling, and skeeball. Pretty much all my favorites. And all for less than five bucks! Skeeball was only 25c! What a deal, seriously.

The last weekend of May, Stanley and I road tripped up the 101 and 1 from LA to Sunnyvale, stopping at SB, Solvang, SLO and SC on our way up. Still editing pictures so that post will be next :)

I just gotta say that after two weeks of being vegan + gf I definitely do not have more energy than when I was only gf. And I’ve found it to be immensely difficult to accommodate for my double dietary restrictions. I just went to Whole Foods to look for a gluten free vegan pizza because Daiya (dairy free cheese brand) makes one, but they didn’t have it. Everything that’s gf has eggs, and everything that’s vegan has wheat.

I’ve said this before but again, I need to stop trying to find alternatives to the things I miss; I’ll just have to accept my tofu and broccoli stir fries for the next two and a half months…

non dairy milks

Bought “smooth almond milk – original” and “soy milk original” from Trader Joe’s, since I’ve been eating cereal dry and I’ve been feeling a little bit sad about it. Each were like $1.20 so I figured it’d be worth getting both to try. They both have added Vitamins A, D and E and they both suck.

The soy milk has a weird aftertaste that reminds me of protein powder and makes me feel gaggy. Maybe it’s the added supplements? I mean, I don’t have a problem with regular Chinese soy milk. Also it’s sweetened (9g/serving).

The almond milk tastes like almonds. Which most people probably have no problem with but I just don’t like it. I expected a milk nutty aftertaste but no, it’s pretty much full on NUTS. Being picky is probably not helping my search for alternative foods for my new diet. But basically they’re both yucky and I suppose I’ll just stop eating cereal for breakfast…

Recent flare up of joint pain in wrists, fingers for about 2-3 weeks so far. Bothered me enough that I went and bought a wrist brace (which isn’t helping). Went in to meet my rheumatologist; we decided to administer a steroid injection (2-3 days to full effect, 4 weeks to leave system). Other considerations if this doesn’t help: switching from Enbrel (TNF inhibitor) to Orencia (CTLA-4 regulator), which is a different type of biologic. Or going back to steroids to get back to a state of remission. Things have definitely been getting steadily worse since last August, when I figured Enbrel’s efficacy was wearing out, or something, and then December when I had my bad day in norcal (prompted gluten free) and then this wrist business. I told my Dr that I plan on going vegan starting in May, and she’s all for it and says that it’ll be difficult (she told me to watch Forks Over Knives) but a number of patients feel amazing on a vegan diet.

Also a note that she said she would not expect (hot) yoga to do any damage (I mentioned that it doesn’t hurt when I do yoga, but it might be because of endorphins) as long as I’m not applying excess pressure to my wrists.

tales of the still unemployed

Started my second free week of hot yoga. I think I’ll committedly do it for five of the seven days (not weekend) to simultaneously take advantage of the free and fill my days with something to do. I forgot to bring a towel today so I sweated and slipped all over the place on my mat and it sucked. But alas, no purchasing of a better mat or yoga towel until I have $$.

In other news, my wrists have been hurting for almost two weeks now. NSAIDs still have no effect (in reasonable dosages). I came across this paper (of which only the abstract is available) documenting a study of gluten free and vegan and vegetarian diets for RA patients. Since being gluten free has had no noticeable effect on my joint pain, I’ve decided to try to repeat the results of that study! 3.5 months of vegan + gf (then evaluate), followed by 9 months of vegetarian (if the vegan + gf seems to have a positive effect). I’m starting on May 1st, after I get back from a trip to Seattle for our semi-annual immediate family reunion. How exciting. Still debating whether to cease my current medications when I start the new regime… leaning towards no.

In a few minutes I’m going to drop off some stuff to be tailored (i.e. interview pants I ripped a hole in the crotch of in Houston) and get a library card for LAPL. Maybe I’ll get some books?