2020 Conejo Open Space Challenge

I participated in the Conejo Open Space Challenge again this year. It was interrupted at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in the US, but was extended and ends on Friday. I was about halfway through it before the trails closed so I had no trouble finishing. I stopped posting here, but I have been tracking my hikes on Twitter and Instagram. Those accounts are private, so I am sharing those posts here so that I can use this blog post as my entry.

Hikes 1 & 2: Sierra Vista Trail and El Rincon Trail


Hike 3: Lake Eleanor Trail


Hike 4: Ceanothus Trail


Hike 5: Hidden Meadow Trail

Last hike before the trails closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.


Hike 6: Triunfo Canyon Trail

First hike after the trails reopened.


Hike 7: Alapay Trail


Hike 8: Beargrass Trail



Hike 9: Lichen Trail


Hike 10: Plateau Rim Trail


Hike 9 of #52HikeChallenge

Liberty Canyon Natural Preserve

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One of the main ways I find new trails is seeing them from a distance. I see this trail from the freeway on my way home from work. It looks difficult. You can only see the first part of it (1 on the pic), and that part is straight up with no curves. As I was hiking up this trail, I was wondering why seeing a daunting hill like this makes me want to climb it.

It's because I can. Ten years ago I weighed nearly 300 lbs. and got winded walking up the stairs in my own house. Now I can do this.

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This unnamed trail was 0.9 miles straight up to the top of a 1400-ft. peak. There was no winding relief in the path and no shade to be had. Every time I reached a peak (numbered on the first pic), there was an even higher peak hiding behind it. There were some downhill portion which tricks you into thinking you are getting a rest, but it just makes the next hill that much harder to climb.

The last peak was the steepest, rockiest, most treacherous bit of hiking I've done so far. I could not have even attempted it without my hiking poles, and my trail runners were almost not up to the task. I finished my first bottle of water right before that last peak. My rule is to turn around when that happens, but I went this last little bit so I could get to the top and because I knew I wouldn't need as much water on the way back down.

I was wrong about that actually. The strenuous activity of climbing this trail along with the lack of shade and breeze pushed me over that fine line between "hot and sweaty" and "overheated." I gulped down the last of my second bottle of water about 150 yards from my car.

I'd actually planned to take that leg of the trail to the right at the peak, but I was done in.

This was a pretty trail from start to finish.



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Early poppies
The view from the top


Future Hikes

Not this one! This will be brutal in the summer.

Needed Gear

I need a big dumb hiking hat that has lots of ventilation and shades my whole and neck. I need hiking boots. I need one of those dumb water bladders I hate.


Hike 8 of #52HikeChallenge

Sapwi Trails Community Park

Sapwi loop

I had a different trail in mind for this morning, but a sick kid derailed my plans, so I headed to a trail close to home. I tend to avoid Sapwi Trails because I don't like neighborhood trails. I prefer trails that lead back into the hills where I can see little evidence of civilization. I drive by this park often and the trails look like they are on a dry, brushy hill.

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Still, it's close. I checked the geocaching app and decided I would hit this trail with a mission. I'd look for the three geocaches and then head home. Once I started on the trail, I remembered how pretty the lower portion is.

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The first of the geocaches was easy to find on the bridge. I didn't find the second cache and was pricked by a dried thistle while looking. The third was easy to find as well.

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After the third cache, instead of heading back, I saw that I could hike a little farther and make a loop. Then I felt bad for hating on this trail, because the upper portion was pretty as well.

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The last of the fog burning off

You can see from the map at the top of this post that it didn't work out like that. That leg of the trail was recently cut, but now it's a dead end and doesn't connect back to the other trail. I found this out after soaking my socks and shoes on the grassy trail.

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After I backtracked (do not like!), I found the other end of the missing connector, but something in the bushes scared all the birds and creeped me out, so I didn't take it all the way back to see where the trail now ends. Also, I wasn't dressed for bushwhacking in my trail runners and cropped leggings.

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It ended up being a longer hike than I'd intended.

Future Hikes

This trail connects to Hillcrest Ridge trail, which I've accessed from the other end. Eventually, I'd like to hike it end-to-end.

Hike 7 of #52HikeChallenge

Urban Hike Edition

Whole foods loop

I had Presidents Day off and I needed to pick up some tempeh from Whole Foods, so I decided to give an urban hike a go. I barely like a neighborhood trail, so walking through town is even less appealing, but I wanted to try a nearby path that is a shortcut to the library, so I gave it a shot.

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How is an urban hike different from a walk. Apparently, it is the sense of adventure.


It sounded ridiculous to me, but it turns out, that really is the difference. I checked my trail map frequently and was able to avoid most major roads. It was also nice to stop at Whole Foods for a rest, a Zevia cream soda, and a tangerine.

My shirt reads, "Bucky & Steve, not Adam & Eve."

On the way back, I found a wonderful bike path that led to the other side of the library. Checking the trail map again, I found a little connecter back to the trail where I started.

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Future Hikes

Next time, I'll ride my bike.

Hike 6 of #52HikeChallenge

Los Robles Open Space and Los Padres Open Space


I hiked Los Padres Trail last year as part of the Conejo Open Space Challenge, which starts again on March 1. This time, I added Los Robles Trail East and Vista Loop (also called Los Robles Overlook Trail).



Unfortunately, I started out about the same time as a small family, I outpaced them in the beginning, but not quite enough to lose them. When we reached the overlook, I took a long break to let them get ahead. Other than them, I mostly saw mountain bikers, but they whiz by and are gone. A few other hikers I saw came from the opposite direction.


I saved Los Padres Trail for the last part of the hike because it was one of the most scenic trails I have been on, with adorable bridges and beautiful creeks.


I hiked it in late spring last year, so I thought an earlier hike would mean more water in the creeks. I hadn't accounted for the fact that we have had much less rain than last year, so there was even less water. In fact, except for this one creek, there was no water.


The incline was more gradual than most other long trails I have taken, but it was a good workout. My booty hurt the next day.

Future Hikes

There are lots of trails in this area that I haven't explored yet.

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Hike 5 of #52HikeChallenge

Rancho Simi Recreation & Park District Open Space


Long Canyon Trail

I check out this trail every time I take Autumn Ridge Trail. I approached it from the Simi Valley side of the mountain, using the Wood Ranch Trail Head. I had planned to take Long Canyon Trail - Autumn Trail - Woodridge Connector, which is a longer hike than I like to take on a weekday morning before work, but when I started up the trail, I discovered a smaller, more difficult trail parallel to the main trail. I took that and made a 1.5 loop on Long Canyon Trail. It was the perfect length.

This trail was more heavily trafficked than I expected, so it must get crowded on the weekend. On the way back down the hill, I was in front of a gaggle of golden girls who were quite chatty. I tried to outpace them, but those ladies were spry, so I was able to hear the entire post office debacle from one woman who tried to send a package to her grandchildren.

I liked this hike. It was pretty and strenuous. I probably won't take it again, though. The trail head isn't close to home, and I have hiked most of the other trails around it, which are more easily accessed from the Thousand Oaks side of the mountain, which is close to home.



I finally paid for a Pro subscription on AllTrails, which worked out well. I tried recording my hike for the first time, but forgot to actually start the recording at the beginning of the hike, so the first leg is missing.



Hike 4 of #52HikeChallenge

Hillcrest Open Space Preserve

This hike was one that I had scoped out on a previous hike. It was just under three miles, including the short trek to where I had to park. I was fine with a shorter hike because for once I read the trail description first and I knew this one would be a beast at the start. I've been wanting to take this trail for ages because I pass the trailhead often and I always wonder where that trail disappears to.

The trailhead forks at Hillcrest Ridge Trail and White Sage Trail. I took Hillcrest Ridge Trail up and White Sage Trail back.


That hill looks deceptively easy from the road.


It doesn't even look that bad from the bottom, but it is steep as hell.


The worst part of this hill is when you get to the top and discover there is another one right after it.

View looking back the way I came.


Hill #2.


View from the second hill, looking in the opposite direction. While I was stopped taking this picture and guzzling water, another hiker passed me. She said, "You always think you're done when you get to this point." I said, "But there's one more." She held up a hand as she passed me and said, "Two more, but the second one is easy." That means the first one isn't.


The other hiker headed up the third hill.


This is the 360° view from the top of the fourth hill.

Hillcrest Ridge Trail from Michelle on Vimeo.

If I had continued on Hillcrest Ridge Trail instead of turning onto White Sage Trail, there was an even higher hill to climb. Not today Satan.


On White Sage trail, I came across these markers in reverse order. They honor firefighter Angel Castro, who battled the Hillcrest Brush Fire in 1978. This area also burned in the Woolsey Fire in November 2017.







Hiking selfies.



White Sage Trail was peaceful. It led me down into the clefts of the hills, blocking the distant hum of the freeway and hiding the surrounding homes from view.

Future Hikes

I want to take Hillcrest Ridge Trail the whole way, but it is a 4.7-mile out and back hike, so I will have to plan a little better to do that one. It definitely needs to be on a cool day when I get an early start.

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Hike 3 of #52HikeChallenge

Wildwood Park

My oldest child has been asking to go on the Paradise Falls hike for ages, and the time was finally right. I guess my weekend hikes have been on less popular trails because I have never seen so many people while hiking. Wildwood is popular in general, this hike in particular. We arrived around 9 AM and couldn't find a spot in the main parking lot so we parked farther down Avenida de los Arboles at a park. I didn't mind because it added just enough distance that our hike ended up being almost exactly three miles.

We hiked Mesa Trail to Teepee Trail to Paradise Falls. (Yellow on the maps.) We spent some time exploring the area around the falls. Then we took Moonridge Trail, with a little detour on Lynnmere Trail, to Indian Cave. We climbed up through the cave and back down. (Pink on the maps.) The last leg of our hike was along Indian Creek Trail.  It was beautiful and shady and followed the creek out of the park. (Blue on the maps.) Indian Creek Trail jumped to the top of my list of favorite trails, along with Moonridge Trail.


Paradise Falls map

Paradise Falls Alltrails

The start of Teepee Trail.


Guess what we found on Teepee Trail.


Paradise Falls




I'm glad we decided to take that little detour on Lynnmere Trail. It was so pretty and crossed over Indian Creek and back before reconnecting us with Moonridge Trail.



We climbed up and through Indian Cave.



We crossed Indian Creek again, and found another waterfall on our way out.



Future Hikes

Next time, we'll enter at Indian Creek Trail and take Moonridge Trail all the way past Paradise Falls to Lizard Rock Trail.

Eventually, I would like to take the Santa Rosa Trail and Box Canyon Trail loop, which is about six miles long.

Hike 2 of #52HikeChallenge

Conejo Ridge Open Space and Skyline Open Space

Today's hike was a bit of misadventure in map reading. I usually print out the paper maps from the COSCA site. I already had this map printed out from a previous hike I did in the Los Robles Open Space, so I highlighted my planned route on the same map. It wasn't easy to find a loop I wanted to take that was about three miles long. The most interesting trails were dead ends or on a much longer loop. I eventually decided on Bobcat Trail and Los Robles Trail, partly because I was amused that the trailhead was across the street from the kids' old preschool and I had never noticed it.

About halfway through my hike, I checked the AllTrails app because I was at an intersection that wasn't shown on the highlighted trail on my paper map, and the trail started to look more treacherous than I expected. I was completely disoriented by the AllTrails map and it didn't show Bobcat Trail. I couldn't even tell from that map where I was in relation to where I thought I was, so I turned around and went back the way I came.

When I got home and pulled up all the maps, I realized what had happened. (More on that below.) I was on the correct trail and if I had kept going, I would have taken the loop I had planned. Instead, I did an out-and-back hike. Oh, well, I still hiked about 3.5 miles.

Planned Hike

The full size paper map showing the teeny tiny area where my planned route was.

Full size

Paper map view.

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Aerial view.

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The first part of the trail was straight uphill (as usual!) and very pretty.


Long shadow selfie in the morning sun.


Mountain lion tracks.


Bobcat tracks.


Deer track.


There was a little loop within a loop on my planned route (far left on the maps above). It goes to the top of a hill and down the other side. This rusty beast was at the bottom of the hill on my way up.


This metal thing (emblem? cap?) was embedded into this little patch of cement at the top of the hill.


This photo was taken at the top of the hill. View of the Conejo Valley facing North and East. Thousand Oaks straight ahead, with bits of Moopark, Simi Valley, and Westlake.


This photo was also taken at the top of the hill. View of the Conejo Valley facing South and West. Westlake and Agoura between the hills on the left. Ocean on the other side of the mountains on the right.


I didn't find the trail leading down the other side of the hill, so I came back down the same way I went up. It was at this intersection that I started up Bobcat Trail, according to the paper map, and Fairview Trail according to the AllTrails map.

This is the AllTrails map that confused me in the app. The blue dot shows where I was. In addition to the trail having a different name, I can now see why I disoriented by this map. You can see Foothill Dr. at the top center of the map. That is where I thought I had started, so I couldn't figure out how I could get from where I was back to that point on the trails. That's why I turned around.

When I got home and looked at all the maps, I realized why I had been disoriented. It is because I needed to scroll farther to the right to see the trailhead I had entered.


This is the AllTrails map I looked at online when I got home. The Foothill Dr. shown on the screenshot from my phone is marked 2 here. The Foothill Dr. where I entered is marked 1 here. When I was on my phone, if I had zoomed out or scrolled more to the right, I probably would've figured it all out.

In the map below, the red is a loop that AllTrails mapped. The blue is the actual route I took. You can see in the middle at the bottom where I turned around and went back. On the return trip, I did not take the little detour up the hill again. (That blue tail on the far left.) The pink is the route I would have taken if I had kept going instead of turning back.

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Future Hikes

When I was up on top of that hill, looking East over Thousand Oaks and Westlake, I could see a couple hilltop trails that I thought I would like to try. Looking at the full Conejo Open Space map, I was able to figure out which trails they were.

Hillcrest Ridge Trail - White Sage Trail

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When I had the full map open, I saw a trail near my house that I didn't know about, and it looks like I can loop it with Las Flores Trail (a horse path that runs alongside the road and the freeway) and Erbes Rd., so that I can start out right at my front door.

Las Flores Trail - Coyote Hill Trail

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Hike 1 of #52HikeChallenge

52 Hike Challenge

Last year, or maybe the year before, I took up hiking. Once someone told me that hiking is just walking, it seemed much more like something I could do. I live nearby to many COSCA trails, so one day I parked by a trail head and started walking. Eventually I figured out where to find the trail maps, and I bought better shoes, and added gear like hiking poles and a fanny pack that holds a first aid kit and water bottles. Hiking became a part of my routine. It was easy to hit the trails a couple times a week because I worked from home with a flexible schedule.

In October, I started a new job and now I work mostly in the office. My hiking, and fitness in general, has languished by the wayside. I missed the mental aspects of hiking as much as I missed the physical aspects, so I joined the 52 Hike Challenge for 2020. I can do one hike a week, and I am going to try to do a new trail each time.

Lang Ranch Open Space

My first hike of 2020 was on New Year's Day. I chose a trail close to home. I have hiked Autumn Ridge Trail a few times, but mostly taking the Sunrise Trail loop. This time, I mapped out Alapay Trail so that I could add a new leg to my loop. At least I thought it was new leg until I was on it and realized I had hiked it before. Starting at the Autumn Ridge trail head, Autumn Ridge Trail is mostly uphill and Alapay Trail is mostly downhill. One thing I learned hiking last year is that when you live in the midst of the Santa Monica Mountains, the first mile of every trail is uphill.

Trail map.

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Aerial view.

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This is a view of Autumn Ridge Trail taken from Alapay Trail. You can see the tiniest glimpse of Bard Lake through the cleft in the hills.


Facing the other direction on Alapay Trail, I wondered what that even higher trail was. I think it is Meadow Vista Trail.


I took this picture to remind myself to check out Rocky Incline Trail on the map to see if I could work it into a future loop.


Over a year later, there are still remnants of the devastation of the Woolsey fire.


This grove of charred oak trees on the Albertson Motorway near the Chumash Center survived the Woolsey fire. Green leaves sprout from the blackened branches.


Future Hikes

In Lang Ranch Open Space, I would like to do the following hikes this year.

Long Canyon Trail* - Sunrise Trail - Woodridge Connector* (loop)

Long Ridge Trail* - Meadow Vista Trail* - Rocky Incline Trail* (loop)

Oakbrook Vista Trail - Sandstone Hills Trail* - Vista Point* (out and back)

*new trails

[Final Update] The Year of Good Health...and Money

At the beginning of the year, I didn't make any resolutions, but I declared 2012 to be the Year of Good Health and Money. Sounds exciting, right? I wouldn't go that far, but it has been rewarding.

The update you saw three months ago wasn't looking good, but a lot has happened since then. Three weeks from the end of the year, and I've ticked off everything on the list. It took me all year to do it, but I DID IT.


  1. Weight: I lost 20 of the 30 pounds I wanted to lose (120 lbs total in the past two years), and I wear size 12 jeans. The last time I wore size 12 jeans was for about a minute in 1999.
  2. Anemia: The supplements weren't increasing my iron levels fast enough so I had IV iron infusions (FOUR OF THEM) and I am no longer anemic. Hopefully, I can maintain this level with supplementation.
  3. Dentist: Cleaning scheduled! I am not usually one to procrastinate going to the dentist, but when I left my job in June, we had to switch to my husband's insurance and my old dentist isn't on it. I don't mind going to the dentist, but I hate finding a new one.
  4. Weird Leg Thing: It hasn't come back, so let's consider it no big deal.
  5. Physical Activity: Well, four out of five isn't bad, right? This is still a struggle for me.


  1. Taxes: We met with the new accountant and got everything taken care of and, for the first time in years and years, I am not dreading the end of the year and the taxes that need to be done.
  2. Credit Card Debt: PAID OFF
  3. Budget: I never did get around to making one for 2012, but I made one for 2013 because I had started panic-checking the job boards. We will be fine for next year, with me continuing to be self-employed. I could use a couple more clients for Bossy Interactive, but I don't need to seek employment elsewhere.

What's in store for 2013? I'm thinking it will be the Year of Organization and Business Growth. I need to get this house, and the stuff in it, organized. To be fair to myself, I am one of the most organized people I know, so it's not that bad, but I want it organized to PERFECTION, or pretty damn close. On the business front, I need to set clear goals, and objectives, for 2013. Also, I need to look up the difference between goals and objectives again.

[Update] 2012: The Year of Good Health... and Money

Remember about nine months ago when I said this was going to be the year I take control of my health and my finances? If I were in school, I'd probably have a C- in Health and an F in Finance.

The good news first. I lost 20 more pounds, for a total of 120. I am eating much better and taking (almost) all of my supplements every day. I at least get the iron in every day. At the three-month check mentioned in the original post, my iron levels were up a bit, but still lower than normal. I am waiting on the results of my most recent blood test. I am hoping my levels are high enough that I at least reduce the amount of iron I have to take, if I can't stop taking it altogether.

The weird numb spot on my leg went away. Then came back. Then went away again. I still haven't had a mole check or the breast cancer gene test. Oh, and I am overdue for a dental cleaning because I need to find a new dentist.

On the financial front, I haven't done a damn thing. I left my corporate job three months ago and have been working for myself ever since. Business has been good, but I could use more work. In that time, I haven't made a budget, or projected how long our money will last, set any sort of threshold for deciding find another corporate job. I estimated that I have until the end of the year, but I stuck my head in the sand when it came to actually doing the math to verify that assumption.

And, we haven't caught up on our taxes yet. However, I made an appointment with an accountant and by the end of next week, all that tax crap should be in progress. I got the referral for the accountant from a friend who uses him as her business manager. I may have to go that route, especially now that I have two businesses.

Anyway, I have three months left in the year. I can still get this under control. I'm a procrastinator, but I (usually) make my deadlines.

20 Months After Gastric Bypass

I haven't been posting about my progress lately because it hasn't seemed like I have made any progress. I don't like to post about the minor backslides, or plateaus for the same reason I only record weight losses on my chart. With weight loss, I absolutely have to focus on the positive, or I get caught up in a vicious cycle of self-sabotage. Rather than try to figure out why or how I end up in that cycle, I just avoid it altogether. I only post when things are good. I only record my weight when it's down.

Speaking of which, I broke a months-long plateau and finally broke out of the 180s. Today, I weigh 179.8. I recorded my weight on, where I track everything. This is the chart showing my high weight, a few months before my surgery. It's hard to believe that two years ago, I weighed nearly 120 pounds more than I do now.


An Atheist's Lent

I always observed Lent when I was Catholic. Lent is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday (today) and Easter Sunday. It is a period of sacrifice in order to facilite self-reflection and growth. I could use all of those things. For the next 40 days, I am going to focus on the health part of my Year of Health and Finances. My sacrifice is going to be strict adherence to my post-surgical diet, exercise, and supplement regimen. STRICT.

2012: The Year of Good Health... and Money


I am anemic. I have been that way for about six months. It's a side effect of gastric bypass. My body does not absorb all of the nutrients from the food I eat. I've made it worse by not taking my iron supplements faithfully, and not eating the foods I should be eating. If I don't get my iron levels up in the next three months, I will need to have an IV iron infusion. My calcium and vitamin D levels are low as well. I haven't seen a nutritionist since I had surgery.

I have lost 100 lbs in the past year. My surgeon wants me to lose 30 lbs more in the next six months. If I had been exercising at all during the past year, that 30 lbs would already be gone. I weigh 195 right now. That would put me at a final weight of 165. I'd rather be 145.

I have a numb spot on my right calf that has yet to be diagnosed and did not response to a course of steroids. The next step is to get a referral to a neurologist. I've been putting that off.

I've never had a mole check with a dermatologist. I have a referral to see one, but I haven't made an appointment yet.

I need to be screened for the breast cancer gene. I'll ask about that about my six-month follow-up mammogram next month to check on the calcifications that are still in my right breast.

I haven't created a budget spreadsheet for at least five years.

My savings accounts and retirement accounts are as anemic as my body is.

I did not meet my goal of paying off all credit card debt by the end of the year.

We are woefully behind on our taxes.

All of this is going to change in 2012.

My first priority is health. My second priority is finances. With everything I do, I will ask myself, "Is this the healthiest choice I can make right now?" or, "Is this the best financial choice I can make right now?" and, in that order. For instance, is watching three episodes of Gossip Girl the healthiest choice I can make at that moment? No. I could do something more active. I could play Just Dance on the Wii with my girls, or go for a walk, or clean up clutter around the house, or prepare meals for the week, or go to bed and get a reasonable amount of sleep. Is watching three episodes of Gossip Girl before bed the best financial choice I can make at that moment? No. I could get tax paperwork together, or work on my 2012 budget spreadsheet, or list things for sale on Craigslist and eBay.

Health. Finances. That's it. If I can't get those two things under control, everything else falls apart. I'll still parent my children, and be a wife to my husband, and be a model employee, but I won't be taking any classes and I won't be making any committments to anyone else if there is something else I can be doing that would be better for my health and finances.

Ask the Poop Priestess

Pooppriestess This was originally published on Clark Shpiell Productions on February 10, 2004, as a follow up to The Poop Pagoda. A reader sent in a question for me.

Dear Michelle,

Your poignant article on the work/poo dilemma moved me from deep within my bowels. As you are the definitive scatological authority, I'd like your opinion on what I should have done in the following real-life experience:

I was on the back lot tram tour at Universal Studios. As we were about to enter the "western town," I started to get the shit sweats. I tried to breathe deeply and focus hoping it would go away, but it didn't. The worst part was that I had to keep a happy, surprised face on because I didn't want the two actors who were portraying cowboys in a "good ol' fashioned shoot-out" to think I wasn't enjoying their performance. The pain wouldn't go away, and I was trapped, because you couldn't get off the tram. At one point I envisioned that I would have to leap off the tram and run pell mell for one of the studio bungalows and use their shitter. And it wouldn't be an easy shit. It was going to be one of those long, painful, straining ones. As I was with two friends with whom I have not yet had discussion of personal poo habits, I couldn't tell them "Look, you guys go ahead in the Mummy Adventure 'cause I got to take about twenty minutes in the library. Either of you got a paper?" In the end, I held it and had to go on the Jurassic Park ride two more times.

Oh Poo Guru, what should I have done. WWMD?


Touching Cloth

* * *

Dear Touching Cloth,

I have no idea what the hell that sign off means. Now, in regard to your poop dilemma, I would have sweated out the angry bowels on the tram ride and lured the friends into the gift shop afterward, with an immediate, "I'll be right back." People lose all track of time in the consumeristic vortex created by amusement park gift shops. They might not even have missed you. Easy as pie.

Now, let's address your other issue. Your bowels were about to unleash themselves yet you still thought you were in for rough, straining session requiring grunts and magazines? In my experience, these symptoms belong to two entirely different categories of poop. I fear you are not getting enough fiber in your diet. I highly recommend the Blueberry Fibercakes from Zen Bakery. You can find them at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.

I know you were expecting something funnier, but poop is serious business.

Regularly Yours,

The High Priestess of the Poop Pagoda

Six Months After Gastric Bypass

I am hopefully at the end of a three-week weight loss stall. This is the longest stall I have had, so I am consoling myself with a loss of inches. Six months out from surgery, I have lost a total of 60 lbs. and 28 inches. I have gone from wearing size 26 and 4X, to wearing size 18 and 1X. My shoe size has gone from a 10 back down to a 9. On the negative side, my hair is falling out. The doctor said that this should stop in about three months. The new supplements I added seem to be helping as well.

Inches lost*:

  • 3.25 inches off my waist
  • 8 inches off my hips
  • 4.5 inches off my chest
  • 4.75 inches off each thigh
  • 2.75 inches off each calf
  • 2.25 inches off each arm
  • 2.25 inches off my neck (!)

Things I have been doing well:

  • Not eating too much
  • Eating enough protein
  • Wearing my Fitbit
  • Increasing my supplement intake

Things I need to do better:

  • Drink more fluids
  • Exercise more, and more consistently
  • Take all of my supplements (I had to add iron, B1, Omega-3, and Biotin based on my bloodwork last month)
  • Stop eating chips

*If you happen to look back at the last time I reported inches, you might notice some discrepancies. The last numbers were wrong. I think. Who knows?

The Capacity of My Pouch

The part of my anatomy where my food goes since I had surgery is called a "pouch." It was formerly the top part of my stomach. (The rest of my stomach is still in there, making digestive juices, which it adds to my intestines farther down the path. No food goes into that stomach anymore.) If I eat too much, I feel painfully full. My pouch rarely feels empty, though, so my appetite is greatly diminished.

Here are some examples to illustrate the capacity of my pouch:

  • Half of a small Lunchables
  • Most of a Taco Bell hard taco
  • One chicken thigh
  • One cup of thin turkey chili
  • 1/3 of a six-inch Subway sandwich on flatbread
  • Half a cup of pasta
  • 1/4 of an entree-sized salad in a restaurant
  • Most of a restaurant-sized hamburger patty
  • Two scrambled eggs
  • 1/4 of a deli sandwich
  • One, single-serving bag of chips
  • Two small crab cakes or one big crabcake
  • 8 medium-sized shrimp
  • One mini wheat pita from Trader Joe's with as much red pepper hummus as I can pile on it

Four Months After Gastric Bypass

I don't really want to post a weight loss update this month. I took pictures, but I didn't like them, so I don't want to post them. I didn't take my measurements because I hate doing that. I have lost almost 50 lbs. Almost. I have hit another stall and I can't quite get there. This stall will break, so I am not worried, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating in the moment.

I went to SXSW in Austin, TX four weeks ago. I came home four pounds lighter and addicted to diet soda again.

Ok, here are some pictures.

Highest weight ever:


Last month at SXSW:


Three Months After Gastric Bypass

As of today, I am down 41 lbs. I forgot to take my measurements at the beginning of the month, so I'll just wait until next month. I hate doing it. Those numbers are meaningless to me. I care more about the size of the clothes I wear. Right now, I am all 2s: 2X tops and size 22 pants. I am down one size in tops and two sizes in pants.

I actually have a lot of pants that fit me right now. I'm not quite sure how that happened. I have a pair of black chinos, a pair of black slacks, a pair of black jeans, and two pairs of blue jeans. The black jeans are are the only ones I can wear with flat shoes. All of the other pants have to be worn with tall shoes (read: four-inch platform wedges). This poses a bit of a problem since I am leaving in a few days to go to a conference that will entail five days of WALKING. I will probably buy another pair of jeans that I can wear with flat shoes. I can't remember the last time I owned six pairs of pants, all in the same size, that fit me well.

Related: I must stop spending so much money on clothes. I am going to have wait until I am in 18s to buy new clothes again.