Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Dogs are funny creatures. They bring joy, frustration, love, and laughs.

Case in point: when our youngest son and his girlfriend could no longer take care of their dog, we inherited her. Lil Mammas has brought many emotions with her because even though we were not looking for a dog - especially an American Staffordshire Terrier (a cousin of the Pit Bull) - once we laid eyes on her we fell in love.

Zack rescued Lil Mammas from an abusive home when she was only 9 weeks old. I must admit, I was afraid knowing she was a pit bull but Zack reminded me of something I always said, "you can't judge a book by its cover".

Zack and Lil Mammas
So we proceeded to fall in love with his dog. However........

Several months later, Zack got into trouble and was arrested. His girlfriend cared for Lil Mammas for a few weeks but ultimately the care of this dog fell to my husband and me. Our oldest cared for her when he could while I was on business trips and if we ever had to go away overnight. He eventually moved her into his house with his roommate and another dog.

Mammas got along great with the other dog but Nik didn't get along so great with his roommate so after 6 months, Mammas moved back in with us.

Nik and Mammas
At this point, she's already lived in 3 homes, had 7 caregivers, and 4 "owners". When she came home that last time, while both of our sons claimed to be her owner, neither of them could care for themselves much less a dog, so I decided that this was her home and they can visit. It's a good thing too because both of my sons have now died, and Mammas is grieving. But we will not get into that today.

Mammas has a funny habit of sleeping UNDER a blanket. She crawls under the quilt and lets me know if she is cold and needs to be covered up again. Recently, I was sitting here watching TV and she started whining. I went down the list of things she might need/want - food, water, to go outside to do her business, medication (yes, she knows when I don't give it to her), treat for after she does her business, or comfort.

Since I had already met the first several needs, I decided she was uncomfortable.

We were watching TV on the couch. I usually don't watch TV during the day, and when we watch TV at night, we snuggle under a blanket. She was sitting there yipping at me so obviously, even though I was petting her, I was not providing the right comfort to meet her needs.

I took off my robe and threw it over her head. Immediately she wiggled herself into a comfortable position, and here she sits with only her behind showing. Silly dog.

You can read more about Mammas at #lilmammasbigadventure

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chronic inflammation

I have been told that I have chronic systemic inflammation. I have lived with inflammation and its affects for years.

According to Wikipedia, "Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. Inflammation is a protective response that involves immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue repair".

In 1998 my doctor told me that the pain in my foot was likely arthritis and the intense pain I was feeling was causing an inflammatory response. I was appalled that the doctors answer to managing my pain was to move and walk more, and eat less. I couldn't make him understand that when it was sore, I couldn't put ANY pressure on my foot!

Then I noticed in 2000 when I went on a business trip to California, it seemed better. I couldn't figure out why because I did a LOT of walking on that trip. And a lot less snacking.

In 2007, I suffered from a red eye for days. I was prone to allergies and had experienced eye irritation many times but nothing like this. Some thought it was pink eye, which my kids had a few times over the years, but this was far worse. Their eyes were pink, mine were deep red. And painful.

I went to the opthamologist and he said it was inflammation and that sometimes if the body is under a tremendous amount of stress, the inflammatory response will cause the body to react. I was tested for rheumatoid arthritis but it was negative.

The eye problem continued and during a routine doctor visit we discovered my blood pressure was really high. I was put on medication and while it came down, the red eye problem continued. She prescribed special drops and suggested it was because of dry eye. It seemed to help.

2008 brought another life altering eye opener; I was diagnosed with borderline diabetes AND high cholesterol. It wasn't bad enough to put me on medication, at that point I could manage it with diet and exercise. I lost 25 pounds and my A1c went down to the pre-diabetes level, but the red eye continued. My new doctor checked for rheumatoid arthritis. It was negative again.

In 2010 I was flying to Washington DC for business and we experienced some turbulence and had a very hard landing. I felt my back jerk and thought I heard a crack. It was painful for the whole trip and I found myself avoiding many of the group activities and only participating in what I had to do. I spent most of the trip on ice.

When I returned home from that trip, I went for X-rays and was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondilitis, degenerative arthritis of the back, and Spondilolithesis a condition in which the vertebra slips out of place and moves over the one below it. I was told that it was a pretty severe case. She explained that eventually I could end up in a wheelchair and that I needed to learn to live with the symptoms and do whatever I can to reduce the inflammation. I was put on prescription strength anti-inflammatory drugs and told I needed to lose weight. By this point, I had gained back 15 of the 25 pounds I had lost earlier. Again.

While in physical therapy for my back, I injured my knee. (I will get into this more later). I tore my meniscus and ended up having surgery to repair it. While he was in there he scraped the arthritis from my knee and sent me on my way. Eight months later, after much therapy, cortisone and Supartz injections, I had my knee replaced.

Until after my pain block wore off after the knee replacement, the ten days I was off of anti-inflammatories was the most painful part. My body hurt everywhere. My hair hurt! I was told it was from the inflammation.

Now my hands are beginning to swell and change shape. I know it is arthritis and that some of that is inevitable. But there are days the ligaments and muscles hurt in my hands and forearms.

Inflammation affects the immune system and lead to diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, I am convinced that the root of all of my health problems is related to stress and inflammation. Stress because I eat to deal with those emotions, and the foods I choose are usually things like candy and ice cream, which are loaded with corn syrup and milk sugars. As a result, whenever I eat anything with corn syrup or milk sugars, my inflammation kicks into gear and I feel more pain throughout my body.

Right now, my pain is manageable with diet, exercise, and medication. The most important discovery I have made over the years, and probably the one I ignore the most, is how important it is to stretch muscles before exercise to eliminate injury which always sends me back to the chair with the affected body part on ice. I am now nourishing my body at the cellular level too. Next I will share how I have chosen to use supplements I purchase from TruVision Health in order to improve my blood chemistry and nourish my body.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

TruVision supplements, tea, and oils

There are a number of diets out there that claim to help you lose weight fast and feel better. I know because I have investigated and tried most of them. When my sons were little, I worked at a health food store that I found after I amost died with my third pregnancy and Zack was born with a horrible case of candida. My body was so depleted of vitamins and I was on so many antibiotics that I just passed my health problems onto my little baby. The allergist we were referred to recommended vitamins and supplements and sent me to the health food store with a list.

I quickly found myself on a path of learning the difference between feeding your body and eating. The year I worked at the health food store was the year we were all the healthiest. We ate organic food, drank healthy drinks, took pure vitamins and didn't eat corn syrup and many other foods that promoted the growth of yeast in our bodies. I will write more about Candida and allergies later.

I have chosen to go back to that time when I was feeling the best. I unearthed the books I had collected and found some good websites that discuss nourishing your body, mind, and soul. I was researching pure supplements and along the way found the TruVision Health website, and learned that my cousin sold it. TruVision Health is a company who promotes healthy eating and activity along with taking supplements. Their philosophy was in line with the direction I wanted to take.

I also found teas at the health food store that we drank all the time. Traditional Medicinal Teas have a very tasty brand of teas for many ailments. Most are herbal but some do have caffeine in them. I found that drinking the Gypsy Cold Care, Breathe Easy, and Throat Coat when I had a cold really helped me feel better. So I went to their website and found they have so many more options that I remembered from working at the store.There were shelves and shelves of tea and the owner of the store taught me how certain teas helped to nourish the body by removing toxins and relaxing the body.  She showed me how to create a simple ritual for making tea and drinking it in quiet solitude. She explained that making that time a habit of practicing relaxation was important to improving your health.

In addition, I became a member of Young Living so that I could order essential oils at a wholesale price. I learned about essential oils from a massage therapist I went to for years who helped me learn about managing stress.

I just didn't always practice what I knew to be the best way of managing my stress. Life got in the way and I ventured far away from all that I had learned.  It wasn't until recently that I decided it was time to get back to basics. With my new "tools" (fitbit, blood pressure machine, glucose monitor, and blender), old knowledge (what I previously learned about nutrition and relaxation), and my new habits (smoothies, walking, nourishing my body and soul) I am beginning to understand why it was so important to the owner of that health food store to share her knowledge and skills with her community. She found what worked for her and felt an obligation to share it with others while earning a living for her family.

BTW - I have lost another pound, my blood pressure is back under control (with medication for now), and my blood sugar levels are back where they are supposed to be. I am on the right track.

Still working on those steps though. Sigh......

Monday, January 11, 2016

As previously mentioned

Yesterday I wrote about my frustration with the calorie limits changing just before dinner on my Fitbit app so I decided to see what would happen if I didn't log additional activities until after logging my dinner food. My steps are synced every time I log onto my computer so the activity the app used to determine my caloric intake was based solely on the number of steps today. Sadly, that wasn't many because I did a lot more sitting for work that normal.

Tonight I logged my dinner and as I feared, I went over the allotted calorie level of 1048 from this morning. I ate a high carb dinner of linguine and red sauce with one meatball. This was before the evening smoothie which includes veges.

I needed to see the WHOOPS! I needed to see the crossed knife and fork. In red.

I then added in the other activities from today, such as laundry, the treadmill, cleaning the house, etc. And guess what happened again?

I was awarded with an additional 843 calories!. That would give me 2320 calories! Entering the additional activities after dinner suggests that these additional calories would need to be eaten in the evening.

So what does this mean?

I did some research and learned that a pound is worth 3500 calories. If I want to lose 1 pound per week, I need to cut 500 calories per day out of my diet. The ideal weight for my age is between 104 - 131.

Next, I determined what my activity level is based on the suggestions of the American Diabetic Association. While my ultimate goal is to be very active (walks more than 3 miles per day at 3-4 mph), on a good day right now I am moderately active (walks 1.5 - 3 miles per day at 3-4 mph. 

Today I was not active; I was sedentary.

According to to maintain my ideal weight (once I get there), I would need to eat 2100 calories a day if I were active, 1845 for a low active day, and 1642 for a sedentary day (like today).

I am thrilled to know that my total caloric intake today is even less than the 1642 required for a not active person to maintain a weight of 104-131. But first I need to get to that point.

I went to  to use the weight loss calculator. In order to lose weight I need to adhere to 1200 calories a day. 

This only confirms what I already knew. I need to stop eating pasta and rice and stay under the 1200 calorie goal.

From now on I will know that Fitbit has its own formula, but I have guidelines now that make sense. I will continue to log my activities throughout the day and if fitbit says I can eat more at the end of the day, I will look at my totals and if they are within the above referenced guidelines, I will take that into consideration. But right now, to get healthy, I need to lose some of this excess baggage and I am not going to do that by eating 2300 calories on a sedentary day.

Now I can stop wondering if my fitbit is broken and stressing about it! 

In future posts, I will examine what the other numbers mean and how they affect my health.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

It's the simple things

I have a fitbit zip that is tracking my steps and syncing them electronically to an app. On that app I log my activities and food intake. I love this convenience! What I don't appreciate though is the increase in calories the app gives me right before dinner. This is not good.

It is a mind game.

I was complaining the other night and my hubby says to me, "Well you don't have to eat those extra calories".

That is not the point. See, I need the accountibility factor of knowing I need to stay withing the 800 calories (or whatever is left after lunch) to meet my goal by the end of the day. I loved it when I wouldn't go over and it would say "Horray! You met your goal!"

On the other hand, I need to see the big red letters when I would go over my caloie count. I need to see the crossed knife and fork and the words "You went over by 431 calories!" I need to feel like I made a bad choice and that I need to step up my game! (No pun intended)

But now, I go to log my dinner and find I can eat 1759 more calories! When I am craving chocolate peanut butter ice cream from Dunkin Donuts that is only about a mile right up the road, that is NOT what I need to see.

And more important is the idea that now, to remain true to my calorie total, I am going to have to do MATH to figure out based on my morning total, whether I made it or not!

So yesterday I purposely waited to log my activities until after dinner. Right through dinner I was able to adhere to the calories alotted to me that morning. I even got a "Horray, you met your goal!

Then I added my activities and guess what? I earned another 435 calories!

Thank goodness because my hubby brought home brownies.

Sigh.......But I still managed to have leftover calories. :)

It is the little things that make me happy.

Friday, January 8, 2016

New year, new me, new habits

I ordered a new blender this morning. Making my new shakes has already burned out the motor of my old blender. I have started making protein shakes with a product that claims to be "Corn Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Fish Free, Gluten Free, Milk Free, Peanut Free, Shellfish Free, Soy Free, Starch Free, Sugar Free, Tree Nut Free, Wheat Free, Yeast Free". What it does have in it is all plant based and natural.

I giggle every time I see the name but it also fits the mission of what I am trying to achieve and how I am trying to approach my health.

When I make up my mind to attack a problem, I jump in with both feet and move forward like a warrior. Unfortunately, I eventually tend to give up when I don't see the results I expect to see as soon as I expect to see them. My plan is to attack this in the same way I advocated for better mental health and special education services.  I was able to successfully influence small changes, one step at a time, and over the course of the several years I worked with schools, state, and federal agencies, do my part to improve both systems. 

My hubby always says it takes 30 days to establish a new habit. I am 9 days in and so far, I have stuck with my new morning routine of making a healthy breakfast. Before, I never ate breakfast during the week and had a fat filled yummy one on the weekends. I am also making the decisions of what snacks to eat that day, and beginning any prep for dinner, since I never used to do that until late afternoon and would end up making something quick and not necessarily healthy. I also make a protein smoothy in the magic bullet at that time so it is ready for mid-morning.

In the evening, when making dinner, I make an anti-inflammatory smoothy in the blender for Dave and I, which Dave finishes in the morning before he goes to work. So far, it has really helped curb my appetite and allow me to remain true to my portion control goals. The protein powder goes in that one too.

Making time for preparation is so important and for me, it is the key to successully stay on track with my health goals. Having the proper tools will help as well so, I need a new blender. Instead of telling myself that "I am not working right now and can't really afford it", I am allowing myself the luxury of buying one with all the rewards points I built up logging my weight, blood pressure, glucose, activities, steps, and purchases at Walgreens.

Using that strategy and resource my blender was free. That is a great result of my new routine.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Throw-back Thursday

1976 on my wedding day

I can't believe that when I was married, I weighed 100 pounds soaking wet and I thought I was fat.

When I had my first child I gained 25 pounds and had a difficult time losing it after he was born. When I got pregnant with my second son I barely experienced morning sickness when I was pregnant. I might have had 2 episodes the whole pregnancy but, I was hungry and was eating for two. I gained 60 pounds.

1985 when I was 4 months pregnant
I lost 30 pounds after Nathan was born and kept it off until I got pregnant with my third son but, it was a very difficult pregnancy. I lost 20 pounds in the first trimester and once the severe morning sickness and vomiting was under control, ended up only gaining about 20 pounds the whole pregnancy. 

Unfortunately, over the next several years, I would steadily gain more weight, losing 20 ounds here and there and gaining it back, plus a few more. After my total knee replacement surgery in 2011, I began eating better and training for my first 5K race (walking). By July 2012, I had lost 30 pounds, finished the race (7 months post surgery I really went into it with the idea that if I didn't finish, that was ok - at least I made the attempt), and felt so much better, more energy, and less stress.  2012 ws my healthiest year in a long time.
Picking up my t-shirt. I was so proud to be participating!
Then Dad got sick at the end of 2012 (we found out it could be cancer in August) and my time outside walking decreased while my time in front of the internet researching treatment options and talking to my Mom and Dad on the phone increased. Dad died in April 2013, 8 months after his initial diagnosis and 4 months after the first treatment. 

Life was in turmoil for months following his death. I practically moved in with my Mom to help her grieve and because she also had health issues. We packed up Dad's things and spent time eating to soothe our souls. In May, 6 weeks after Dad died, my Mom had knee revision surgery and she almost died. That summer was spent caring for Mom, and not walking any distance.  I managed to participate in the 5K in July again and actually beat my previous time but I knew I needed to train better for 2014. I had just taken a little break from training.

Mom was still in recovery when Zack died in August 2013. Mom moved in September, 4 weeks after Zack died so once I got her settled, I figured I could get back on track. She never really got settled and spent months wishing she were home with me traveling 6 hours one way to visit.

I walked in 2014 but the training, while better than 2013, was not the same as 2012. My heart was only minimally in it. My heart was breaking.

In April of 2015, my oldest son died and I realized one day that I was eating to manage my emotions. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I thought I was managing my grief well but, apparently not. 

I said before that I am not doing this to lose weight although I know that is important. I am considered morbidly obese and while I am not a vain person by any stretch of the word, how my body feels is very important to me. So while I chase down good health, I am planning to say good-by to this extra weight and hello to more energy.

And looking at these pictures only motivates me more.

January 2016 Before

January 2016 Before

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Weigh-in Wednesday

Yay!!! I have lost 2 pounds so far.

I am experiencing a minor set-back however as my blood pressure has sky rocketed and so has my blood sugar. I can easily explain the elevation in my blood pressure; I discovered that my blood pressure meds were not refilled automatically so I have not had them for three days now.  That will be corrected today.  I also reviewed my food logs and determined that I have been eating foods high in sodium and more carbs than is healthy for a diabetic with high blood pressure.

Today I will increase my fiber and introduce a protein powder in my smoothies that I am going to make each day for my mid-afternoon snack. I am also going to eat a bigger lunch and a lighter dinner, with raw veges or air-popped popcorn for my evening snack.

And of course, continue to walk my 7000 steps.

Let's see how the next week goes!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Starting off slow

My mind is very motivated but my body says, "SLOW DOWN!" I really really tried to get 10,000 steps on Saturday. I ended up with just under 7,000. Sunday it was 6,010.  I walked on the treadmill for 32 minutes Saturday and my hips were screaming. So, I guess to expect to jump right in where I left off in 2012 was a bit unrealistic. The good news is that I am putting in about 4000 more steps than normal so we are off to a decent start.

I wish I could say the same about my diet. Saturday was fine, I ended up with 63 calories under my limit of 1200. Sunday however I went over by 419. It was the cheesy hashbrowns. They were just so darn good I ate the whole box. Not at the same time - I had half for breakfast and then the rest for lunch. But still. And it was BOXED which means processed so I scolded my hubby and reminded him not to buy boxed processed foods. Monday I had 43 leftover.

Today I am back on track. I exercised portion control and only cooked what I needed for breakfast. I think that is what I am going to have to do with some foods for now.

I started the morning with an 8 oz glass of room temperature water with lemon juice (squeezed from a half of a fresh lemon) followed by 1 oz of NingXia Red (click if you are interested in knowing more about this product. If you want to try a sample, please let me know because I am a Young Living member and can get it for you). I took my TruVision supplements with the Ningxia Red. Then I cooked breakfast, ate, and took my morning medication with another 12 oz glass of water.

I am finding that by evening my appetite increases and I am trying to determine whether that is out of habit, boredom, or fatigue. I am guessing the first and third reasons are why I feel I need to eat something after dinner.

I have also decided to adjust my step count for the next 2 weeks. This morning the bottoms of my feet ache, my hips still hurt and my back is cranky. So I am striving for 7000 steps through January 15 and then will increase by 1000 each week until I reach 10,000.

But guess what? Already I feel more energy and less hungry!

My overall goal is to get healthy, and by doing that I hope to reduce the amount of diabetes medication, cholesterol medication, and blood pressure medication that I take. Since I am on a low dose of most of those, I believe by the time I return for my A1c check in March, we will be able to cut one of those out.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year!

It's here! 2016 is here and it is time for renewed energy and focus. I spent the last several months sick. I am tired of being sick. My husband is rehabbing his knee after a total knee replacement and having a hard time. As a result, I have made a decision to finally suck it up and get busy. It's time to work on my health again.

2012 was a great year. Reflecting on that, I realized it was because during 2012 I was recovering from the stress of working 60+ hours a week, rehabbing my knee which involved walking and exercising every day, eating healthy, training for my first 5K walk, and writing. Every day. I blogged, I journaled, and I write articles for publications. I gardened seriously. I cooked. I spent a lot of time with my granddaughter playing and having fun, viewing life through the eyes of a three year old.

I want to get back to that lifestyle. My Dad and sons would be very disappointed to learn that I was grazing my way through grief. I had lost 30 pounds training for the 5K!!! I have gained 20 of it back. :(

So today, I started my new "diet". I am feeding my body healthy foods, following the principles of the Mediterranean diet. I am taking supplements to nourish my cells. I cleared all the crap out of the pantry and have been turning down everyones leftover Christmas cookies. I dusted off the stability ball and the treadmill. I am motivated.

So motivated I have accepted a 10K Challenge. My goal is 10,000 steps per day. I also accepted a 2016 Challenge that will have me walking 2016 MILES this year. I know that is doable because that is just under 6 miles per day. 10,000 steps is about 5 miles right there.  While weightloss is inevitable with that plan, I am really doing this because I am tired of feeling crappy.

Those are my goals. I am stating them publicly so that I can be accountable to someone. Along the way, I will post my progress here. Maybe I will motivate other people to join my team!

Happy New Year!