My Weight Loss Progress

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"Why Do Some Girls Cut their Hair Really Short Like a Boy's?"

This question was asked by my 6-year-old grand-niece.  I gave her a serious answer. I did not get offended. She's only six, and just trying to understand.

I told her that for me, at least, it's because it's so easy to take care of.  It is easy to wash, and dries quickly, so I don't have to take time to fix it or go around with wet hair. I don't always feel well and I don't want to spend my energy taking care of my hair. She seemed to understand that and the conversation moved on.

What if we could all be so guileless?  I don't understand that, so I'll ask about it.  Maybe I'll learn something. Maybe I'll gain a better understanding of that person, or of some other aspect of life. Maybe it will lead to me liking them better, or the other extreme--to inwardly shuddering and moving on.  Maybe I'll offend someone, but maybe they'll actually be glad I asked.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll gain better perspective and be less judgmental.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"I'll See You Next Time"

It amuses me when the exercise leaders on videos say something like "See you next time."  Um, no, actually, you won't. You'll go on with your life, doing whatever else you do, and I will see you next time, doing exactly the same thing you are doing this time.

"You're doing great!" and similar phrases.  Really, maybe I'm sitting on the couch eating a triple scoop of ice cream and the video is just on because I'm too lazy to get up and change it to that movie I planned to watch.

"You've got this."  Well, actually, I'm stretched about half as much as you are, but I'm trying.

And my favorite.  "Don't worry if you fall. We'll catch you."  Oh really?  You're going to jump out of my DVD player and television and catch me?  That's a good one. Who's "we" anyway?  You're the only one I see on the screen.  

My funny for today.  If I could draw, and had time, I'd draw a cartoon. I found some online, but not licensed for reuse.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Musically Inclined Fish

We have two fish tanks, a 55-gallon with some semi-aggressive fish, and a ten-gallon, complete with filter and light for our very spoiled Betta fish.  Each tank has one plecostomus to help keep it free of algae. These fish are commonly known as algae-eaters or bottom-feeders.  They are generally shy fish, hanging out behind the rocks or in plant leaves and coming out at night to feed.  If I turn on the light unexpectedly, I may see one scurry into hiding.

Plecostamus: photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Every day I make it a point to find the plecostomus in each tank either during or after exercise. Sometimes it's quite a challenge to spot them as their coloring blends in with the rocks or reddish plants. Yesterday I put my video on, and when the music started, both of them came out and started swimming around in the front of the tank.  The one in the smaller tank was chasing the Betta.

I've heard of animals reacting to music, but this is the first time I've seen these fish do it. I play that music almost every day--but this day they came out to play and dance.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Relafen Withdrawal

The orthopedist prescribed nabumetone (brand name Relafen) to see if it would help my knee.  After a few weeks of it, I didn't see that it made much difference. My knee didn't seem much better.

The one place it did make a difference was digestion--for me it is extremely constipating. My functional medicine doctor has me taking enough vitamin C to give most people diarrhea, and it has a nice gentle laxative effect for me, almost enough to overcome the effects of the nabumetone.

What to do?  I decided to go off the nabumetone for a few days, but apparently quitting cold turkey was a huge mistake!  I have not had pain like this since before I changed my diet to avoid all the foods causing leaking gut syndrome. And then it was not often as bad as it has been over the last two days.

The pain has caused so much fatigue and emotional turmoil. I just didn't have the energy to deal with my little 3-year-old class yesterday, and they picked up on it and went wild. The ran down the hall away from me, and I let them. One of them escaped completely and I had to get another leader to go find him.  The mom arrived to pick up her twins, only to discover one was missing.  It was horrible!

After church I took one pill, and the pain eased somewhat. I took a long nap, and then was able to sleep in bed later. I felt a little better this morning, but still pretty sore, so I took one pill. The daily dose is two. I hope I don't have to go back to that.  I still managed to exercise both days, mostly complete my daily routine, and even do some sewing.

I have a trip to take this weekend and I am not looking forward to it, in the midst of what I call "fibro flare."  I'm not sure I really have fibromyalgia, but it's at least a term that people understand. Some of the fatigue and aches is probably coming from the viruses I saw in my blood tests, but apparently the nabumetone was helping with that. Without it I feel like I have the worst case of the flu ever. With it, I had mainly only a bad sore throat.

This coming Sunday I don't have to teach, so hopefully by the next week I will feel up to handling the class.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Protein Levels--Do I Need a Vegan Diet?

My test results showed my body is not completely processing protein. I will talk to my doctor about whether I should cut out more meat from my diet. I eat pretty healthy, but I may just start looking into vegan gluten free websites.

In addition, I have a vegetarian daughter-in-law who is also cutting out wheat and dairy, so now I have someone else to share the misery.  One of my sisters is on a six-month trial of the same kind of diet. She's the one I will stay with when I go for a family visit, so this might make my visit just a little bit easier. Not that I would wish it on anyone, but it seems to be getting more and more common.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Finding a Doctor--and Surprising Results

You know how every time you see any kind of doctor, they ask who your primary care doctor is? I decided to find one. This was partly fueled by the fact that my prescriptions needed to be renewed, and I did not have anyone local to do it.  After researching functional and holistic medicine, I decided to go to Health and Wellness of Carmel.  The initial visit was pretty expensive, but also two hours long, so as a cost/time ratio it wasn't too bad.

After a long conversation with the female PA about my health issues and history, I came away with an order for lab work, all prescriptions renewed, an appointment for a thyroid scan, two new supplements, and a referral for a sleep specialist.  The lab work turned out to involve at least a dozen vials and covered all sorts of interesting things, including food antigens.

I don't have the results of the thyroid scan or the food tests yet, but the others came through on the patient portal yesterday, with both good news and bad news.

The good news is that the thyroid numbers indicate a need to reduce my medication! My blood pressure is so good that I may need to reduce that medication too.  In that way I am seeing the exercise as well as the medication having a benefit.

The bad news is that I have at least three virus strains producing active antibodies. In a way that's a relief, because from my studies, and from what she said, there is now treatment available for them. It also explains why I am so tired again lately. It's not just my weird sleep schedules. It's not personality. It's not just that I only do the things I'm interested in and let the rest slide. I'm sick--but I don't have to stay that way.

I also have signs of slight liver damage and kidney damage, but they are not surprising. The liver thing showed up years ago on an exam for insurance, and I passed a kidney stone last year. It does, however, indicate that my "filters" may not be working up to optimum levels.

My next appointment isn't until June, but it will certainly be interesting to get her take on my lab results.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I Just Want This Shirt in a Bigger Size

I tried to embed the video, but it doesn't work and takes me to a warning page, so here's a link to another site that did manage to embed the video. Worth watching. Even if you don't like Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham.

Do You Have This in a Bigger Size?

If you've never shopped for plus-size clothing, venture into their department and see how many things you think are actually cute and stylish.  Then wander back into regular clothing and find something cute and buy it!

Just because some of us need to lose weight does not mean that we want to wear brown sacks. Seriously. Or clothes with no waistline that look like maternity clothes.  Or, as my mom did, wear actual maternity clothes. Maybe she did that because they are actually more stylish than the plus size clothes.

Meanwhile, I am still shopping for the perfect dress, but I'd better make up my mind soon because my nephew's wedding is getting close.

Friday, May 13, 2016

More Size Woes

I promised myself some new clothes when I reached my first goal of 22 pounds lost.

I went online and found some cute things at I checked out their sizing charts and also those at a couple of other stores. According to the measurements, I am still wearing the same size. What a disappointment!

However, my jeans are hanging loose. Certain shirts that were hugging my belly are now hanging loose, straight down like they should.

Perhaps the problem is not that I have not lost a size, but that I was wearing the previous size too tight?  It's just numbers, anyway, but if I am going to get something new, I so wanted to have it be a smaller size than everything else I have.

I think I need to drop in at a couple of local stores and try things on, just to see how sizes actually fit. Measurements don't always tell the whole story.  I looked at things at Dress Barn, but almost all their dresses are sleeveless, so I did not try anything on.  I was going to go to Cato, but I did not see anything online I like, and it's about a 45 minute drive to get there, so I am holding off on that one.

My daughter-in-law says "Blair" is "Blah" but they actually have some cute things this year, and they have things with sleeves! Maybe it's a rant for another day, but why do manufacturers think so many women want bare arms?  Especially plus size women?  I think it's far more attractive to cover up my arms and armpits!  

This is a pretty skirt,
in spite of the paisleys.
My husband likes this one,
but I'm not so sure.
It's kind of a crinkly fabric.

Not wild about the dark blue splotches.
Spiders? Handprints?  Palm trees?

I like this one. We both love the pink
but my husband dislikes the hem. 

This one is pretty; I like the cut but
not the color family used in it.

We both like this one but I kind of
wanted to get away from black.
Maybe I can get a colorful blouse,
and wear the shirt with other things.

I might get this skirt set in the fall; I love it
but definitely the wrong season.
Maybe I'll go down a size by then!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

May Book Review: Mark of the Grizzly

I am in Dewey 500's, Science.  My first book completed is a book about a particular animal:

Mark of the Grizzly: Revised And Updated With More Stories Of Recent Bear Attacks And The Hard Lessons 
by Scott McMillion, Second Edition, Lyons Press, Guildford, CT, 2012

If you have never been scared to wander around in bear country, this book just might do it for you.  It documents dozens of horrific bear attacks, including some deaths.  They occur mainly when humans take a bear by surprise, wandering in the bear's territory.

I'd give you a spoiler alert here, but the title pretty much does that. I'm not going to describe the attacks themselves, but mainly review what I learned from this book, since the purpose of my nonfiction reading challenge is to learn new things. If you have a queasy stomach and a vivid imagination, don't read the book. Otherwise it's a great read with personal stories and lots of good information and bear safety and philosophy thrown in.

The first thing I realized from reading this book is that bears are unpredictable. In general, grizzly bears would prefer to stay away from humans, and will not attack if unprovoked. But just when you think that is always true, a bear will prove it untrue in its particular case. Each has its own personality, and just as with humans and other species, some deviate from the norm. 

Hundreds of thousands of people camp in bear territory each year and very few even encounter a bear, much less get mauled. Sometimes they are lured into human territory by food or waste. Unfortunately humans do stupid things like maintaining a dirty camp, leaving food or garbage out, or, worse, approaching a bear. 

Usually, however,  the provocation is not deliberate. A hiker is going along, making plenty of noise (recommended) watching out to stay away from the cubs, and still manages to somehow surprise a bear and get attacked.  A camper wanders a little too far from the tent in the dark. A hunter is moving quickly and quietly to sneak up on an elk and sneaks up on a bear instead. The element of surprise seems to be a big issue with bears.  If you surprise them, they can decide you are a sneaky predator and attack you.

Bear attacks are not perceived as being deliberately harmful in most cases.  Bears discipline their cubs, and sometimes each other, with a nip at the face or a swipe with their paws. A thick bear hide can resist this, but it quickly tears a smaller, more tender human into pieces. 

In a few cases, a bear has attacked unprovoked, attacking humans in a tent, dragging them out and killing them. Rest assured that if this happens in the United States or Canada, that bear will be tracked down and killed. Some people think this is inhumane, but once a bear perceives humans as food, it has tremendous potential to become a serial killer. It is just not worth the risk of saving its life.  McMillion points out that killing that one bear will likely save the lives of others, preventing them from being shot by hunters who assume that any grizzly is a killer bear.

So, what works to prevent bear attacks?  Nothing is fail-proof, but here are some suggestions that I gleaned from reading the book:
  • Make noise. Let them know you are coming and they are likely to make themselves scarce. Don't sneak up on them for any reason. The best photo op is not worth your life, your health, your eyesight--as photographers have found out the hard way.  Whatever you do, don't sneak up on them.
  • Travel in groups. Make noise.  There is safety in groups because if one person does get attacked, the others can get help.  They may be able to fight off the bear or confuse it.
  • Don't play dead unless the bear knocks you down. Stand up, face the bear calmly, and speak firmly. "No, Bear." (because bears apparently understand English.)  What they do understand is that you are not a threat, but not intimidated either.
  • Don't attack the bear. The only thing worse than a charging grizzly is an angry charging grizzly.  Except that in some cases fighting it, especially in groups, may have confused the bear.  However, they can easily bend a rifle or bite a big stick into shreds, so it's usually inadvisable.
  • Don't run. The bear is a predator and will chase down its prey if necessary. By running, you have proven to the bear that it is more powerful than you, and that you are weak prey. Or something. Because no one can actually read the mind of a bear.
  • If the bear knocks you down, play dead. You are no longer a threat to it or its cubs, and after a few more (extremely damaging) swipes, it will usually go off and leave you alone. 
  • Don't assume that because bears are close to the road, they are safe or tame. Even the most habituated bears can turn on humans.
  • If your dog or horse gets jittery or unpredictable, change direction and be extra wary. Their sense of smell is better than yours, and bears stink. A lot.
  • Don't take guns into national parks that don't allow them.  There is good reason for this. Shooting a bear does not always stop it anyway; it may just enrage it. If you do have to shoot a bear, let's hope you are either a very good shot or get lucky. Remember that thick hide?
  • For some reason, a good shot of bear spray, which is basically a larger, sometimes stronger, can of pepper spray than you would use on, say, the streets of New York, can chase off a bear. Perhaps it thinks it is being stung by millions of bees. You have to get it right in the eyes though. Quick reflexes and ability to reach the spray and release it from its holster are absolutely essential.
  • NEVER look a bear in the eyes.  Not even after it has turned away from you. Trying to stare down a creature that is more than twice your size and armed with very sharp teeth and claws is not a smart thing to do. The bear perceives it as a challenge, a sign of aggression, and will attack harder to subdue you. 
  • Bears go for the face, so if being attacked, try to keep your head down, your face protected by your arms. It may not work, but if you're lucky you'll delay damage to it until the bear has decided you are suitably chastised and moves away.
  • Don't think you can read the mind of a bear. More than one "bear whisperer" has been mauled or killed. Follow general safety tips and stay away from them as much as possible. That's the biggest safety tip. 
  •  Lock up your food in a vehicle or hang it really high in a tree. Make sure the windows are up. Don't leave it in coolers, backpacks, or tents, all of which are accessible by determined bears. Similarly, if you live in bear territory, don't leave fruit from trees for windfall.  
  • Keep a clean camp. Cook on a camp-stove and put it away. Use approved latrines--either one at the campsite or a sealed bucket that you lock in your car. Clean up your trash and dirty dishes. If you brush your teeth, spit in the latrine, not on the ground. Leave as little around to smell good as possible. Don't bring small animals, and especially don't leave them at the campsite or in a tent--not even in a carrier. I actually saw this in a movie, and it resulted in a heartbroken girl when the bear tore up the camp and the little dog disappeared.
MY MAIN TAKEAWAY:  If you want to camp or travel in bear territory, be alert, be prepared, and know and follow the basic safety guidelines.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Blood pressure: How low is too low?

When I went to the doctor yesterday my blood pressure was at 110/60. She said it's really good, but if it goes much lower we may have to adjust the medication. That would be awesome!  The more meds I can get off of, the better.

This has really shown me the importance of monitoring medications. If I just keep taking it without getting the blood pressure checked often enough, I could put myself in danger.

According to Web MD, if it gets to 90/60 that is hypotension. There are other dangers associated with it, as explained on their website.  I just need to set a day of the week to remember to get out my blood pressure monitor and keep an eye on it.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Call the Midwife!

No, I am not announcing a miracle pregnancy!

I just watched Season 1 Episode 1 of Call the Midwife (TV show) and it was kind of interesting. I would like to see each individual story gone into in more depth, but for a season opener to introduce several characters it was pretty good.

The one that got me was the woman who had 25 babies! She started at age 14 and never quit--and only two sets of twins. One thing that was really funny was when the midwife asked the oldest girl at home when her mom last had a period, and the girl was too embarrassed to translate it. How can you grow up with a mom having a baby every year and be too embarrassed to talk about periods? Perhaps no one ever explained the connection?  Anyway, enough spoiler alerts.

I have an ancestor who gave birth to at least 20 children, including 3 sets of twins, (maybe a set of triplets, but two of the names are close so it might be the same person) so that's 17 or 18 pregnancies. 18! At least one of the children died as a baby, which I find so very sad, and the shortest time between births was a little less than 8 months, with the longest time being 2 years and 7 months. I cannot even imagine, I just can't even. Pregnant almost nonstop from age 17 to age 39.

But I guess I should be grateful since my Great Great Great Grandfather was #17. That is sure a lot of names to come up with. At least five of them had middle names. Maybe they did not make such a big deal of name choosing as we do. Oh well, a name?  It was a little cutesy that they named twins Elias and Eliza, but most of them are plain old names like Charles, Steven, James, Hannah, Hezekiah...wait, Hezekiah?  Nope, it was Keziah.

At any rate, I am grateful that I had modern medical care or I would possibly not have survived the first one; and if I had, I would probably have lost one or both of the last two. I love all my sons so much I can't even imagine life without them. And I am still glad I did not have 20 or 25 children!

Happy Mother's Day

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Coconut Chicken and Orange Dipping Sauce

I can't give you an exact recipe, but I can tell you what I did, and it was delicious.

First, I sliced tender chicken breast into pieces about 1/2 inch thick, an inch wide and 2-3 inches long.

I threw a couple of cups of Rice Chex into the blender and turned them into crumbs, then stirred in a heap of finely grated coconut, the unsweetened organic kind, and a large sprinkle of nutmeg. After whisking up some eggs, I stirred the chicken pieces into the egg and then dipped each piece into the cereal/coconut mixture and placed them on a well-greased pan. I popped them into a 400-degree oven for 25 minutes, started some rice and vegetables, and went off to do something else.

When it was nearly time to serve, I made an orange sauce using orange juice, corn starch, and a bit of ground cloves. I just used the proportions on the corn starch box for making white sauce. I put everything on the table along with soy sauce and maple syrup and butter for choices to stir into the rice.

One of our dinner guests, after tasting the sauce, added a bit of maple syrup to it and stirred it in. I tried it and it was a big improvement. Next time I will just add it, or sugar, when I make the sauce. I will also turn the chicken over about half way through next time.

We each had our own little bowl of sauce, and dipped the coconut chicken pieces in it. The combination was delicious! It was tempting to overeat, but I reminded myself that I can make it again some time, and I let the guests finish it off. It was a little more work than our usual method of just cooking the food plain, but for guests it was worth the effort.

I took the extra coconut/Chex mixture, stirred in the extra egg and a bit of butter, and formed small patties. I can't tell you how they came out because I forgot about them and they burned. I didn't want to waste it, and ended up wasting it anyway, but at least it wasn't intentional.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

First Major Goal Achieved! Shopping Time!

Exactly to the 2/10 of a pound, I made my first goal! 22 pounds lost! I am dancing around the house! That ought to burn a few calories.

Now I get to go buy some new clothes--hopefully in a new size! I saw a cute dress in Blair but I'll check out what they have locally first.

There's just one problem. I don't really like to shop! LOL. But I've really been wanting some cute new things, and saving the money for them, so I will enjoy it. Shopping is like working out--it's part of the price to achieve the reward.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dewey 500

Dewey Decimal System 500 appears to be about science. I found interesting-looking books about animals, plants, the cosmos, the geometry of flowers, history of numbers, and other fun stuff. I checked out nearly 30 books, but since I can generally only get through a few nonfiction each month, I'm interested to see which I end up picking up and reading.

Monday, May 2, 2016


20.6, actually.

That's the weight I've lost in four months, in pounds. About a pound a week. Hopefully I can make my goal of 22 in the next two weeks, so I can get a new dress for my nephew's wedding. There's incentive to stick with it!