Category Archives: Health

Cystic Fibrosis Cycle For Life Ride

I didn’t make the whole 37 miles; I only made 32. I knew going into the ride I probably wouldn’t be able to finish, I’ve never attempted anything of distance before, and I’m pleasantly surprised I made it as far as I did.

I have three strong thoughts about my CF ride: 1. I now know what 35-ish miles on a bike looks and feels like. 2. That wasn’t very smart of me. (For someone who has never signed up for anything longer than a 5k jog, 35 miles was way out of my league.) 3. I am so doing this next year!

The first thing I need to work on is my hydration. I felt pretty good during the hilly part, felt a lot better during the flat part, but after about twenty miles my right leg started cramping up and wouldn’t stop no matter how much Gatorade I drank. I think my hydration problems started before the race began.

I was nervous, to say the least, before the race and didn’t drink much Gatorade or water to begin. When we started out, the first ten miles or so, were rather hilly for someone not used to riding a bike. A couple of the hills were so big I had to walk my bike up them. I sweated quite a bit and only drank water or Gatorade when I stopped to take a break.

After the first ten miles the course flattened out and I hit the first rest stop needing a boost to my reserves. I had a little peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Gatorade, both of which helped me immensely. I felt a weird sensation in my right leg, after the second rest stop, almost like a gas bubble trapped in my quads.

I drank more liquids and felt pretty good until my leg actually started cramping at about the 25 mile mark. When I finally made it to the last rest stop, with about seven miles to go, I almost took the nice lady’s offer to drive me to the finish line but I wasn’t ready to quit. Not yet. She did tell me if I took a left at the light, instead of a right, I could shave about five miles off the route. That I did.

Now I have a much better idea of what I need to do to finish the CF ride. I need to hydrate better and more frequently. I need to actually train for the ride and not think a few 5k jogs and a 13 mile flat bike ride will suffice. I need to increase my fitness level, although I will admit I didn’t feel quite as bad after the race like I thought I would.

Janet and I (mostly I) were at the back of the ride for almost the entirety. That didn’t bug me as much as not finishing. I knew almost from the start I would ride this again next year. I can do better, now that I know what to expect. Next year’s ride will be much better…I’ve already started training.

jenn

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How I Find Training Motivation: Fear

I don’t know what I did to make Janet angry, but it must have been a doozy.  Janet signed us up for a 35 mile bike ride through the beautiful hills of Forest Grove, Oregon and I’m scared to death of how I will feel after: will I still be alive? Will every cell in my body scream out and do the hokey pokey? I don’t think the end result will be pretty…if we make it to the end.

Thirty five miles might not sound like a lot, to a select few of you, but I can tell you Janet and I are far from being in the kind of shape needed to pedal a bicycle. It must have sounded like a great idea to Janet, a couple of months ago when she signed us up, but now that it’s 2.5 weeks away I’m thinking of having her tested for the crazy bug.

One thing this impending doom of a race has done, besides scare me silly, is to realize how seriously I take exercising and eating for fuel now that a deadline is quickly approaching. I have exercised more (jogging, walking, biking), eaten better foods (superfoods, fruits, veggies, lean proteins), and drank more liquids (water, Gatorade, beer) in these last couple of weeks than I thought possible. I really don’t like any of these things…except for the beer, of course.

Janet and I must be delirious from the endorphins from working out because we’re talking about signing up for a series of three 5ks in Seattle starting in September. The goal of the timed 5ks, staggered four weeks apart, is to see yourself progressing in your endeavor to become fleet footed. That shouldn’t be hard for me: I’m currently jogging at about a 23 minute mile pace. That could be an exaggeration, but it might not be.

Did I ever write about the time I took up jogging in Fort Worth, TX? I’d been jogging for about a month, I felt pretty good about my progress, when I came upon a little old lady speed walking. I was jogging along at a nice pace when this speed walker blew by me. She was a little gray haired, cane using, hearing aid wearing octogenarian in a track suit who went by so fast I thought I was in reverse. True story. Needless to say, there’s room for improvement in my timed runs.

We must be drowning in too many vitamins and minerals, from those fruits and veggies, because we’re also talking about running a 10k in December to finish the year out. What is wrong with us? Have we finally turned the corner on our lazy habit of sitting around watching TV while eating cheeseburgers and milkshakes? That’s one possibility. I’m thinking it’s the beer buzz, though.

jenn

ps. Our Boston terrier, Roxy, is the funniest little creature. I’m pretty sure Boston’s were bred to be ratters but Roxy thinks she’s a herding dog. Whenever she wants me to go anywhere, she gets behind me and stares intently at my legs like she’s willing me to move with her intimidating stare. She lowers her head and goes into a trance like state. It’s the funniest thing. It never works, but she’s trying to perfect her awesome mind control over me. You must move this way, Momma!

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An Ode to My Fitbit

How did I love thee, oh great and powerful motion sensor?

Let me now count the steps.

I didn’t know how much I needed you, how much I relied on you.

Until I drowned you.

I will miss you, my dear Fitbit.

I never knew how little I moved until you showed me.

I never knew how big of a couch potato I was until you explained it to me in vivid graphs and diagrams.

I had no idea how important ten thousand steps were to me until you showed me the love.

I still reach for my waistband, hoping to move you closer to my hip, to record every step.

I come up empty now.

Because I took you with me into the ocean.

I believed you to be invincible, not realizing just how non-water-resistant you were.

I was selfish to want every last step, not heeding my beloved’s advice to leave you in the hotel room.

“But, what if you accidentally take her into the water with you?”

“Don’t worry. That won’t happen.”

Famous Last Words.

I walk alone now.

No one monitoring my every movement.

Unable to count my own steps.

I usually get to about ten and then lose my train of thought.

Look, squirrel!

I will miss you, my friend.

When I’m on a beach, I will think of you.

Because that is where I held you underwater until all your circuits fried.

You were my first and the best.

You made me accountable.

You made me move when I didn’t really want to, because I didn’t want to see such pathetically low numbers.

That’s what I loved about you: you were brutally honest and in my face about my movements (or lack thereof).

You made me yearn to help your plant grow.

I made it grow to eleven leaves once!

I’m sorry, my beautiful Fitbit, for my selfishness and lack of a perfect memory.

I will stride (sic) to remember you, my little friend.

Jenn

FYI – On a happier note: I’m getting a new Fitbit Flex! In the interim, I’m a serious couch potato now. I’m kinda glad my Fitbit isn’t around to see this shameful exhibit.

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Beware of the Dormant Sun Worshipping Virus About to Hit Seattle

It’s been lovely in Seattle the last couple of days: sunny, slightly warm and a nice soft breeze. My dog, Roxy, loves it! She demands to go outside and then will lie on her back in the middle of the parking lot, little legs stuck up in the air, soaking up as many rays as I will allow.

I noticed today, when I was buying stamps (someone has to keep the post office afloat), a lot of people are out and about. Doesn’t anyone work during the day anymore? Then I remembered a story, a scary story my mom told me when I was a little kid.

It was an exceptionally bad winter, around 197…well, it doesn’t matter what year, and when the temperature finally crawled back into the 60s I was shocked at the amount of people outside. I don’t think I had ever seen so many people. So I did what any normal kid would do: I asked my mom what on earth was going on.

She told me about these vitamin D deficient creatures, basement dwellers in the little city of Seattle, who only came out in temperatures above sixty. Cold-blooded, lily-white people who tentatively step outside at the first hint of flip flop season. Normally during the dark season, these sun worshiping people ran from their homes to their work and occasionally to the taverns or the mall, barely setting a foot outside on the mildew-y sidewalks. They were so well hidden, in bad weather, you never truly realized how many people lived in the greater Seattle area.

These creatures, zombies really, write letters and call anyone in the media, anyone who will listen, about the horrible weather conditions in this God-forsaken part of the country. You can spot them easily because they say things like, “why can’t it just rain already? What’s with this drizzle? I can’t use my windshield wipers! It wouldn’t be so cold if it wasn’t so moist all the time. If you would have warned me about the weather, during that long ago visit in August, I never would have left California!”

My mom talked in hushed tones so as not to draw their attention to her. She didn’t want one of them getting close to her, blinding her with their uncovered, not quite completely freckled skin. She warned me to watch myself around them as they are usually drunk and crazy on the unexpected deluge of sun and warmth. Usually these zombies are happy hanging out in their dark caves, reading books and watching TV. But when the sun comes out, they come out.

My mom explained this viral disease, here in the Northwest, this Sun Worshiping Virus, which stays dormant until the following things occur: 1. At least three months of cold/wet/miserable weather. 2. A sudden rain stoppage and a clearing of the atheist-creating cloud cover. 3. An increase in temperature: above 60 degrees F will cause a minor outbreak; 70 will cause a full blown epidemic; 80…well…we won’t talk about that.

A couple of days after this incident, the temperature reached seventy for the first time in ages and we had an epidemic on our hands. Churches, schools and most local businesses were deserted, the Virus causing a zombie like state in usually normal people. These zombies left their respectable lives to be cured at Alki Beach, Greenlake, Lake Washington and anywhere else you’re allowed to wear as few clothes as possible no matter how inappropriate. You will never see so many people.

Many of us native Washingtonians, when seeing the weather on the news and understanding the implications of the first truly warm day, will avoid these areas like the plague. You will find us at work, trying to keep businesses open. You will also find us at the library, inhaling the potential for hours of reading, or at the museum…anywhere we know the zombies won’t go during an amazingly beautiful explosion of light.

This weekend, the weather is supposed to be wonderful. It’s supposed to reach 80 degrees on Sunday and Monday. Now, I don’t want to alarm you…just warn you about the possibilities for the apocalypse which might happen this weekend. Just know the throngs of staggering, sunglasses and bikini-wearing people who are going to appear, all at the same time, on the streets and waterways of Seattle.

There will be traffic gridlock, much worse than our normal variety. There will be arguments, perhaps coming to blows, over that last parking spot available in the Seattle Metro Area. The desperate Worshipers finally stripping away the last of the decades old idea of what a friendly place Seattle can be. Someone may get hit with a fish, while elbowing a little old lady out of the way, at the Pike Place Market; there will be too many people for a safe throwing lane.

I am lucky: I have plans to be out of town this weekend. I probably won’t venture out to Greenlake or Alki again until September or so, after the finally sated, vitamin D overloaded creatures make it back to school and back underground. I wish you Seattleites luck this weekend but, please, if you don’t have to be out and about…stay inside with the doors and windows locked! At least use public transportation.

jenn

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The Key to My Weight Loss Success

I really wish someone would create a magic, natural, healthy pill to miraculously melt away my body fat. If only that person was me I could become a deca-billionaire, or worse! Since neither I nor anyone else has created said magic pill, I guess I’m on my own with losing weight. I’m really too lazy to lose any serious weight, although I think I’ve found something that works well for me.

It really boils down to shame. I have to shame myself into eating right and exercising. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean serious shame, I like myself way too much for that, I mean more along the lines of ‘really? You’re going to put that into your body? Do you know how many calories are in that pie?’ The only way for me to do this is to keep track of everything I eat.

It’s embarrassing to see exactly what I eat on a daily basis. Keeping a food journal is a humbling experience. Did you know one pop tart has two hundred calories? And who can eat just one? I can forgive Grapenuts cereal for not having much flavor once I realized how much good stuff was packed into those tiny morsels. Add a few blueberries and nonfat milk and I have a great start to the day.

There are quite a few apps for food journaling and through trial and error I have chosen MyFitnessPal as my embarrassometer. I like MFP because not only does it keep track of your food and water intake but your workouts as well. So, you start with a given number of calories, mine being 1530 (because I want to lose about a pound a week), and the more you exercise the more calories you ‘earn’. I love it! If I go out for a jog, I can have that second pop tart!

At the end of your eating day, when you’ve tallied all your calories, you scroll down to the bottom and hit <complete this entry>. If I’ve been good it says, ‘If every day were like today, you will weigh five pounds less than you do now in five weeks!’ If I’ve been bad it says, ‘you will weigh a lot more if you don’t gain a few more IQ points!’ Okay, it doesn’t say that, it just gives me a number I don’t want to see.

Along with food journaling, I realized a few months ago, I must move more. I spend a lot of time on the computer, writing and researching, and not a lot of time moving around. So I did the one thing that seems to be helping me more than anything else, when it comes to movement: I adopted a dog, Roxy the Rox Star. I live in a condo so I can’t just open the back door and let her run free. I have to put my shoes on and walk her around the block.

Before Roxy joined our family, I used to go out for jogs or walks once a day and then sit around the rest of the time. With Roxy, I go out and walk several times a day and the difference is noticeable. Since I adopted Roxy, sometime in mid-February, I’ve lost six pounds. Almost a pound a week and I feel much better about my energy and activity levels.

At the beginning of the year I weighed about 185 pounds. When I brought Roxy home I weighed 180. Today I weighed myself at 174 and my clothes are getting annoyingly baggy. For those of you who think 174 doesn’t sound like a lot of weight: just know I am very small boned and I could easily lose another thirty pounds. For those of you who don’t think losing eleven pounds in three months is a big deal: I could’ve just maintained my weight or even gained a pound or two. Any weight loss is good at this point.

I credit Roxy and MyFitnessPal with keeping me aware of my surroundings. I absolutely have to know what is going into my body and I have to move around, revving my metabolism up, several times a day instead of just once. I view food journaling now the same way I view taking Roxy out for walks: I have to make accountability more than just a habit. I have to make it something I just do because I don’t have a choice.

jenn

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Curing HIV and Other Science in the News

Alert! The only people who should read this blog are science nerds and moms.

I read an article, a few weeks back, about a Mississippi baby who’d been cured of HIV. I was momentarily stunned by the enormity of the information in the article. Could we finally be close to a cure for HIV; finally be close to eradicating the scourge of AIDs? I googled the baby yesterday and was disappointed by what I read. You gotta love the internet, but sometimes news travels a little too quickly for truth’s sake.

The Mississippi baby did test positive for HIV but no one knows if the baby had been infected or just exposed to the virus. There’s a huge difference. A lot of scientists feel the baby had only been exposed and therefore the drug regiment stopped the baby from actual HIV infection. The blood cells infected could have been from the baby’s mom, a woman known to be HIV infected. At this point, nobody knows for certain but it doesn’t seem the word ‘cure’ is appropriate here, unfortunately.

If you are squeamish about bodily functions, please don’t read any further. The yuck factor will be going up significantly starting with the next sentence. One science article which caught my eye, and seems to be gaining steam, is an article about fecal transplants. Hey! I warned you.

I never thought, in the entire history of Jenn, I would see the words ‘fecal’ and ‘transplant’ side by side. The first time I read about these particular transplants I was amused and delighted to see such an interesting article (to me) in the Seattle Times.  When I saw another article, about a week ago, I got serious and did a little more research on the subject.

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a spore producing (one of the 00.01% microbes which survive hand sanitizers), pathogen which can cause bloating and painful, chronic diarrhea in some people. Generally, your naturally occurring gut flora crowd out pathogens such as C. diff, but, if something (such as a round of antibiotics) wipes out said bacteria, C. diff then has free reign to wreak havoc.

Once your good bacteria has been wiped out (like most cures, antibiotics have a hard time being specific) it’s incredibly hard to get them back and working pathogens don’t like to give up their parking spaces. One answer, when everything else has failed to stop C. diff, is to undergo a fecal transplant.

The New England Journal of Medicine published an article about fecal transplants and how they are gaining acceptance in the medical world. According to the article: doctors, while trying to cure a C. diff infection, who used antibiotics say it worked 31% of the time while fecal transplants worked 94%. I wasn’t a math major but those numbers seem significant to me.

I won’t gross you out with the specifics of the procedure, if you’re really interested you can read about it here, but I will say I find this fascinating. Seriously, who knew? Reading things like this doesn’t bother me, though. I think it’s mostly because I’m a mom. Once I had a child, and went through the Volcano Butt incident, the word ‘fecal’ just doesn’t scare me anymore. Been there, done that.

jenn

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Hello Normal! Nice To See You Again

It’s been a long time since anyone has called me normal.  I’ve been told, ‘that’s pretty normal for you,’ mostly by Janet, but I don’t think normal is a word she’s used to describe me.  In my defense, what exactly is normal?  I’m guessing my normal is much different from your normal.

I wasn’t acting normal this past December when I decided to go to my primary doctor for a checkup.  I can’t remember the last time I went for a general checkup.  Usually, when I get a wild hair they don’t involve doctors or hospitals; at least not at first.

I like this new doctor of mine. She seems very kind and concerned about my well being.  She scheduled all kinds of tests for me: a mammogram, a hearing test, blood tests, pap smear, booster shots…the list went on and on.  I finally had to say, ‘whoa, doctor, I just came in to make sure I won’t drop dead if I start jogging again. I don’t know if I’m ready to be that healthy.’

She sent me right downstairs to the hospital to schedule my mammogram and I thought she was going to escort me herself. You don’t trust little ol’ me, doctor?  I went for my mammogram and was told if there was an issue they would call me and if my test results were normal they would send me a letter via snail mail.

I was on pins and needles the first day after my test just waiting for the phone to ring.  But it didn’t ring that next day or the day after that.  I received a letter a few days later stating everything was normal with my test.  I was shocked.  I sat down at my desk, called Janet immediately and told her, ‘Janet!  Parts of me are normal and I have it in writing!”  I’ve decided to keep that piece of paper just in case someone has any questions about me being normal.

I’ve had issues with my hearing lately so I went to have a hearing test.  After the test, it was determined I have a slight hearing loss in my right ear in the lower tones and my left ear is fine.  I was shocked.  I went home, called Janet and told her, ‘my hearing is fine…you and Jessie mumble.  My left ear is normal!”

Janet flew in early today so we could go over to Bellevue for Costco’s annual shareholder’s meeting (I’m the proud owner of 2.97 shares, thank you) and it was really interesting.  They had all kinds of foods, drinks and various freebies to hand out.  We walked by a booth with free bone density scans and Janet wanted to get hers checked but I told her I wasn’t interested.

The nice nurse talked me into sitting down and rolling down my sock to check my left foot.  I was shocked when she told me my bone density was so good I was almost off the charts. My bones were better than normal: they were the equivalent of a 20-somethings.  Wow.  I’ve got normal throughout my body now.

I haven’t gone in to have my blood tested or my yearly exam so I don’t know how normal those parts will be but I do know my boobs, left ear and bones are completely normal.  And I have it all in writing. Hi normal. Nice to see you again.  How have you been?

jenn

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