Tag Archives: health

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.



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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.


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To Be or Not To Be (Fit)

Janet and I have decided something important: enough is enough.  We are bound and determined to become healthier, even if it kills us.  We looked up, past our sugar glazed eyes, past the snack wrappers and crumbs forming our outlines on the ground, and didn’t like what we saw.

All joking aside (just for the moment), Janet and I had gotten incredibly lazy.  While we haven’t gained much weight, we’ve lost what little muscle mass we were clinging to, before we came to California, and now have no stamina when it comes to anything resembling cardio activity.

It boils down to this: do we want to be fit (we’ll never be Jillian fit, but I would like to walk up a flight of stairs without sounding like an asthmatic running in the middle of a wildfire) or do we want to be lazy and unhealthy (since I’m inherently lazy, I’m leaning toward the latter but Janet, bless her little heart, is leaning toward the former)?

After much debate, and many cheeseburgers and ice cream sandwiches, Janet and I decided to make a choice, because, really, life is all about choices: we want to live long and healthy lives.  If we sit in front of the TV most nights, doing nothing but walking to and from the fridge that is a choice we are making.

Another choice would be to go down to the gym and walk on the treadmill while watching our favorite shows or, better yet, jog on the treadmill while watching TV.  I’ve learned I can get through an entire magazine in one sitting if I just go down and use the stationary bicycle while I read it.

We started off slow figuring walking on the treadmill is a good start before we moved ourselves outside.  (Because hey, look! the ground moves for me on a treadmill.)  Our main goal was to work our way up to jogging an entire 5k and what’s the best way for us to get serious about jogging?  That’s right.  We need to spend a little money as an incentive.

We signed up for a jingle bell run to be held in the Seattle area the first weekend in December.  I know we’ll take this seriously because Janet and I really don’t like embarrassing ourselves in front of other people.  You’d think we’d be used to it by now, what with all the practice, but it’s just not true.

I thought, when we first started our attempts at jogging, there’s no way I’ll be able to jog for 3 solid miles without stopping for multiple breaks but then Janet had a brilliant idea.  Janet works with a group of ladies who have thoroughly embraced the idea of running.  Why don’t we join them while we’re here in Sactown?

Since I got the distinct impression this was a rhetorical question, I said YES, let’s definitely do that!  Then she explained their schedule which included running laps at a local high school track on Tuesdays and running stairs in a local parking garage on Thursdays.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

We’ve gone with them now for a couple of weeks and I can honestly say I don’t like to jog.  Janet’s co-workers love it and are really great at it, they are an inspiration to me every time I see them running, but it’s not my favorite thing to do.  However, I can say how much I enjoy how it makes me feel when I stop.

I wish I could truly express how much better I feel when I spend several hours a week jogging versus when I don’t but I’ll try.  Just walking up the two flights of stairs to my room is becoming easier to do; most times I don’t even think about it now.  Going for a walk is so much easier and not something to dread anymore (we used to walk a lot, but not recently).

When I’m writing, or walking down to the gym, or going to get the mail, or just sitting around watching TV, I feel so much more alive now than I did before.  I feel my body changing and I feel and look stronger through my posture and mental attitude.  I feel more in control and my confidence in myself has grown over the past few weeks.

I know how easy it is to fall off the workout wagon, but I will try my hardest to keep on the straight and narrow path.  I don’t want to lose this feeling because, once it fades, it’s hard to remember what it felt like.  I’ve now incorporated working out into my life; it’s just another item on my daily list of things to do.  If I can hold onto my new habit, I can do just about anything.

We’re putting off doing the stairs until tomorrow night because the Seahawks are playing tonight.  So, if you happen to watch any of the game, realize that I’m watching the game with you.  I’ll be watching from the gym, jogging on the treadmill, hootin’ and hollerin’ at the screen.  Where will you be?  Go Seahawks!


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My Big Lazy Butt

To say I’ve fallen off the exercise/eating healthy wagon is putting it mildly.  I’ve fallen off the wagon and rolled down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Trust me, it’s a long and treacherous descent filled with jagged rocks, pointy plants, and miles of doughnuts and cheeseburgers.  Luckily, I am not alone at the bottom of my self-created abyss:  Janet is here keeping me company!

I think Craig, our (former) personal trainer, has disowned us.  I think his eyesight’s too bad for him to see us in our giant hole.  I miss him telling us what to do, how to do it, and how many.  Not too many people can do that with tact and underlying sensitivity.  I’m sure there are people who would like to tell us what to do and where to go, though.

For the moment, we are staying on the third floor and are located right next to the stairs.  The way the floors are set up, it’s too hard to walk to the elevator to get to our car; trust me, I’ve tried.  The first time we walked up the stairs, I was winded and I can’t honestly say just a little.  My clothes are becoming dangerously tight and I’m tired in the afternoons, almost tired enough to take a nap.

So, Janet decided we needed to get off our big, lazy butts and started up a walking/cardio/fruits & veggies challenge for us to do with our friends.  It’s not going well.  We are in week two and I’m having a hard time with the fruits again.  I just don’t like fruits and veggies and I don’t know how to incorporate them into my diet while not tasting them.  Anybody have any suggestions?

I find exercise more enjoyable than eating healthy, although that’s not saying much.  Actually, I don’t enjoy the act of exercising.  I just enjoy the feeling of when I stop.  I feel terrible in the middle of jogging, or moving off the couch, but I feel pretty good when I sit back down.  The couch is still there, waiting patiently for me.  I feel really good after I stop sweating, usually only 30 or 40 minutes later, and I can take a shower.

Has anyone created a pill for memory loss during exercise?  No?  Get on it then.  I would love to take a little pill in the morning, come to at lunch and have Janet tell me, “Wow!  I’ve never seen you so energetic!  You mowed the lawn, dusted our house and the neighbor’s, ran a marathon, and did our taxes.  Good for you!”  That would be wonderful.

Until I find that little pill, and yes it must be legal, I guess I’ll try and figure out a way to motivate Janet and myself.  It won’t be easy:  our favorite meal is dessert; our favorite outdoor activity is going to a park and watching Jessie run around; and our favorite rainy day activity is sleeping until it stops raining.  Good thing we live in Seattle.

We definitely need some baby steps, I can’t all of a sudden be super active like I was a few months ago.  I need to slowly get in motion to stay in motion and use little things to motivate us to get off the couch and eat better.  I think I’ll start in my closet.  I have a pair of pants in there I like to call my ‘five pound bag pants’.

These are pants, way back in the day, which used to fit me very nicely.  At one point, they were actually loose fitting.  When I try to put them on now it’s like trying to stuff ten pounds of crap in a five pound bag: s&!t falling out all over the place.  If that’s not motivation to lose weight I really don’t know what will work.


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Be Honest: How Would You Describe Yourself?

Janet and I were talking the other day about the sometimes unpleasant side effect of increasing a person’s daily fiber intake.  It takes your intestines a while to adjust from squishy white bread to sprouty grainy healthy bread.  It takes your taste buds even longer.  I won’t bore you with the details just know it takes your stomach AT LEAST two weeks to adjust.

Coincidentally, Janet and I started “Karen’s” second challenge a little over two weeks ago and one of the challenges was to increase our whole grain consumption.  If it wasn’t for Sun Chips and Frosted Mini Wheats, I don’t know how we would get by.  I think this is Janet’s least favorite challenge but I still have to say the fruits and veggies challenge is my least favorite.  I can hear the “healthy people” really laughing at us right about now.

So, Janet and I were talking about the consequences of our eating actions and I thought it was the funniest conversation.  If I was sitting at the next table over at Starbucks listening to that conversation I would think, “Those people should be thankful they have each other, I can’t imagine anyone else could love them, let alone be in the same room with them.  Hmm…what’s that smell?”

Anyhoo, it started me thinking.  I am grateful Janet loves me because I couldn’t imagine anyone else putting up with me.  What if I had to put a personal ad out there, looking for someone to date me, and what if I had to be honest?  What would that look like?

Middle aged woman looking for a little loving!  But not for too long…menopause is just around the corner.  I’m only middle aged if I make it to 86 and at my bodies rate of deterioration I don’t see that happening, sorry.  I’ve adopted a healthier lifestyle; one which makes me fragrant and a little crampy.  I’m sure that will pass though.  Literally.  One of my best physical features are my feet.  Did you ever watch The Flinstones?  My feet look just like that.  Yeah, like Fred’s!  Although, they do differ in the fact I don’t remember Fred’s as hairy as mine.  A great trait, out of many, is the inability to remember things.  So, if you want someone who’s flaky, who MIGHT remember to pick up your dry cleaning; I’m the one for you!  Life with me would be adventurous: I might be there when you get home…I might have wondered off!  Who knows where I might be!  And the best part?  I can only see me getting better as I get older.  What was I talking about?

Wow, when I put it like that, I’m not surprised I have a death grip on Janet.  What crazy person would answer that ad?  Of course, if it were truly an ad we could doctor it up.  I could just say something about my being a healthy middle-aged woman with an adventurous streak who resembles a famous person.  That’s not too much of a lie.  Not too much of the truth, either.


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