Thursday, January 13, 2011

8 lbs in 3 months

Arrrggghhh. Went to the doctor this week for a check-up. Blood sugar still good, blood pressure still good. Cholestrol bad, liver function outside of the norm. Dear sweet Dr. Pang came pretty close to fussing at me, especially when I confessed that I hadn't been taking my fish oil or vitamins or calcium. Or watching what I ate or exercising regularly in the past month. He actually mentioned my weight for the first time ever. This fatty liver issue isn't going to just disappear. He told me he wanted to put me back on Metformin to aid my liver function. I made promises to eat right, get back to a normal exercise routine, and take my vitamins. He relented on the Metformin, reluctantly. He told me I have to lose 8 lbs before I come back for a check-up in 3 months. 8 lbs in 3 months is not a problem. I can do that in a month. Or I can gain 8 lbs in a month. The choice is mine.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year, New Commitment

For 8 months, I was completely dedicated to hot yoga. That's the longest I've ever exercised during any of my other exercise infatuations. And then, the period between Thanksgiving and New Years happened. I'm not making excuses but I had lots going on in my life to make me want to go home and lay on the couch. I found out a dear friend has a brain tumor. I had to lay off 1/3 of my department. Those of us who are left have to bust our butts to get the same amount of work done. And then there is the issue of our daughter and the fact that she seems hellbent on destroying her life. Her self-destructive behavior has me worried to death about our grandson. So I've been depressed. Exercise is good for that, right? Right. If you actually feel good enough to force yourself to do it. I haven't. So I only went to yoga a couple of times in December. I ate everything in sight. God knows how much weight I gained and what damage I did to my blood sugar, blood pressure, liver function, etc. So 2011 dawned. A New Year, new commitment. My first time back nearly killed me. The second time was tough but I felt good when I left. So, I'm back. Hot yoga, I still love you. Take care of me.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sweating and Stretching

When I'm leaning over hanging my head 6" from my towel-covered yoga mat with my hands "scooping" up my heels, pulling with my biceps, straighting those hips, breathing in through my nose and out through my nose, watching sweat trickle down my legs, I feel ...great! I've been doing hot yoga for almost 7 weeks now and I'm totally hooked. When my 10-class pass ran out, I bought the unlimited 90 day package ($210- very reasonable since I go 3-4 times per week). For two weeks, I've even been going to the 5:30 am class on Thursdays and Fridays. I'm not crazy about losing sleep but at least my other obligations don't interfere at that hour. I can tell incremental improvements every single time I go. Last week my big thrill was finally being able to grap both ankles in bow pose on the floor. Progress! And I feel so good!

I took my 4 weeks of tennis lessons and loved it but the advanced beginner class is at terrible times for me. So I'm hitting up all my tennis playing friends to play with me. So far, several say they want to but actually getting from "sure, I'd love to play with you" to "let's play Thursday at 6 PM" is a big leap.

I'm barely drinking alcohol any more. I honestly don't want it after I've exercised. I just want to rehydrate myself with water. And I'm still being careful with eating. I'm not starving myself or even doing without food. I eat absolutely no sugar or sugar products, practice portion control, and only snack on veggies and fruits, homemade yogurt, or small amounts of nuts.

So far I've lost 16 lbs and gone from a size 14 to a size 12. The only problem with that is that I don't have many size 12 clothes and I sure don't want to spend a lot of money buying size 12s. I'm aiming for at least a 10, if not an 8. So I walk around in baggy-butt pants, looking awful. Tomorrow I may stop at a thrift store and see if I can pick up a few pairs to bridge the gap.

My blood sugar is now consistently in the 80s/90s. Of course, I'm still on the metformin from Dr. Pang. I hope he'll take me off of it when I go back in June. BTW, my thinning spine turned out to be in the osteoporosis stage, per Dr. McComb. We do so many spine building exercises in hot yoga that I'm still determined to stay off osteoporosis meds. I'm giving it a year to build on my own before I jump on the pharma wagon.

In short, I'm sweating and stretching and losing and loving it!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Figuring out the Exercise Thing

After a lot of consideration of exercise I enjoy, I settled on yoga and tennis. Because of my wacky schedule picking up our grandson Sean on alternating days I had to find a yoga facility with a schedule that worked for me. Turns out that Kernersville Hot Yoga has classes every evening plus Saturdays and Sundays. What is hot yoga? Also known as Bikram (pronounced bee-crum), it's yoga practiced in a room heated to 105 F with 43% humidity. It consists of 26 poses performed twice, the first set longer than the second set, over a 90 minute period. My first time going I was scared. I thought I might pass out from the heat. And it was tough. I felt like crap when I left. But the next morning was the first time my blood sugar reading broke 100. I was pysched. So I've been going there and sweating my a** off 2 or 3 times a week for 3 weeks. It gets better every time. And I think I've lost about 9 pounds between the yoga and eating right. The reason I say think is because I went to my Ob-Gyn today for a check-up and I weighed 9 lbs less than I did at my regular doctor 3 weeks ago. Hopefully their scales are both pretty accurate. And what's even better is that my blood sugar has been in the 80s most of the time and hasn't been above 100 sense my first session. It's hot, hard, and I enjoy it and feel good when I leave.

I had my bone density test today and it showed I'm losing bone in my spine, hips are stable. My doctor discussed one of those bone-building prescriptions but I told him I was going to try to handle it with exercise. There are some digestive issues with the meds that I'd just as soon avoid.

Tomorrow evening I start tennis lessons. I haven't played to amount to anything since I was a teenager. I loved the game back then. I hope I can hang with it now. I'm a little worried about my right ankle because it's still a little swollen and tender from a twist and fall I took a couple of weeks ago. I stopped to pick up an ankle brace and Target was out of them. Must be a lot of fat old women turning their ankles these days. I'll look somewhere else tomorrow. I hope tennis gives me aerobic exercise plus enough weight bearing exercise to improve my bone loss. Things were so much easier 20 years ago!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Almost 6 months later...

It's almost 6 months since my last post. What happened? Well I honestly don't know. I have all sorts of excuses but they all boil down to the fact that I just lost my willpower. I think it started with the farmers' market closing. Anyway, as has always happened since I started having weight issues, I gained back the weight I lost and I ended up this week with my doctor putting me on a diabetes med because my blood sugar has been high for "about a year" (how can I not have known this?) and my fatty liver needs relief from all the sugar in my system so it can heal itself. Of course, all of this would be miraculously repaired by my body if I just lose 30 or 40 pounds.

The thing is, I'm still eating a heck of a lot better than I was before I started this blog on my 50th birthday last August. I still do not consume fake foods. No frozen, packaged entree has made it past my lips in the past 9 months. I don't drink soda (diet or otherwise). That was a real shocker for my doc who assumed that I must guzzle the stuff by the gallon and, just eliminating that from my daily routine would bring my blood sugar into line. I do not eat packaged foods. Well, OK, confession time: I have eaten a *lot* of Girl Scout cookies. And I have worked myself back into an ice cream habit. And on my frequent business dinners out I have always had dessert, usually when I was so stuffed from the appetizer and entree I could barely force it down. And I haven't made wise food choices. I have looked at menus with grilled salmon and ordered filet mignon instead. I have eaten french fries instead of salads. I could go on and on. The point is, I fell off the wagon and I have to get back on and take responsibility for my body.

Last weekend, when I knew I had a doctor's appointment which I assumed was strictly about my fatty liver, I went online and did research on liver health. I kept running into information about juicing. The more I read, the more I was impressed by the health benefits. I discussed it with my doctor and also with the intern that is following him around. Both were in favor of it. Of course, I still need to eat vegetables for fiber but the intern said, "There are few things in medicine that are absolutely clear cut, no questions, and getting more raw vegetables into your body is one of them." But then my doctor dropped the pre-diabetes bomb on me and put me on meds.

So I sit here today, typing and drinking a juice made from: 1/2 small cabbage, 1/2 grapefruit, 1/2 lemon, 1 pear, about 8 stalks of asparagus, 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot, a chunk of ginger root, a clove of garlic, a big handful of spinach leaves, and a few grapes. It made about 24 ounces and it is surprisingly tasty. Because of my blood sugar, my juices have to be green veggie based- cabbage, cucumber, or celery being the bulk of it. Yesterday I added a few mustard greens and some turnip greens. Every day I throw in different stuff- basically whatever catches my eye as I go through the fridge. My intent right now is to drink the juice prior to eating a healthy breakfast each day. The stuff I've read says that juice has no fiber and is quickly absorbed into the blood stream on an empty stomach. Since everything is raw, I'm getting tons of enzymes, chlorophyll, beta-carotene and other anti-oxidents. Now I just have to make healthy food choices the rest of the day.

I also have to get back into an exercise routine which I lost in January when I hurt my knee. I'm racking my brain trying to fit something into my schedule (work plus picking up my grandson Sean on different days each week). The lunchtime walking works but it's not something I look forward to each day. My doctor's intern said I should pick something I enjoy so it won't feel like punishment As a teenager, I loved tennis. As an adult, I love Yoga. I also love gardening. Gardening is the one thing that gets inserted into my weekly schedule and doesn't get skipped. Yesterday I planted our "salad garden" of lettuces, broccoli, spinach, onions, Swiss chard, etc. I also planted a peach and apple tree. Last night I forgot to take my diabetes med and this morning, my blood sugar was 10 points lower than it has been all week with the med. I'm still trying to figure out how to work tennis in but I did have a schedule last fall for Yoga. It wasn't perfect but it was a schedule. I just need to call and verify the schedule and get back on it.

So, this is like 5 months of blog posts in one. And I'm not writing it for anyone else but me. This has been my way of sorting out what I need to do. I do think I've figured out one thing: if I don't do this sort of writing, I won't stay on target for my health goals. Now I'm going to eat breakfast (our first duck egg- more on that another day) and then go outside and weed a flower bed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

9 Simple Words

Last night I was browsing the NC Digital Library for books to download when I came across a book called In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. The blurb on it said, “Eat food. Not too much of it. Mostly plants.” Eureka! That’s exactly what I decided to do back in August. Eat real food (not fake, processed food), not too much of it, and mostly vegetables. I couldn’t believe how simply my eating goals were stated in those nine words. I promptly downloaded the book and started listening to it this morning on the way to work. Pollan also wrote An Omnivore’s Dilemma which I have heard about but not read. I think that book makes the case for responsible, environmentally sustainable eating. I don’t need to be convinced of either concept but it’s interesting to learn more both. After 8 weeks of eating this way, I feel better. I’ve lost 16 pounds. And I’m supporting family farms.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Love Your Chickens and Buy My Eggs

This is my column for Sunday's (Greensboro) News and Record. It's about A.J., my favorite little chicken farmer. I've mentioned him in my blog before.

Did you know that chickens have ear lobes and their color indicates the color the hen’s eggs will be? I didn’t until I was educated by A.J. Jorsey, an 11-year old chicken farmer from the Reidsville area. I first met A.J. at the Rockingham County Farmers’ Market where I was drawn to his cartons of eggs of assorted colors, shapes, and sizes. They struck me as eggs with character, their colors ranging from pure white to all shades of tan and brown to light green. They run very large to very small. Just looking over the cartons to choose a dozen was like picking out old-fashioned candy from a glass case. Quick to please a customer, A.J. will trade out eggs from one carton to the next. And he’s a natural born marketer. When he pulled out the photo album of 8x10 glossies of him and his chickens Sam, Elvis, Oreo, Ashes, Elmer, Silver, Phyllis, Daffy, etc., I was hooked. From then on, no other eggs would do for our breakfasts. But honestly, with their deep golden yokes and just- laid freshness, they taste better than any eggs I’ve ever eaten.

A.J.’s Farm is 10 acres, a half-mile down a country lane off of a narrow dirt road. His chickens share the land with horses and ducks. There are too many of them to count these days but A.J. reckons he has around 80 or so. They are turned out of the barn each morning in a long, noisy chicken parade to free range all day. In the evening when A.J. finishes his homework, he makes a bee-line for the barn. He feeds them their organic food, waters them, collects eggs, and “gets them ready for beddy-bye.”

“You have to pet and carry around and love your chickens. They lay more eggs if you love them,” he said. While he was away on vacation this summer, his chickens only laid about 10% of the eggs they normally lay. All of A.J.’s chickens with distinctive looks have names. He started with a baker’s dozen of 13 bought from Tractor Supply last spring. In July, his friend Maeren Honacher, also 11, of Madison, went in with A.J. to incubate some eggs given to her by a friend of her mother’s. The two didn’t know what kinds of chickens they were incubating but nearly all hatched. A.J. and Maeren split the chicks, taking 8 each. From there, A.J.’s flock grew. “We’ve made some cool crosses,” he said.

A.J. will sell his eggs at the Chinqua Penn Farmers’ Market until it closes and then go to the Greensboro Farmers’ Market. He usually sells between 15 and 18 dozen eggs per week at $3.00 per dozen but he’ll sell you 2 dozen for $5.00 if you bring back your egg cartons. Ever the businessman, A.J. laments the high cost of egg cartons. “$30 for 100 cartons,” he said. “That’s why I give discounts.”

Although his parents do help out occasionally with the 100 pounds of feed his poultry eat each week, A.J. usually pays for it from his sales. He does all the labor, except turning the chickens out on school mornings. On Thursdays and Fridays, he carefully washes his eggs, puts them into cartons, and labels them, getting them ready to sell at the market on Saturdays. He pays for his own booth and has to sell 3-1/2 dozen just to break even. But he still manages to save some money for things he wants. “The Beatles Rock Band [game for Playstation] cost me 2 weeks of eggs,” he said.

A.J.’s advice to chicken farmers: “Love your chickens.” His advice to everyone else: “Buy my eggs.” Sometimes, wisdom comes before age.