Monday, March 03, 2014
One of my hobbies is genealogical research. I mentioned that I was spending time searching for common ancestors among those who share DNA with me, and one of my Sparkie friends asked how that works. Since others may be curious, I decided to submit my answer in blog form. Here it is.
I heard about the DNA testing thing on the Oprah show several years back. Her guest was the founder of www.23andme.com . I went online and bought a $99 test. They sent me a kit with instructions on submitting a saliva sample to their lab. The lab results show the probable origins of my early ancestors.
They also provided information about markers in my DNA indicating high or low risk for diseases and conditions. The heath part is currently on hold, while the FDA determines that the company is not practicing medicine. Mine said I had the marker for obesity (surprise, surprise, surprise), which called for a need to manage food intake and exercise.
Everything else is still provided, including ancient ancestry. Since I'm a strong believer in unity in diversity, I was pleased to find that I'm 1% African.
Good thing my husband was never a Klan member. He would be concerned that I've been handling his sheets all these years.
The company also provides an ongoing list of others in their data base who share DNA with me, and an estimation of how closely we are related, based upon how much DNA we share. We can invite individuals to share family tree information, in an effort to find our most recent common ancestor (eHarmony with dead ancestors). The most distant common ancestors I've found with a few of my previously unknown to me 8th cousins are sets of mutual 7th great grandparents. That's pretty far back. I've also located a few 2nd cousins and a whole bunch of 4th cousins with ancestors in the Smoky Mountains.
One by one, my husband, 3 daughters,& 3 grandchildren have since been tested, and the kids popped up as potential kinfolk, the daughters getting approx. half of their DNA from each of us, and the grandchildren about 25% from each of us. Jim's half-sister was recently tested, and she shares about 25% of her DNA with him. We are prepared, in case we ever have to appear on the Maury TV show.
My poor husband keeps hearing "You ARE the father" over and over in his head. No way out.
We also have clues to the identity of a mystery grandfather of his, due to people who share DNA at various cousin levels with him, with no explanation other than his grandfather being one of theirs. Many of them are trying to help us zero in on the actual deceased dude. It's unlikely that we will find out who he was, but his descendants are claiming kin anyway. So much for taking secrets to the grave!
DNA works like copy machines. With each generation, whatever gets copied fades. That's how they can predict how many generations away a common ancestor will appear in the tree of 2 individuals. Any of the following links provide free information in detail on how it works,.
The next link allows those who have been tested by any or all of the above companies to upload their raw data. It's free for anyone to use. Their computers crunch the numbers and provide lists of DNA matches from the data base of all.
Also free for anyone to use at GEDmatch, those who haven't been tested, but have family trees on their computers, can upload trees in a gedcom form, created by their family tree software. Each uploaded tree is assigned a # which can be entered in a gedcom comparison tool on that site. Their server does a comparison and shows a list of trees that include matching people from those trees.
It's a great use of internet tools to help people search for roots by comparing shared data. By adding DNA testing, we can confirm (or rule out) much of our paper research. My mother would have loved it.. I used to roll my eyes when she talked about my dead relatives.
When she died she had been locating records to prove that some of my ancestors were the earliest to arrive in Tennessee. It was for a project called First Families of Tennessee, and I decided to complete her application, since she was almost done with it. And I got hooked like she was.
Same thing happened with the DNA thing.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
My friends all know I have a warped sense of humor and they are not offended by it. Therefore, I feel fairly safe in telling you about a touching family scene, a story about a ROPE.
We can choose how we react to disappointments. We can take every little thing so seriously that we upset and dislike ourselves. Or we can laugh about whatever it is sooner. We've all heard the statement, "We're going to laugh about this someday." Why not now?
We are all different. Tall, short, disciplined, easy-going, able to take off excess weight at varying speeds, we each have our own struggles and triumphs. We are all in this together, and none of us is perfect. One of my triumphs is that I can have fun with my family and we can kid around like we're doing a Saturday Night Live skit, without feelings getting hurt. We laugh at the situations we get into, not at our loved ones. We are, without question, on their side.
Experts say laughter helps us cope with stress and may even help us take off weight. I'm all for that. I do NOT, however, like self-deprecating fat jokes, the jolly fat person jokes, or the "Your mama is so fat" jokes. They are demeaning for all concerned.
Here's the story. One of the funniest members of the family is my youngest daughter, a beautiful young woman, who has an important stressful job with a big company. She has always had a flair for physical comedy and uses it as a stress-relieving tool, among family and friends.
Being tall, she can hide 20 extra pounds pretty well. Therefore, she puts it on, takes it off, puts it on,takes it off, over and over. She can be very disciplined and can make the first ten pounds vanish rather quickly. I used to be able to do that, too.
Well, she has just finished doing her ritual two weeks that usually takes off that first ten. She had refused to weigh herself until she had done two solid weeks of eating right and taking her cocker spaniel for so many walks that he's exhausted. That's another situation where people differ. I need to see the number, to help me take action. Others find the number discourages them. Again, we make choices.
Sunday was the big day. I didn't witness the actual weigh-in. I just heard about it. She stopped by, beaming with pride about completing her two-week plan. She said that , after looking at the scale, she was glad she hadn't gotten on it two weeks earlier. Her comment was something like "I'm pretty sure i was ten pounds bigger two weeks ago and if I had actually seen that number on a scale, I would have hung myself."
Ever the supportive mom, after a slight pause, as I sat grinning at her, the following rolled quietly off my tongue:"THAT WOULD TAKE QUITE A ROPE".
We both started laughing, and she climbed up on a chair, pretending to
hang herself. "That's going to be in my movie" she said. 'Can you just see it? I get so fat that I am miserably unhappy, I decide to end it all, I put my affairs in order, I write a loving "goodbye" note, I climb up on a chair, I carefully put the noose around my neck, I kick away the chair, and the da@m!!m rope breaks." Under her breath, there were numerous profane exclamations, for effect, as she climbed slowly down from the chair.
Needless to say, if we ever do have a family member we believe to be unhappy enough that professional help is needed, we won't laugh. In our situation, laughing about her ridiculous statement that she would have hung herself because of an over-reaction to a number on her scale, was therapeutic.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
I must share my DNA test.
Results say that TWO of my DNA markers indicate an increased risk for obesity (duh).
My immediate response was "AHA! I have a plausible excuse right in front of me. Facts are facts. Yay! I can eat with a clear conscience."
Feeling pretty frisky about it, I plugged my weight into an online calculator provided by the DNA testing company, www.23andme.com , where I had been tested, after hearing about it on the Oprah show.
The calculator would tell me how many of my extra pounds I could blame on my DNA. I was excited. Some people do have more difficulty than others with weight loss and maintenance. We all know that. I would no longer have to worry so much about every little pound and feel so much guilt. Yay!
Then, the answer appeared. It was 9 lbs.
WHAT?!!! 9 lbs?!! That's ALL? You've got to be kidding. The rest is ME and what I do or don't do? My ancestors made me overweight, and I took it and ran with it all the way to "morbid obesity"? Well, I didn't exactly "run". I "escalated".
That really makes me laugh. The cold hard facts have eliminated yet another of my excuses.
I have been "missing in inaction" for a couple of months, telling myself "it was OCD and overkill burnout fatigue" that kept me from tracking, blogging, weighing, checking in at SP, etc. Any old port in the storm would help me justify my behavior.
I certainly couldn''t blame much on my DNA, despite being "at risk" for obesity.
It's only funny as it applies to me and my puny 9-lb affliction. It's a more serious matter for some, who have to work much harder than I do, to get weight into a healthy range and keep it there. And yet, they have the courage and will to keep going. They CARE about their day-to-day progress enough to keep at it, and I applaud their efforts. That's what I want to do, too.
I read a great blog today that puts together several links about obesity and whether or not we are trapped into staying fatter than we would like to be. It discusses why so few can maintain a weight loss. It includes more cold hard scientific facts about the difficulties we all face and how people are coping,
Here's a link to it.
After reading the blog, including each link that it provides, I have concluded that "I am not fat-trapped and that it is what it is". I have learned some non-productive behaviors that can be replaced in time, with continued practice and growth. I want to make the work needed to control my weight more routine, by just happily "doing it", with the knowledge and gratitude that it's not really as hard for me as it could be..
Since my weight loss attempts are just 9 lbs harder than the average, I'll just have to find my "9-lb hammer". It's HAMMER TIME!
I tracked my food yesterday. Brag, Brag! I fixed the broken connection between my Withings scale and SparkPeople Ticker and weighed in this morning. I wrote this blog. I changed my Friend Feed Status and read some blogs. I chatted with some friends. I feel good again. It's so easy to forget that I feel so much happier about myself when I am working on my problems, instead of trying to avoid even thinking about them.
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Sunday morning, my DH reported that I had been crying in my sleep Saturday night. He was afraid to wake me, in case I was dreaming about some dastardly thing I thought he had done and would then glare at him, until I was fully awake and aware of his innocence.
I can't help but wonder why I was crying. I was unaware that I had even had a dream, let alone one that would upset me to that degree.
I've heard that we work out problems through our dreams. If so, I hope a good cry while sleeping did its job. Since its something beyond my awareness, there's little I can do about it, if it didn't.
There are, however, concerns right out there in the light of day that I CAN address.
Here's one, for starters. I have been feeling myself getting lazier by the day. I have been stressing myself out about the weight I haven't lost this year and about how to pull myself together and DO something about it. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day is difficult for everyone. Food and drink are EVERYWHERE. My fears about gaining more weight by the start of 2012 can be quieted immediately, by taking action.
ACTION STEP: I weighed in this morning (Monday) at 164. So, I have a starting point. i will feel energized and successful after a few days (probably four) of consistent work toward my goals. It always happens.
I'm down 74 from my highest, and I have been treading water. In January I will have been a Sparkie for 4 years. I thought I would reach my SP goal this year. As you can tell, I still have trouble coming to terms with my imperfections, even though I know life is short and being perfect is not the goal.
This year, in 338 days, I've gained 10.3 lbs (that's 0.9 lb per month).
There's a real victory hidden in that monthly average. Never in my life have I regained so little per month. What that tells me is that I am closer to my goal of having made enough changes in the way I live that I can trust myself to maintain a healthy weight. I am not there yet. The monthly average also raises a "red flag". Unless I continue working to finish the job, my weight could continue to creep upward and in 5 years, for example, become over 50 lbs. The time to act is now.
I have 26 days left in 2011 to improve my 2011 numbers.
HERE'S THE PLAN:
CALENDAR--Identify parties, family gatherings, football games on tv, and other situations that make eating healthy difficult.
PLAN for those situations---allow 300 to 600 calories extra where it makes sense. Splurge with care. Try some healthier recipes for football parties and for the parties where I am to bring a dish,
PARTIES & FAMILY GATHERINGS---Relax and FOCUS on the loved ones, not the food and drink.
DAILY MEALS & SNACKS--Plan ahead and make sure healthy choices are available.
NIGHTLY INDULGENCES--Kitchen is closed after 8:30 pm, except for hot tea or water. Read, shower, research topics of interest, or play piano---any experience that provides pleasure will suffice, instead of habitually turning to food for it.
STAY ACTIVE PHYSICALLY--Tap class on Mondays, exercise class twice weekly, walks outside.
CALORIE DEFICITS--Track calories burned (wear Bodybugg armband) and consumed, with a goal of burning more than consumed on most days.
WEIGHT CHECKS--at least once weekly and no more than once daily---make sure the weight checks remain a routine part of life, not some big "event" My Withings Scale (thanks to the linking technology provided by SparkPeople) sends my weight straight to my SparkPeople ticker electronically and instantly. I like the accountability.
STAY ACTIVE on SPARKPEOPLE--Post daily on team message boards and change Friend Feed Status. Blog where needed. If any of you have Twitter accounts, feel free to tweet me. My Twitter address is @bsue2u. I would love to follow fellow Sparkies.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Please be patient while we work on resolving this issue. It's possible the owner has removed or replaced the file. Please try again, later. We are sorry for the inconvenience.
Sound familiar? We never search for information very long before running into those "Error 404" notices, and they ARE annoying. In this case, however, I am pleased to report that I believe "Boo's Right Mind" has been located.
I have rebooted my mental computer and the new "Boo's Right Mind" file is up and running, at least for today. I will begin tomorrow's tasks by getting on the scale, and sending the data straight to my SP ticker.
Here's a bit of history on how the previous file was damaged.
I'm not sure what my deal was. However, here's what happened. I stopped posting, weighing, tracking, working out, etc. for several weeks. I was out of sync.
Last week I forgot to meet friends for a show I had wanted to see. Trying to come up with a reasonable explanation for my huge senior moment, I told DH that I was doing too much, to which he replied, "BABY, HOW COULD YOU DO ANY LESS?"
I laugh every time I think about it because it's a pretty accurate assessment. I would forget what day it was, since my schedule was not chock full like it once was.
I have skipped workouts and even tap classes, which I love. I always wear the Bodybugg, since it takes no effort. I didn't track food or step on the scale. And when I didn't weigh, I would feel fat and eat accordingly.
I practiced my piano and made efforts to continue ridding the house of belongings we don't need. I worked on my genealogy files as a distraction, I think, from more productive tasks. Angry Birds games were another great distraction to help me avoid work..
I felt guilty about my behaviour and ate more than I wanted. I really relate to comments from a SparkFriend who talked about needing to get her headspace cleared. I think all of my little things may have added up and created a need for a mental rest. I didn't feel up to talking to my friends.
I am hoping that I am ready to get back into my groove. I will be attending tap class tomorrow, for starters. And I have joined a 3-day Turkey Strut Dance Challenge on the "Dark Side of Spark People" Team, aimed at 10,000 steps daily until Thanksgiving. TAZZIE's Challenges are lots of laughs, which I could use right now.
I want to thank everyone who sent me notes and goodies during my absence. Thanks for caring. YINZ (plural of you) are the best!"
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