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A Change in Perspective: Preparing for Maintenance

Friday, February 28, 2014

One of our members of "At Goal and Maintaining" SparkTeam recently expressed worries about relapse and "obsessing" over food. This got me thinking about some of the changes in my thinking since 2014 began.

I once upon a teensy sliver of time reached my goal of 200 only a few years ago in 2010 and am clawing my way back to goal again (SHEESH but the pounds are getting stubborn, but I'm MORE stubborn!) but with a different attitude this time around that I think will pull me through toward greater success in maintenance this time around.

NELLJONES response summed it up to a "T" in her response, basically normalizing what can seem obsessive to others, what once seemed obsessive to ME: the care and precision in tracking our food which is necessary for folks like us to achieve and maintain healthy weight truly is "normal" within the context of own unique realities. It's not "whacked" or a "pre-occupation" or "obsessive" or whatever derogatory label one wants to give it.

It's our reality: we MUST follow these steps if we are going to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Research continues to bear this out, thank you to the wonderful folks at the National Weight Control Registry who continue to support, pull together and highlight such efforts:


Our fears can be so rooted in our perceptions. If we can shift our "lens" and realize that for folks who have been obese; the steps we must take to achieve and maintain our weight are normal, evidence-based practices; we can pull the plug from viewing ourselves as "weird" or in some way negative and instead champion our efforts by patting ourselves on the back as one of the rare 5% who can successfully lose the weight and keep it off!


PS: NELLJONES' comment in the message thread which resonated: "Food is more than eating. It's deciding what I will cook, making the shopping lists and where I will acquire the ingredients, noting what has to be done in advance (meat out of freezer, soak beans, etc), then the hands on prep and cooking. Eating is just the last piece of it. It's become a hobby like any other hobby. No one questions obsessive quilters or coin collectors."

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NEWNANCY2012 4/1/2014 7:49AM

    emoticon emoticon

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MAREE1953 3/19/2014 4:44AM

    I struggle with the "achievable" vs "maintainable" weight loss goal. Your blog motivates me and reminds me of the tools available and which I must use in a faithful and deliberate manner. Time for me to "embrace" it. Thanks, Don, for blog; thanks teammates for comments!

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WENDYANNE61 3/18/2014 2:34PM

    I recently heard someone at work describe me as "that woman in the office on the fourth floor who drinks weird green gunge all the time"! (my lunchtime green smoothie...)

Tracking and measuring what I eat is the only method I have ever found that helps keep me from re-gaining weight. I am addicted to cake, cookies and sweets, so tracking will be my reality long-term if I want to keep in reasonable shape - if someone finds that obsessive - well, that is their problem - it does´nt bother me! emoticon

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KIMBERLY_Y 3/17/2014 12:29PM

    You are on the money with this blog! Sometimes I go through a spurt where I track all the time just to keep myself in check and accountable, and then I go for a week without tracking. But, the lifestyle is still the same. Meal planning and grocery shopping along with exercise are requirements for my chosen lifestyle. It is my choice. They can call us obsessive or gym rats or anything else, but I feel good and I am healthy. That is most important! Thanks for the great blog!

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HAVASUJULES 3/16/2014 9:49PM

  A wise Salvation Army officer once shared this with me:

A person's perspective becomes their reality

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    Great perspective on this! Thx

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MJREIMERS 3/15/2014 12:26PM

    Awesome blog and so true. For a long time I thought I was obsessed with logging my food and exercise. (Some family members think I still am.) This blog summed it up so nicely.

We aren't weird or "over the top." We are doing what we need to do in order to maintain a way of life that we have chosen for ourselves. HEALTH! We can't do much without it!

Thanks for this! I needed it!

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THOMS1 3/15/2014 10:58AM

    I totally agree with your blog. We have to keep tracking, exercising and planning. It's just a way of life now and I see it as normal. I too have trouble with gaining and losing and when I stick to my plan, track and keep up with my exercise I keep near my goal. It's all about our choices. emoticon for this blog. emoticon

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HOLLYM48 3/14/2014 3:50PM

    Congrats on all of your success!! Best of luck on your continued journey!!!
All the best to you. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MEXGAL1 3/14/2014 3:40PM


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AMARILYNH 3/14/2014 1:25PM

    Well said and oh so true! The health I've achieved through tracking is worth way more than any amount of time spent doing it!! emoticon emoticon

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SCRAPPER1124 3/14/2014 7:21AM

    Love this Blog great perspective. It definitely described my type A personality with weight loss. emoticon

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MOONCHILD8 3/13/2014 4:25PM

    Great Blog! Thank you for your wonderful insight. Yes we will always have to weigh, measure, record, track, eat and exercise on this healthy lifestyle. It can be fun, enjoyable, and shared with others. Linda from bean town

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PACKERMANN 3/13/2014 1:09PM

    very insightful blog and very helpful comments!
thanks, all!!

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CELIAMINER 3/13/2014 11:30AM

    emoticon and thank Nell for helping me feel normal. I recognize that I may never be able to eat intuitively, and I recognize the easy way of the old habits lurks constantly like the little devil on my shoulder whispering in my ear. Reality and normality for me MOST likely will involve measuring and tracking for as long as I want to maintain (and that better be forever). I really like Nell's summation that eating is just the last part of the food process. I, too, love food. I love to browse recipes, plan meals, shop for the best ingredients, chop all my veggies manually (because it is relaxing to me), cook, and EAT.

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-SHOREIDO- 3/13/2014 10:56AM

    Enjoyed this blog!! Great words of WISDOM!!

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BESSHAILE 3/13/2014 7:11AM

    yes. yes yes yes. This is who we are - people who have to make more conscious decisions about our food. At this point, I feel weird if I'm NOT making these choices deliberately. Maybe because I'm still fearful, but also because it just feels comforting.

And wow - what a journey you've been on. It's obvious to me your best trait is your willingness to come back and try again - you are such a winner!

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JULIEABIGAIL 3/13/2014 4:45AM

  don, not only is this a truly outstanding, eloquent, inspiring blog, but i just love that you publicly credited nell, who hit the ball out of the park with bases loaded on this one. your feedback is always insightful and uplifting. emoticon

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DSJB9999 3/13/2014 3:07AM

    Fantastic blog, I too love eating but we have to make good choices about what we do eat.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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NUOVAELLE 3/13/2014 2:49AM

    This is such a great blog for many of us who often feel "weird" while trying to figure out the maintenance secrets. I'd say it's a relief blog!
Both you and NELLJONES carry lots of wisdom on the subject and we are more than thankful that you share it with us!

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LESLIESENIOR 3/13/2014 12:16AM

    Great Blog!!!! For those of us with past poor health choices, we must become obsessive in a good way. I am a recovering alcoholic. I would not think of missing my AA meetings, skipping my prayer and meditation, or not working with my sponsor. It is the same with my weight maintenance of 7 years (I lost 60 pounds). I must be vigilant to stay on track and not slip into old habits. I'm 23 years in recovery from smoking. I'm obsessive about that for sure! It goes for exercise as well. I track my miles, my minutes, and remain consistent. I apply the same vigilance to my mental health through meditation and prayer daily. The list could go on for us all.
Cheers to us all on Sparkpeople for seeking daily self improvement through healthy living. It is a wonderful journey with no end!

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KEEPITSIMPLE_ 3/12/2014 10:30PM

    Great blog! I totally agree on the food perspective. It is essential to me to go through the whole process of the planning, buying, prepping, modifying, cooking, etc, in order to know what's going in my body and know The choices are good ones that will keep me on track. When I don't do this, and take shortcuts instead, I feel it right away. This has been essential in maintaining.

Thanks for sharing.

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SLENDERELLA61 3/12/2014 9:59PM

    I definitely "like" this blog!!

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SUSIEMT 3/12/2014 9:56PM

    Oh Yeah! If I fail to plan I plan to fail! I always have to plan my meals just like was said I have to have to have to! Then I need to log my nutrition! I have gained off and on in the past 3 years max 15 lbs. I have also taken it off through my due diligence. I used to worry about gaining all my weight back but realized I don't want to so I am willing to take the steps I know will work! Proper diet and exercise. Oh don't get me wrong, I do indulge but get right back on track.

Very good blog!

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DAWNDMOORE40 3/12/2014 9:54PM

    emoticon blog! For me it was about learning that this is a lifestyle change and that means for a lifetime, not just until the pounds come off! Also, it meant not restricting myself but allowing myself to eat foods I love once in a while and if I did "fall of the wagon" so to speak, that I wasn't a failure!
emoticon on your success! I truly loved your blog! You are an inspiration to those out there that are trying to maintain their weight loss! I wish you great success in the future and my hope is that you will always share your wonderful achievements with others! emoticon

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BOOKAPHILE 3/12/2014 9:50PM

    It takes some of us (including me!) several trips down in weight before we understand that we cannot act like those who have never been heavy. Being willing to do what it takes for your own health, regardless of how others view you, is one sign you'll be in that 5%.

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CAROLISCIOUS 3/12/2014 9:47PM

    Great blog...thanks for sharing your insight.

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UNSWEETMAMA 3/12/2014 9:36PM

Congratulations on your success. You've earned it.

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OHMEMEME 3/9/2014 6:00PM

    Awesome info! Thanks for Sparking! My "maintainence" has been similar to yours just on a smaller scale. I have learned sooo much from you and so many Sparkers that maintainence can be a tricky but doable thing. We have to do what ever it takes for how ever long it takes and often that changes in the process! Keep up your rhythm... emoticon

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CARRIE1948 3/7/2014 12:44PM

    I'm still waiting until the day food is a pill I take several times a day and I don't have to waste so much time thinking about it

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WOMANWITHGRIT 3/4/2014 12:21AM

    Thank you, Don, for your comment to my blog and your clarity about tracking and the clear necessity for it. Yes - obsessive to some but essential for me.

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RAINBOWFALLS 3/3/2014 7:13AM

    Very good point. I know you will make it back to goal - you are a very determined individual.

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CHANGE4FIT 3/2/2014 11:08PM

    Excellent perspective as always. I was recently preparing a weight management test for the Cardiac rehab staff at our facility. This involved article review and I had chosen an ADA article. One of the key points in the evidence is that weight loss and maintenance does not happen with increased activity alone-dietary management is an even more critical piece of the puzzle than activity. Always good to have the evidence to reinforce the habit. I am a self identified OCD sort, so tracking fits my preferences. I also find it fascinating to explore the distribution of nutrients in daily intake and look for opportunities to improve my choices as they relate to potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium-it is a challenge to create balance-one I enjoy working on!

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IRISHF 3/2/2014 8:27PM

    DogLady13 sent me over here to read your post, and I'm so glad she did. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I agree 100%. It's nice to consider that tracking (which is the only thing that works for me) is normal in our reality.

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EDDYMEESE 3/1/2014 11:21PM

    Very true. Nobody questions an alcoholic having to go to AA for the rest of his/her life to be able to maintain. For some of us, continuing to be mindful of what goes in our body will be the only way to maintain.

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VALERIEMAHA 3/1/2014 4:53PM

    Love this reflective and informative blog, Don. OUTSTANDING! And I also enjoyed everyone's comments. Thanks for bringing us along on this journey.

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SLENDERELLA61 3/1/2014 3:43PM

    Thanks so much, Don, for your contributions to the At Goal and Maintaining Plus Team. Thanks for your contributions to SparkPeople. Love your perspective and your openness. We all benefit when we share such observations and experiences. -Marsha

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KANOE10 3/1/2014 3:25PM

    I have no doubt that you will stay in that 5 % who keep their weight off. Tracking is a good obsession as evidenced by the successful maintainers at the registry. I also find that as time goes on the pounds do not go down as quickly!

Great blog.

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BECCA315 3/1/2014 3:14PM

    I'm nowhere near maintenence, but thanks for the input. Becca

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DOKEYOKEY 3/1/2014 12:21PM

    I love the quote that food is about more than eating. Agreed! Thank you for your thoughtful words here today.

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L*I*T*A* 3/1/2014 11:55AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 3/1/2014 11:00AM

    Yep, this seems to be what I need to do. Track and control my eating. I can choose to resent it, accept it, or embrace it.

So far, 4 years after reaching goal I'm accepting. Maybe someday I'll attain Jedi Master Maintainer status like Nell and be able to embrace it.


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NANCY- 3/1/2014 10:19AM

    Great blog!

"We are who we are and do what we must do.
The steps I must take are for me, and not for you.
Through trial and error we learn what works.
You might find what I do strange, but you do strange things too.
Everyone's needs are different.
It all about living a good life and doing what we must do. "

Ok my feeble attempt at writing what was in my head. Great subject and wonderful comments. Thanks for being you.

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HIPPICHICK1 3/1/2014 7:42AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BABYSTEPS123 3/1/2014 7:22AM

    emoticon emoticon
Something I am beginning to understand this time around, and I think it will make all the difference!

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DOGLADY13 3/1/2014 6:29AM

    A few years ago the New York Times ran a long article in the Sunday magazine about obesity and weight loss. One of the more provocative themes was that for many people to keep their goal weight they had to track every calorie in and every calorie out. At the time I thought it was crazy but now I know it is true at least for me and my husband.

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GREENGENES 3/1/2014 12:52AM

    Well said!

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PATRICIAAK 3/1/2014 12:08AM

    fabulous perspective.
It gives me insight as to why I have 'stalled' for so long.
I clicked 'like' in hopes it becomes a 'featured blog'.

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ALIIDA 2/28/2014 10:29PM

    Thank you for this enormously helpful blog. I was startled to read on the link that maintainers do an average of an hour of exercise a day. I thought an average of half an hour was a decent minimum. I'll be re-thinking that!

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WATERMELLEN 2/28/2014 9:48PM

    Addiction to the approval of others -- the most insidious addiction of all. And truly I DO NOT CARE if people think I'm obsessive about planning and tracking my food, eating pretty much the same soups and salads day after day, or refusing to base my entire social life around eating on other people's terms. This is what I need to do to be healthy, and I'm intending to do it for the rest of my life. I can be and am quiet and unobtrusive and non-obsessive about it, so long as nobody else feels the need to draw attention to it, tell me it's unnecessary or pressure me to eat what I don't want.

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Ablating We Will Go!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Well my "electrician" or more formally, electrophysiologist got right down to business and scheduled me for my cardiac ablation next week! I'm pleased to get going on this and am hopeful that I'll be putting this behind me so that I can hit the roads on my bike this year just like any other!

The way that I understand the procedure is that he will be zapping (with a radiofrequency catheter up through the groin) the electrical current in my heart to see if it restores a proper rhythm...if that doesn't work he'll zap the node which controls the electrical current...probably Sinus (SA) node in the right atrium. If he fries the node it'll mean installation of pacemaker to replace the node and to restore proper cardiac rhythm.

I'm really okay with this as I've read enough to know that a pacemaker isn't gonna slow me down any and it isn't all that invasive. I asked how this condition could have developed and he's pretty confident that it's leftover baggage and consequences from my morbidly obese days when I had congestive heart failure...one never knows how bad choices can come back to haunt yet again!

While there are risks with any surgical procedure, it's a pretty easy choice to make in moving ahead with this as: if this condition isn't treated my atriums will continue to malfunction: not emptying completely, nor filling completely. This results in a pooling of blood in my heart which places me at risk for clotting and strokes and requires anti-coagulant medications...which present a risk of their own. Additionally this condition results in my feeling more fatigue than I ought to feel due to the improper functioning of my heart.

Restoring proper rhythm to my heart will eliminate all of these problems.

Yep, there are going to be further tweaks and possible complications but I'm pretty confident that the path I'm choosing will be the lesser of possible problems.

It's also a good thing that of the two problems I have the flutter, not the fibrillation. Per PubMed:


"Radiofrequency catheter ablation of typical atrial flutter is highly effective and associated with a low recurrence rate of atrial flutter, but atrial fibrillation continues to be a long-term risk for patients undergoing this procedure."

Looks like it will involve at least an overnight stay, perhaps more time if pacemaker tweaking is necessary.

Ready to move on and put this behind me! Going to have a crazy-busy time getting ready at work for the time off though...!

Keep 'er SPARKING everyone! :-)


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NANCY- 3/3/2014 8:58AM

    Your "electrician"? Love your attitude. FYI my son got a pacemaker at 19, he is now 25. Swims and flirts with the girls. The pacemaker made his life better, the alternative was not.
With your attitude, You will have this situation addressed in fine fashion.
WTG on taking care of your leftover baggage.

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CHANGE4FIT 3/2/2014 11:00PM

    Hoping all goes well with your procedure and you are back on the bike by the time this winter decides to morph into spring for good.
Keeping you in thoughts and prayers spark friend!

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IRISHF 3/2/2014 8:31PM

    Good luck with your ablation. My grandmother had a pacemaker and she lived to be 90 years old with no problems and was independent.

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ALIIDA 3/1/2014 8:55AM

    All the best for your ablation. My husband had this done last week, and it worked like a charm. emoticon

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HAPPY-DESTINY 2/28/2014 2:23AM

    I do hope it all goes well for you! My heart (no pun) goes out to you.. I am with you in Spirit and mindfulness!

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YOGATIME 2/27/2014 11:54PM

    Don my friend, by now the procedure is over. Can only hope it was a grand success. Meditate on the healing energy of life and continue to sparkle!! Love and Prayers--Namaste

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SAM60SUMTHINK 2/26/2014 11:41PM

    One good thing about cardiac electricians is that they don't dilly dally. So glad this procedure, since it's necessary, will be done so quickly! Hmmm ... and!! What wonderful timing: you'll be back training for summer rides as the weather warms up. Um.... it IS going to warm up this year, ISN'T it??

Wishing you speedy return to normal biking capacity!!
Keep us posted; as the comments reflect: your friends care.

Comment edited on: 2/26/2014 11:41:44 PM

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RAINBOWFALLS 2/26/2014 8:17AM

    I am glad to hear you are so positive going forward with this procedure. I hope all works out with the best results for you. Take care emoticon

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_LINDA 2/26/2014 12:53AM

    Got everything crossed that all you will need is the ablation! My thoughts will be with you! Remarkable what surgeons can do these days!

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RECREATING_ME 2/25/2014 11:15PM

    I'll keep you in my prayers, Don. I hope that the ablation alone does the trick and that you soon will be flying along on your bike!


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ONEKIDSMOM 2/25/2014 9:04PM

    Those of us who have previously been overweight, and in some of our cases for decades before losing it... are very fortunate our bodies have recovered as well as they have! So take good care of yours, sounds like you have made a solid, logical decision, one that was easy to make.

I wish you many years of healthy living, with whatever assistance is needed for that heart!


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LOLA_LALA 2/25/2014 8:52PM

    "Ablating We Will Go!" emoticon Don, your sense of humor is as healthy as the proverbial horse :) We're all going to be pulling for you next week, hoping for the very best outcome from the ablation... and I have a sneaking suspicion all will be well. You sound like you're not only well-prepared work-wise, and also information-wise, too. May I recommend toting in "Brasileiro" on your mp3 device - I found it so comforting when I had some surgery back in '98! A fellow who appreciates great rhythm as much as you do deserves nothing but A-OK (boy, I'm dating myself with THAT expression!) cardiac rhythm, too - especially when it means the restoration of a lot of the energy you've lost via fatigue.

Having look at the link you provided and some of the other jumping-off links on that article, the fact that you've got flutter rather than fibrillation also sounds like good reason for optimism. The stats look very much on your side.

Think how great it's going to be once you're over this temporary obstacle and back on that 'cycle again this summer! Won't that be great? That's where I see you! Meanwhile, you sound positive and strong as you enter this unfamiliar territory. I'll be so anxious to hear how well you're doing post-procedure!

All the best - Susan emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 2/25/2014 8:33PM

    You have a confident and thorough understanding of your situation and have made the best possible choice.

Please, however, don't drive yourself crazy at work getting everything done before you book yourself in for the ablation!! No way!! If it doesn't get done, I'm betting either one of your colleagues will pick up the slack or . . . it can wait!!

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KANOE10 2/25/2014 5:59PM

    You sound well prepared and knowledgeable about the procedure. It sounds like a good solution. I am keeping you in my prayers and hoping that the ablatement goes well. Hugs.


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    You are going into this procedure well informed. That is good.

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HIPPICHICK1 2/25/2014 3:30PM

    Sounds like you are prepped and ready!
emoticon emoticon

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L*I*T*A* 2/25/2014 3:05PM

    praying all will go well........
all the best.......
blessings and hugs.......lita

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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VALERIEMAHA 2/25/2014 2:47PM

    Thanks for bringing us "on-board." As procedures go, it sounds relatively safe and full-proof (between the alternatives).

I have no doubt that you will come through with FLYING COLORS!

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PATRICIAAK 2/25/2014 1:57PM

    You're right. I'd make the same choice.
Praying all goes well.

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STRIVERONE 2/25/2014 1:41PM

    Don, I'm looking forward to hearing this is all squared away and we get to hang out on a few rides come spring.

Comment edited on: 2/25/2014 1:42:20 PM

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HILLSLUG98239 2/25/2014 1:35PM

    I'm delighted to read your positive take on things. Pessimists may get better laugh lines, but us PollyAnna types heal faster!

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COMMIT2BFIT4ME 2/25/2014 1:11PM

    You have such a good attitude and positive mental outlook. Keep moving forward in maintaining a healthy life. You obviously have become very skilled and mastered the art of making adjustments as life unfolds. Keeping you in my prayers and sending positive energy your way.

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SLIMMERJESSE 2/25/2014 12:54PM

    I'll keep sending you positive energy from my corner of the world in CA, Don.

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LPRUNWALK 2/25/2014 12:45PM

    Wow, I had no idea you were going through this. Your positive, 'get 'er done' attitude and your passionate dedication to your own health will undoubtedly serve you well. I will be eagerly awaiting news.

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LKG9999 2/25/2014 12:43PM

    Good luck with the ablatement. Fingers crossed that's all you'll need!

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Nordic Swing Dance!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sometimes a workout is just that: a WORK out! It just doesn't come easy and it just doesn't crank up those endorphins the way one would like.

This morning was one of those mornings. The old upper body ST moves just weren't happening without a lotta OOF and there were no new increments of weight added...just the same-old, same-old. So after almost an hour of that I move on to Spinning Class for an hour. But again it just wasn't happening. I was going through the motions but none of the tunes grabbed me the way they sometimes do. You know: when the rhythm of the music is right in sync with your pedaling or even better, inspires you to pedal harder?

So after a "meh" morning at the fitness center, feeling like my tank was running lower than it should and thinking about my heart, I head out to the car and WOW:

The great outdoors were beckoning! Clear blue skies, sunshine and mid-40's! Within a couple of days we are in for more frigid single digits and below weather: This was clearly a day to savor and treasure!

Although I wondered about tossing another workout on top of two that were already so-so I simply could not let this day pass without taking advantage of it!

Off to Otsiningo Park I go and pull out my Nordic Poles which had been gathering FAR too much dust, put on my mp3 player and I'm OFF to the trails! It was utterly the smartest thing I have done for myself in a while! I was just enthralled with my music, the weather, the trails busy with families, couples, joggers, kids on bikes and moving my body felt just WONDERFUL! I was non-stop smiles and at times even chuckling and chortling with inner dialogue such as:

My inner critic: "You're gonna PAY for this with all sorts of aches and pains!"

Me: "PAY?!? If what I'm doing is COSTING me I'll gladly hand over my wallet! There isn't any pill, potion or magic that can do any more for me than what I am doing right now!"

The shuffle on my mp3 player was in rare form, first serving up a couple of Sergio Mendes tunes, the first from my very favorite album of his:

Brasileiro - Magalenha

Sergio Mendes, Encanto - Odo-Ya (be forewarned...these two albums of Sergio's will get you up and MOVIN' to the GROOVIN'!)

Marcus Roberts - Cherokee: Virtuosic boogie woogie! You've never heard two hands have more fun than this!

The Who Live At Leeds Shakin All Over (and later Baba O'Riley!) Love the bombast and drive of The Who!

Basia - Someone For Everyone (nice jazzy piece from an under-appreciated Polish singer)...couldn't find the studio version, but this live one is fun!

Had a nice teaser blast from the past: Sly Stone's Hot Fun in the (ahem) WINTERTIME! :-)

And I was delighted to get this recommended tune courtesy of RECREATING_ME! Pharrell Williams - Happy! Such a fun video with this one!

When I use the Nordic poles I try to really get *into* the stride and to remember to swivel my hips with my walk. With all the great music being served up it felt more like Nordic Swing Dance than Nordic Walking...lol! I tossed some jogging in now & then when it got a little sloppy for the poles and fjorded a few parts of the trail which were flooded over.

And yes, when it was all said & done and I finished the 5.25 mile loop I was one whupped and hurting pile of joy! Totally put thoughts of my heart on the way back burner!

Before signing off I just had to share such an inspiring talk I heard on TED TV, courtesy of our local public radio station:

Less Stuff, More Happiness:
"Writer and designer Graham Hill asks: Can having less stuff, in less room, lead to more happiness? He makes the case for taking up less space, and lays out three rules for editing your life."

This is really great wisdom, HUGELY resonated with me, and is WELL worth checking out!


Find and celebrate your SPARK everyone!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RECREATING_ME 2/25/2014 11:06PM

    So glad that you liked "Happy!" :)

And what a wonderful workout! Sounds very invigorating!

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VALERIEMAHA 2/25/2014 7:50AM



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SAM60SUMTHINK 2/23/2014 10:07PM

    What a fantastic day, Don!
..and I totally enjoyed all the links; I just added Basia to the growing list of artist whose CD's or downloads I would like to get!!

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L*I*T*A* 2/23/2014 11:51AM

    emoticon emoticon

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HIPPICHICK1 2/23/2014 11:01AM

    Great TED talk! Thanks for posting the link.

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KANOE10 2/23/2014 8:28AM

    I have had those blah workouts also. You found such joy in your nordic dance trek. Thanks for sharing the music and the talk. I have always loved Sergio Mendez.


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WATERMELLEN 2/23/2014 7:47AM

    So delighted to hear about your Nordic Swing Dance!! There is nothing getting into that zen zone of exercise when all worries recede into the far distance: good for you for persisting until you found what you needed.

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PATRICIAAK 2/22/2014 11:46PM

    great that you did the outdoors

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CHANGE4FIT 2/22/2014 10:47PM

    Will have to hunt that TED down-always a good talk!
It was down right balmy in the south today-mid 60s, sunny and a light breeze. I got out on my favorite "trail" and stomped out five miles with my favorite play list! Great day for walking-nordic or not~LOL

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SLIMMERJESSE 2/22/2014 9:04PM

    I have been clearing for awhile now and can honestly say it is a very freeing feeling. The lightness of being, so to speak.

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_LINDA 2/22/2014 8:57PM

Nothing, absolutely nothing beats getting outside and enjoying a rousing musical led work out! Great work, great tunes and thanks for the links!!
So getting cabin fever here -back in the deep freeze. Will have to live vicariously through my Spark friend's adventures!

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LPRUNWALK 2/22/2014 8:55PM

    So good to see you feeling high on life! Third time was the charm.

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ONEKIDSMOM 2/22/2014 8:29PM

    emoticon And may your muscles "eventually" forgive you for feeding your soul! A day well lived... if one thing's not doing it, but another beckons... go for it.

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LOLA_LALA 2/22/2014 7:53PM

    Rock ON, fine dude!!!

It's not every day I feel utterly compelled to click the "I liked this blog" button, but I couldn't pass it up after reading this energizing, uplifting, rock 'em, sock 'em entry! emoticon Plus, there's something more than a wee tad global about groovin' on primo Sergio Mendes cuts while endorphin-cranking with Nordic poles and hence, your one-of-a-kind invention of NORDIC SWING DANCE!

Awright, so I'm an old (read: ancient) fan of Sergio's from his '66 beginnings. He's my fave Brazilian artist of all time, and Brasileiro and Encanto are the two well-worn albums which, fortunately, can now rest in degradation-proof perpetuity on my iPod.

YOU KNOW YOUR MUSIC, MY FRIEND! Love Baba O'Riley, too, as a truly unique energizer. Listen...with your kinda tunes and creativity, I'll be one of the first to sign up for your next Nordic Swing Dance class. Just show us the dotted line...and meanwhile, carry on! Loved this entry!

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    What a beautiful blog!

Question: Have you looked into Eat To Live as an eating program? Very well documented that it does wonders not only for weight loss, general health and bodily healing, but also specifically for the heart.

I didn't go to your page before asking this. Perhaps you know of it already.

Keep up the spontaneous method of exercise. It was such a joy to read about. Thank you.

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FERRETLOVER1 2/22/2014 7:07PM


It's so great that you were able to enjoy the wonderful weather and experience such an exercise high! You rock, Don!

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Finally: Down To New Weight Loss Low for 2014!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beginning in January I've been on a zero-sugar, zero-grain approach and for the heckuvit I've been trying what some refer to as an intermittent fasting where I only eat from noon until 8-9 pm and leave myself food-free for around 16 hours. Keeping calories around 1400-1600 a day.

During the first few weeks BAM! I dropped 20 pounds. I was thrilled, but I knew it wouldn't last...but but but...I've been almost totally flat for Feb. following the same approach that dropped all those initial pounds. Definitely WAY frustrating! But heck...what are my options? I figure I've gotta stay the course on the zero-sugar, zero-grains...this is how I eliminate nearly ALL my trigger foods. Plus eliminating the food option from 9 pm to noon simplifies my life even more not having to contend with food during those hours...always so hectic getting out of the house first thing in the morning, I appreciate not having food get in the way, lol!

So the pounds have been zig-zagging around the 230's during February, but finally hitting 230 today felt like: all RIGHT! Being more stubborn than the pounds is gonna pay off after ALL! I'm still feeling pretty good about my unusual approach to food. I think this is going to work for the long haul with minor tweaks for maintenance. After seeing how flat my weight can be even with this low caloric range I can tell that shifting into maintenance is really going be such a minor change. There is no magic gold ring of bonus calories awaiting when I reach goal weight. Hunger and Patience will continue to be my Best Friends Forever! :-)

My experiments are truly my OWN and I don't mean to suggest this as "the solution" for ALL! We are all SO UNIQUE! We all are our own best experiments and have to tweak and learn from what works and what doesn't.

Monday I meet with my "electrician" and hope to find out more about the "re-wiring" projects he proposes to get my heart back on track. In the meantime I have resumed my nearly daily cardio regimen, albeit a smidgen of a notch down and with Spinning classes still knocking my socks off even after scaling back. This has left me with an "empty tank" and unable to pull off Swing Dance on top of my workouts over the past several weeks, which I miss.

I've updated my SparkPage to reflect current goals as I am now approaching my seventh year with our wonderful SparkFamily!

Keep the SPARK everyone!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHANGE4FIT 2/22/2014 10:41PM

    Glad to hear your intermittent fasting experiment has paid off-not only in weight loss, but as an opportunity to "find some new friends" for the journey!

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KANOE10 2/22/2014 10:15AM

    7 years on Spark and reaching 230. You are doing it! Your fasting approach works for you. I am glad you are exercising and feeling good.

I hope that electrician of yours is a good one and finds some way to help you!

emoticon emoticon

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SAM60SUMTHINK 2/21/2014 3:19PM

    You've accomplished so much!; at this point, shaking things up seems a good idea... as long as you're in sync with things like DASH recommendations, just in case. A thought: haven't you been cutting down a bit on calorie-burning activities? Might be that as much as the food that slowed your rate of loss down...?

SOME grains are a good idea, though; don't you think?? Might be you could think outside the box of temptation-grains. Yikes... that sounds like I recommend eating some really gross grain you don't even like, huh? Check this out: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutriti
Don, you are doing great. Glad you stay on top of all you do!

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LKG9999 2/21/2014 11:17AM

    I have also had great success losing weight by reducing carbs. I'm following a plan that is very similar to Ideal Protein, which eliminates all grains, simple-carb veggies like potatoes, and refined sugars. However it also initially drops the calories quite a bit, down to around 900 per day. May be just me but I wasn't making any weight-loss progress when I was consuming 1400-1600 calories/day, even with exercise. Currently I'm staying on the plan with the hopes that the reduced calories will prevent weight regain while I am so immobile.

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VALERIEMAHA 2/21/2014 7:37AM

    And the beat goes on!

"And: all best for your meeting with the 'electrician'. I'm pretty sure he's gonna tell you, 'Don, I've heard about hearts of gold, but not sure I've every actually seen one before!!'"

P.S. Did you begin here in 2006, then? Me too!

Comment edited on: 2/21/2014 7:38:39 AM

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PATRICIAAK 2/21/2014 12:40AM

    What does your doctor think about the 'fasting'?

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RECREATING_ME 2/20/2014 11:40PM

    Wow - what a great commitment you have made to Sparking! 7 years is amazing!

Hoping the doctor has a good plan for you on Monday.

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MICKEYH 2/20/2014 10:47PM

    Way to go!! I am on my 4 th day of no sugar challenge. emoticon emoticon

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LOLA_LALA 2/20/2014 8:54PM

    emoticon Don! If "attitude is altitude," as they say, you're way up there in the stratosphere! We'll all be with you in spirit next Monday when you saunter off into the medical sunset to meet with the electrician (somehow, I want to call him "Dr. Zappa," but that may just because I've paid lots of visits to neurologists, and many of them, too, specialize in "wiring". Who knew I had such a "revolting" ol' body? :::groan:::)

!! on those 20 pounds (wowzers!!) you lost!! I've heard that lengthy fasting period has good effects on one's health and blood tests - keep us posted. As someone who goes 28 out of every 30 days without grains or sugar, I can tell you that this allowed me to drop all my weight and right the Titanic of my formerly abysmal triglyceride/total cholesterol/crappy LDL numbers. I feel great - no weakness or blood-sugar vacillations.

We're excitedly awaiting more news, and I have a suspicion it will ultimately be very positive, Don! All the best - Susan

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    On the "flat" periods I think it simply is your body adjusting itself. I know my program does this. My weight goes down, my body fat % stays the same. My weight goes up, my body fat% goes down. Then the next day both are down. Go figure!

Congratulations! Your program sounds perfect for you.

Please let us know what goes on with the "electrician".

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_LINDA 2/20/2014 7:38PM

    emoticon emoticon
You got to go with what works for you!
Maybe you could rotate your workouts so you can include Swing Dance instead of doing the same thing all the time. Your body will appreciate the change up of routine!

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ONEKIDSMOM 2/20/2014 7:01PM

    That's some milestones, 7 years a-Sparkin'! And congrats on coming to peaceful terms with your inner stubborn. Hope that electrician gets the wiring all figured out for you, as I know how much you love your activity.

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L*I*T*A* 2/20/2014 6:43PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 2/20/2014 6:29PM

    I'm all for each of us finding what works -- and intermittent fasting (even with all the reverence accorded to breakfast) works for a whole lot of us.

Congrats to you on finding 230. Congrats on 7 years here.

And: all best for your meeting with the "electrician". I'm pretty sure he's gonna tell you, "Don, I've heard about hearts of gold, but not sure I've every actually seen one before!!"


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COMMIT2BFIT4ME 2/20/2014 1:58PM

    Congrats on 7 years and your continued successes!


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HIPPICHICK1 2/20/2014 12:18PM

    Here's to experimentation!

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WMUGRAD 2/20/2014 11:29AM

    Congrats Don!

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SKINNYPOWELL1 2/20/2014 10:59AM

    You have always been an huge inspiration to me, I enjoyed reading your blog today, keep up the good work.


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PEZMOM1 2/20/2014 10:03AM


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CHELERY1 2/20/2014 9:53AM

    emoticon You're inspiring!

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MAESTROSHASHA 2/20/2014 9:43AM

    Congrats on the wt loss. Even more congrats and cheers for finding out what works for you. That is always such a challenging piece to this whole puzzle. Take care :)

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SLIMMERJESSE 2/20/2014 9:28AM

    How fabulous!

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Valentine's Day: The Heart...It's Complicated!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Here I was ready to march off and either zap ye olde heart or slap a pacemaker in and be good to go!

Sadly no such simple solutions await...

My EKG confirmed a return of the atrial flutter, however with some worsening features that make a solution tricky and outside the range of my current cardiologist's area of expertise. She is more of a "plumbing" sorta gal. Me? I need an electrician. My right atrium is not filling completely, nor is it emptying completely. The other three quadrants of the heart attempt to compensate for this which counter-intuitively (to me, at least) causes my heart rate to slow down.

So I'm being passed along to a cardiologist who is an "electrical physiologist".

The way I understand it is he will "map" my heart's electrical impulses to determine what intervention he feels will be most helpful. It may involve a "re-mapping" with possible pacemaker as part of the solution, but not likely the total solution.

There may be ablasions in my future where some of the nerves are cauterized for the re-mapping efforts. Pacemaker may or may not be needed. My condition sounds like it will wax & wane and require ongoing tweaking and monitoring...even if a pacemaker is used, which may or may not happen.

I need to take a blood thinner, but am going to try the new drug Eliquis which doesn't require the blood work and tweaking that Coumadin requires. But like Coumadin it will make me at risk for bleeding and bruising and UNLIKE Coumadin there is no counter-acting agent so if I start bleeding I won't stop. Need to be way WAY cautious about this...! This is necessary to avoid throwing clots and also to allow the doc to follow through with whatever procedure he feels needs to be done, ablasion, whathaveyou.

So: no road cycling until I'm off the blood thinner. Just not going to risk it. Even nervous in thinking about cx skiing...all the "what-ifs"? Such as what if I fall, twist an ankle, bruise a knee, etc...?

It's still pretty confusing to me and I really don't have a clear conceptualization of the cardiac electrical system and more precisely how mine is so wonky. I am having a really tough time feeling like I have even a basic understanding or grasp of what the heck is happening...which is frustrating as all get-out!

Here is a link which I believe SHOULD explain things for me, however I have a hard time "grokking" it:


The good thing is that of all the ways the cardiac electrical system can go wrong, mine is pretty innocuous. I have no limitations on my physical activity other than to be prepared to feel more fatigued than I oughta feel when I pump it up. The worst case scenario is that my fatigue may lead me to pass out but without any ill effect.

But even without any limitations by my cardiologist I'm having a mixed sorta reaction of being blase (hey I'm tracking my food, don't have to worry about weight gain) but also fearful...with my heart hobbling along do I really wanna pump it up to an HR of 120 or above?

The weight loss has leveled off despite holding the calories down around 1400-1600...so this may nudge me into action. Workouts have been my "North Star"...don't want to lose this mojo, even if I AM building a NEW North Star: Food tracking.

I'll be seeing the new cardiologist, my electrician on 2/24 so stay tuned...


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_MOBII_ 2/19/2014 10:11AM

    It is a lot to take in and learn, but it sounds like you are getting excellent care. I always prefer (read:expect) doctors who take the time to explain things so we can understand them and who make sure that we understand what is happening with our body.
I am so glad that you are getting some answers.

Take care

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LOLA_LALA 2/16/2014 5:46PM

    Don, I'm so sorry to hear of this development, but it sounds like not only are you in good, capable hands - and can avail yourself of some solid clinical judgment - but that you, too, have a sound grasp of the situation's various ramifications. I have a feeling you'll be in the care of an excellent cardiac "electrician" and that the problem will be handled with reassuring success. My brother had both a cardiac ablation and pacemaker implant close to 20 years ago. Keep us posted on your progress; I have a good, positive feeling about you and the outcome of this situation! - Susan

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WATERMELLEN 2/15/2014 12:36PM

    Oh, my. Not the heart focus you wanted for Valentine's Day, absolutely. And: quite an overwhelming whack of info to assimilate and then accommodate. I'm guessing that gym workouts (elliptical, ST etc.) should be fine but totally agree: bike/XC ski sound like too much potential risk for injury/bleeding at the moment. You are at least getting very thorough medical assessment and the assurance an appropriate program will be mapped out for you.

Will be thinking of you and hoping for all best, Don.

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KANOE10 2/15/2014 9:54AM

    This does sound complicated..I am hoping your new doctor can explain it and offer new ways of helping you. I would stay off of your beloved cycling and skiing while you are on that blood thinner. I know your love of exercise will help you to find a way to continue it. This is a hard frustrating time for you. I am keeping you in my prayers. Hugs.


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_LINDA 2/14/2014 11:57PM

    Some scary stuff alright:(( The Dr. does say its okay to exercise though, and why not? Before you knew what was even going on, you were giving 'er to no ill effects or damage.. But while on the blood thinner, yes, you do not wanna get road rash.. You need to find something safe that you like to do. Tracking food is great, but I can tell you sitting around doing nothing gets old fast. In the olden days, after recoveries or flares, I would be doing video games 24/7, but if there was anything at all I could exercise at, I would find a way..
Hoping this Dr. can find a solution that won't leave you hanging in the air..

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PATRICIAAK 2/14/2014 9:44PM

    My Mom has had ablations.

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RECREATING_ME 2/14/2014 9:40PM

    Gah -- things are never as simple as we want them to be! Praying that your new cardiologist has some good answers for you that will get you on the right track.

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COMMIT2BFIT4ME 2/14/2014 8:44PM

    It does sound complicated. Hopefully after you see the EP doc you will get more clarity on your condition. In the mean time find some things you can do to keep moving w/o getting the HR pumped up. I will be praying for you and will be staying tuned. Wishing you the best.

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ONEKIDSMOM 2/14/2014 6:08PM

    Sorry for the detours on that path, Don! Hope you will continue to keep us in the loop... it's a bummer because I know how much you enjoy the cycling and skiing. There has to be a safe level of activity? Doesn't there?

Spark gently, friend!

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VALERIEMAHA 2/14/2014 2:17PM

    OMG! Some kinda' Valentine's surprise THIS is!!! Wonder what the etiology of this is? I'm confident you are receiving skillful medical care and you will carry on with the superb stewardship you are offering that currently naughty body which is in your care!

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SAM60SUMTHINK 2/14/2014 1:24PM

    Don, as Valentine's Day heart messages go: this one sorta stinks, my friend! BUT!! Thank heavens you KNOW of this problem now! Yup, you are entering yet another phase of your journey. Ah, life: challenges always do emerge, don't they?! Yeah, the blood thinner has drawbacks, but... it can save lives. My dad bleeds easily from his but blood loss has not been extreme, even though at almost 92 he is also thin skinned. As he says, "it's the way it is and I'm still here while most of my friends are not". Amazing what we can accept when faced with change. Good thing you enjoy and know good melodies; nothing like music to help keep the stress level down while coping with change!

With all the new medical understanding and technologies this unfair new development will complicate life, but your electrician can work miracles. Thank goodness you have lost that weight; had this happened several years ago, you would not have been in as good a fighting stance.

You're in my thoughts; am cheering for speedy solutions.
Keep us up-to-date, k?
(Good grief; you didn't shovel snow today, didya???)

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CHANGE4FIT 2/14/2014 12:50PM

It actually sounds like you have a very good grasp of the difference in plumbing and wiring when it comes to the heart. Your next provider will probably provide you more clarity on the later. Keeping you in thoughts and prayers!

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HAPPY-DESTINY 2/14/2014 11:56AM


I went to an electrophysiologist myself down in PA @ Guthrie!

My issue was not the same as you though.. other that a few missed beats and tachycardia!

I had my work done up in Syracuse @ St Joseph's . . great team up there!

Sorry to hear you are off the wheels.. but you cannot risk a tumble and scratches way out where you ride . . I agree . . too risky Boss!

That being said . . please don't let fear cripple you as it did me! Ask . . Ask . . Ask what you can still do and what is a safe heart rhythm rate!

I wish you all the best!! I am also here if you need someone to chat with!

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    Wow, mixed bag of news for sure. I'm one who goes alternate methods of healing, even the heart can heal and I don't mean that in the romantic sense.

It sounds like your insurance company is going to get a hefty bill.

The most important thing is that hopefully you will indeed continue on your path to living life to it's fullest.

Happy Valentine's day.

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L*I*T*A* 2/14/2014 10:44AM

    sounds like you will get the answers you seek soon.......
good luck with the new cardiologist....
hoping and praying for your best outcome.....
blessings and hugs....lita

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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HIPPICHICK1 2/14/2014 10:25AM

    All the best of luck to you with your heart health!

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MAESTROSHASHA 2/14/2014 10:05AM

    Yikes! Blood thinner without an antidote sounds like a bad game of Russian roulette with no empty chambers. :( :( :(

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SLIMMERJESSE 2/14/2014 9:51AM

    Interesting info and sounds like your next doc will be able to get more specific in treatment plan. Take care and wishing you the best outcome.

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