Tuesday, February 21, 2012
...my daughter recommended a website she'd found: free, with features to track nutrition and fitness, with people who could identify with losing weight and getting stronger and working on good health.
She had my attention with the word 'free,' but it's gone way beyond that now, of course.
I've dipped in and out of teams, tried to help people and been helped, asked questions and searched for information and always, above all else, felt I had at last found my internet home.
My health has improved, oh my yes. There still remains the ever-elusive finish line - will I get there? Maybe not. I don't think I do myself any favors by blithely saying 'Oh yes, of course, anything less is negative thinking.'
I'm a believer in realism. I try not to cross the line into cynicism.
Ostrich: 'No worries, you'll get there!'
Realist: 'Gotta lotta hard work ahead.'
Ostrich: 'It'll happen, you'll see!'
Realist: 'Really need to buckle down, fight cravings, get more exercise.'
Ostrich: 'Have faith!'
Realist: 'God helps those who help themselves.'
And so I continue.
You've all seen my before-and-after pics (they're still on here in earlier blogs). One of these days, after I get my hair done, I'll post a new one. Maybe. A-heh.
* * *
Busy week all the way around, both 'officially' and personally.
Officially it was a holiday - Presidents' Day - in the US yesterday. That being the case, I think all presidents, whether born in February or not, living or dead, 'good' or 'bad,' should be honored, even though Abe is a particular favorite.
Today is Shrove Tuesday. In England, it's Pancake Day - bit of a misnomer, that, as the pancakes are more like crepes. And of course there's Carnival / Carnivale in Venice and Rio de Janeiro and Espana and so forth. Mardi Gras, in Naw'linns.
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and the 'real' birthday of George Washington (of course, if you consider the 'old style' calendar in use at the time of his birth, his 'real' birthday is the 11th of February), and Girls Scouts' "World Thinking Day."
Not sure if there's anything the rest of the week, but that's sufficient, I'd guess.
On the personal level, there was a doctor's appointment yesterday - to find out that somebody, somewhere, screwed up the blood test I'd had done last week so it has to be done over. This after I had the worst one I've had in twelve years. O joy.
Realtor tomorrow. Doctor's appointment on Thursday. Something else on Friday. Another doctor's appointment next week, IF I get the bloodwork done again this week. Which I might well not. It has to be fasting, and I really hate those anyway. Factor in the vampiress who's sure to be on duty no matter when I go... well. We shall see.
And of course today is, as I said at the top of the page, my fourth 'Sparkiversary.' (Dunno why, but I prefer 'SparkIversary' to 'SparkAversary.' Go figure.)
I suppose you could say I'm getting a jumpstart on the austerity of Lent by celebrating my Sparkiversary with a special dinner of baked salmon, yams, and broccoli. I might just nuke an apple for dessert. Cut it in half, sprinkle with a little cinnamon (Himself gets some raisins, a light drizzle of maple syrup, and perhaps a dollop of ice cream), buzz it for maybe a minute, and voila - instant (or almost instant) baked apple.
Thursday, February 09, 2012
I pretty much know what I'm doing.
I mean, I THINK I know what I'm doing. In some ways. Regarding some things.
For example: I have Type 2 diabetes. I suppose it was inevitable. My grandfather had it... my mother has it... so heredity is one factor.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I developed what's known as 'gestational diabetes.' It went away (so to speak) after delivery, but that's another factor signaling that it's likely to develop.
My checkered history of gaining weight / losing weight / gaining weight / losing weight didn't help either.
Four years ago I was on Metformin - a tablet - and the dosage had been upped to the point where they prescribed a second medication, Gliclazide. (The spelling may be wrong; also, it may be only available in the UK, or it may be a British version and sold elsewhere under a different name. Whatever.)
Prescriptions drive me bats. I mean, besides the cost (or the drain on NHS / insurance resources), I just don't think artificially inducing 'health' is always a good idea. Don't get me wrong, you who are on daily medications. I am too, in my case for hypertension. My point is, IF you can self-manage a disease to the point where you can reduce or even eliminate medication altogether, so much the better, is all I'm saying.
So as I say, four years ago, I was taking two prescriptions for the diabetes, I was on a fairly high dosage of Lisinopril for the blood pressure, and I was well on my way to 300 pounds.
(It occurs to me I sound like one of those old people who drones on about aches, pains, and past surgeries, but bear with me. There's a point.)
One day - and it was almost literally 'one day' - I thought, I don't like this. I don't want to do this. I want to change this.
So slowly, bit by bit, I did. I haunted the doctor. I consulted the nurse who specialized in diabetes. I worked with the staff dietitian. I went to not one but two rounds of classes specifically designed for Type 2 diabetics.
And of course I started Sparkin'.
I became my own laboratory: I experimented with nutrition, reading everything I could get my hands on and learning as much as possible.
I worked to check my blood glucose almost fanatically. I would introduce a new food, check... try it a second day, check... and had notes and diaries and spreadsheets all over the place.
But the payoff was huge.
Today, I am a diet-controlled diabetic. (That's the medical community's label; myself, I believe the term 'lifestyle-controlled' would be more accurate.)
This morning, my fasting blood glucose was 84.6 / 4.7. That's pretty typical these days, and it's good numbers.
No medications except the minimum dose (still!) of Lisinopril for hypertension. I wear size 12 with the occasional - occasional, mind you - foray into The Land of Ten. T-shirts are often 'small' and never more than 'medium.' I have a few One-Size-Fits-All nightshirts and things that I could swim in.
Yes, it's grand. Yes, I'm pleased. No, I'm not bragging. Yes, anyone can do what I've done.
Just as I've got the successes, so too I've got the failures. You know, if you've read my blogs before, as this is my constant refrain: I don't exercise enough, and I need to move MORE.
I chip at it. I'm just not as motivated or committed or enthusiastic or OCD about that as I was about getting the blood glucose under control. It'll happen. One day I'll decide that I want to do it, and I will.
Until then, I'm okay.
Except for SparkPeople.
Yesterday, one of my fellow Sparklers said 'I can't find the such-and-such exercise on the Fitness Tracker.' And I thought, hmmm, I think I know where it is.
Now, I don't use SP's fitness tracker. Why? Because every time - every single blessed dagnabbed doggone (be assured the idiom was much saltier) time I do, it arbitrarily changes my nutrition guidelines. I mean, WILDLY changes them, way out from where I have them set.
I happen to use the 'diabetic version' of the nutrition tracker, but whether I use it or the basic version makes no difference. Whether I set it to 'custom' (which I do) or to Spark's meal plans makes no difference.
Start adding exercise and the system will 'automatically' adjust your caloric needs for you.
I've asked them to change that. Whether it's the defaults or a holdover from an earlier version or what, I don't know. I'm not enough of a techie to know.
The PTB (Powers That Be) have explained why it happens, and essentially tell me it's to be helpful, and supportive, and all that happy newspeak. They say that's the way the system's set up. They say it's been done that way deliberately.
Well, I say - STOP IT.
Because I never use the fitness tracker on here anymore. Never. Ever. Not a single minute, a single calorie burned, a single Cardio or Step or Strength, nada.
I got so tired of having to 'correct' my nutrition tracker that I finally started recording my (admittedly sporadic) fitness activities elsewhere.
So yesterday, as I say, I went looking for 'bowling' in the activities list.
I was pretty sure it was within the Cardio category. I couldn't seem to find a way to 'browse' the activities unless I indicated I wanted to (hah) do them, but I thought - 'Well, that should be all right. I'm not going to add any, just act as if I was considering setting up my own exercises and my own favorites, so I can explain where to find it.'
I ticked Cardio and that I wanted to do it on Wednesdays, but I didn't select any length of time or amount of calories I wanted to expend or anything. Just ticked it so I could access 'Browse' - which I did - and find 'bowling' - which I did.
Then I explained to the Sparkler where to find it, then unticked 'Cardio' and reset my fitness tracker to zero - that is, so that it wouldn't even remotely appear that I planned to do a bloomin' thing.
...and after supper, when I went to record my dinner into the tracker, what do I find?
ALL MY VALUES HAVE BEEN ADJUSTED!!!!!!!!!!
Thanx a lot, PTB. You obviously know what's better for me than I do. When it comes to nutrition, and exercise, and self-management of various conditions, you will make darned sure I have what you've determined is the right fit for everyone.
EYE don't try to foist MY behavior off on anyone else. Could be that what I do works for me and wouldn't work for others.
I often think that everybody needs a relatively customized program, one that's tailored to the individual. I mean, when you go to a gym, don't they take into account your age, your condition, whether you have certain problems (bad knees, etc.) and your current level of fitness? They don't just tell you to jump in the deep end and swim fifty laps, do they?
(And if they do, maybe you need a different gym / personal trainer.)
But according to SP, maybe I don't know what's best for me after all.
Or maybe it's time I start recording my nutritional data on the other site where I record my (sporadic) fitness data, because they don't have any strange links or defaults between the two that change my values without my say-so.
But I do so dread edging away from the SP community. And even more, I detest the idea of having to start all over to rebuild my list of foods not in the tracker.
[Yes, I know. Spark is free and so on and so forth. I know. But one of the things they promote most is how they strive to be convenient, to provide the tools that people can use to become healthier. Well, surely it's a simple IT matter to set a control or write a code for Sparkers to choose 'Yes, automatically synchronize my trackers' or 'No, allow me to manually adjust my trackers'? The same way we can currently choose 'pre-selected meal plans' or 'manually selected meal plans'? Dammitoll.]
Monday, February 06, 2012
Pithy teabagtag of the day: "Travel light."
* * *
I meant to do a State of the Kasey blog yesterday but got sidetracked. I've been in the doldrums, in many ways: exercise is minimal, keeping up with my 10 minutes / daily but often not much more than that. Still maintaining nutrition-wise; I haven't lost any more weight (and still have a ways to go) but on the good side, I haven't gained any either. I don't mind staying the same for a while. I figure if my body gets used to this 'plateau,' then the next push (more exercise / slight trim of intake) will see the numbers change.
Some of the other resolutions on my list - creative writing, sorting computer files - are still in the works and are coming along slowly. A few are already done: re-working my diet nutrition (not going lower but to make sure all the nutrients are right and in proportion) is completed, at least for the foreseeable future.
The cruise, alas, is on hold until summer 2013. The most compelling factor is cost. There are some good reasons to push it this year - perfect timing in some respects. My thinking is that with the Olympics coming up and the disastrous Mediterranean cruise last month prices will be heavily discounted to drum up trade. And the best personal reason is to celebrate my milestone birthday.
But on the flipside, next year is when I'll actually BE sixty (my diamond jubilee!), plus it will be our tenth wedding anniversary (how time flies), so - I don't see that another year will dampen the excitement. The house is going back on the market, I still have my citizenship application in the works, and I have a couple more irons in the fire so I guess I've got enough to keep me occupied and off the street corners.
* * *
An article headlined yesterday on Spark put me in mind of the ex: "Why Human Brains Are Smarter Than Chimp Brains." Myself, now, I figure - depends on the chimp, depends on the human.
* * *
And speaking of husbands - Himself had a bad night last night. If EYE have a bad night, it means EYE don't sleep. If HE has a bad night, it means WE don't sleep. Why is that?
I swear, men are like little kids. "I can't sleep, so ain't NObody sleepin'!" I don't know if it's a case of misery loves company, or if it's more like man-flu and they want to be cuddled.
To any men reading this blog - no, I'm not going to apologize. Sometimes truth is stranger than gender-bias...
* * *
"Those who follow the clockwise path are governed by the changes of Yin and Yang. Those that take the reverse path, however, will be able to walk in the void." --Tao-hsuan p'ien
I'm not quite sure what that means; I'd have to give it some thought, and heavy thinking takes me more time than I have to devote to it at the moment. But I find it intriguing - "...will be able to walk in the void." Not 'will be lost in' but 'able to go.' Maybe it's in the translation, but... intriguing nonetheless.
Today marks the official end of Chinese New Year. The Year of the Dragon lasts until sometime in February, 2013. I love the coincidence of this being my Diamond Jubilee, Lilibet's Diamond Jubilee, and The Year of the Dragon, all rolled into one.
* * *
Speaking of HRH QEII, today is the precise 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. I find it difficult to imagine how the pinnacle of your life's work is marked by the death of a parent, but such is the case here, I guess.
Seeing films of her coronation (which actually took place a year and some after, in 1953, as it took them time to get everything organized) always reminds me of my late father-in-law. He told me about the first television he ever bought - when Himself was eight. They got it even though rationing hadn't entirely ended in the UK and the 'austerity economy' was still in effect, because Elizabeth's coronation was the first one ever televised live.
The monetary sacrifice was well worth it, Mr G said, as it was an event he wouldn't have missed. Because they were the first ones in their family to have a TV everyone was invited to their house on The Day. And when the national anthem was broadcast, they all stood and sang, too. Tickles me no end to think of it. He was a delightful man.
Tonight we were watching a program about the life - and reign - of the Queen. Himself said he's seen her, live and in person, twice in his life. Well, I'll be darned. I had no idea. Twelve years together and he can still surprise me.
The presenter of the program was saying that Elizabeth has a way of connecting with people, even with the briefest of glances, that makes them comfortable and puts them at the same level. Friendly, warm, almost as if she knows them.
Himself said 'That's very true,' and went on to tell me how, as a schoolboy of about ten, not long after her coronation, she made a visit to Birmingham, his hometown. His class - his whole school - was lined up along the road in front of the school building, and when the Queen's car passed by, they all waved and shouted. She waved back (of course) and he swears she looked right at HIM, actually seeing him.
The other time was after he'd gone to college. He thinks he was about 20, and similar to the first time, he and some classmates were on the sidewalk where her motorcade was scheduled to pass. Sure enough, when the car got to him, she was on that side - and waving, and he swears she looked right at HIM.
Well, mebbe so. He's not an ardent royalist (not an anti-monarchist, either, just not caught up in admiration or anything), but he's convinced she actually saw him, regardless of whether or not she noticed the other people.
She's supposed to make a visit to Manchester this year, I think in May. I told him maybe we should go along. She may well say to herself 'I've seen that fellow before a couple of times,' and wave to him. Who knows? Third time's the charm. Stranger things've happened.
And myself, now, I've never seen her 'for real.' I think I'd get a kick out of that.
With that, I'm outta here. Lots going on getting the house ready for a photo-shoot and cleaning up and so on. Real estate people tomorrow, dentist Wednesday, something on Thursday (I don't even remember just now) and Friday maybe a breather.
Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are!
Queen Elizabeth II; King George's mother, Queen Mary; and his widow, the dowager Queen Elizabeth, 'the Queen Mother' - February 1952
Thursday, February 02, 2012
Or Candlemas, as the old church calendar would have it.
"Away in a meadow all covered with snow
The little old groundhog looks for his shadow.
The clouds in the sky determine our fate
If winter will leave us all early or late."
"A wet February, a wet Spring." --proverb
"If a hedgehog casts a shadow at noon, Winter will return." --old English saying
"I'm a little groundhog, it's my day.
Wake and stretch, go out and play.
Down in my burrow, down so deep,
Time to wake, from my long winter's sleep.
"Grumble, grumble, scratch, scratch, grunt, grunt, yawn.
I'll eat my breakfast in your front lawn.
I'm a little groundhog, it's my day.
Wake up and stretch, go out and play."
According to the old English saying:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.
If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be two winters in the year.
For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until May.
For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine before May.
And from America:
If the sun shines on Groundhog Day;
Half the fuel and half the hay.
If the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of Winter. Germans watched a badger for the shadow. In Pennsylvania, the groundhog, upon waking from mid-Winter hibernation, was selected as the replacement.
www.groundhog.org - 'The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club'
Today I put a 'raincloud' as my ticker icon. Why? 'cause it would suit me just fine (oh, would it ever!) if the groundhog sees no shadow, stays out, and declares spring has arrived. The older I get, the colder I get.
That's it from me. Off to do battle with menu, grocery list, errands and shopping. I'll come back with my shield - or on it. Have a good 'un, Sparklers - carpe diem!
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