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Visit to Rheumatologist and other odds and ends

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Went to Shreveport Tuesday to see the Rheumatologist. He discussed my arthritis issues and the possibilities of me having to go back on a biologic meds despite me telling him I can never take those again due to my history with histoplasmosis. My GI doctor had brought up putting me back on this stuff, too. Thank goodness my internist listens to me, as my Infectious Disease Specialist (who I no longer see) had told me firmly that I could never go back on those meds.

Anyway, he x-rayed me and we determined that some of my arthritis is osteoarthritis and some is due to my Crohns disease: Sacroiliitis on my left side. And my spine is slightly twisted where it moves into my pelvis and my pelvis sits at an angle putting stress on my left hip. I knew some of this, not that my spine was twisted slights (not scoliolis) but that my body was misaligned with the right side bearing most of my weight. I had physical therapy for this the month before I became ill and with that illness and the long recovery, all that work was kind of wasted.

So tomorrow I drive to another town to start physical therapy with a man who specializes in this kind of problem. So I look forward to tackling this issue again at this time.

Yesterday was a lost day, sick with either Crohns or food poisoning. Thank goodness it was yesterday instead of Tuesday, the day I was gone to Shreveport. That would have been tough! An hour and a half drive with hardly anywhere to stop, especially the last hour of the place that I can recall to stop, maybe one little place here or there but not that I would feel comfortable stopping at and most of the drive through lonely forests!

Started my elderly dog on a diuretic for fluid retention in her lungs. Going to try it for a week to see if it helps. She seems to be coughing less today, the second day on the meds. She has a grade three heart murmur and may have to start on some heart meds. Reevaluation next week.

DD is coming home Labor Day weekend! Her two years with the Peace Corps has come to completion. Now to find a job and start on the next phase of her life!

As for me: in addition to the physical therapy:

I'm ready for the Fall 5% Challenge.
I'm going back to a Low Carb diet. Have been working my way into it this week. Reading and preparing. Working on my pantry and fridge/freezer to make it low carb friendly. Last time I did this I did the Atkins diet and was down to 154. Then the holiday and the move came and I think the move was what did me in! Looking at my weight charts on Spark, starting in Jan. when DD left to work in AR and I was left alone in LA my weight started going back up. So can we say stress eating? Possibly? You think??

So I am 20 pounds higher than I was in Dec. When I started Atkins I was 172 in August of 2013. By Oct I was down 20 pounds. So it is time. Time to go back on low carb. Time to get serious. Why?

My sister had a talk with my that summer, leading me to start low carb. She has weight issues, too. I will say that up front. But she is a retired doctor and has studied this a lot. And she and I, like our mom and her sisters, all have similar weight patterns: we carry it around our middle. Our legs and arms don't get as big at first, but our middles do. We have metabolic syndrome. "Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes." Luckily for us, although our blood sugar has been high, it's not been high enough to put us out and out into the diabetic range, but it's been close!

And for years, due to high cholesterol and high blood pressure I followed my doctor's advice and did a low fat, heart healthy diet. And guess what? It did nothing for me. My numbers did improved slightly, my weight improved slightly, but I never could get off my meds. And while my weight improved slightly, I'm talking about over a long period of time. It was hard to lose 1o pounds! And to eat that diet and still have to stay on my meds was frustrating!

On Atkins I lost the weight much faster. I never got to compare my numbers, since about the time I was due to have my labs done again I was already back in my poor eating habits (lots of carbs, trying to do low fat). Well low fat means they add sugar to make it taste better, so you are adding carbs. Simple carbs: sugar, potatoes, bread, pasta, etc are things I have to stay away from. For me that is what needs to happen. It always puzzled me when I worked with people who were diabetic to see how many simple carbs they consumed with their meals each day: potatoes, bananas, bread, etc. Yes, they'd do sugar free desserts, but they would ignore all those simple carbs loaded on their plates that add just as much danger to their bodies as sugar.

So for me it will be low carb. For you, do whatever works for you. To each his own. Don't tell me what diet to follow and I won't tell you what to follow! I just know what I have found that works for me, a middle aged woman with metabolic disorder who needs to get healthier, lose weight, and get my cholesterol in line (blood pressure and blood sugar are fine right now).

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DIANNEYME 8/22/2014 10:32AM

    Hope this diet works again for you! I am lowering my carbs and finding the scale finally starting to move a little. I would love to do Atkins but (besides loving carbs!) I don't think I could find enough to eat healthily...doc won't let me have more than 4 oz animal protein a day due to my kidney stone history. And too many eggs probably wouldn't be good for my cholesterol...(sigh).

,so happy your daughter is coming home. I miss my girls, even though they are only a couple hours away, so I can sympathize!

Here's to lower weight and better health for us all!

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KATELJM 8/21/2014 5:47PM

    Marcia, I hope this switch will do the trick for you!

I hope your internal medicine doctor can help you progress without the questionable drugs. As you know, my onus to lose weight is to stay off meds, as I have a long list of drugs that don't work right for me.

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Fall 5% Challenge: Sign Up Now!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fall 5% Challenge: a challenge where we aim to lose 5% of our weight during the 8 weeks of the Challenge.

Do you like team work?
Can you log your exercise minutes every day on your team's Challenge thread?
Can you also log your Living The Good Life points every day on the same thread? (These LTGL's change each week, more in a bit about them).
Can you weigh in each week and post your weight on your team's weight loss thread?
Can you work hard and help your team beat the other teams in this race around the world?

Each week is a new destination and a new race!

If you can commit to all of the above, then click on the link and join the Fall 5% Challenge. Once you have done that, read about the different teams and sign up for the one you think you would like to join. I'm the ML for the Walkers, Runners, Joggers, & Gadgets team!

LTGL: what is that? One week it might be tracking how many hours of sleep you get each night, one week it might be logging your food each day, another week it might be making time for yourself each day. The LTGL changes each week.

Team work is what the Challenge is all about! Do we guarantee you will lose 5% of your weight? No! That is totally up to you!! We can't make you lose the weight. But we can urge you to participate and to try your hardest to lose your 5%! In the meantime, if you try your best you will be establishing good habits during this challenge that will help you achieve your goals!

What happens if you join and stop participating? Well, it is a team challenge, so your team loses a valuable member. Think long and hard, but realize this. Life does get in the way sometimes, I know it has happened to me during challenges, but I still aim to put in some exercise each day, unless it is out of my control. And I get online and log each day unless, again, it is out of my control. I let my team mates know when I am having problems. I let them know when I will be out of touch for a few days due to travel and limited internet. It is called team work, after all! And they know I will be back and on track as soon as possible.

So can you commit? Can you be a part of a team? Can you participate each day? Can you stick with it until the end of the 8 week challenge? Click the link and join!
Do you want to make new friends? Do you want to establish good, healthy habits? Do you want to be accountable to a group of people about your exercise and eating habits? Do you want to challenge yourself?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MAINEALI 8/17/2014 6:37PM

    I've committed to the 5% challenges and I'm so glad I did!


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GOODGETNBETR 8/17/2014 6:23PM

See ya in the fall for another great challenge. Definitely hope to make it a more team focused effort by logging in daily. That consistency will hopefully yield even better results.

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Summer 5% Challenge Wrap Up

Friday, August 15, 2014

It's been an interesting challenge for me! I rejoined the 5% Challenge in the Spring after a bit of a break (almost a year, half of which I was either seriously ill or recovering). In the midst of the Spring 5% Challenge we moved out of state. In fact the week it started was the week before the move. I found it very challenging to work out during that challenge as the move set off a major arthritis flare up and my back went out. I ended up just over a pound higher than I started.

Summer 5% Challenge I signed up to be the ML on the WRJ&G team, same team I was on for the Spring Challenge. I've been a leader in the past (ML, CL, and EL) so was ready. I knew I had two trips planned this summer, but didn't realize a third was going to happen, but life gets in the way sometimes! So I spent half of the challenge out of town, two of those weeks out of the country with limited internet access! And being out of town my meals were all in restaurants, mainly. I enjoyed food of the countries I visited (Macedonia and Croatia) and I feel that when visiting a place like those you really need to enjoy the local cuisine. My last trip coincided with restaurant week in DC and my son, who I visited, is very much into eating at good restaurants that use local produce/meat, so we enjoyed some fine dining (which he can't afford normally) at some of DC's fine restaurants. Amazingly I gained 1 pound (was worried it might be more).

So I did not lose weight this challenge but gained 2.7 at this time (we'll see tomorrow the final number). Yes, I wish I had not gained but I do not regret enjoying some fine dining in DC and getting to eat and enjoy foods of the countries and people of Macedonia and Croatia.

When I was home I worked out everyday. On my trips I did a lot of walking, sightseeing, etc, and even hiked up a mountain.

Now that I am home and back in my routine life for a bit (hopefully longer, but may have another trip to make to visit family), I have decided to make some changes in my diet. I am going back to a low carb diet, not quite as strict as Adkins, but close. I lost weight on it before, and since simple carbs seem to be a problem for the women in my family, it makes sense to cut them out. I used to do the low fat diets and the heart healthy diets and none of them worked for me, and my cholesterol kept going up, as did my blood pressure and glucose levels (never quite made official diabetes but close). Yet on a low carb diet those numbers improved. So it is time.

First step: get the remaining low carbs out of the house. I'm transitioning into the diet, starting today, not going cold turkey.

So for the Fall Challenge I will be fully on a Low Carb diet, and continue my daily work outs. I will lose the weight when I cut out the simple carbs. I don't have to stress myself into overdrive, working out nonstop, to lose weight. I will do a manageable amount of work out each day, walking/core/strength exercises. I will get any other exercise in as yard work or house work.

So I gained weight this challenge due to almost 4 weeks of travel. Such is life. I make no excuses. I used to diet and deprive myself years ago. I almost died at the end of 2012 and I know that when I have a chance to travel, I want to enjoy it. I don't mean pigging out, but just enjoy a nice dinner at a nice restaurant. We have no fine dining here in my small town so it was great to indulge in that! Now I'm home and I will focus on the low carb diet: veggies, meats, dairy, good fats, no breads or grains, no potatoes, no starches, limited fruits (not a problem for me), etc. Home cooked and working to get natural if I can, in a town where natural is rather limited in our few grocery stores!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KATELJM 8/16/2014 10:54PM

    Marcia, thank you for being there, you were great as ML!

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JERSEYGIRL24 8/16/2014 6:52PM

    Thank you for being such a great ML. Looking forward to working with you again in the fall. The vacations sound wonderful!!

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DONNABRIGHT 8/15/2014 6:05PM

    I could easily live with a small gain considering all the travel you did - well done!

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Travels in Croatia: The End

Monday, August 04, 2014

We drove the two hours to Zagreb and located a parking garage about a 10 minute walk from the Flower Square in the city where the apartment we rented for the night was located. Airbnb, you are so good! A two bedroom apartment in the heart of the city, with everything close enough to walk to, I mean right outside the door, and yet set just off the square so a bit quiet, for the price of one hotel room! And the hostess let my DD leave her luggage with her the next day as I had an early flight to the US but DD's flight back to Macedonia wasn't until evening. So that way she could do some more shopping without carrying her luggage. Awesome!

So we found the apartment then explored a bit. DD was so impressed with Zagreb. A modern European city. She said she'd loved to get a job working there! She found an H&M store and did some shopping while I sat at an outdoor cafe and had a refreshing coke. Macedonia doesn't have many good options for clothing for her, no H&M, so she wanted to buy a few clothes to replenish her wardrobe. Then we got some lunch and proceeded to walk to the historic part of the city. DD also wanted to get her brows done and we stumbled upon a L'Oreal studio that did both of us and she took advantage and got her hair cut. We came back and a block from the apartment found a stand selling fresh raspberries and blackberry wine. DD wanted the raspberries and I was curious about the wince so we bought some and enjoyed them back at the apartment. We had an early night of it as we had to get me to the airport in the morning and turn in the rental car.

So that was the trip. Very impressed with Croatia.

The trip home: Croatia to Paris the airline was barely half full so I got to switch to an empty row and sit by the window.
Paris: the flight was very delayed and I knew it was hopeless, pretty much, for me to make my connection home. And I had a middle seat on that long, 9 hour flight. Luckily both my seat mates were very nice young women, so it could have been worse. We all watched movies and/or napped. So it was peaceful, as much as it could be.

Arrived in Atlanta and had to wait for a gate to open up due to storms earlier there that delayed traffic. Then had to go through customs, etc. so I ended up missing my flight. And no flights the next day to my airport. Luckily DH had not wanted me to leave my car for 2 weeks at the airport (2 hour drive from home) so had driven me there so I switched to another airport (2 hours in another direction). In the meantime Delta ran out of free hotel rooms and I had to find my own at 11pm. So Dh was working on that for me as I was making my way through the huge airport to the hotel shuttle area. He found one and said I had to call for the hotel shuttle. So I did. Nine minutes of stupid music then got disconnected. By then I'm at the hotel shuttle pick up area and I do see that hotel listed on the signs so I wait thinking they might drive up. No. In the meantime my phone battery is getting low, and after half an hour I check the reviews on the hotel: awful!!! I call Dh and said cancel it I'll see if I can do something. Problem is everything is booked. Luckily I found something really nice : Hotel Indigo. Wow!

Anyway both hotels were booked through Expedia. DH in the meantime had called Expedia to cancel the first hotel (no cancellation on this one, but we had tried and couldn't contact the hotel) and Expedia couldn't contact them either). Long story short: it took Expedia about three days to make contact and get us our money back. And Delta Airlines covered the whole cost of Hotel Indigo (it was a bit prieey but there were no options and the Delta rep said he had put people up there many times. So I got home the next day after a long day at the Atlanta airport due to DH having some important work meetings he couldn't miss in the morning and I figured I'd rather hang out in Atlanta's airport than in a smaller one: more places to walk to and things to look at. And Atlanta had free wi-fi: unlimited and it works!!!

So that was my trip. I enjoyed it. I learned a lot about Macedonia and Croatia. I learned some things about myself. And I successfully traveled solo overseas on this, my fourth trip overseas. I hiked up a mountain. I enjoyed iftar three times with Albanians. I learned that I like Turkish coffee. And I learned my DD and I can survive almost two weeks together as long as we have separate rooms and time apart each day! We both are too much alike in some ways and need our alone time to destress and rejuvenate!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KATELJM 8/5/2014 1:50PM

    I love your summary, it sounds so "real." It's wonderful that you got to spend that time with your daughter, but also wonderful that you two found some necessary separation. (I remember that the maximum time I could be around my mom was 3 days, and then suddenly I was in the mood to go home and clean.)

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Travels in Croatia: Plivicka Jezera National Park

Friday, August 01, 2014

We drove the 5 hour drive from Dubrovnik to Plivicka. This time the border crossings went faster, due to us leaving in the morning before the roads became too busy. One note on the roads in Croatia: they are in much better shape than the roads in America! Even the two lane highways are in good shape. When not on the two lane highways we took the toll road, four lanes, like an interstate highway. Drivers in Croatia are very courteous, like drivers in Germany. On four lane roads you drive in the right lane and pass in the left lane. I just wish America would learn this habit!! I've always been impressed with the fact that slow drivers don't drive in the left lane in the European countries I've visited.

This was a rainy day and I was worried as we only had this day to visit the National Park. Luckily I had chosen a hotel that was at the gate to the National Park, so we arrived and checked in at Hotel Plitvice and then went to the park gate to buy our ticket for access to the park. My DD asked which of the trails up the mountain was the easiest and we were told Trail F so that's the one we took. I had taken the precaution of wearing my knee support (as my arthritic knee was in need of support after all the steps and steep walkways of the past few days!) and was thankful I had brought it! We started on the path then road a boat across a lake to the next part of the park.

When we got to the other side we couldn't find trail F! So we chose trail C as it had the sign for the tram that would take us down after we finished the hike. There were a lot of people on the trails, which could get annoying when they would stop smack in the middle of the trail instead of on the side so people could get by! I would get on a roll with my walking and at times knew if I stopped I wouldn't get going easily again, would get impatient! Then on hard sections I would step aside and let people pass me as I knew I would need more time. Courtesy, people, courtesy and respect!

This was a gorgeous area, lots of water, waterfalls, woods, boardwalks, dirt paths, dirt steps, wood steps.

Steve Ricks writes better about the park than I can, including it's tragic recent history (1991).

For me I hiked to the end of the path we were on, past the sign below, which came after a particularly rough part of the trail for me:

I never thought I could do anything like that at this time in my life, with my knee issues!!
I thank my DD for encouraging me and being patient with me! And I thank the park for having those trams to ride back down the mountain, as I'm not sure I could have managed that. The rain had made the path muddy and slippery, and going downhill is much harder for me than going up!

But I did it! A big victory for me!! And back to the hotel for dinner as the rain began.

Next morning we drove to Zagreb for the end of our journey.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KATELJM 8/1/2014 10:17PM

    So beautiful, and what an accomplishment!

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WALLAHALLA 8/1/2014 10:14PM

    great day
great views
great company
great accomplishments
emoticon emoticon

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