Thursday, September 08, 2011
I just got back from an appointment with my new dentist. I've been experiencing some cold sensitivity on my tooth, and I was overdue for a cleaning. I have a history with teeth problems. I normally build up tartar at a very rapid rate. Four years ago, I had to have an extensive deep cleaning that took 4 sessions to remove tartar buildup. I had borderline periodontal disease.
I was a bit concerned because I haven't had a cleaning in 2 years. I was expecting a build up. However, the hygienist said my teeth look great. My cleaning took about 15 minutes. I was shocked. I used to have my teeth cleaned every three months because the tartar would get so bad. Now I skipped a few cleanings, and my teeth had minimal build up. I was more than pleasantly surprised.
Because this is my first appointment with the hygienist, she didn't know how remarkable a change this was. I was telling her about my dental history, telling her what a complete turn around this is. She asked me if I had any change in diet. I said, actually, I started eating lower carb. Given recent lashback, I braced myself for a lecture, or disapproval. To my surprise, she agreed with me. She said she tells so many of her patients to eat less bread and pasta, in addition to less sugar. All those grains and starches breaks down into sugar to feed bacteria that causes tooth decay, gingivitis and periodontal disease.
My cold sensitivity on my tooth is due to my gums pulling back slightly, so she gave me a medicated mouthwash to use until my next visit. The dentist thinks I am brushing too hard, which is causing my gums to pull back. She suggested I get an electric tooth brush, and that I don't need to put so much pressure when brushing. But other than that, my teeth and gum health are in great shape! She says I don't have an issues that would prevent me from getting my teeth whitened, so I'm making an appointment to have some impressions made in a couple of months before the wedding!
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
The way I do plan my goals, whether with diet or in general life, is not a straight line. It is a moving target. I have a number of small goals that I try to achieve, that make up a larger strategy.
With diet and fitness, it is impossible to predict how much weight I will lose. If I lose 2 lbs this week, it doesn't mean I will lose 2 next week. It is not possible to say that I will be x weight in x number of months. So I set moveable goals. The plan is to get near, not exact. If I plan to lose 10 lbs in 1 month, but I lose 5, then that is still success. If I lost no weight, then I need to reassess and see what went wrong.
Vacation always throws me off track. I came to an epiphany the other day. There seems to be a paradox that when I am on vacation, I am more active than I am at home. I'm not really a nap on the beach kind of person. I want to play in the sea, or explore. At home, I seem to fall into a routine where I do more sedentary activities like computers, TV or books.
This week I'm going to get off my butt and get to the gym. I'm doing well on my eating goals, but sitting around isn't doing me any favors. I've maintained my weight loss over vacation, but I need the exercise for building up strength and toning.
In other life goals, I am not a person that is afraid to try something new, or difficult, and fail. I've seen so many friends who are afraid to try something because they are afraid of failure. Being afraid of failure is being afraid to succeed. The first time I tried to ride my bike without training wheels, I fell and scraped my knee. What if I never climbed back in the saddle? What if I spent my entire life afraid to ride a bike?
On the other hand, there is a balance of pragmatism. If you've been following my blog, you know I was considering the idea of making my own wedding dress. After careful thought, I've decided that it is the time investment that is the biggest problem for me. I think I could get it done, but it would take me more time than a professional seamstress, as I don't have the years of experience. I would have to do a lot of trial and error. I've decided to look up how much a seamstress would cost to have a dress tailor made. I have a pretty good idea of what I want, I just lack the experience to put it together in a timely manner. I've decided to invest that time elsewhere.
I am a perfectionist. In my life, it is a trait that has served me simultaneously as my greatest strength, and my biggest vice. At work, I am highly regarded for my attention to detail. However, I admit it also makes me difficult to work with. I care more about being effective, than being popular. At my last job as a QA lead, boy, did I get a lot of complaints. My boss told me I was too hard on people. I disagreed. I never insulted anyone, I just stated facts. It didn't work the way it should, and my job was to report it. If I saw something, I reported it. It was my not job to decide what bugs or problems were important. That's the project manager's job. However, people didn't like their mistakes pointed out. I didn't feel my employer was serious enough about QA, so I left. When I left, all those people who hated me realized that my attention to detail kept lines straight. I got comments from coworkers post departure telling me they could really see the difference in quality after I left.
Back when I was a teenager, I had so much time to learn new skills. One summer when I was 14, I learned how to program. Another summer, I learned how to use a digital editing program, a precursor to Photoshop. In high school, I edited a movie my friends and I made with my computer, complete with titles and graphics. You can do this with iMovie these days, but back in 1992, this was not commonplace. This was all before household PCs were common or accessible. My parents were not wealthy people, but they pulled money together so that I would have a computer to learn on. My dad saw computers as the future, and he wanted me to have the advantage.
My problem with art has always been my perfectionism. If it isn't perfect, or isn't exactly the way that I envision, I am unsatisfied. I have difficulty translating images in my mind into a tangible media. However, computers are an area where my perfectionism hits stride. I have always dabbled in different technologies for the fun of it. In college, I had the great luck to be on the internet before it hit mainstream. I got to see the dawn of the internet as it developed. I wrote web pages and hosted my own web servers. This was all experience I did for the fun of it, that would later grow into a career.
Learning new skills is problematic as an adult, with a full time job. But as yet, I don't have kids. So I do still have some time to learn and work on something.
I'm now in my mid-late thirties, and I'm now considering the next stage in my career path. I have a good job, but I don't really see myself as the corporate climber. I think I can use my skills and experience to forge my own path. I've decided that I'm going to finally take the leap into entrepreneurship. Mobile applications are replacing desktop software for IT growth. I just bought an iPod Touch so I can try my hand at mobile app development. I have a few simple ideas that I can do to dabble, and a few bigger projects for down the road.
After I got my iTouch and playing with some of the apps available, I got to thinking, "Hey, I can do this." It started opening my mind and inspiration to possibilities.
If nothing else, it's one more thing I can do to keep my skills current. I like my job, and have no immediate plans to go elsewhere, but in this industry, I need to develop my skills, before I need them.
Friday, September 02, 2011
I just got this Spark article in my inbox. I'm writing a blog because comments aren't enabled.
I mean no disrespect to the Spark hosts, but I disagree with the points as presented. The rebuttals I am presenting are from basic biology/biochemistry textbooks, scientific studies, and some anecdotal accounts.
- All carbohydrates are not created equal. -
While there are different types of carbs - simple and complex - they are broken down by the body into glucose. Once consumed and broken down, there is zero functional difference between a whole grain muffin and the sugar contained in it. It is converted into glucose. An insulin response is triggered in the presence of glucose. Fat cannot be burned when insulin is elevated. Excess calories are stored when insulin is elevated.
-With no glucose available for energy, the body starts using protein from food for energy. Therefore this protein is no longer available for more important functions, such as making new cells, tissues, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies and the regulation of fluid balance. -
False. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. Essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids, yes. Carbohydrates, no. If we were to eat zero carbohydrates a day, our livers will convert up to 60% of consumed protein into glucose. People can die from protein starvation if they don't eat enough protein because in the absence of protein, the body will consume muscle tissue. Eventually even organ tissue. There are no diseases or fatal diseases related to absence of carbohydrates in the diet, or there would be no Inuit Eskimos.
In the absence of glucose, the body burns primarily *fat* for fuel. Protein is not primarily used as a fuel source, this is true. Protein is used to build muscle and skeletal structure. The body prefers to burn either glucose or fat for energy.
- When carbohydrates are lacking, the body cannot burn fat in the correct way. Normally carbs combine with fat fragments to be used as energy. When carbs are not available, there is an incomplete breakdown of fat that produces a by-product called ketones. These ketones accumulate in the blood and in the urine causing ketosis, which is an abnormal state. -
False. Ketones are a natural energy source, just like glucose. When you are trying to lose fat, you are trying to burn excess stored fat. If you do this successfully, your body turns your stored fat into ketones. Every single one of us uses ketones for energy, every single day. Are you eating while you sleep for 6-8 hours a night? No. Then why didn't you die of starvation while sleeping? During sleep, your body is burning stored fat, turned into ketones, into energy to keep you alive. All of us wake up in a minor state of ketosis, every single morning.
- Ketosis does cause a decrease in appetite because it's one of the body's protection mechanisms. It's an advantage to someone in a famine (which the body thinks it's experiencing) to lack an appetite because the search for food would be a waste of time and additional energy. -
Feeling hungry, or starving, all the time is not a normal state. It means you are hungry, or starving. If you aren't getting the nutrition needed, your body sends you in search of food. If you aren't hungry, it is indeed saying you don't need to expend additional energy in search of food.
People in famine do feel hungry. Starvation is the most primal of instincts. People in famine who cannot expend the energy to find food are on the verge of death. A person truly starving will do anything for food. Eat bugs. Eat a neighbor's pet. Eat food from a garbage can. There are 925 million people in the world who do this every day. It most definitely is not driven by ketones causing lack of appetite.
- Due to the lack of energy and the accumulation of ketones, low-carb diets are often accompanied by nausea, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, bad breath, and dehydration. -
I've experienced none of these symptoms while on a low carb diet. Here are the risks I experienced while on a high carb diet: sinusitis, gingivitis, cavities, excessive weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiac arrhythmias, IBS, and excessive sodium retention.
- Because of dehydration and a lack of fiber, constipation can result. -
No problems with any of the above, in my case.
- Exercise and fitness performance is reduced on a low-carb diet. Do not be surprised if your energy level is so low that you cannot make it through your normal workout routine. -
False. Take a look at my photo gallery. I am an active person. I've experienced zero fatigue doing my normal activities. My energy and performance has become better since I'm not experiencing joint pain due to excess weight and water retention.
- The risk of many cancers increases when fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, and beans are eliminated from the diet. -
This part I agree with, but it is misleading. This is an unfortunate misconception about low carb. I eat more fruit and vegetables than the average American. Heck, I eat more fruit and vegetables than some vegetarians I know. I eat a huge salad with my lunch and dinner, and 3-5 servings of fruit per day. The only thing that is missing from my plate is the "whole grain". It adds calories, but not nutrition. I get more nutrition from a big bowl of salad than I do a bread roll.
- Protein foods are also high in purines, which are broken down into uric acid. Elevated levels of uric acid in the blood may lead to needle-like uric acid crystals in joints, causing gout. -
"From the Protein Power FAQ's from Drs. Eades: I have heard that eating higher amounts of meat can cause elevated uric acid levels. Is this true?
Increased levels of uric acid are associated with insulin resistance, which results from high intake of sugars and starchy foods. Most people who have gout have a problem with under excretion of the uric acid from the kidneys. There isnít a problem with the production of uric acid but there is with the excretion of it. Although it is not fully understood, there seems to be some enzyme defect that causes this to happen. The uric acid gets stored in the tissues and once insulin levels start to drop, from decreased carbohydrate intake, the uric acid becomes mobilized and there can be crystallization within the joints, therefore a gout episode."
- Kidney stones are more likely to form on high protein, ketosis-producing diets. -
Anecdotal, I have a friend who suffers from kidney stones a couple of times a year, and she is definitely not a low carb dieter. Standard American diet of pizza, spaghetti, and fast food. Lack of hydration and inadequate magnesium/potassium intake increases risk of kidney stones, no matter what diet paradigm is followed. This is again based on the assumption low carbers eat inadequate vegetables and fruit. Low vegetable/fruit consumption is endemic to American diets. I would agree with the statement, kidney stones are more likely to form on low vegetable/fruit and poor hydration diets.
- Over time, high protein diets can cause a loss of calcium and lead to osteoporosis. -
This comes from the observation that calcium appears to be excreted in urine when on low carb diets. However, bone tissue is 70% minerals, 22% protein, and 8% water.
Our livers can convert up to 60% protein into glucose, but we cannot synthesize proteins. Only herbivores can turn plant energy into protein. In order to build healthy bone mass, protein is a requirement. In the US, calcium intake is not a problem due to widespread use of fortified milks. However, osteoporosis rates have increased.
The most important and best way to build good bone mass is strength training and regular exercise. Exertion is what forces the body to build up reserves.
- The risk of heart disease is greatly increased on a low-carb diet that is high in protein, cholesterol, fat, and saturated fat. A temporary reduction in cholesterol levels may be experienced, but this is common with any weight loss. -
This has been the hypothesis for 4 decades, but as yet, the scientific studies do not support it. Increased risk of heart disease comes from increased insulin resistance and diabetes, of which there is a definitive link. Insulin resistance and diabetes comes from excess glucose consumption, whether in the form of sugar or carbohydrates.
Several rules are introduced. My comments follow.
* Fruits: 2-4 servings daily
* Vegetables: 3-5 servings daily
* Whole grain breads, muffins, bagels, rolls, pasta, noodles, crackers, cereal, and brown rice: 6-11 servings daily
Disagree. These are calorie dense foods that causes blood glucose to rise. I eat sparingly, just as I eat chocolate cake sparingly. Far more nutrition in a bowl of salad than a bran muffin.
* Legumes, beans and peas: 1-2 servings daily.
I eat this on occasion.
* Low-fat and non-fat dairy products: 3 servings daily
Disagree. Low fat or no fat diary products are actually detrimental. Vitamin D is fat soluable. It cannot be absorbed by the body without fat. Fortified skim milks provide zero calcium to the body. Probably one of the reasons why osteoporosis is a growing problem in the US despite high dairy consumption.
RULE 2: Limit the following to less than 2 servings daily
I'd say to enjoy occasionally, in moderation.
RULE 3: Eliminate the following from your diet
Agree, on all points.
A year ago, I would have agreed enthusiastically with all points. But when I've tried the "right" way for 10 years and only had excess bodyfat and borderline high blood pressure to show for it, it was time to rethink everything I thought I knew.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I'm back from our Mexico vacation! We had a nice time, but it was much more hot, humid and rainy than in past years. We were isolated from the storms in the Atlantic, though. We had no idea there was a hurricane going on in the East Coast!
Our major excursion was visiting the ancient Mayan city of Coba. We have visited Chichen Itze and Tulum on prior trips. Whenever we visit these ruins, my imagination always goes to Indiana Jones. I block out everyone else, and imagine I'm on an Indiana Jones type excavation, seeing these ruins for the first time. Well, sans Nazis and boulder traps, of course.
Coba is the last pyramid in Mexico that can still be climbed. I'm not a fan of heights, but I was determined to get to the top. I knew I would regret it if I didn't. This temple was 120 stairs, and 135ft tall.
From the top, we could see miles and miles of tropical jungle.
Back on the ground, we rented bikes so we could see more of the ruins. Coba is still largely unexcavated, one of the more primitive sites we've visited. There are ruins that have not yet been dug up. The jungle and time has buried most of the city.
This is the Mayan calendar. The stone on the upper right is the one representing "2012". There is nothing ominous about 2012. The Mayans did not predict the end of the world. That was simply when they stopped "printing" calendar dates. They had a marvelous understanding of astronomy, and their calendars were based on cycles. This is the "Long Count" calendar. I wish I had taken a close up of "2012".
So what does this predict? Despite the dire predictions of apocalypse, the Mayans never predicted anything bad would happen. It is modern superstition, not ancient, that turned 2012 into something ominous. My desk calendar runs out on December 31, 2011. Very suspicious!
We have just one more major Mayan pyramid to visit in the Yucatan peninsula.
We did some explorations near our hotel, too. We discovered a small little beach not too far away.
A small Mayan ruin nearby. Looks like the Mayans appreciated beach front property, too!
Beautiful coastal features.
We spent most of the trip relaxing by the pool. We didn't get too much sun this time. There were a lot of storms in the area, but not too bad. They came and passed quickly. Due to the moisture, though, we had a very tough time with mosquitoes. They were even biting us during the day, which was bizarre. The dampness also seemed to affect our health in other ways. I ended up with a bad case of "Montezuma's Revenge" or "Traveler's Diarrhea". I have never had this problem before. I am always careful to brush my teeth with bottled water. But this time, I got hit. Upon coming home, I discovered that Mexican papayas may be contaminated with salmonella at the moment, which makes the most sense to me. Papayas aren't my favorite tropical fruit, but I did try some. My fiance and his family didn't get hit like I did, and they didn't have any papayas. So that is the only thing I can identify as a culprit. Fortunately, since I don't really like papayas, I didn't eat a lot of it. But just a little was enough to cause problems!
Despite going to an all inclusive resort, I didn't go overboard on food and drink. I drank mostly sangrias and wine, with an occasional splurge on a pina colada. We got plenty of activity with the tours, walking along the surf, and swimming in the pool. I tried to do several laps in the pool every day, in addition to lounging. I used SPF 70 sunblock and hats - I still got a tan, but no sunburn!
I didn't really try to avoid anything. I ate burgers, chips, more salsa than you can shake a stick at, fajitas, carnitas - pretty much anything I wanted. I took it easy on the breads, rice and pastas - for the most part. I ate a single slice of french toast with bacon and eggs. I ate a small bread roll with butter with dinner. Paella is my favorite Spanish cuisine, and I had plenty of it. I even enjoyed small portions of desserts.
For the people following my low carb transition, here is my observation I have discovered about low carb, high carb, and exercise. If you are a very active person, then the amount of carbs you eat matters less. On tour days, I ate whatever I wanted - french toast, bread, rice, bananas - didn't matter. I needed all that energy, and I used it. On easy going days, I limited my carbs to vegetables and fruit. I have gained no weight, despite eating deceptively an endless supply of food and beverages.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Few weeks ago, I mentioned a few projects I was working on. I was hoping to have a couple of dresses and jewelry to take on vacation with me.
So how have things been going? Well, not good. I'm leaving on Friday and I don't have anything finished! I'm planning on beading during my lunch today so I have at least one thing done!
I've lost some of my confidence on my sewing. Putting together a dress is a lot more complicated than the trinket crafty projects I have sewn. I had some difficulty with a pattern, so I decided to do a really 'easy' apron project, just so I had something done and build up my confidence. While I was trying to work on it, the fiance and the cats kept distracting me. SO wanted me to do this that and the other, and I was in a bad mood. The cats wanted to sit on my stuff.
The result was, I screwed up the apron. Since I kept getting distracted, I didn't think properly on how to add the trim. I thought a quick apron project wouldn't require much sizing, but I was wrong. Who knew an apron had a bust size?
See how it pulls off the top? ARG.
Not happy with it at all. I'm going to have to remake it, and I was so frustrated with the process, I haven't been bothered to go back to it.
So then I tried going back to another dress style. My problem with patterns is how much altering I have to do to them. The standard patterns do not fit me. Even if I match the bust measurement, it still doesn't fit. The patterns are designed for a B cup. So I have to spend a lot of time fixing it. The pattern shell that I made does help, but I still have to figure out how to adjust the fashion pattern to fit.
I fixed the top on the pattern. It was hard for me to visualize sizing because of the gathers and pleats the pattern added. I removed them. I got a finished halter top, which took 3 or 4 evenings, including all the alterations. I started working on the skirt, which I thought would be easy. Well, it was, except the gathers on it were not flattering. Gathers at the waist make me look pregnant.
I'm finding that fitted patterns are better for me, and to avoid anything that adds bulk at the waist, like gathers, pleats and ruffles. I've done all this work to shrink my waist, I don't want to add more bulk! Pleats at the shoulder/neck line seems ok.
Soooo. I decided I just needed an easier pattern with less modification. I found a pattern that had a 'match your cup size bodice' - which was MUCH easier. The only modification I really had to do in pattern and fabric was raising the hemline.
I snapped it together last night in a cheap, checkered test fabric. I was feeling relatively pleased that I finally got something finished.
Then the fiance came in and said how much he hated it. He made jokes about going to a hoe-down. I told him that this was a PROTOTYPE, and to look past the lame fabric, the fact that the seams are unfinished, and there is no trim. But he's useless.
So now my confidence is shot.
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