Screw the Lemons!!


 

Screw the lemons!

Please NOTE:

This post was made & saved as a draft back when life was hunky-fucking-dory and there were no black clouds looming on my horizon.  I think it is a nice post with a nice message, so I am putting it out there.  However, in my world the shit has hit the proverbial fan and I am bordering on suicidal-not to mention the fact that I am bawling like a cow & smelling like one too.  The explanation to that will come in my next post.  For now, enjoy these earlier, happier days! On to………

SCREW THE LEMONS!!

We’ve all heard “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!!”.  Overall, it’s great advice and I am a staunch proponent of making the best of the hand we’re dealt. However, there’s a problem with the actual application; when one is mired in a rotten lemon pile, it’s pretty damned hard to mobilize the squeezer.

With that being said, I AM in lemonade land right now.  Life is good for me and things are going my way in all directions right now.  Why am I posting this then?  Because life is about cycles.  If one is on top of the heap now then it is reasonable to anticipate settling downward.  As a non-physics major I can’t spout the formula but I’m sure it’s one of the universal laws of the universe or something like that.

My take-away message?  Plan ahead, stay prepared, be humble, be positive, pay it forward because we only have two choices: we can hide out or help out.  Ride the wave of good times, just be prepared for when the tide goes out. 

Symptom Diary? Food Diary??


Given the downward turn my health has taken, I guess it’s time to brush off the old, dusty practice of keeping symptom & food diaries.  On the good side, it makes me feel like I’m taking charge of my health & trying to manage the things within my control. Keeping track of things helps me identify triggers and patterns; those are things I can do something about.

On the less entertaining side, it pisses me off that I have to watch & micro-manage every aspect of my life in order to feel somewhat “normal”.  I already feel like I’m having to dumb-down my life to manage my energy crisis.  I also busted my ass to finish a master’s degree that I can’t do a whole lot with on a part-time basis….. RANT!

Anyway, I will manage what I can & begrudgingly accept what I cannot.  Consider the symptom & food diaries dusted off and in use……..

 

 

 

Common Sense from Mayo Clinic, part I


Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease

Changing your eating habits can be tough. Start with these eight strategies to kick-start your way toward a heart-healthy diet.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Although you might know that eating certain foods can increase your heart disease risk, it’s often tough to change your eating habits. Whether you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt or you simply want to fine-tune your diet, here are eight heart-healthy diet tips. Once you know which foods to eat more of and which foods to limit, you’ll be on your way toward a heart-healthy diet.

1. Control your portion size

How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Overloading your plate, taking seconds and eating until you feel stuffed can lead to eating more calories, fat and cholesterol than you should. Portions served in restaurants are often more than anyone needs. Keep track of the number of servings you eat — and use proper serving sizes — to help control your portions. Eating more of low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and less of high-calorie, high-sodium foods, such as refined, processed or fast foods, can shape up your diet as well as your heart and waistline.

A serving size is a specific amount of food, defined by common measurements such as cups, ounces or pieces. For example, one serving of pasta is 1/2 cup, or about the size of a hockey puck. A serving of meat, fish or chicken is 2 to 3 ounces, or about the size and thickness of a deck of cards. Judging serving size is a learned skill. You may need to use measuring cups and spoons or a scale until you’re comfortable with your judgment.

2. Eat more vegetables and fruits

Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables and fruits are also low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Vegetables and fruits contain substances found in plants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you eat less high-fat foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods.

Featuring vegetables and fruits in your diet can be easy. Keep vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Keep fruit in a bowl in your kitchen so that you’ll remember to eat it. Choose recipes that have vegetables or fruits as the main ingredient, such as vegetable stir-fry or fresh fruit mixed into salads.

Fruits and vegetables to choose Fruits and vegetables to avoid
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits
  • Low-sodium canned vegetables
  • Canned fruit packed in juice or water
  • Coconut
  • Vegetables with creamy sauces
  • Fried or breaded vegetables
  • Canned fruit packed in heavy syrup
  • Frozen fruit with sugar added

3. Select whole grains

Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products. Or be adventuresome and try a new whole grain, such as whole-grain couscous, quinoa or barley.

Another easy way to add whole grains to your diet is ground flaxseed. Flaxseeds are small brown seeds that are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your total blood cholesterol. You can grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor and stir a teaspoon of them into yogurt, applesauce or hot cereal.

Grain products to choose Grain products to limit or avoid
  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Whole-grain bread, preferably 100% whole-wheat bread or 100% whole-grain bread
  • High-fiber cereal with 5 g or more of fiber in a serving
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, barley and buckwheat (kasha)
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Oatmeal (steel-cut or regular)
  • Ground flaxseed
  • White, refined flour
  • White bread
  • Muffins
  • Frozen waffles
  • Corn bread
  • Doughnuts
  • Biscuits
  • Quick breads
  • Granola bars
  • Cakes
  • Pies
  • Egg noodles
  • Buttered popcorn
  • High-fat snack crackers

4. Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol

Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

The American Heart Association offers these guidelines for how much fat and cholesterol to include in a heart-healthy diet:

Type of fat Recommendation
Saturated fat Less than 7% of your total daily calories, or less than 14 g of saturated fat if you follow a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet
Trans fat Less than 1% of your total daily calories, or less than 2 g of trans fat if you follow a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet
Cholesterol Less than 300 mg a day for healthy adults; less than 200 mg a day for adults with high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol or those who are taking cholesterol-lowering medication

The best way to reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet is to limit the amount of solid fats — butter, margarine and shortening — you add to food when cooking and serving. You can also reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet by trimming fat off your meat or choosing lean meats with less than 10 percent fat.

You can also use low-fat substitutions when possible for a heart-healthy diet. For example, top your baked potato with salsa or low-fat yogurt rather than butter, or use low-sugar fruit spread on your toast instead of margarine.

You may also want to check the food labels of some cookies, crackers and chips. Many of these snacks — even those labeled “reduced fat” — may be made with oils containing trans fats. One clue that a food has some trans fat in it is the phrase “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list.

When you do use fats, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats, found in nuts and seeds, also are good choices for a heart-healthy diet. When used in place of saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help lower your total blood cholesterol. But moderation is essential. All types of fat are high in calories.

Fats to choose Fats to limit
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Margarine that’s free of trans fats
  • Cholesterol-lowering margarine, such as Benecol, Promise Activ or Smart Balance
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Bacon fat
  • Gravy
  • Cream sauce
  • Nondairy creamers
  • Hydrogenated margarine and shortening
  • Cocoa butter, found in chocolate
  • Coconut, palm, cottonseed and palm-kernel oils

Putting On The Brakes….


I’ve felt it creeping up for a couple weeks……. More fatigue, less energy, aching, nausea, no appetite &

Taking it easy….

headaches…. So I’ve been backing off things and taking it easier, hoping to avert a miserable exacerbation.  The joint pain & southern discomfort started yesterday, while I was (of all things) leading a meeting.  No, I did NOT have to run from the room, thank goodness.

Today I’m resting, taking my medications on my “head it off at the pass” schedule (like a good girl) and looking forward to a few days of Ensure & other liquids…..  Listening to my body helps me stay on top of the curve–most times, at least.  For now, I’m remaining hopeful & proactive!

My Personal Wellness Plan


When I started this blog  I was sick & couch–bound.  I  hoped to loosely chronicle my slow ascent to better health.  Well, I am officially pronouncing it a success!  Yes I’m doing much better; most of it because I’m making better choices & have learned the rules for being the “new me”.  Had I continued to live the same way, I suspect my outcome would’ve been much less impressive.

One of my biggest choices was how to continue working & maintaining my independent life. The prospect of living on disability, for me, was a worst-case scenario and I could NOT wrap my head around it. Realistically  chronic illness creates bad days/weeks/months where I feel like hell and there’s no way around it.  Soooo,   I concluded that most times being at work didn’t make me feel worse & sometimes it even made me feel better.  Plus, it’s better to try than not.  At that point  I realized I had to tweak & clarify what REALLY worked,  accept that my life has changed FOREVER, then find a way to make it work.  GAME ON!

Towards that end, I worked part-time and spent a number of  years streamlining my health management routine-such as it has become.  I’m officially a high maintenance health gal and frankly, the whole process makes me yearn to poke my own eyeball out with a fork.  Yeah–it’s that much fun.  However, the alternative is even less desirable, so I’m on board!

Thus began years of picking & choosing, trialing & erroring, trying & failing, wishing & whining;  a quest to  find what works without feeling like I’m suffering, missing out or deprived.   I’ve kept food diaries, symptom diaries, pain diaries, vital signs diaries, feelings diaries, calendars, day planners, medi-planners, appointment planners, project planners…. You know what I realized??  I still did whatever I wanted or felt like.  (Sez the cranky old lady who preaches accountability and responsibility all the time…..)  Most of them were only mildly helpful since I kept opting to forget to use the information I learned about me.  I think I have a post on DENIAL somewhere… Finally, I figured out (admitted)  I actually had to USE the information I discovered….

Anyway,  I have been able to implement a few (basic)  key things most of the time and a few more some of the time.  I can tell it’s been helpful and my health world has improved.  I wouldn’t say I’ve been wildly successful since some of the more important efforts have been epic fails, but I’ve MORE than scratched the surface.  Here are some of the things I’ve done/learned that have made a great difference:

1.  I say “NO”.  Lesson:  When you say ‘no’ to something, it means you’re saying “YES” to something else.  You are not required to explain to anyone why.  If the recipient of said “no” feels that “why” matters, stick by your guns.  It’s THEIR boundary issue, not yours.  Let’em stew.

2.  I get enough sleep.  It’s ok to take a nap if you need to.  See #1 if required.

3.  I always carry a couple of durable, healthy snacks in my  bag/car so I’ll remember to eat them instead of a donut at least half of the time.  DO NOT leave an apple in the glove box from February ’til May ~OR~ put a ripe banana in a tote bag….Just keepin’ it real….

4.  I take my medicine like I’m  supposed to and I don’t get dramatic about side effects.  Drama is the enemy in all things.  Remember–Your Dr. is NOT trying to kill you.  Side effects are expected; that’s why they’re listed on the information we’re given at the pharmacy. Many of them pass with time.  If the side effects are insurmountable, talk to your health professional INSTEAD of talking about them behind their back. IF every medication has (in your mind) side effects which aren’t tolerable, then you haven’t been sick enough yet.  Keep NOT taking care of yourself; soon the side effects won’t seem so crappy.   Communication is the single greatest FAIL in health care today and I see a lot of patients dropping the ball.  Rant over.

5.  I try to manage the options within my control.  I resolved to stretch/exercise four days a week.  I actually do it only 2-3 days a week.  I feel better though and I feel best when I stick with my resolution.  Without it, I lose strength & lean muscle at the speed of light.  (Not to mention my ass hastens its quest southward)  My attitude also starts circling the drain-if you know what I mean… Our bodies truly are “use it or lose it” mechanisms.  No way around it and no pill and no amount of complaining will fix it.

6.  If I eat foods with ingredients I can’t pronounce, I’ll feel like words I shouldn’t say…..

7.  I always take a multi-vitamin.  Really.

8.  I think and plan ahead.  If I  know my medications cost a lot of money every month, I don’t act like it’s a surprise every time they roll around.   If you’re struggling with med costs, check out www.needymeds.org  Sometimes it’s a sacrifice but a $50 prescription is better than a $10,000 hospital stay….

9.  I take care of myself in general.  Keeping a basic daily routine makes a difference.  So does keeping some sort of log or diary. Putting on a little makeup helps.  De-cluttering areas that cause me stress REALLY helps.  If I only have five minutes to spend, I can make a difference in my life, my surroundings and how I feel about them.

10.  When I have setbacks or get discouraged, I remind myself of the progress I’ve made ~AND~ that my process remains a work in progress.

Worth repeating–I LOVE the Graphics Fairy!

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