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July 2014: The GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY

Thursday, July 31, 2014

No I'm not calling myself "ugly". I have pretty good self-esteem and a positive body image. My body is a "work in progress" but I've always felt pretty good about it.

The reason for the title "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" is because July has been a difficult month with big "ups" and "downs" !

First the "BAD"

Our apartment was like an OVEN for a couple weeks. Inside the temperature would climb to 85 to 87 degrees all afternoon and evening. By morning it would only "cool off" down to 80 degrees. My sweetheart, Johnny, had put in a new ceiling last fall and the landlord refused to pay for insulation. We believed the lack of insulation was allowing the summer sun to "beat down" and heat up our apartment. We thought our little window unit couldn't keep up - although it was only a year old. Turns out - when Johnny refinished some woodwork, removing paint and sanding the wood, all that "dust" had clogged up the AC and it wasn't functioning properly. Johnny cleaned the AC and now the temperature is only going up to 82 degrees in the afternoon. By morning, we're at 74-75 degrees which is FABULOUS ! I realize 82 degrees "inside" still seems HOT to people up north, but when it's in the 90's outside every day - 82 is bearable. I'm so RELIEVED !

Next the "UGLY"

On July 2nd, I was still in bed at 8am when I heard a "crash" in the livingroom. I flew out of bed, my CPAP breathing machine for sleep apnea went flying on to the floor. I found Johnny having a tonic-clonic seizure (formerly called a grand mal seizure) on the flloor. He was convulsing, his arms and legs stiff and contracting violently. He was unconcious and breathing hard and heavy with a clenched jaw. It seemed like forever but it was probably only 1-2 minutes. I found the cell phone and called 911. While I was on the line, he woke up and looked at me with wild eyes like he didn't know where he was or who I am. He was in daze and confused for 10 - 15 minutes and refused to go with the paramedics to the hospital. He went back to bed and slept for a few more hours.

At noon he got up and sat in his chair and was about to light a cigarette and, with me sitting next to him talking to him, he had another seizure lasting a couple minutes. I took the cigarette out of his hand and moved the coffee table out of the way after he kicked it. He was leaning over the side of the arm chair and I called 911 again. This time, I insisted he go to the hospital. We don't have a car, so I walked the mile over to the ER. After sitting with him for a couple hours, a female physician came in and informed us that when they had taken Johnny to have a CAT SCAN, he had had a THIRD seizure in the EXAM ROOM !

They decided to admit him and Johnny was in the hospital for 3 days and 2 nights. They did an MRI and blood work and other tests. Apparently he was severely dehydrated and malnourished. He came home on the afternoon of the 4th of July and we watched our neighbor shoot off huge fireworks on our back patio. It had been very traumatic for me to see Johnny seizing - and of course, very traumatic for HIM to wake up and not know what had happened with confusion and memory loss. It was great to have him home but now we are both very nervous, worried that Johnny will have another seizure. We are living "on edge". That experience was the worst that Johnny and I have had to go through since we got together 8 years ago.

But now the "GOOD" !

I'm on another alcohol-free streak. Today is Day #24 and in that 3+ weeks, I have lost over 8 pounds ! I am THRILLED about that ! My weight had gone back up to 177 and now I'm down to 168.5. That means I'm down from 205 in September 2012 when I joined SP to 168 which is almost 40 pounds. Just 10-15 pounds to reach my GOAL of 153-157. I might not make it by my 2nd Sparkiversary on September 10, 2014, but definitely by the end of the year - I WILL BE AT MY GOAL WEIGHT ! I'm DETERMINED !

Another "GOOD" thing that happened this month, is that Johnny switched from real cigarettes to an electronic cigarette. I'm not saying they are "safe", but I do believe they are "better". He still gets nicotine, but without the tar and smoke, which is what causes cancer and COPD. I'm VERY HAPPY he finally switched. I had bought it several months ago and he had been reluctant to use it. Finally he's using it exclusively. Something "Good" came out of his stay in the hospital. He QUIT SMOKING (sort of) !

So that's the "GOOD", the "BAD", and the "UGLY" of July 2014.

Today is the last day of the month. We survived. Although in Johnny's case - just barely. It was REALLY SCARY to see him have a severe seizures right in front of me - not once, but TWICE in one morning and then a third at the hosptial. But I'm alcohol-free and losing weight quickly, our apartment in a LOT cooler, and Johnny isn't smoking real cigarettes any more. So I'd say, the GOOD far outweighed the BAD.

We are so grateful for the wonderful hospital staff that cared for Johnny. They were amazing. And we THANK GOD for bringing us through this difficult month better off, thinner, healthier, and cooler !



  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IAMBIZI 7/31/2014 8:52PM

    OMG how very scarey that was. I would have paniced. you were good to insist he go the second time it happened. Is he working on better nutrition?

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1CRAZYDOG 7/31/2014 3:28PM

    Definitely a mixed bag. Hallelujah for the good, sounds like you're working your way through the bad and the ugly. Prayers for Johnny.


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JENNY888 7/31/2014 3:08PM

    I'm glad the good outweighed the bad and ugly and that things are better now. I am sorry you had to go through this all. Congrats on your weight loss and alcohol free days and Johnny's change of smoking pattern.

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JUST_BRENDA 7/31/2014 1:37PM

    That certainly is a lot of "good, bad and ugly" happening in July! Hopefully the worst is over and the good just increases.
BTW, you look fabulous!!!

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LASARRE 7/31/2014 12:09PM

    You have had quite the month. Congrats on the weight loss. I have got to get on the AF wagon. My weight has shot up higher than it has ever been. I think a lot of it has to do with the alcohol.

I hope the seizures stop. Here's to a great August!

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The Incredible Edible Egg

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I learned a lot from a page in the latest edition of Prevention Magazine. No - not one of their articles. But rather from - an advertisement ! It was titled, "A Half-Dozen Reasons Why You Can't BEAT EGGS"

Eggs used to get a bad rap. Experts said you should avoid the yolk because it contained a lot of cholesterol. Now they tell us that the yolk, although it does have cholesterol, dietary cholesterol is not the main problem in raising your serum cholesterol, and the yolk has many other important ingredients which far out-weigh the risk.

This great ad lists 6 wonderful things about the common egg.

Eggs have 6 grams of high-quality protein. A protein filled breakfast helps sustain mental and physical energy throughout the day much better than a breakfast based on carbs such as cereal or toast.

Eggs are a rich source of choine which promotes normal cell activity, liver function and the transportation of nutrients throught the body. The ad calls choline the "commuter train for vitamins and minerals".

Zero Carbs and No Sugar
Amazing isn't it ? ! It's true. Zero Carbs and No Sugar

Amino Acids
Eggs have ALL 9 essential amino acids: leucine, lysine, methionine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, histidine, valine, threonine, isoleucine.

Simple and Inexpensive
Unlike most cereals and yogurt, which often have a long list of ingredients icluding artificial flavors and preservatives, eggs have only ONE ingredient - "EGGS".
And a single serving only costs about 15 cents ! Really !

No Gluten
Although I don't have a problem with gluten, if you have celiac disease, you need to avoid gluten and eggs are naturally gluten-free. So enjoy.

The ad ends by saying, "So next time someone asks how you like your eggs, say you like 'em a whole heck of a lot. Wake Up To Eggs !"

Funny you can learn so much from an advertisement.
Eggs really are Incredible.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PURPLEPEONY 7/27/2014 8:40PM

    emoticon emoticon

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IAMBIZI 7/26/2014 10:10PM

    hi val nice to read about you . congratulations on the weight loss!I have lost about 7 pounds in almost a month just eating healthy and by being AF.
here is to us! emoticon

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REALTYLADYLISA 7/25/2014 12:00PM

    Eggs are my standard go-to breakfast, although occasionally I'll have something different...absolutely love them!

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WHITNEYLD 7/25/2014 7:34AM


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JUST_BRENDA 7/24/2014 5:26PM

    You are so right! Eggs really are a great food. Unfortunately, the only kind I ate were deviled or scrambled and occasionally, Eggs Benedict. Luckily now I actually get cravings for poached eggs (with toast) and still eggs benedict but I prefer to make the Hungry Girl version of hollandaise rather than the actual stuff which I find too rich.
Val, I love the time you take to do these wonderful posts and pictures!
And, I really admire your upbeat positive attitude towards life and all it's going ons (even though you're going through some stinkin' hot weather right now).
Keep on smiling emoticon

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1CRAZYDOG 7/24/2014 4:54PM

    emoticon . . . had ''em for breakfast with:

emoticon emoticon emoticon


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MIAMOJO 7/24/2014 1:58PM

    I agree, egg yolks are nutritional powerhouses! They're a great source of choline and so many other things. Here's to eggs!


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TRIXYMAHOGANY 7/24/2014 1:57PM

    Eggs are my favorite things ever, and we have chickens, so I try to have an egg every day. I hate it when people say they only eat the whites. They're missing the BEST PART!

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FANNYMANSON 7/24/2014 1:46PM

    Yay! I had an egg in my salad today! Love them!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Happy Foods

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Certain foods have compounds that actually "lift your spirits", actually make you feel better, or happier. I read about this in the August issue of Prevention magazine and thought I'd share it with you all.

Walnuts and Flax
The key ingredient is alpha-linolenic acid. In the Nurse's Health Study, women who had the most ALA in their diets were less likely to be depressed. Put simply, when your blood levels of ALA are low, so are YOU. Low levels of ALA are linked to depression by decreasing the level of dopamine, the "feel good" brain chemical.

It is probably the caffeine in coffee wich perks you up. In the same Nurse's Health Study, women who drank four or ore cups of coffee a day were 20 percent less likely to become depressed. Caffeine increases dopamine and serotonin levels within 30 minutes which gives you a little "high". The Prevention article even said that caffeine, which is a psychoactive drug, "works sort of like a harmless crack cocaine" LOL

Clams are loaded with vitamin B12. Low blood levels of B12 can lead to depression. Your brain uses B12 to manufacture dopamine and serotonin. B12 deficiency is actually quite common. As many as 2/5 of adults may have at least marginal B12 deficiencies according to the ongoing Framingham Offspring Study.

Zinc is the main "pick-me-up" ingredient in oysters. You could be deficient in zinc, especially if you're a vegetarian, pregnant, or have a GI disorder such as colitis. Taking zinc could make you happier if you are actually deficient. Brain cells (neurons) are loaded with zinc, especially in areas that govern emotion. This mineral helps create new brain cells and regulate communication between them, which is linked to better mood.

Probiotic bacteria, the healthy kind of bacteria living in your intestines, are found in yogurt if it is labeled "contains live and active cultures" According to a study with mice, these probiotics can alter receptors of the brain neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which tells your brain to calm down.

Polyphenols may be the reason that chocolate boosts your mood, creating calm and contentment. Some polyphenols act on GABA. Others suppress adenosine which in turn increases the production of dopamine.

Polyphenols are also found in tea, seeds, nuts, berries, olive oil and vegetables. These foods are also basics of the Mediterranean diet. According to a study at Loma Linda University, this diet not only makes you healthy but makes you happy as well.

I'm going to do more research on the Mediterranean Diet and incorporate these super-foods into my diet. Eat healthy ! Be Happy !

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAPECODBABE 7/24/2014 6:34AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
emoticon some of my favorites

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PURPLEPEONY 7/23/2014 11:17PM

    emoticon Yum!

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1CRAZYDOG 7/23/2014 9:58PM

    Like 'em all!

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Do you know your lipid levels?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lipids are the "fats" in your blood. They include cholesterol, HDL or High-Density Lipoprotein, LDL or Low-Density Lipoprotein and Triglycerides.

Cholesterol - This is a waxy substance that is necessary for many important functions in our bodies. It is both in the foods we eat and produced in the body. So it is normal to have less than 200 mg/dl. Cholesterol becomes a problem when the levels in your blood get too high. This can lead to cholesterol building upon the walls of the arteries. This is called atherosclerosis. This can lead to blockages in the arteries, reduced blood flow to the heart, and myocardial infarction or heart attack.

Since there are no physical symptoms of high cholesterol, it is important to find out your level. Dietary changes, exercise, and medications can reduce the level of cholesterol in your blood.

HDL - This is the "good" cholesterol. An easy way to remember this by "H" is for "Happy". This is the type of cholesterol that prevents the bad cholesterol from building up in the arteries. The target level is to have at least 60 mg/dl or more to help lower your risk for heart disease.

LDL - This is the "bad" cholesterol. To remember this, think of "L for Lousy". LDL cholesterol is the kind that builds up and clogs the arteries. A healthy LDL target is less than 100 mg/dl.

Triglycerides - This is a test to check for other fats found in the blood. A healthy target is less than 150 mg/dl. Higher than 200 mg/dl is considered to be high.

In order to have healthy lipid levels:
l. Limit Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. They are found in fatty cuts of meat, chicken or turkey with the skin, whole milk dairy products, lard, and even coconut and palm oils. These fats raise your LDL (bad cholesterol) more than anything else in your diet. If you eat 1500 calories daily, your saturated fat intake should be no more than 10 grams daily.

2. Eliminate "trans fat"
Trans fats are "partially hydrogenated oils" found mostly in processed foods, such as margarine, baked products such as crackers and cookies, and foods fried in shortening. Avoid trans fats as much as possible - at least less than 2 grams daily.

3. Limit dietary cholesterol to less than 200 mg daily
The cholesterol from foods you eat can raise your blood cholesterol levels, but not as much as saturated fat. Cholesterol is found in foods that come from animals. Examples include egg yolks, whole milk dairy products, liver, and other meats.

4. Eat more fiber
There are two kinds of fiber - insoluble and soluble. Both are good for you. Insoluble fiber or "roughage" benefits your digestive tract and helps you feel full on fewer calories.

Soluable fiber actually helps prevent cholesterol and other fats from being absorbed through the intestines into the blood stream, which helps lower your LDL cholesterol. In order to increase the soluble fiber in your diet:
At breakfast, choose oatmeal or an oat bran cereal with at least 3 g of fiber per serving. Add 1/2 of a banana, and handful of berries, or other fruit for even more fiber.
Eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice
Add beans and lentils to salads or soups
Eat colorful vegetables such as broccoli and carrots.

5. Eat more foods containing Omega 3 fats
Good sources of omega 3 fats include fresh, frozen or canned salmon and tuna. They are also found in other kinds of fish. Try to eat fish twice per week for a total of 8 ounces per week.
People who eat more omega-3 fatty acids tend to have higher HDL levels and lower triglyceride levels. These heart-healthy omega-3 fats have also been shown to help prevent blood clots, reduce inflammation in the blood vessels, and reduce the risk for heart attack.

Find out your lipid levels - not just your total cholesterol number.
Eat a healthy diet including fish and vegetables.

God Bless,

P.S. I wanted to add that alcohol really raises your triglyceride level. Mine was over 200 and when I quit drinking, my triglycerides dropped quickly to below 100. Another great reason to be alcohol-free.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MISSM66 7/20/2014 6:28PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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1CRAZYDOG 7/20/2014 5:51PM

    Yes! Great information.

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STUDLEEJOE 7/20/2014 5:11PM

    yes, I do

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Do you know if you have high blood pressure or not ?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is called a "silent killer" because there are often no outward symptoms of this condition. Some people may have high blood pressure for years before being diagnosed. How about you? Do you know whether or not you have high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is simply the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as our heart pumps blood. The top number (systolic) is the force when the heart pumps or beats. The bottom number (diastolic) is the force when the heart rests between beats. If blood pressure is too high, the extra force on our arteries over time causes damage, which leaves our arteries prone to plaque build-up, blood clots, and potential for other tissue damage. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, kidney failure and other problems.

Blood Pressure ( Systolic ) ( Diastolic)
Normal BP ( less than 120 ) ( less than 80)
Prehypertension ( 120 - 139 ) ( 80-89)
Stage 1 ( 140-159 ) ( 90-99)
Stage 2 (150 & up ) ( 100 & up)

To prevent high blood pressure:
Do not smoke
Limit and manage stress
Be physically active
Maintain a healthy weight
Eat a balanced diet
Avoid or limit alcohol consumption
men - no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day
women - no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day

I bought a blood pressure monitor and was checking my blood pressure every morning. I realized that if I drank alcohol the evening before, I would have high blood pressure around 140/90. Today after 10 days of being alcohol-free, my blood pressure was excellent 121/76. I've never smoked. I walk every day. I've lost over 30 pounds from 205 down to 173. And I eat a balanced diet.

At one point, my doctor wanted to start me on blood pressure medication. I'm so glad I realized that if I avoid alcohol, my blood pressure is fine. I don't need to take medication - just lead a healthy lifestyle.
Others may have high blood pressure for other reasons and need to take medication.

Find out whether or not YOU have high blood pressure, and talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes and/or medication you may need to control it. Remember it is a "silent killer".

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_CYNDY55_ 7/20/2014 10:39PM

    Yes I know.
I Don't have High Blood Pressure.
emoticon Info emoticon

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1CRAZYDOG 7/19/2014 10:52AM

    I'm in your camp! My Dr. put me on anti-hypertensives. No bueno! Changed diet up (cutting down/avoiding salt/sugar), hiked up the exercise, meditation and off meds in 3 mths. Lost weight, too with doing the diet, exercise and meditation.

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NYARAMULA 7/19/2014 1:28AM

    Thanks for the info. Great blog.

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