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Are the furries making me sneeze?

Friday, August 05, 2011

I spent the first several decades of my life in denial about the connection between the physical world around me and my health. My behavior? Pshaw! Nothing to do with my weight. Certainly nothing to do with an illness!

You'd think it would be obvious: lilacs in bloom? Sneeze, drippy nose, headaches! Iris in the house? Similar.

When I first went on a serious weight loss program, a healthy one... it showed me the clear link of calories in/calories out. That was the basis for all further learning. It took a while even after that to bring in the "allergy" connection.

You might think I was really, really stupid or ignorant. What I was was religious. I was raised in a faith of pure idealism, where your thought / prayers controlled your physical health. It "seemed to work" for me as a child. What it really did was calm me and enable me to wait out whatever it was that ailed me. No drugs, no diagnoses... I lived to adulthood, married, even bore a child with this faith intact. Until I first lost the weight, I didn't have the recognition of the connection... I buried it deep.

Bottom line, I learned that the rules of the physical world work. No matter that my parents "exempted" me from biology for religious reasons. The rules work. I'm obviously blessed with a strong enough genetic makeup to have survived, and in fact some studies show that letting your kids eat dirt (to use a metaphor of my mom's) makes them stronger. However, now, as an "over 50", having shed the religion that encouraged me into denial... I pay more attention to what's going on around me when I start to see symptoms.

This week, I'm noticing things. The kittens have been here since last Friday after work. I have started to notice more sneezing and drippy nose, scratchy throat at times. Not as pronounced as my sister's (who swelled up in a matter of minutes). It has taken a more prolonged exposure. Not horribly severe to the point of taking my Zyrtek. I will have to observe for a while, because there are always multiple factors: weather fronts do things to me, too.

When I go to work, I'm fine there. I keep the kitties out of my bedroom (perhaps this was prescient on my part) and I wake up clear. I am washing my hands more (I always do when handling animals, this is not new).

Will I have to give them up? Unless things become markedly worse, no. But I will continue to alter my behavior. This much I have learned... "the rules work"... therefore, follow the rules.

Life's still good... Spark on!

emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 8/6/2011 8:51PM

    Love love love cats. And they love me: inevitably, if I'm in the home of someone who has a cat, the cat makes a beeline for me: they know.

But: I'm really really really allergic. And that's why I don't have a cat, much as I would love to. (An orange one, long haired . . . yeah!!)

Hope you and your kitties can work it out. I keep telling myself I've "outgrown" my allergies . . . and hope you have or will also . . . .

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MEDDYPEDDY 8/6/2011 3:23AM

    Love your balanced thoughts. To me, if I found that I continued to have reactions, I would probably try to place the kittens somewhere else. But that is because of my recent experience of mental vulnerability - I hve learned that to cope I have to take away all pressure on my system that I can. On the other hand, kittens (and animals in general) give me so much joy so it might be worth a little sneeziness.

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_LINDA 8/5/2011 10:43PM

    So sorry you might be allergic to your cute kitties :(( Hope you can figure out something..

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MOBYCARP 8/5/2011 6:53PM

    Well, bummer! emoticon

Three of your siblings have no problems living with cats. But the one who does, is the other redhead who had freckles in her youth.

If you do end up having to get rid of the cats, I'm sure you'll be able to find them a good home. They're terminally cute.

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KALIGIRL 8/5/2011 1:05PM

    Sorry to hear you may have a reaction to the furries. I'm hoping it remains mild and you can build an immunity.

(I'm also hoping a little of your folks old-time 'religion' rubs off - the brain is a powerful thing!)
Namaste my friend.

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DEBRA0818 8/5/2011 12:15PM

    Barb -- Your kitties are so cute, I hope you can keep them! Each person is different of course, but I will say that my husband was allergic to the two cats I had when I met him but he acclimated to them in a relatively short period of time. He also had to be careful to wash his hands frequently, and took the occasional Bendryl, but we all lived happily together until their demise.

Good luck to all of you!

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BESTSUSIEYET 8/5/2011 10:05AM

    Uh oh! That would be a bummer! But I'm glad you are wise in putting 2 & 2 together! Keep on watching ... Hope you can find a way to co-exist happily!

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DEBRITA01 8/5/2011 9:32AM

    Being aware of how we contribute to what happens in our life is important. So is faith....just not blind faith. Great approach to a happy and healthy life!
Keep making those observations ...and hopefully, you will be able to keep the kittens that you are growing to love.

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WORDLILY 8/5/2011 8:38AM

    Oh, I hope you're not allergic to the kitties! But from what you're saying, it would totally make sense.

Thinking, pondering, keeping your eyes open and seeing the cause and effect -- this is a good approach.

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Taking surveys with a grain of salt

Thursday, August 04, 2011

I'm not one to use superlatives when referring to my own life. Consequently, when I take surveys, I rarely pick the "all the time", "always", "never"... because once you've lived more than 20 years on the planet, chances are you have at least got to the point of "most of the time" or "often", "once in a while" or "rarely".

I followed a link from a workplace wellness site today that took me to a "strength" survey. I kind of rushed through it because it was before work... and then as I reviewed the results, I had to wonder if the self-identifying of characteristics one has demonstrated really is accurate. I mean, after all, I'm a compulsive eater... I know all about lying to myself! emoticon I wonder if something like a "strength" survey might be better answered by others who know me. My biggest strength came out as "open mindedness". I guess I'm relatively happy with that.

After work I went back and took a "happiness" survey at the same site. Same deal... the reluctance to answer in superlatives. I came out a 3.75 on a scale of 1 -5... by the things they asked about.

I couldn't help as I took the happiness survey wondering how I might have answered it two years ago. Or three? I distinctly remember the moment when I said to a counselor "I feel better about myself when..." and finished it "I work at diet and exercise." In short, out of my own mouth came the words that I just plain feel better when I nurture myself!

What about the rest of you? Do you value yourself more when you take care of your health? Or do you take better care of your health because you started to value yourself more?

Life's good... Spark on! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LINDAJOYWK 8/8/2011 6:42AM

    Interesting thought...

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MEDDYPEDDY 8/5/2011 1:40AM

    It is a two way street - when I take better care of myself, I feel better about myself and if I feel better about myself, I take better care of myself... itīs kind of obvious. But what has become more and more true to me is that it is perishable - you have to do maintanance work on your mind as well as on your body every day. Also obvious but I realise that when I feel good I sort of lean back and forget that I have to keep doing the things that made me feel good every day or my mood will start to change.

About surveys - as I started at te eating disorder clinic I answered a lot of questions that gave me the profile of having BED (binge eating disorder) "without compensatory behaviour" (not omiting or exercising obsessively) after six months I got to answer those questions again - and my profile had changed, I was in the "normal" span... which was interesting because in my mind not so much has happended. There were nso many questions that it was impossible to remember how I had answered them before and I did not try to be "good" in answering them, just tried to be as honest as I could.

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SUNNY1432 8/4/2011 9:29PM

    I'm not sure where I sit with those 2 questions as to the self value, but I do think it is important to take care of myself for my kids. Surveys are just to generic to take seriously:)
You kitty is adorable!!

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WATERMELLEN 8/4/2011 8:29PM

    What a pretty kitty!!

One of the things I request of witnesses testifying is: never say never!! Because someone will find an instance of when never wasn't so . . .

Love sugarless gum, especiallyl Dentyne Fire!! Cinnamon-y, my fave . . . .

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Spark blogs in the head

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Yesterday morning, driving to work, I wrote the best Spark blog in my head... and now I can't remember what it was! Not even the major theme.

I've often said that my Spark blogs are pretty much my pep talks to myself, to keep me on track for the day. In that sense, writing the blog in my head was as effective as typing it through the keyboard would have been. I had a good day, didn't freak out despite a day full of meetings, made sure I got my break walks in, ate according to plan, and topped off the day with my "one thing" items both before and after work. I classified it as a good day.

If you can have good days without blogging "physically", or if you can have good days without writing down / tracking your food / exercise minutes, that's great. Most of us CAN pull it off. Particularly when things have been going well for a while, and it is routine and habitual to make good choices.

But for many of us, it begins to deteriorate when we don't put it down on paper (or on line, via computer). Why? It's a little moment where temptation comes in, that emoticon voice that says, "just this once" or "no one's looking", or even my favorite this year, "majority rules". If writing the Spark blog in my head works for a day or two, that's fine... but as with tracking, I expect I'll come back and write "on paper" as a rule, with the "in my head" as an exception.

Because for me, it works. Use what works. Health is important. Remembering what is important requires diligence.

Life's good. Spark on! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KALIGIRL 8/4/2011 12:41PM

    Here's to what works and Lechaim!

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WATERMELLEN 8/3/2011 8:57PM

    Always enjoy your pep talks to yourself . . . and blogging definitely works that way for me too!!

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    I have so many great thoughts that I loose during a day!As long as I keep my head about my eating habits, I won't cry over spilt words!

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LJCANNON 8/3/2011 2:16PM

    emoticonI Like your Pep Talks!!And I Love that Yesterday was a Good Day. It really is just One Day--One Decision--One Turtle Step at a time.

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MSLZZY 8/3/2011 12:11PM

    I agree with you! Blogging is my "pep talk" to me and keeps me focused.
Whatever thought comes to mind when I start is my theme for today.
If you have read some of my blogs, you know I start out with a little
recap of the day and then use my words to motivate myself and
whoever reads it. You do the same and get me thinking in the same
vein. Thanks!

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BUGGYS 8/3/2011 9:44AM

    I haven't blogged in a year because everything I think about in my head just fizzles when I hit the least I'm thinking about it and the "pep talk" helps me!

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DEBRITA01 8/3/2011 9:26AM

    Like you, I get blog ideas when I am away from my computer and then usually forget them. By getting them written out in a blog, it IS a pep talk, keeps me real, and reaffirms to me that I can do this! emoticon emoticon

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KATHRYNLP 8/3/2011 8:17AM

    Love the attitude.... and the Pep talks too! emoticon emoticon

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One thing continues

Monday, August 01, 2011

Yes, to those of you who commented about the "one thing" now going to include kittie cleanup. It does. I just don't want that to become the ONLY "one thing" I do, as there are other systems that need maintaining, and I don't care to see the progress I have made in those areas undermined. I have essentially added to my to-do list in exchange for the entertainment / companionship of having these critters in the house. I'm thinking it's a fair trade.

Yesterday my son came over and helped me shop for kitty toys and such. Then he came home with me and helped wear them out. Kitties need exercise, too.

After he left I had some time to myself as the kitties were sleeping. But when I got up on the treadmill and fired it up, the Prisoner decided to come investigate. At first he walked on it with me (for a few steps) then decided to sit down. Oops... you can picture... off the back end... thump! Don't think he'll be bothering me when I treadmill again. Kitties do learn to avoid machines. Or the Darwin effect takes over.

The other machine that surprised him was the dishwasher. He sniffed at it as the water loaded in, because he could hear it. But when it went thump and started into its wash cycle, he leapt the other way and scooted across the room. Ah, yes, lots of entertainment value.

This morning I worked the kitty clean up around the normal Monday morning veggie chopping and breakfast prep. Steel cut oats with strawberries... so fresh and good this time of year!

Life's good... Spark on! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_LINDA 8/4/2011 10:52AM

    Awesome breakfast! There is nothing like young fur babies, they will get into everything. Love that photo!!

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SHARON2014 8/2/2011 7:55AM

    Great picture! emoticon

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MSLZZY 8/2/2011 7:40AM

    New kittens are such fun!

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KASEYCOFF 8/2/2011 2:48AM

    My son and daughter-in-law have two cats. The first time I ever saw one of those laser-lightpens (dunno what they're called) was at their house. What a hoot! Like the fuzzy on the fishing pole, some of that stuff is just so fun - wish they'd had such things when we had cats at our house (many years ago).

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MEDDYPEDDY 8/2/2011 12:52AM

    My new puppy has made it harder for me to live healthy because I have the job, the daughter - and now the puppy that needs my attenion. By mounting a wooden box on my bike I can take him along but I postponed going out because it is much hevier that before and the training to make him calm in the box took a while too. But as you say - the entertainment and affection I get is a good reward!

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KATHRYNLP 8/1/2011 2:52PM

    Cats can be such fun.. and good company.. Loved your Blog! emoticon emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 8/1/2011 9:48AM

    Cost/benefit analysis for pets: I agree, all the additional "work" created by my golden retriever, Charlie, is infinitely offset by the joy and pleasure and unrestrained affection he gives to all of us.

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KALIGIRL 8/1/2011 8:37AM

    Life is good - I'm glad they are adding such joy to yours.

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DEBRITA01 8/1/2011 8:17AM

    Any work involved will be offset by the entertainment value of having two kittens in the house. Glad you are enjoying them. Have a great week! emoticon

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REJ7777 8/1/2011 8:17AM

    I have to laugh at the thought of your kitty "thumping" off the treadmill! emoticon

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SLENDERELLA61 8/1/2011 8:02AM

    Great! Steel cut oats with strawberries sound wonderful. Hope the kitty stays off the treadmill now - hopefully kitty has learned. Enjoy your kittens. Love your consistent dedication to fitness. Go, Barb!!

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Progress, distractions and balance

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I've been reading a lot of things from people who are slightly dissatisfied with how things have been going for them lately. It is not a bad thing to assess where you're at. In fact, it's something I aspire to do regularly. Being the last day of the month, I've done my monthly progress picture and updated the front page.

In the font that Spark shows, those abs look good. When I look at the master photo, what I see is loose skin.

Yes, that's what I see. The abs are there, they are defined, they keep getting stronger with training, but you can't hide the fact that there is some "empty bag" where there used to be packed fat.

Still, I cannot be dissatisfied. I love my abs. I love them for what they can *do* for me. Think about it. Your abdominal muscles are what protects your inner organs in case of injury. They help you in *everything* you do, from sitting to standing to walking to running, swimming and biking, and putting groceries away. What's not to love? Whatever they look like. They are functional.

And that is the goal, for me: to have a functional, healthy body, doing what a functional healthy body is intended to do. Even when there is illness or injury to deal with, if you start out as fit as you can, or continue to work on improving fitness, it is a boon. Our bodies are indeed "fearfully and wonderfully made". Let's treat 'em with respect and love.

Distractions: Kitties! What a pair I have taken on. Yesterday afternoon late, one of my sisters and her daughter came over to visit the kitties. Within a very short time, my sis had swelling nose and dripping eyes. Oh, yes... allergies. Well, now we know why there are no kitties at *their* house.

After they left, I sat on the couch and both kittens decided to treat me a bit like a jungle gym. They crawled up on my shoulder, purred in my ear and generally made a fuss over ensuring that I was their mommy now. Talk about heart-melting. I won't have them sleeping in my room, but it's so great to be greeted in the morning when I come downstairs. Empty house now resolved.

Balance... ahhhh! Priceless. The trick will be keeping up the "one thing" initiative and the training while dealing with the transition to having furry distractions in the house.

Life's good. Spark on! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSLZZY 8/2/2011 7:41AM

    Try to keep up with those two! You look great!

Comment edited on: 8/2/2011 7:42:20 AM

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BUGGYS 8/2/2011 7:17AM look amazing!!! I have been out of the loop most of the summer and just read about your'll have years of love and fun with them!!! I know how much you missed your dog and giving these kitties a home is so great! My granddaughter got a kitty from the humane society in 8 month old male and although both my daughter and SIL were not cat people, this little feline has captured their hearts as I'm sure yours will also!

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KASEYCOFF 8/2/2011 2:50AM

    Mmm hmm. Not in your room. I hear you. I was never gonna allow the dog on the sofa, either...

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MEDDYPEDDY 8/2/2011 12:56AM

    If I ever lose my overweight I will have a lot of skin hanging around - the only thing that worries me is that it is probably going to be a physical burden with skin irritation in the folds... the cosmetic aspect I will try to overcome!

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SUNNYWBL 8/1/2011 4:56PM

    I aspire to abs like that again! Loose skin? No big deal!

Kitties? Priceless!

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LINDAJOYWK 8/1/2011 6:23AM

    It is encouraging that even one who looks great to the rest of us-still sees flaws-
kind of makes one wonder- is reality is what we see in the mirror?
I am so glad you got the kitties! I had one for 18 yrs(after 2 yrs I found I was
allergic-lots of asthma attacks ,but by then I was hooked)! I miss her-realize I
can't have another,but I will pet & love on other peoples every chance I can!

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KALIGIRL 7/31/2011 8:28PM

    Abs look superb!
And who said kitty control can't be that one thing a few days?

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WATERMELLEN 7/31/2011 8:05PM

    You look great!! Love your attitude: your acceptance of what is and joy about what you can do. And clearly those kittens have made their decision about you!! So sweet!!

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DEBRITA01 7/31/2011 2:46PM

    You are looking good ...and healthy emoticonIf we look hard enough, there is always going to be something we are dissatisfied with. That's human nature. Continue to be proud of the awesome progress you've made...and if a little loose skin is the price to pay for losing unhealthy fat it's a small price to pay.
Keep Sparking! emoticon

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PENNYAN45 7/31/2011 12:26PM

    I believe that if ever I were really sick, I would want two kittens in the room with me - because then I would have the healing effects of watching those sweet, adorable little creatures play and frolic as only kittens can do. What a joy!

When it comes to loose skin - I tell myself it's the price I pay for losing the weight so late in life. But better late than never!

emoticon emoticon

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FITFABJENN 7/31/2011 9:58AM

    Your abs look awesome! I am starting to see some loose skin on my abdomen and arms now that I've lost a lot of weight, but I am happy to see those muscles emerging underneath it all.

Thanks for posting!

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MOBYCARP 7/31/2011 9:10AM

    Love the look, and the series of pics is very impressive. I've never taken pics of myself . . . until today. When I figure out how to get an honest shot, I'll have a "before" picture.

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_LINDA 7/31/2011 8:46AM

    You look awesome to me!! I too, have that wrinkled loose bag of skin on my abdomen. It prevents me from getting into a smaller pant size, I am small top, medium pants, but also have that pear shape, so all my weight naturally goes to the hips and waist. Can't help the body you have, just move on like you have and accept the wonders you can do with it! At least cats don't require all the care and attention dogs do..Just the kitty litter must be cleaned out regularly or your house will get that 'cat' smell. My Mom monitors that closely, always checking for dumps..Maybe that will be your new one thing lol.
Enjoy your Sunday pampering the kitties!

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TORNADO40 7/31/2011 8:21AM

    We have 2 kitties like that! You are looking good and healthy. I wonder if we knew that we would have all this loose skin after we lost weight if we would have allowed ourselves to get overweight to begin with. emoticon

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