Sweet Perfection? If you must!

I found this today. Looking forward to trying these sachets; do hope we get used to the taste!  Hubby and I have been on sucralose for a long time. Ingredients are Erythritol  and Stevia extract.
@ProfTimNoakes  @SalCreed

2014-01-26 23.55.30

Weight loss : a mini-breakthrough

Well, it was a damn long time coming. What a battle! As of this morning, I have edged past the 25kg mark for the first time – 25.2kg down to be exact. As I said, a mini breakthrough but a breakthrough it is.

My weight loss has fluctuated between 24 –24.8kg for the last 2 months. I know the reasons for this very well. Lax portion control, little exercise, insufficient water and occasional mini-binges all contributed to the patchy downward progress.

June was a month of bi-annual medical checks I have which form part of the diabetic care protocol. At the beginning of the year and at mid-year, I have various tests done to check my health status.  Doctor, pathologists, ophthalmologist, podiatrist and dietician all had the dubious pleasure of my company last month. I will talk about it in a later post.

Diabetes really is a dread disease in that uncontrolled – or even just poorly controlled glucose levels wreak havoc with virtually every body system. Unseen and undetected until too late. That’s fact and not just me becoming neurotic or a hypochondriac! While I am very aware of my health diagnoses/challenges and am doing (action!) all I reasonably can to reverse the situation, I have no time to sit around contemplating my ‘health navel’!

Between health, business and personal challenges, I seldom have time to scratch myself! I do not schedule enough ‘me time’.  I call it down time or time out. I am looking at that quite seriously and would recommend it for everybody.

As part of my mid-year checks, I consulted a dietician about the prolonged weight plateau. Yeah. Another one. Another dietician I mean. Did I learn anything new? No. Didn’t expect to. What I did get was a slightly revised eating plan which cuts kJ to 5200 per day. (About 1222 calories). Rather strict plan for sure. Cuts carbs and leaves protein/fats much the same. Am I following the recommendations to the letter? Not quite but I have had a shift in weight and that’s the bottom line isn’t it?!

The other perennial recommendation is to increase exercise. Any regular physical activity is crucial for overall health improvement – any physical activity at all.

So get that fat dog out on a leash and get out into the neighbourhood so that he can pick up his pee-mail!

I am really upset … 3 Poor self care and diabetes complications

Those of you following this blog will know the story about my friend T who works for a friend/client of mine. At Christmas time he scraped his foot while swimming and by March his foot had been amputated.  He is still getting around on crutches while he awaits a prosthetic foot.

I was upset once again yesterday when I was told that T was admitted to hospital last Thursday with deep vein thrombosis in the remaining ‘good’ leg. He remains hospitalised at this time and I will contact his son later this morning to get the latest update. The grave danger and possible consequences in this situation do not have to be spelled out.

What really, really gets to me is that this whole unfolding crisis could quite probably have been avoided completely. It need never have happened.

T really needs to supplement his pension income, his employer wants to accommodate this but also has to deal with T’s lengthy  absences from work. It has placed my client in a  difficult situation which will have to resolved one way or another.

When we blithely ignore the warning signs that our lifestyle is causing our bodies to deteriorate, we are literally toying with our  lives. There are thousands of medical conditions that can befall us over which we have no control whatsoever. Surely it makes sense to take charge of what we can control and influence? But we just don’t do it.

I am relentlessly driven by a number of things to continue on my odyssey back to optimal (optimum?!) wellness. I cannot just let it go. I cannot just let things slide – much as I am so often tempted to do. I deviate from the path – badly sometimes – and yet I cannot throw in the towel.

  • I value my financial independence and the lifestyle that this affords me.
  • I dread the day my children have to step up to the plate and provide for me financially.
  • I fear being dependant on others to care for me physically. I cared for my dying mom-in-law for over a year before she died and it was a harrowing experience for both of us. Well do I remember the two of us crying bitterly in each other’s arms as I changed her filthy disposable nappy yet again. The anguish she suffered from the pain and loss of dignity is something that still lives with me  26 years later.
  • I am angry at myself for the stupidity I exhibited over many years in not looking after my health and lifestyle.  I still exhibit this same stupidity ; work and stressful deadlines still predominate in my life.

One small consolation is that sanity has now prevailed long enough for me to appoint a temporary office assistant. After only 3 mornings with us, the ‘advent of Nicky’ is changing my office landscape and I will talk more about this in a later post.

Weight Loss : I’ve got to up the ante

It’s now exactly two weeks since we returned from our wonderful break at Pinnacle Point. A fading memory I am afraid. 😦  We had to jump right back into the fray and catch up on time lost while we chilled out.

There’s something fundamentally wrong with the whole scenario; with the way that we live our lives in our house. This work, work, work is not a good place to be. We should be relaxing and I suppose I should be relaxing doing crochet or something or maybe gossiping with the other tannies in our quiet apartment block. Nah, just can’t see that ever happening.

I, for one, am right up there with my kids checking out the latest Blackberry, muttering about what in the cloud data backups are costing me, taking on new payroll work for small businesses. I would just like to have a more rounded life and in truth am striving towards that goal; without any notable success at this time!

What has happened since returning to Cape Town two weeks ago? Well, on the weight front nothing much at all and therein lies the problem. Having lost 23kg, my metabolism has settled down and decided that this weight is quite OK, thank you very much. So, another dreaded plateau. I have 7kg to go to the W-L goal set for me and I still want to go at least another 5kg down after that!

I feel good! I’m told I look good (but not when I am still working in my dressing gown mid-morning!) I am much smaller than I was, of course. I had the most amazing experience just before we left on holiday. I simply had to go to Woollies and find some denim pants to take on holiday – the old ones were all hanging like sacks on me. Great feeling actually! 🙂

Not having a clue what size to buy, I confidently took home two pairs of denim pants in size 18. Bearing in mind that I had been wearing size 22 stuff, this in itself was a major victory for me. Got home to find that the jeans as well as the pull on elasticised denim pants were both far too big!

As I hate trying on clothes in shop fitting rooms, I went back, changed the pants and came home with size 16’s. Tried them on. WOW!  The fitted jeans were fine – even a little loose. The elasticised pants were too big!  So back to the shop again to came home with size 14’s. Anyone who has worn size 22 clothes and now wears size 14 will know exactly how I felt!  I was and still am over the moon about this very tangible evidence of my progress so far.

SO FAR

Two very crucial little words for me. I have come so far and am justifiably chuffed with my efforts. But now the real test must begin. The last 7kg’s will be difficult to lose and hence the expression below :-

“ If you up the ante, you increase the importance or value of something, especially where there’s an element of risk as the term comes from gambling, where it means to increase the stake (the amount of money bet). “    Wikipedia

The element of risk for me is, of course, the real possibility of deteriorating health issues due to too slow intervention on my part. I must place a much greater emphasis on where I am heading and pick up the pace substantially.  I will have to worry about all the loose, wrinkled, floppy bits that will only get worse once I have arrived at my destination! The value of goal weight as the basis for optimum wellness has to be the most important element of my odyssey.

So, onward and downward again – are you joining me? You are most welcome!

BP – as in blood pressure, not petrol!

My valued readers may remember my post about ‘a bit of’.  A ‘bit of weight’; a ‘bit of cholesterol’; a ‘bit of diabetes; and so on. Looking back at older posts, I see that I wrote that post on 8th March.

What I said on that day is something I would like to repeat today and I will probably return to the subject time and again as I try to hammer home the crucial core message:-

There is no such thing as ‘a bit of’. You either have it or you don’t!  The ‘bits of’ have already started their destructive paths in your body and will continue to do so unless you take charge of your choices right now!

In my observations and personal experience, we typically see these (lifestyle induced) patterns manifesting around our 40th birthday. Very sadly, we are also seeing more of these conditions emerging in much younger people. I seem to recall reading that 19-year old Americans in the Vietnam war already showed signs of arteries clogging up; the trend has been growing for decades. Just look, really look around you in a shopping mall; particularly in the food courts. Obese parents loading all sorts of junk food onto their plates and ordering the same for their plump, chubby or already obese kids. I feel sick at heart as I observe it all.

I recently watched a 40-something man sitting at a small restaurant table with his knees spread wider than the table. He could not close his knees because his stomach was resting on the chair seat between his legs. He was simultaneously reading the morning paper, while shovelling bacon, sausage, eggs, toast etc down his throat as if there would be no tomorrow. His two obese kids of primary school age sat at the table with him also shovelling down… guess what?  Neither he nor his children were actually paying much attention to what they were so avidly consuming. It was a mindless, well practised exercise in gluttony.

Do not get me wrong, there is nothing more ‘lekker’ than an ‘English breakfast’ of bacon, eggs etc as an occasional treat to be savoured and enjoyed. My W-L  group leader says that she loves to prepare her own lunchtime version of the ultimate sandwich, cut it into 4 triangles and then really look at it with pleasure and anticipation before eating it!

One of the many lifestyle induced health dragons we usually face is hypertension -high blood pressure. My spouse W & I have to take our blood pressure readings on a very regular basis. W because of ischaemic heart disease – he now has two coronary stents – and me because of diabetes and the other other dragons of Metabolic Syndrome.

While on holiday this month, we took BG (blood glucose) as well as BP readings every day; our children were not even aware that this was part of our daily routine even on holiday. All readings are recorded and then transcribed into Benutriwise as data for our GP, Dr Anna.

I recently upgraded our BP cuff – we now have the type that takes the readings at the press of a button and gives digital readouts. It also averages the readings for the previous 30 days; all of which is crucial information for the GP as well as the cardiologist.

We have HARTMANN brand BP cuffs (a German make) which Dr Anna tells me are about the best on the market. Taking info from their user manual, I quote hereunder:

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) have developed the following classifications for blood pressure values:”

Assessment Systolic pressure Diastolic pressure
Optimal up to 120 mmHg up to 80mmHg
Normal up to 130 mmHg up to 85 mmHg
Normal limit values 130 – 139 mmHg 85 – 89 mmHg
Grade 1 hypertension 140 – 150 mmHg 90 – 99 mmHg
Grade 2 hypertension 160 – 179 mmHg 100 – 109 mmHg
Grade 3 hypertension over 180 mmHg over 110mmHg
     

“ Established hypertension is defined as repeated measurement of a systolic value greater than 140 mmHg and/or a diastolic value greater than 90 mmHg. Please note that this classification of blood pressure values is independent of age. Optimal blood pressure values have health benefits for all people. There is no generally recognised definition of too low blood pressure (hypotension). Readings of less than 100mmHg systolic and less than 70 mmHg diastolic are considered too low. Please note that, unlike too-high blood pressure values, too-low blood pressure values are not usually expected to be associated with health risks. However, if you are always feeling unwell, you should check with your doctor. “

“ Constantly elevated blood pressure multiplies the risk for other health problems.

Also according to HARTMANN, high blood pressure elevates the risk for thickening and/or weakness of the heart muscle 7 times and the risk of stroke 8 times.

Constant hypertension also leads to vascular damage. Additional increased risks are quoted as follows: Heart attack 3 times; shrunken kidney/kidney problems/kidney failure 6 times; impaired blood flow 2 times; and arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) 8 times.

When W was admitted to a cath lab for the first stent, he commented to the theatre sister that she must see a lot of heart disease in her line of work. She looked at him, sighed and said, “ Yes and the sad part of it is that it is all self inflicted.”

My cardiologist showed me very carefully where my heart muscle has thickened due to poorly controlled hypertension. It’s sobering stuff I can tell you.

Is this post meant to scare you? No, it is not. It is meant to present the facts about the serious consequences of uncontrolled or poorly controlled hypertension. It is also intended to encourage those not yet medicated and monitored by a doctor to most urgently monitor their BP over a period of time and take corrective action – be that drastic lifestyle modification and/or medication.

Food labelling – we have often been misled

Over time, I have become a consumer addicted to reading nutrition information labels on foodstuffs in my favoured food markets. In the early years it was for fat content, then it became the (often vain) hope that the GI value was quoted on breakfast cereals and now, finally, I can assess the info with some degree of intelligence.

With the advent in my life of the despised Metabolic Syndrome, I will not put a grocery item into my trolley without having read the nutritional information. I was so pleasantly surprised to see recently that a very dear friend with health issues to manage will also not purchase any item that would be detrimental to his health.

I am not for one minute saying that I am a Joan of Arc martyr to my health challenges nor a Paragon of Virtue as headmistress Reverend Mother Maria used to call me. (Poor misguided woman – luckily for me she did not deem it necessary to open nor censor my schoolgirl correspondence with a certain young gentleman at Kearsney College! Some of my Holy Family Convent school friends were not so fortunate)!

What I am saying – with much rambling, sorry – is that we need to become informed in our health choices. I ate a slice of Black Forrest cake this week – yeah horrors! – with no consequences on the scale nor my glucose readings. (Back to the comment about not being a Joan of Arc on my odyssey to health). An occasional ‘sin’ is not going to kill me as long as the ‘sins’ do not become a regular habit. Been there, done that. Never again in my lifetime. The ‘sins’ are what got me into my MS predicament in the first place.

No food is ‘bad’. All food has its place. The trick is to know which foods we must strictly limit to occasional treats and what foods are needed for vibrant health and energy.

New regulations for food labelling become mandatory in RSA from March 2011. Some retailers already have pretty good labelling on their products – PnP and Woolworths to name two.

Misleading labels will not be permitted. For example to be labelled low in kJ, a food will have to have less than 170kJ per 100g (solids) or 80kJ per 100ml (liquids). “Low fat” must contain less than 3g per 100g (solids) or 1,5g of total fat per 100ml liquids).

Don’t wait until March 2011 to start really examining what you permit down your throat! I haven’t.

So, how did it go?

As we reluctantly ease back into work mode after a lazy Easter weekend, W & I are pleased to note that we both lost a little weight over the weekend. We did indulge in a few, small easter eggs and sundry other foods such as a lovely bacon/egg breakfast and a couple of takeaways and visits to food outlets in CW (Canal Walk Shopping Centre, Century City)

We realise that it’s not about ‘dieting’. It’s about consciously making choices (indulging our love of chocolate which we seldom do) and then simply re-focussing on what we know is the right eating regime for us.

In past years, I – for one – would have polished off lots  of marshmallow eggs and any/all hollow eggs that came my way! The huge Easter egg market set up in CW was a sight to behold and I did buy a box of Lindor 60% balls. I dished them out very quickly! I could have polished off the lot by myself without much trouble but in truth I had no real desire to do that.

My glucose levels did not go haywire and we will soon see if there were any real spikes this week. I was due to go for my bi-annual fasting HbA1c test this morning but am fighting a cold that I picked up yesterday. Got up at 2am and swallowed a mega dose of Vit C so have had to postpone the test until tomorrow morning.

I will also make sure we both have our bottles of ice water on our desks – something that we tend to forget. So vitally important!

I have not posted about what I drink – I will try to do that this evening. At boarding school in the village made world famous by Alan Paton, Ixopo, a huge treat was to be ‘let out of’ hostel on a Saturday morning. We girls would all troop down to the village and settle in the ‘tea room’ and check out the boys while consuming large helpings of slap chips, hamburgers and Coca Cola!

Old habits die hard and if I was unwise I would still happily consume greasy burgers, fries and coke all these years later. Such is the influence of childhood habits!

Would love to hear how your Easter weekend went?