January 16, 2020

A Perfect Day To Blog

When the day is full of rain in the forecast I guess any excuses for not blogging are not valid. Plus I had an urge to write some updates, not that things are happening a mile per minute but actually in the laidback slow routine we lived in 'the tropics' of Southern Indiana. I have no idea how I can tell but I am almost positive that the hounds are enjoying a winter that is so much milder than their past ones. So today I will ramble a little bit and post a few recent photos. You can tell not much has been happening in the "blog topics' department. These photos were taken with four different cameras.

A few weeks ago I mentioned I had labwork done thru the local VA Medical Center. It was an option I've always had but I needed to stop by and straighten out some thing on my file since I had not talked to them in 15 years or so. I blogged recently how I had joined the VA Circus ... but they have done a 360° turnaround in performance and I can say they have been nothing but professional and proactive since my complaining here on the blog.

Having an annual physical there saved me time and money. Even around the Christmas holidays they had a followup appointment 4 days after they drew blood and urine. Then a nurse practitioner spent almost an hour going over my results, asking questions about my diet and physical activities. She mentioned that if I wanted they could make an appointment for me to speak on the phone with a VA Nutritionist in Tucson. I accepted that appointment without hesitation ... Two days ago I had more great news confirmed about my health and diet.

You may remember when I have written about different diets over the past 5-6 years. I've tried some not all. They were not really diets to me but just a change in what I ate or how. From years of going back and forth, reading journals online, books from the library, I decided sometime last year that my diet plan was pretty good. Moderation for dairy and beef plus ice cream. Yet there were times I would fall off that eating plan wagon hard and I would be on the extreme end of binging on all the food I should not be eating.

Basically if it was in my house it was gone, in large quantities. Whole packages of Pepperidge Farm cookies, full containers of Ben&Jerry's ice cream, too many slices of a large loaded pizza that would come with breadsticks and cheese or brownies for desert, chips, candy, etc. In all the years of reading about diets and health in books and online, I've never found the cause of such a drastic change in eating in a matter of 12 hours. What brought on these extreme eating binges of mine?

I found out last Tuesday talking to the nutritionist ... "not eating enough protein will cause those binges for junk food and sweets." I use a free app called Cronometer because it gets into the detailed nutrient breakdown on all foods I eat. Their database of food is fantastic and if it has a bar code on the package you can scan that with your smart phone camera and it will load the nutritional data.

From the answers I was giving her and the lab results she could see on her computer, she thought I was going great. Then she explained how I could stop these binges based on what I had told her. We both agreed that I cannot have those kinds of foods in my house. I can go out for a "slice of pizza" or "a scoop of ice cream" or have some "chips and salsa" as an appetizer before my Mexican meal but don't bring any of that stuff home.

We discussed different popular diets, different books that I had read, the food app to log all food eaten, then compared that to the lab work results. What fat I am eating is being processed normally with nothing left over as added calories. The little sugar I add to my coffee is workable with my glucose numbers at the low end of the normal range. Evidently my own diet as I called it, with moderation principals, was working better than I thought they would. She agreed with what I was saying and what I was eating.

Of course the bicycling I do is a great addition to staying healthy. Now I am not in racing shape nor will I ever reach that level of physical fitness again but what little I do is a key to my lab results and general health overall. Every doctor and nurse, except one, has said so. How much I ride outside is dependent on weather during these months but I still get on the bike on a trainer inside to ride for 0-45 minutes. Especially on days like today.

She also agreed with what I read in a book last weekend. The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up by Steven Masley, MD. Eliminating food is not the way to go but the way you eat it and the quantity. Some say beef is beef but the book and the nutritionist said that "grass fed" made a world of difference. Eggs? Only those from "cage free" chickens. Vegan or Vegetarian Diets were not a good option in her opinion. Dr Masley wrote in his book that even a diet like a whole food plant based diet that added fish, poultry and grass fed beef could reverse heart disease in all the tests he had performed for over 30 years.

Of course it's not the 16oz NY Strip steak but one that has been divided up into 3oz or 4 oz portions. I never could tell who to believe when I reads stuff like this since some claim that ONLY a Whole Food Plant Based Diet can reverse artery blockages. Dr Masley can prove it otherwise. Here is a nice sheet in poor quality photo that seems to help me so far.

How do you know if that makes a difference? What about those large cheeseburgers at The Diner sometimes? or back in Indiana at 5Guys Burgers? How do you know what is too much whether it be fast food, junk food or ice cream? Which kind of diet is best? I can only accept my answer by looking at my lab results.

Blood tested in the lab ... it doesn't lie.

During my VA annual physical they gave me a free machine to measure my blood pressure. I was almost ready to click the buttons on Amazon a few days before my appointment to buy exactly that. My apple watch does a great job of monitoring my heart rate but I wanted more data. I logged my blood pressure twice per day for 14 days and then went back to the VA nurse practitioner to go over the results. I could also download that data from the machine if they wanted to verify my spreadsheet.

I sat in her office on Tuesday at 9:30am BEFORE having any coffee and produced a 116/64 blood pressure reading. I was cleared with a "see you next December" and was on my way. The times I took it during the day of normal eating, two cups of strong coffee with two tsp of sugar in each up (16 oz), it still ranged in the 120s/60's

So without getting those Medicare "Notices" on what they pay and what I "might" pay ... I went in for free or a low co-pay that I have not seen yet, drew blood and urine on a Monday before Christmas holiday and the Friday after was back in their office reviewing the results. Two weeks later they confirmed my blood pressure was good and consistent ... finished and not a dime out of my pocket. I am getting different stories on the possible co-pay I might have to pay ... based on some military awards the VA tells me that I'll not have co-pays but I know Viet Nam vets that do pay a co-pay. I'll find out in the next month I guess.

The hounds have not changed. They are doing great and have never looked or felt better since moving back to Fromm Dog Food for Large Breeds in October. Heidi's and Stella's coats have never felt softer and smooth. Stella has healed her two small "elephant spots" that were on her hip bones ... I think the cause was the carpet in my house in Indiana when she would sit on those hip bones as she scratched herself.

Heidi is now going on every .57 of a mile walk we take almost every day except when it rains. She even gets excited when I take the retractable leashes out of the closet. They have done pretty well adjusting from walking in a 7 acre field of grass/weeds to walking on sidewalks with cars (not a lot) passing us, along with meeting people that want us to stop so they can pet the hounds. They are quite popular in the neighborhood.

Every night Stella sleeps in the same spot while I read a book or watch a movie or game. That smudge on the couch that I just noticed is not anything damaging or a stain ... the material has moved in an opposite direction when Stella used it to brace her self as she curls around into her sleeping position. They adapted to the new rule of not getting on the couch very quickly.

My new hip turned 4 months old on January 8th. It had felt great most of the time the past two months but I was still feeling some soreness or stiffness when I would get up off the couch or out of my desk chair. Colder weather made it a little sore ... then things changed almost instantly at that January 8th date.

The soreness and stiffness was completely gone and it did not matter how long I sat on the soft couch or on the hard desk chair. I was back to getting in and out of bed or cars and my truck the normal way, instead of sliding into the seat with by back to the door before swinging my legs around. I could feel the small changes in that hip area that told me all those muscles that were cut were healing and getting stronger each day. Those muscles were back to wanting to exercise, to ride the bike just like before my bike wreck. I don't have to go back to see my surgeon until next December which would be 15 months after surgery.

So healthwise I am good. Not bad results for someone who had their last physical close to 20 years ago.

As far as blogging ???

I am pretty sure I will no longer be blogging every day. There just isn't enough time for me to do that based on what my daily routine has changed into. Time passes quickly every day and before I know it 6pm is there on my watch staring back at me and I am not finished doing whatever I might be doing.

Activities have increase and we are not even in great weather yet. I read a lot more, I hike a lot more and I am trying to ride my bike as much as possible. The information I read in the "30 Day Book" gave me assurances that I cannot ride my bike enough and there was no reason to track my heart rate while riding unless it shot way above the maximum limit. That maximum limit is higher than what I was using ... the old formula of 220 minus your age. The MD author cited that formula as a very general estimate then gave me the correct way to find it.

Back to blogging. Like I have mentioned in past years, there are times my blog is boring to me ... very boring. Same photos of the hounds, sunrises or sunsets and certain hikes just on a different day. That kind of blogging doesn't excite me and I am sure if I am bored with it, so are you as a reader.

I've discussed this with other current and past bloggers so it's just not my messed up head ... you try not to but at times but you catch yourself taking that hike or taking those photos just to do the blog for that day. Then you wonder if those photos are good enough, can't I find something different and better to show people? Sometimes I'd ramble about nothing for pages and other times I'd sit here for an hour and thought of nothing to write about. I notice and do know for a fact that when I blog less I take fewer photos. I've regretted missing some photos in the past when I have taken time off from blogging.

Although it's easier, I'll not move to Instagram and use that as a blog replacement. YouTube is definitely NOT an option. I post a photo or two at times on Facebook for friends there that don't have time to read blogs but want to see the hounds. I've thought about emailing photos to readers that want to see the hounds but not certain that is a good move either.

Then there are the times I enjoy getting away from electronics like computer, phones, tablets and tv's. After the initial excitement of watching movies from Amazon Prime and the shows that Apple produced ... my tv time decreased rapidly and is trending to no tv by next fall. With a spring and summer of hiking, biking and local exploration in moving vehicles, the desire to watch tv in the fall may be completely gone. Tv time in my house is decreasing rapidly even in the middle of college basketball. So we will see what happens.

I've added some time to do some barbell training here at home three times per week. They are based on exercises recommended by the book author who happens to be a cardiologist. Most of them I was doing 7-8 years ago. I implemented my own stretching program for my hip once I found out there was no pain afterward. There was some during the stretch but not afterward so I figured some of that scar tissue was breaking up or stretching. No matter what it was, there is no pain now when I stretch and it's to the point of a normal feeling of good.

As the weather gets warmer I'll be out and about more and more. Not all the time but there will be times the hounds will join me. Yet the one time I took both of them hiking with me or really walking out by the San Pedro River/House ... Heidi wore out a short time after we started as she had her nose to the ground from the time we left the car. Stella had too many distractions ... from horse scent, coyote scent, possible snake scent ... just too many scents for a bloodhound nose. Let's just say they reacted the same way as Winston, Heidi and Sadie when we took our camping trip to Colorado and Utah in June 2015.

Two hands ... two leashes ... two hounds ... both wanting to go different directions at different speeds. It's the BREED not the dogs that make it hard for me to hike with dogs like I read and see on other blogs of those that travel. These two are not herding breeds but hound breeds and their noses are stronger than ever which equates to a LOT of distractions or new things to explore.

So that is about it from the 'Wild West" today.

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