My Journey To Health, Food Withdrawal

MountainIn My journey to health food withdrawal was not something I considered to be something that would have to be factored into the equation.  The last few weeks however showed me that not only was it a factor, it was a big factor.

The last 6 weeks have been a considerably rough patch for me.  I first developed a viral infection that knocked me down for several days.  This infection ran in cycles; first I would get a really bad sinus headache the next day it would jump to my throat and the following day my stomach would begin to burn.  This was the cycle.  It would run through the three stages and then start again.  I may have gotten a day with nothing at all but it wouldn’t last.  I was given three different antibiotics but none of them did any good.  Two symptoms, however, stayed with me the whole time and that was chills and a fever.  I could heap myself over with blankets and I could not get warm.

This went on for about three weeks.  At the end of that time the cycle disappeared but the fever and chills remained.  It was also at about this time that I started my quest towards being vegetarian and then making it to vegan.  The chills and fever simply would not go away.  Eventually my family doctor sent me to my cardiologist, but the cardiologist found nothing wrong with my heart.  The chills and fever continued.  It was just a few days ago that we both realized I was going through a type of withdrawal.  Not from drugs but from food.

I hated soda when I was a kid.  I just didn’t like the fizzy part.  I would drink it occasionally but I preferred juice or lemonade, chocolate milk was good too and as I got older I loved plain milk.  In recent years, that changed and I began a love affair with coca cola.  I wanted it a lot and drank it about five or six times a week.  Not every day, I still liked juice, but pretty often I was having my coke.  I also liked fast food, I think I said before that when I gave up sugar it did not mean had given up any fast food place you can name.  If I worked at McDonald’s I guarantee you I would not be able to fit through a door.  So there was coke and there were hamburgers and there was pizza and fried chicken.  Fast food is cheap and easy, but it can kill you.  It was these foods that I had withdrawal from.  (I forgot ti mention tacos)

Now if you asked me was it a physical withdrawal or an emotional withdrawal?  I would be unable to answer that.  I suspect it was an emotional withdrawal that had all too real physical effects.  I ate McDonald’s when I got stressed, with no McDonald’s I had no stress relief.  I developed a rash that is called neurotic dermatitis.  That means in rare case when people get stressed they develop a rash and there is nothing that can be done about it.  I talked to my psychologist and we came to the conclusion that I had to ride through these physical and emotional oddities there was simple no way around.

That I think is the hardest part of living in the world we live in today.  There is no easy way around anything, but we expect there to be one and when it is not there we are angry.  We expect instant solutions to problems that took years to develop.  We feel we are owed that and if it can’t be fixed it must not be a real problem.  I heard recently that fat people, like me, feel as though they shouldn’t be blamed for their weight.  In some rare cases this can be true, but most of us know that we mad ourselves the size that we are and no one can fix the problem but ourselves.  In the work that is needed to be done there is pain both emotional and physical.  There are tears that will be shed, body parts that will hurt and if you have become emotionally attached to food, withdrawal symptoms that will have to be born.  There is no easy way out, only the hard way through.

My withdrawal symptoms did include tears.  I was and am highly stressed and emotional.  I can start yelling at anyone very easily.  I cry because I can’t have cake when I want it, and even though I now know that there are 9 teaspoons of sugar in a can of coke, I still crave it.  (I thought there would be less sugar in a coke Icee, but I was wrong, there’s more)  I am still getting chills and fever but for the moment the rashes have subsided.  When I start to study about healthy food, I cry because I want my old ways.  I think it is a type of mourning.  I bought a scale from Amazon.  When I was at the cardiologist I was 398 pounds.  In the last three weeks I have dropped ten pounds.  The scale said 388 yesterday.

I have found that I do not need sugar like I used to.  In the past it would take three teaspoons of sugar to sweeten ten ounces of coffee or tea, I am now finding that one is becoming too much.  I haven’t been to McDonald’s in awhile and I am not missing it as much as I thought I would, and whole foods are becoming much more appealing to me than fast foods.

In the middle of The Sound of Music Mother Superior tells Maria that she cannot hide from her problems that she has to face them.  She then sings “Climb Every Mountain.”  Our job is to face our problem and work through them.  We must face each obstacle as it comes up and conqueror it.  We may not win the first battle, but we will win if we choose to keep fighting.

I don’t know where you are now, but I challenge you to climb your mountain.  Whether it is as big as Everest, or any of the smaller ones, climb it.  Fight your fight and find your dream, it is worth the effort.

The other night on my dinner plate was an Ezekiel Pita bread topped with a Portobello mushroom that I had cooked in some butter with a lot of garlic.  In the mushroom was roasted cauliflower and it was topped with a sugar free tomato sauce.  It looked beautiful and it tasted really good.  A month ago I would not have considered eating that.  Now it is a wonderful meal. I’ve changed but I couldn’t go around I had to go through.  I have to climb my mountains.

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My Journey To Health, The Habits of Hobbits

ahobbitThe first question to answer is “What do the habits of hobbits have to do with getting to good health?”  The answer is simple.  Everything!

Those of you who read this column regularly know that I find great inspiration from fiction.  And there is much that can learned from hobbits if we consider a few facts, expand on them and use a bit of imagination.

What do we know about hobbits off the tops of our heads.  Well, they are a small people.  They enjoy six meals a day and they have very tough and hairy feet which allows them to go shoe-less.  We know they bake as bread is mentioned in The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings.  Seed cake is also mentioned in The Hobbit as Bilbo’s home is invaded by dwarves and Bilbo wonders about the provisions in his larder.  We know they drink both wine and beer.   We know that they enjoy bacon eggs, apples, strawberries and cream and other simple food.  We know that Bilbo liked to walk.  He even had maps of the shire where he had marked his favorite places to stroll.  Bilbo even wrote a walking song.

So what can be inferred from the above facts.  The Hobbit society was agricultural in nature.  We know they kept chickens, pigs and cattle.  We know they grew apples and strawberries raspberries, lettuce, grapes and coffee beans at the very least.  We also know they grew tobacco but it seemed they used it responsibly.  They must have grown grain as there was bread and cake and you need hops to brew beer.

What can be pulled from these facts that can help with our health.  Let’s start with six meals a day.  Eating six times a day is a healthy habit to get into.  These meals should not be meals that are indulgent in fact I would bet indulgent meals of any kind were not a daily experience in The Shire.  The six meals were mostly rustic healthy whole foods.  Breakfast may have been Bacon and eggs, but second breakfast was more like a snack and may have been whole grain bread and butter and maybe some tea.  Eleveses may have been some cheese and fruit,as the hobbits by that time were more than likely in the fields working by then and would be carrying their food with them.

Lunch could have consisted of a sit-down meal or again something carried into the fields or pastures.  Whole grain breads maybe a little meat or a small meat pie.  We know Tolkien loved rural England and lunch was often pies in rural England one savory and one sweet.  So meat and vegetables in one and fruit in the other.

Tea would be taken at home in the latter part of the afternoon.  We know that hobbits liked 6 meals a day but Tolkien stipulated that with “when they could get them.”  Tea may have been tea, bread and butter, small cakes and maybe small sandwiches.  The richer the hobbit family the grander the tea.  Supper we know was a hearty meal that the whole household sat down together to eat.  We find this to be true when Frodo Sam Merry and Pippin all sit down at Farmer Maggot’s table.  We even know the menu, or at least some of it.  There was beer, bacon, mushrooms and other solid farm fair.  There must have been a bit of meat as the dogs “layed by the fire and gnawed rinds (cheese) and cracked bones.

I don’t think that meat played a large part in a hobbit diet.  First hobbits were small and bringing down a cow for beef would have taken a lot of work and many hobbits to do it.  Mutton and lamb?  Possibly but again these animals would be used for other purposes.  The hobbits would need wool for clothing and so killing the animals for food would take a way a continued source of making fabric so my guess is there was a small amount of meat per meal and none at all at some.  Maybe a four ounce portion an many dietitians suggest.

We know that there were vegetables and potatoes and turnips cabbages and carrots too.  We are also aware id the hobbits deep love for mushrooms and the films suggest tomatoes.  Bread was a staple food, as it is in almost all cultures, but not white bread.  These would have been whole grain rustic loaves, loaded with flavor and nutrition.  Apples, for sure, as well as strawberries a hobbits diet was bright and colorful.  Not completely vegetarian but much more so than what we consume with the large amounts of meat we make a habit of eating.

The hobbits exercised because in an agricultural society the exercise was built in to the day.  Planting, weeding and harvesting was all physical work as was milling grain into flour.  Tending sheep and cattle was also physical as the animals would be moved from place to place in order to graze.  Shepherds and herders had much to do.  And there is no doubt that all of the hobbit food was organic, could you imagine Sam using a pesticide?

We know that Bilbo liked to walk.  We also know that ponies were available but not many road and so a hobbits feet were the main source of transportation.  Also feeding ponies takes a lot and what animals hobbits had were probably used more for work that for puling a carriage.

So a hobbit life style was a healthy lifestyle.  A lifestyle that consisted of hard work whole foods and regular exercise.  This type of lifestyle is something we all should aspire to and actually adapt to the best of our ability.

As you know my goal right now is to become vegan.  To eliminate animal products all together and I am working toward that, but in the meantime, living like a hobbit seems a great beginning.  Now if only I could get Mrs. Maggot to invite me to dinner.

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My Journey To Health, Becoming Vegan

aveganIt has been a little over sixty days since I put My Journey To Health down for a while.  You might call it 60 days in prison, and it  was in a way.  I have been flipping around between emotional illness and physical illness during that time and my life was a mess.  Some days I barely got out of bed for one of or the other of those reasons.  The worst days were the ones I couldn’t get out of bed because of both of the reasons.  Now, however I am on the mend and ready to start again.  This however will be a battle that is totally new and I am excited to be taking you on the journey with me.

My psychologist has made the suggestion that I go vegan.  This is something I am easing into.  I figure by the middle of June, the change should be complete.  There is also food in my freezer that I do not wish to throw out when that is gone the change will have been made.

Becoming vegan means that you get all your nourishment from plants.  So vegetables fruits grains nuts beans are your whole diet.  This can be called Plant Power according to mu good friend Steve. A  Vegetarian, on the other hand is no meat but I believe dairy and eggs are allowed.  For a while I will be more vegetarian than vegan but the switch will happen eventually.

This is hard for me.  I like meat and to be honest I do not like green vegetables at all.  Broccoli literally makes me sick to my stomach.  So I will be going into grounds that I am very nervous about.  I believe I can do it, but it won’t be easy.

I guess a question that should be answered here is why am I doing this?  The answer is a bit complicated but here we go.  I think my psychologist believes that I would not only lose weight by following this kind of diet, but I may also rid my body of some of the poisons that processed food dumps into your body.  Eliminating those may help do a reset on some of my emotions.  Time and perseverance will tell.  Hanging with this will be the toughest part, especially if I smell bacon.

I need to confess here that I am a fast food junkie.  I did go with out sugar from the first of January until mid March but I did not go with out McDonald’s, Burger King, Arby’s or Boston Market.  Then there were Hungry Man Dinners and many other microwavable foods that was what I have been used to eating since my mom passed away.

I had been living with my folks for awhile as due to some physical problems and the emotional issues I cannot work.  Mom was a great cook and, not to be vain, I inherited that from her.  When she died it was like all the joy of cooking disappeared.  I have been upstairs, I have an apartment in the basement, a total of three times to use the kitchen in the last three years.

Exercise is the next hurdle to cross.  According to my psychiatrist I have boobitrapped myself when it comes to exercise.  After even a small amount of exercise I don’t feel good about what I have accomplished, in fact I feel extremely depressed and hopeless.  This is coming from the bad feelings I have about myself.  Those feelings are so intense that my brain actually won’t let me feel good about me.  Exercise at this point fuels my low self esteem instead of helping it.  Now what can be done about that?  Nothing!  I have to exercise anyway and allow my brain to adjust.  This will not be easy.

I have a lot more to say but for now this is enough.  It’s good to be back with you all and I hope you will follow me on my journey.  Next up is being healthy like a Hobbit.

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Charity Finds A Unique Way To Battle Censors For Breast Self-Exam Video


(PCM) The anti-breast cancer charity MACMA has found quite a unique way to battle internet censors when posting a video demonstrating the proper way to conduct a breast self-exam. Many tutorial videos for breast self-exams are blocked or pulled down from the internet due to complaints about indecency, as most social networking sites have policies against featuring images of topless women.

After tiring of having their videos removed, MACMA came up with a new approach. They decided to use a male model to create their demonstration video, as apparently male breasts are really not all that different. Way to stick it to the internet censors! Check out their creative video below:

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April 6th is Plan Your Own Epitaph Day

abcde-LooneyApril 6th is Plan Your Epitaph Day.  Spring is in the air, the birds are back and singing flowers are pushing their way out of the ground and new life is everywhere, now let’s take a moment and think about your death.

Let’s get one thought out of the way, we are all going to die.  It may be decades away or seconds away, but it is inevitable there is no escape.  The question is how do you want to be remembered.

On a tomb stone there is your name and some dates, for instance Joe Clark April 1, 1928 – February 29, 2035.  Do you see that little dash between the dates?  That represents a person’s whole life.  All they did and didn’t do, all of their hopes and disappointments all their laughter and tears are represented by that little dash.

After the name and date can come a sentence or two used to remember that person.  There is a stone in England that reads “Here Lies Arthur The Once and Future King”.  The great comedian WC Fields stone reads, “On the whole I’d Rather be in Philadelphia.”  On another tombstone it reads “To Follow You I’m Not Content.  How Do I Know Which Way You Went?”

If you leave your epitaph to your relatives, you may get nothing but your name and date, or something like “Beloved Mother” or maybe “Always Single and Never Happy.”  Don’t leave your epitaph in the hands of some distant relation or a family member that is too bereaved to think of a thing to say about you.  Who you were on this earth could be remembered hundreds of years from now if you write your own.

Maybe our friend Joe Clark might say about himself. “ I was a husband and father and I did the best I could”. Or “I set out to accomplish something good in my life and I did it”.  It needs to be about you and who you were and how you want to be remembered.

I would go a step farther than this though and plan your own funeral.  Choose the church or other building you want it to be held.  Decide on the music and the flowers, specify who you want to give your eulogy.  What passage of the Bible or another book that you want to have read.  Be in the driver’s seat at your funeral.  Write it all down, including your epitaph, and give it to a trusted friend or your lawyer.  They can take it from there.

Plan Your Own Epitaph Day can be a great experience.  Death is nothing to be afraid of and to go with all the loose strings tied up can be a great experience.

The post April 6th is Plan Your Own Epitaph Day also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Love Your Kidneys! March is National Kidney Month

Kidney disease. Medical Concept on Red Background.

(PCM) National Kidney Month is a time to raise awareness of chronic kidney disease. According to the CDC, nearly 10% of adults in the U.S. have chronic kidney disease – that’s one in ten! What’s more, most people who have it don’t even know it. Could you be one of them?

Your kidneys are the filtration system of your body. Located just below your ribcage, these fist-sized organs clean waste from your blood. They also help regulate blood pressure, fluid levels, and chemical balances to keep you healthy. When they don’t do their job (because of trauma, illness or disease), toxins begin to build up in your body. You get sick. Eventually, very sick.

Kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States – more people die from kidney disease than breast or prostate cancer.

Kidney disease can happen quickly, or slow and quiet, with little warning. Modern medicine can sometimes slow its progress, but once a person enters end stage renal disease (ESRD), or kidney failure, dialysis and/or kidney transplant is the only treatment. This is why it’s important for everyone to understand the signs and risk factors for kidney disease.

Those most at risk for kidney disease include:

  •   people with diabetes
  •   people high blood pressure
  •   people with a family history of kidney failure

…But kidney disease can affect anyone.

Symptoms of kidney disease include:

  • changing in urination (such as frequency or color)
  • fatigue or weakness
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling in face, hands or feet
  • dry or itchy skin
  • increased thirst
  • nausea or vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • trouble concentrating

…Or other symptoms, or none at all. Many people have no idea they have kidney disease at all.

If you can catch kidney disease early, you could save yourself a lot of heartache. Or kidney ache, even. You might even save your life.

So at your next checkup, ask your doctor about simple blood and urine tests to check your kidney function.

OR, celebrate National Kidney Month with the National Kidney Foundation – visit their website to find out about free screenings on World Kidney Day and throughout the month of March!

Other websites of note:

Center for Disease Control (CDC supports and maintains the CKD Surveillance Project to document the burden of chronic kidney disease in the United States, and to track progress in achieving Healthy People 2020 objectives to prevent, detect, and manage chronic kidney disease.)

Polycystic Kidney Foundation (Polycystic Kidney Disease affects an estimated 1 in 500 people, including newborns, children and adults – like me.)

National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK conducts, supports, and coordinates research on many of the most serious diseases affecting public health.)

American Kidney Fund (AKF is a non-profit that provides prevention and educational services and financial assistance to kidney patients in the U.S.)

Have a Heart – It’s National Organ Donor Day   (Celebrating Organ donors and donor support organizations)

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