Spring Madness 

Spring is here, and the days are getting warmer. So what does that mean here in SoCal? The community where I live has opened the pool. Unfortunately, the pool is solar heated, which means the water still isn’t warm enough. But it’s supposed to reach the high seventies later this week, so hopefully I’ll get brave enough to take the plunge.

I’m looking forward to going swimming and gaining back some more strength and mobility. And cross training is supposed to help with weight loss. At least I sure hope so. So besides going to the gym, I’ll work on my breast stroke. Freestyle and water aerobics will have to wait for many months until my shoulder is completely healed.

In case you’re wondering about the main photo up on top, I had found the original, free image of the swimmer and then had fun tweaking it in my latest app discovery, Painnt. I’ve been spending hours playing with various filters… I love photography and special photo effects. I’ll have to showcase some of my favorite photos in the coming weeks. Here are some of my favorites:

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Quinoa gone wild.

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Dockside garden.

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Happy puppy.

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Beautiful flowers.

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Secret garden.

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Flower garden.

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Tabbies at play.

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Jewels good enough to eat. These berries look like sparkling gems.

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Pelican spreading its wings on Huntington Beach pier.

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A black and white photo of the famous bandleader, John Philip Sousa (center), and his band gets loaded up with color. My great-great-grandmother’s brother, holding his clarinet, is seated next to Sousa on the left. Musical talent definitely runs on my dad’s side of the family—now we know why.

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Sunset photo turned into sunrise colors in Painnt. Newport Beach.

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Sea bird. Newport Beach.

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Boating. Newport Beach.

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The seal lifted his heavy head to stare at me as we passed by. Newport Beach.

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Reflections. Dana Point.

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The bridge to peace and quiet.

Rare rainy day in SoCal.

Pretty pitty goes for a car ride.

Sketch created in Painnt app.

Dried flowers.

The Cottage. San Juan Capistrano.

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Got the Midas Touch… at least where flowers are concerned.

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Cozy outdoor fireplace.

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Stairs leading to beautiful cove and solitude. Laguna Beach.

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Mission San Juan Capistrano.

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Meditation.

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Textures and shadows.

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Classic brown tabby morphs into a jewel-toned kitty.

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Elegant baby shower.

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The Eternal Flame. Photo of lit candle with a black background was transformed into a beautiful mosaic.

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Can An App Really Help You Lose Weight?

My Fitness Pal is a free app that I utilize daily to record my food and exercise. Not only does it help tweak my diet, but I’ve found the daily articles and recipes to be extremely helpful too.

Today, for example, I read an article written by Kim Westerman titled, “Losing Weight When You Physically Can’t Exercise: Doreen’s Journey.” Doreen used My Fitness Pal to log her meals. I’ve also benefited from logging my food and exercise each day in my quest to reach my fitness goals.

I, too, have experienced issues with mobility over the last ten years because of injuries, arthritis, and a couple of surgeries. I also have an acquaintance who is in even worse shape than I am, so I hoped that the article would prove to be an interesting and motivating read. It was.

SO I’M OVERWEIGHT—WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

I think what many people don’t realize is that obesity is far more detrimental to one’s health than they might think. Everyone pretty much knows that obesity can cause heart attacks or clogged arteries. But the very fact that someone is obese may bring on nasty metabolic changes, which in turn can cause diabetes, chronic inflammation, and arthritis.

New research suggests that it’s not the stress on the joints that causes arthritis, it’s the metabolic changes caused by an over-abundance of body fat. That was definitely an eye-opener.

It took being diagnosed as pre-diabetic in May 2015 to get me started on the road to fitness. I knew my body could only handle minimal impact exercise, so I took up swimming and water aerobics to build up my strength and flexibility. I cut my sugar intake drastically, ate better, and lost a little weight. I began going to the gym. But as the months went by, I found my weight loss was unbelievably slow and frustrating.

In July 2015, a friend recommended My Fitness Pal to me. I downloaded the app on my mobile devices and have been using it ever since. I heartily recommend it. So far, I’ve lost 61 pounds. Yes, I still have more body fat to lose, but I now have normal glucose levels. And that’s a big win for me!

Most people go on a diet to look better. But I’ve discovered that it was more helpful to consider looking good as a happy byproduct of losing weight. The true motivation for me to lose body fat and to gain muscle was to regain mobility, avoid diabetes, and increase my longevity.

I’M THIN—WHY DO I NEED MFP?

But what if you don’t want to lose weight—should you still use the MFP app? The short answer is yes.

You may think you’re eating a healthy balance of macros and micros, but nine times out of ten, you’ll find there’s something in your diet that needs tweaking. Most people that log their food are amazed how much sugar, fat, sodium, and calories they actually consume. And are you getting enough iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C? Usually the answer is a resounding no.

You won’t know the answers to your questions until you log your food into an app such as My Fitness Pal.

MORE ABOUT MFP

MFP doesn’t differentiate between ADDED sugars and what is naturally found in food. Since food labels do not reflect that information yet, MFP can’t either. Unfortunately, it’s the same with B vitamins. I’m hoping that once labels are improved, MFP will incorporate that information into their food analysis.

It’s important to note that if you’re eating clean and sticking to fruits, vegetables, and dairy, there will be naturally occurring sugars in those foods. Those are not inherently bad sugars. (However, if you’re needing to manage blood glucose, there are extra steps you need to take to ensure there are no untoward spikes, such as sticking to low glycemic load foods.) I always eat protein with every meal or snack to help my body deal with naturally occurring and added sugars.

One of the real dangers to healthy eating is consuming processed foods that are almost always laden with added sugar and sodium, not to mention additives, preservatives, and food coloring.

But there’s another danger that is often overlooked by even those who consider themselves to be clean eaters: adding too much sugar or salt to what otherwise would have been a healthy meal.

For instance, when I began making my homemade vegetarian soups, I diligently logged all the ingredients. To my surprise, I discovered that I was using entirely too much salt. It sure didn’t taste too salty!

So I cut back drastically on the salt and threw in a lot more spices to give my soups more flavor. I also add one or two tablespoons of Bragg’s nutritional yeast to each bowl of soup for additional B vitamins and flavor. I’m not a fan of nutritional yeast’s taste except in my homemade soups—that’s where I think it adds greatly to my veggie soups’ savoriness.

A friend of mine has strict dietary requirements for his various ailments, and he’s always prided himself that he’s been eating clean for years. However, he was adding two tablespoons of maple syrup to his daily breakfast of oatmeal and berries. Maple syrup is sugar. Even though he was eating egg whites with his breakfast, he still was consuming a big load of simple carbs each morning. This practice was detrimental to his health goals.

I advised him to stick to steel cut oats, not rolled, to lay off the maple syrup entirely, and to add a tablespoon of chia seeds instead. The chia seeds provide antioxidants, as well as healthy fats which help slow absorption and keeps you feeling fuller longer. That’s what I do, and even though I consider myself to be a recovering sugar addict, I’ve found I don’t miss the sugar in my oatmeal at all.

BUT ISN’T IT A HASSLE?

I wasn’t sure I wanted to log my food and exercise. I had tried keeping a food diary on paper many years ago, and I had hated it. But by using the app, the experience has proven to be fairly hassle-free and far more rewarding than I had assumed. I’ve been logging my food for over 600 days now. I think I can safely say that it’s a good habit that I’ve acquired.

Try MFP for a month. It’s free. And what can you lose, except those bad habits that have prevented you from being the healthiest you’ve ever been?

Life’s Little Journeys


Well, ain’t this the truth? I may not have reached my goals yet, but at least I’m healthier than I was at this time last year.

My knee issue, which had plagued me on and off for ten years was finally diagnosed last year (torn meniscus), which culminated in knee surgery 5 1/2 months ago. But the knee is still swollen, it’s still healing, and I’m now dealing with scar tissue.

Hey, the good news is that the knee surgery is behind me. Right?

After the surgery, it drove me nuts to see how weak I had become. Couldn’t bend my knee very much. I had some initial progress but then it just kinda stopped. So frustrating.

Now I’m seeing some progress again. I worked out twice today. First I went to PT, and then I worked out in the pool after I got home. It could be four more months, or possibly more, to heal fully, my therapist said. Oh, well.

Not really sure my knee will ever be 100% again, but that’s my goal.

Life’s little journeys.

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Well, it's not quite that cold yet, but the nights are certainly getting chillier.

Well, it’s not quite that cold yet, but the nights are certainly getting chillier.

It’s definitely colder today. Yesterday my bedroom was a warm 70°. Right now, it’s only 63° in my bedroom.

Which is why I didn’t go to water aerobics this morning. Putting on a bathing suit in 46° weather just didn’t sound appealing. But with this change in the weather, I think finding an affordable indoor pool is necessary now.

I haven’t been sleeping well the last two days, for some reason. Last night, I woke up after only a few hours of sleep. And since it took awhile to get back to sleep, there was no way I was going to wake up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday.

However, my knee started feeling better yesterday. It was a huge shock to me, but this morning I walked downstairs with minimal use of my cane. This is the first time that I can remember in ages that I didn’t have to lean heavily on my cane.

My knee was taped the day before Thanksgiving, when I was in horrible shape. The tape lasted six days and it helped. I’ve been horribly inactive for weeks now.

Sure, it’s helping my knee, but I fear the rest of my muscles are atrophying. Haha. Not really funny.

Anyway, the knee is still swollen and I still need surgery, but to even briefly experience going downstairs without pain is a Godsend. I truly had forgotten what that felt like!

 

Rowdy Navy SEALs & other musings

imageThis post will be a bit different today, and will cover several topics. The last bit will be all about some crazy Navy SEALs, so stick around for that amusing and true anecdote.

Last night, a Facebook pal and I stayed up too late Messaging each other. He’s a night owl like me, and we have fun chatting. But I sure didn’t want to get up today when 7 a.m. rolled around way too early. Then my exercise partner texted me saying she wasn’t going to water aerobics. I was SO tempted to go back to bed. I even told her I’d probably go back to bed.

But as I was texting her that, I knew. I just knew I was going to go. And I did.

It’s so odd for me, but I’ve been exercising regularly since June, and now it’s become my new habit. To NOT go would feel like a sin. And if I can exercise regularly, anyone can. Seriously folks. I know all the excuses. But you’re only sabotaging yourself, only hurting yourself and your loved ones by not exercising or eating healthy.

It’s a matter of making up your mind to accomplish a goal and sticking to it. That drives it. Is it easy? Sometimes. Sometimes it’s not, especially when life gets in the way.

The temptation to slide back into old habits niggles at me once in awhile since I’ve had a setback with my knee. I even got mildly depressed about it. But I didn’t close up and go inward. Instead, I posted and blogged about it and received many uplifting, encouraging, and caring comments from people.

Thank you again to all those who helped me rise above my “woe is me” state of mind. You guys made a difference.

Today is a pretty day. Blue sky, warm sun. 80 degrees. The pool was warm. We only had four people in our class today, so it was nice.

Suzanne, our instructor, noticed my fuchsia-colored taped knee. I couldn’t wait to tell her about my torn meniscus cuz she had had the same thing! So she told me about her surgery and the aftermath. She told me that she could see I was stubborn like she was and that it would be hard to keep me immobile. I kinda grinned at that. Yep. I’d probably try to do too much too soon. But, I listen to my body too, so we’ll see.

Water aerobics was good today. Suzanne had us swimming freestyle across the pool, keeping our heads above water. I took off fast and was determined to speed across as fast as I could. Now that’s a good workout. Talk about cardio!

I stayed after class for 15 minutes and did more laps and worked on my abs too. Suzanne said I could stay until 12:30 as that’s when lap swimming ends. Gee, all this for $5. So cool. I’ll try to stay longer next Saturday.

Freestyle was my best stroke as a kid. My form used to be stellar. But now my form needs tweaking. When I told Suzanne that, she offered to stay after class the next time she teaches in three weeks and help me with my form!

I was excited and accepted readily. I’d like her to tweak my backstroke and sidestroke too. They’re good, but form can always be improved upon. She made her offer to the rest of the class, too.

So now I have to buy a bathing cap and goggles. Really? I wore bathing caps all up to my teen years and swore I never would again. Hate those things. But I can’t have my hair in the way when I’m taking a breath, so I guess I have to suck it up and buy one.

Where is a good place to go? Anyone?

I love swimming, and it’s something I’m good at. I started off my exercise regime doing water aerobics, knowing that I love swimming, that I move easily in the water, that it wouldn’t put stress on my joints… All this set me up for success.

Start with something you enjoy. Biking, swimming, walking, whatever it may be. Keep at it, build up your strength, and then branch out when you’re feeling stronger and more confident.

Now for the SEAL story. You see the building way at the end in my picture? Well, it appears that a bunch of rowdy Navy SEALs leaped off the roof and into the pool at the base one midnight during the summer. Upon hearing this, I immediately wondered out loud if they had been drunk. Suzanne offered that there was a pub nearby, so it was a good possibility.

Can you imagine? Well, these big idiots damaged the roof during their escapade… they actually put holes in it! There was a work crew up there fixing it today, and it looked as though they were also adding a barrier to prevent these testosterone-fueled Big Children from doing this again. Men! Right?

Pretty funny. Except if they had hit the pavement…? Not so funny then. And these guys are defending our country?? LOL! They’re fearless risk-takers and they thrive on that adrenaline rush. I guess that’s why they’re SEALs and we’re not.

But I’d say that was a stupid thing to do. OK, I’m going out on a limb here and saying it was DRUNK and STUPID!

Now, I’d never jump off a roof. For one thing, I’m too sensible. For another, I’m afraid of heights.

I’m a water baby. I’ve told y’all that before. I’ve been swimming since I was a tiny kid. Took swimming lessons, entered into competitions for two years (won 2nd, then first). But when the instructor took us up to the high-dive platform… I was like, uh-uh. Nooooo. I had to jump off it several times, but I never enjoyed it.

It sure didn’t help that my grandfather told me later that night to make sure to keep my legs together when I jumped into a pool from a great height or the force of the landing would RIP me in two!

Can you imagine Grandpa actually told me that? Complete with hand gestures, too. R-I-I-I-P!!

I didn’t tell my parents what Grandpa had told me until many decades after he passed away. They sure weren’t happy that he had scared me like that. But yeah, it’s maybe why I’m not fond of heights-???

But then why did I go up in a glider when I was 22 years old? We are talking no engine, ya know? I was up there for 40 minutes and loved every second.

I think my natural personality is outgoing and adventurous, but it’s tempered with caution because I had older, overly protective parents. It’s an odd split. But hey, I’m not complaining. I’ve never had an urge to jump off roofs into pools anyway!

Have a great weekend, y’all and Happy Exercising!