Low Carbs & Heart Health

Taking care of my health with special attention to my heart is #1 to me. Heart disease and obesity run in my family on my Dad’s side. I recently lost an uncle to heart disease–so I’ve got to be serious about it. I was skinny until my late 20’s and by my early 30’s was 30# overweight. A lifetime of eating junk food, drinking soda, high carb diet, and alcohol had nearly ruined my health. By 42 I was 50# overweight and out of breath and unable to even ride a bike anymore. I put my foot down and started my journey to healthier living.

Almost all of us would love to live a life of eating everything we want to, all the things we love to the extreme, without ever having a single worry about the consequences. My lifelong addiction has been sugar. I love candy. When thinking about the holidays, my first thought is holiday candy. Christmas–lifesaver books, candy canes, assorted chocolates, and chocolate covered cherries. Easter–jelly beans, marshmallow eggs, creme-filled eggs, and chocolate bunnies. Valentines Day–conversation hearts. Halloween–snack sized candy and snicker pumpkins. It’s probably been about 15 years ago now that I started to believe I was going to end up a diabetic. I went out and bought a glucose tester and started measuring my blood sugar 3 times a day. I was two years into a plan to improve my health from no more smoking and drinking to eating more fruits and veggies and exercise. Around 10:00 am every morning I’d get the shakes–hence I began to think I was diabetic or leaning towards that diagnosis.

It was late Feb, early March, coming up on Easter. Every day I would grab a handful of jelly beans, because giving up candy (my beloved) never crossed my mind. Every day for a couple of weeks I’d been eating roughly 15-25 beans–most of them past 8:00 at night (reading in bed). I would buy the big bags sold at Easter and of course a few smaller bags of the black jelly beans. My blood sugars were a tad bit high at 10:00 a.m. but right back to normal the rest of the day. By the following year when those Easter Jelly beans were being sold again, a light bulb went on one day, when after not having 10:00 a.m. shakes for several months, I was back to having them again. What was I eating or drinking that was causing this to happen? I eliminated everything before I even considered the jelly beans, but alas I had to consider them so I lowered my amount to 10- 20 a day and none at night after dinnertime. Everything went fine until years later when I went back to reading before bed and munching on jelly beans. This time my shakiness was at different times and I was starting to get concerned.

After seeing a physician and going through the fasting/blood tests where everything, thank goodness, checked out–I wrote it off as hormonal. But it wasn’t folks, it was the unbelievable amount of sugar in jelly beans. In eating just 15-25 jelly beans a day I was ingesting 25 grams of sugar = to 6 tsp. of raw sugar. Jelly beans were just one of the things I was eating packed with sugar. The worst thing, I’ll give you that. Fast forward to three years ago and me ugly crying because I bought some jelly beans and had decided to portion them out vs. eating every day. I would eat 5-10 every other day. This worked better but it was very hard to limit myself–very very hard. When I realized that I would have to give up jelly beans–the one candy I’d loved my whole life, I was devastated. So yes, I ugly cried about how unfair life was and that I didn’t feel like going on anymore if I couldn’t even eat a jelly bean or two every year. This may sound over dramatic, but at this point I had given up smoking, drinking, restaurant food, and a lot of the different snacks I loved. I got through it friends and today? I buy the occasional bag of jelly beans and I limit myself to 3. A bag lasts me a few months and I’m not tempted anymore to overeat them and face the consequences from them. The last thing I want or need at almost 57 is diabetes, high cholesterol, or heart disease.

Don’t get me started on my love for buying things for my husband–goodies, or learning how to make cheesecake (his favorite) or all the ways I’ve helped to make him overweight… Putting the brakes on his eating goodies, sugar laden treats, and such has been horrifically hard. His mother had late in life diabetes, heart disease, and his father high blood pressure and one of those big hard stomachs men get. Ya. Hubby has that too and the direct cause for that big hard stomach>> carbohydrates–nothing else. Look up visceral fat if you want to know what I’m talking about. Huge health problems can come from having a belly like that. Apart from his tummy, hubby is a fairly fit guy. That I’ve loved almost to death with sweetness, literally. Do your hubby, friends, family members and neighbor (wink wink) a favor and stop killing them with kindness. Eating a diet high in carbohydrates is bad when you’re young, but in your 50’s and older it’s a killer. It’s a proven fact that smoking, drinking, added sugar (diet high in goodies), bad fats, and processed foods increase your chance of getting breast cancer (women) prostate cancer (men).

Edit- Hubby wanted me to edit the part about him because he thinks I was too hard on myself…o.k. I was. Truthfully, I’ve lectured my husband for years and years about his carb intake, to no avail. After awhile it was up to him. He’s a grown man and had to figure it out himself. I did buy him sweets occasionally and for that I feel responsible. Thankfully, I am not a baker (never have been) otherwise we would really have issues to deal with. His wake up call is/was the visceral fat and on his own he has placed limits on his carb intake these past few years and is doing better. Lookout everyone this spring because he and I are starting a walking program to work his belly right off and to get me back in shape and back on my bicycle. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight so now it’s time to get limber and fit!

Life isn’t fair and no one ever said it was. You have but one body and the last thing in the world you want is to be too late in the game to correct an issue. Had I continued on with my love of jelly beans–lived in a state of denial, today I would be telling my story from a diabetics perspective.

Slowly but surely I have reduced my sugar intake by about 80% and by doing that I’ve reduced my anxiety (also lifelong) by about 80%. Physically and mentally I’m a new person and it’s all because I stopped supporting bad habits, stopped ingesting cups of sugar every day for comfort or out of habit, and started caring about myself (for the first time) and started feeding my body what it needed not what I wanted.

See the links below regarding comfort eating and anxiety. Don’t be fooled thinking your comfort food or comfort activity isn’t killing you if it involves bad food choices or sugar. Sugar increases anxiety>>>carbs are bad for anxiety. Until next time, be safe friends and be well!

Caloric content women over 50

Livestrong link for carbs & NIH Hearth Disease

Comfort Eating??

This Is Exactly How Sugar Can Mess With Your Anxiety—and What to Do About It

End of Summer Blues

Summer’s end–oh what a summer it’s been. In almost every way it seems to have lasted forever, but realistically since fall like weather has arrived three weeks early, and summer like sunshine and warm weather took forever to arrive, summer lasted a whopping 2.5 months here in Wisconsin.

What did we do?

  • Grilled hot dogs and hamburgers just once
  • S’mores
  • Several walks
  • Several farmer’s markets
  • Pumpkin patch
  • Container gardening from march-august 30th
  • Fed lots and lots of orioles, chickadees, finches, and hummingbirds (sad to see them go for another year). Chickadees, nuthatches, and finches will keep us company all winter long.

Most of our shopping was grocery pickups, no vacations, no get-together’s, and no travel for us. Covid has also put our move on hold and we’ve relisted the home we purchased and are taking a couple steps back to reassess our next move.

To say almost every little thing in this year sucked is an understatement. I’m not sure if I would have made it 100% mentally without my garden, the birds to listen to, a patient husband, and our humorous faithful cat Gabe. Oh and the food I enjoyed–so many days upon days of great locally grown produce. Take Care friends 🍂

My Word for 2020 is Savor 🌱 🌿🍃


verb
taste (good food or drink) and enjoy it completely.

noun
a characteristic taste, flavor, or smell, especially a pleasant one.

http://www.wordoftheyear.me/index.php

I have another word I’m going to be focusing on this year as well and that is reuse.

verb
use more than once.

noun
the action of using something again.

A chicken carcass cooked up and homemade chicken noodle soup for a cold, wintry day.

The babies of my mature hens and chicks plant from last spring.

I purchased and replanted the momma plant in May and had it in my patio garden all summer, fall, and part of our mild November. I really didn’t want to part with it so I harvested some of the babies and brought them inside. I’ve been watering them and providing sunlight and ventilation. They seem to be doing fine–they’re in loose sandy airy soil with some gravel underneath them. We shall see if I can make this work and perhaps not have to buy another expensive hens and chicks plant this spring.

2019 was an exhausting year for me and really our household. Between looking at houses to possibly move to, working full-time +, keeping up my volunteer hours, writing, reviewing books, gardening, and social media, I was kept way too busy. Then mid-year I developed a health issue due to a lifelong issue and spent the rest of the year in pain, worried, and worn out.. A part of me even at 55 still feels like I haven’t accomplished anything unless I’m completely worn out at the end of any given day. I almost always choose finishing up work, projects, or home tasks before I take a break or go do something fun. Even with my health issue I never missed work, never really rested beyond my nightly sleep, and continued working/volunteering/putting in 60 hour work weeks. Upon year’s end I sat down and took inventory of my life/schedule/hobbies/ etc. and made some changes.

Both this year and last via social media all I see are people equally burnt out, worn out, and looking for simplicity. Though I’m not much for social media, I do love taking pictures and keeping up with friends and accounts I follow that I really like on IG. Most people I follow –maybe 99% are selling something and relying on internet sales for their income.  I am very thankful I don’t have to do that anymore.  Back in the old days I used to create web pages/sites for income and maintained PowerSeller status for ten years on eBay.  Between the competition, and costs, and self-marketing/advertising every day was a challenge. Thinking back though nothing like things are today. I loved it and made many friends all over the world selling on eBay.

Today is very different in the online/internet world. Competition is fierce and things change fast, and people change their minds fast, and are distracted a lot, and definitely trying  100% of the time to stay relevant. Not too long ago, after I hadn’t sold anything online for maybe a year or more, I got an email from someone I’d sold something to 2 years before that. I’m not sure exactly what was going on but she wanted to know if she’d bought anything recently from me and for me to send her an invoice and she’d pay it. She apologized profusely for not taking care of it right away. I of course had no idea what she was talking about but did have her name in my eBay sales contacts as someone I’d shipped something to. We finally figured out that she had ordered from someone else more recently and just hadn’t checked her purchases and finding just any name in her email account she began emailing sellers so she could pay her bill. She had been so busy online that she hadn’t had time to check her email account in several months. Busy people. Things like this happen all the time and the main reason for it is people are distracted, too busy, and most of all competing/keeping up with/updating their status with someone or something online–usually connected to social media. 

So back to my end of year inventory–I decided to:

  • cut down on social media
  • not move and not look for out-of-state home until 2021
  • look at local homes for sales in 2020
  • volunteer at places more local to me
  • smaller patio garden
  • less blogging

More time for savoring every moment of my life! Until next time –be well ✨❄️

 

Patio Gardening Spring 2019 Week 5- Week 7

It’s been a while folks and I’m sorry I haven’t given an update.  Gardening has been rough this year–I said it in my earlier posts and it is still true today–the weather has been horrible for my garden, and many others including the farmers, this year. Let’s take an inventory and then I’ll show you some photos of it!

I started several seedlings inside which all withered away and died waiting for the sun. My grow light did a horrible job and is now somebody else’s grow light.  When I started my patio garden I had a Purple Cherokee, 2 Rutger’s Heirloom, a patio tomato plant, a Roma tomato plant, some hens and chicks, and some strawberries. I also bought a large geranium plant, 2 small geraniums, lavender, rosemary, and thyme. Since week 3 I have added an oregano plant, another thyme, more red geraniums, and a peony plant. Plants that have died since my last post are the large geranium plant I spent $34.00 on, the Roma tomato plant, my strawberries and after blooming beautifully my peony plant. I was given an ornamental rose plant which ended up with 11 blooms and then withered away this past week. I have provided a shade cloth for my tomatoes, watered them well, fertilized them, but yet both my Purple Cherokee and the 2 Rutger’s Heirloom are doing poorly. Every day they wither and now bottom leaves are browning which makes me think root rot for the both of them. Tomorrow I am going to check how saturated their soil is and see what I can do for them. I have purchased a total of 4 more bush tomato plants, two pepper plants, and some petunias for color. My hens and chicks are doing fabulous–they’re flowering! My oregano is about two feet tall and flowering. Also, my lemon balm is triple the size and my Thai basil has big beautiful purple flowers blooming. I am letting all my herbs flower which will affect my harvesting them to eat-esp. the oregano, but I would rather the bees have it. Bees love oregano flowers!

Going into this patio garden season I saved money by reusing dirt, using compost dirt from this past year, using everything on hand for trellis/support, and reusing pots and containers from years gone by. That said so far I have spent close to $180.00 on plants, seeds, food, and the shade cloth.  Here’s hoping with more than 25 flowers on my tomatoes, bees pollinating, and my prayers they produce something.

 

Macronutrients

First–what are macronutrients? Macro means “large” so macronutrients are large nutrients.

There are three basic components of every diet and they are carbohydrates, fat, and protein. You can also include a fourth one which is water. We need large amounts of the three basic components in our diet to keep our bodies well and to keep them going–energy, metabolism, and bodily functions. We need carbohydrates to keep our brain (which is why people on the Keto diet get brain fog) and muscles working.

We need fats–and it’s best when it comes to fat to eat unsaturated plant-based fat(nuts, avocadoes, and olive oil) mostly and only some times consume fats like butter and cream. Healthy fat helps you to absorb the vitamins in your food. Again–concerning the Keto diet, and likely why everyone I know who has ever been on it gained back + weight soon as they went off of it–the fats that are recommended with this diet are all the wrong fats. There isn’t a plant-based fat among the fats listed that keto dieters are to include in their diets. The list includes butter, ghee, meat, high fat cheese, cream, and eggs.

Protein breaks down in your gut into amino acids which help to repair tissues like muscle and skin. Amino acids are also used for making essential hormones and enzymes in our body that support our immune system.

Source

If you are about to try dieting, regardless of which one, please see a nutritionist–if even for a consultation (some are free) and learn about basic nutrition. I am not a nutritionist but I have studied nutrition from the very basic roots (science, biology, anatomy) of it to just about everything in our present day food chain and would not go on a diet, or drink some magic elixir sold through social media, without consulting a nutritionist and talking with my physician or naturopath or both.  Also, it doesn’t hurt to start a conversation with the farmer who grows your food, or someone selling what they’ve grown at a local Farmer’s Market, and even a local chef. You will be very surprised and forever grateful for what many of them can teach you about nutrition. Everyone’s body is different and everyone’s physical health–immune system, metabolism, organ health, skin, and bodily functions are completely different from everyone else’s.  I know the ads, pics, profiles, and sales pitches can be pretty convincing but remember you aren’t seeing everything going on behind the scenes. Everyone I know that has gone on some fad diet also worked out a lot.   The second they couldn’t work out they started feeling fatigued, sore and achy muscles, and the weight started coming back. When you reduce one macronutrient and increase another there are consequences. Many people I know drinking magic elixirs also spend an unusual amount of time in the restroom. While others are constantly crashing from the protein powders and drinks and supplementing with large doses of caffeine. Have some people benefitted from fad dieting and magic elixirs? Maybe? But remember they are doing way more than just drinking juice or having butter/ghee in their morning coffee. There are gym memberships, enzymes, supplements, vitamins, energy drinks, regular running/walking/jogging and often times an income (from selling said supplements/books/gym memberships) and so much more behind their weight loss. Ok lecture over and back to macronutrients!

Secondhow do I get them? Through the food in your diet.

Third-what do they do? Macronutrients help us grow, heal, repair, and they give us energy.

Macro Calculator-free macro calculator from Transparent Labs here

Macro Diets– Counting macros–a wonderful article and recipes at Cooking Light here

Macronutrient recommended %– 45-60% of your daily calories from carbs, 20-35% from fat, and 10-35% from protein.  Source

 

 

Perfect Pumpkin

Now while pumpkins are plentiful is the time to start buying and baking–because pumpkin has so many health benefits not known to the general public.

About 10 years ago now my husband and I were in the middle of trying to adopt a greyhound. Our love and desire to have a greyhound become part of our family was huge. After most tracks in this country stopped racing greyhounds, local agencies formed to help people/families adopt the retired greyhounds. The one we were trying to get had really bad teeth (potential of hundreds of dollars of care) and she also had problems with her stomach also due to the poor diet given to racing dogs. Time and again at meetings we heard stories of how the foster families and forever families were always using pumpkin with their greyhounds. Pumpkin will bulk up their stool, settle their tummies, and boost nutrition. Unfortunately, because of where we were living at the time, which lacked the appropriate space for this particular greyhound, we did not adopt her.

I’ve never forgotten how much I learned about pumpkin–here’s what I know:

  • It’s rich in vitamin A
  • One cup of cooked pumpkin is 49 calories
  • High in antioxidants that may reduce your risk of chronic disease
  • It’s high in beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C–boosts immunity
  • The nutrients in pumpkin are good for your eyesight
  • Nutrient dense, low calorie, may produce weight loss
  • Antioxidants lower risk of cancer
  • Is packed with fiber
  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Versatile foodstuff that you can add to anything–wraps, salads(cooked) veggies, stews, soups and more

Some people may not know this but pumpkins are a type of squash. Pumpkins and squash belong to the same family called Cucurbitaceae.  Every year I bake up two dozen squash and pumpkin, then let cool, place in freezer bags and freeze. We then are able to eat squash every single month, almost, until the next year’s season. If one or both of us is feeling ill I will make up a pumpkin risotto. Pumpkin risotto does the trick every time. Here is the recipe–Pumpkin Risotto

I also roast all my pumpkin seeds for snacks and to add to bird food.

When you’re done with your pumpkins instead of throwing them into the garbage, where they’ll just clutter up a landfill, choose to break them up and set them out in a place where the birds and other small animals can get to them.

As we head into the season of sickness I would also like to add this article that has natural health remedies such as pumpkin, ginger, rice, and sweet potatoes that help manage diarrhea, nausea, and flu-like symptoms.

Until next time– stay healthy and happy!

Putting the container garden to bed & more!

Some of my container garden is going to try to overwinter in our apartment again–

My evergreen will be kept on our deck and wrapped in a wool blanket to protect its root ball. This has proved to be a very successful way for me to keep my evergreen tree alive. I’m hoping the ornamental grass, which I think is Variegated Japanese Sedge ( unfortunately I threw away the care instructions/plant ID), will survive too. Most of the birds I’ve been feeding have migrated south for the winter. The last time I saw a hummingbird at the feeder was the first week of October. The Orioles left first and then the finches followed. I set out peanuts and other assorted nuts for about a month and the nuthatches, several chickadees, and some tufted titmouse were able to get their winter stores set up. Now they too are gone and I’ve stopped feeding until sometime early spring when a few early birds will arrive back in this area.

What’s next in gardening?

Well, I planted a packet of tulips and narcissus and those along with my hens and chicks will be overwintering in the garage–insulated with newspaper and burlap. I’ve also got three boxes of paperwhites to start sometime around the holidays.

I lost the battle with my first fiddle leaf fig because it wasn’t properly draining. Truthfully I think it was dead when I bought it as the leaves were quite pale green. This past Saturday I was in a local greenhouse discussing my luck or lack of with a local gardener concerning fiddle leaf figs. She had one that isn’t doing great but isn’t dead yet either and she gave it to me to see what I could do with it. I’m hoping to nurse this one back to full health. I’m learning every day new things about plants and flowers that I will gladly share as time goes by.

The cute blue, orange and green solar lights are something my husband picked up at Shopko when they went on sale for $5.00 and we love them. They definitely brightened up our deck all summer long.

Here is what my container garden looks like today–

Until next spring this post concludes container gardening 2018. Happy fall and winter everyone.

Looking forward to future posts, I will be posting about taking care of fiddle leaf figs, fall food storing, fall/winter food recipes, and at least one post soon on supplements I’ve been using for low-iron, seasonal depression, and also chewable vitamins and are they doing anything for me?

Squash Varieties

Fall is really here in Southwestern Wisconsin with temperatures overnight of 40 and in the upper 50’s during the daytime. I was hoping to get a lot more accomplished this month, but colder than usual early October temps have dampened my plans. We’ve been trying to take a walk in a favorite spot for almost three weeks–rained every weekend. Now for almost a month, we’ve been trying to go to a corn maze and yes you guessed it, it has rained every weekend. This weekend is set to rain all weekend so I’m assuming we’re going to have to hang up what we want to do until next year. Once November hits long duration outdoor events come to a halt. We do hike in a local refuge all winter long, but only on days above freezing. Though last year we did take one brisk hike when temperatures were in the teens. My container garden is almost gone and it’s time to clean things up. Of course, I planted the pumpkins too late again. All the flowers on the plants that came up were male so no pollination happening this year. Next year I’m going to start my pumpkins when they’re supposed to be started and that’s in June. This weekend I am going to plant tulip bulbs in some of the dirt left from herbs I grew and mulch them with pumpkin plants. Our tree and my prairie grass will both be overwintering on our deck. I’ve brought in my beautiful rosemary plant and I am planning on trying to overwinter rosemary again.

It’s fall decor time and we’ve purchased squash (pumpkins) just as we do every year– but this year is a bit different. Thanks to someone I follow on Instagram I’ve learned how to identify squash varieties (way more than my lovely picture above) and also what each variety is good for. Usually, I buy pumpkins for decorative purposes. Not unlike many millions of other people. I know they’re food, but when they’re bought I have no intention of eating them as food. Once they look soft we chop them up and feed them to the birds. Sometimes I’ve dried/baked the seeds and fed them to the birds. This year I am going to carve one pumpkin and bake the other two for pie. I will still throw the seeds to the birds to give them extra energy for their flight south or to get ready for winter. Currently, I’m feeding nuts to a nut hatcher and several chicadees/titmice–that are storing them up for winter. The nuthatch, chickadees, and titmice live together in a small community all winter, watching each other’s backs and protecting their communal territory. Which of course I find so neat because prior to winter the nuthatch is all business/and a bit selfish and doesn’t look like he gets along with anybody. I am definitely the ant in the ant and grasshopper fable. I can definitely appreciate the planning and the storing of food/ winter preparation well before the snow flies.

Until next time–enjoy your fall and on the other side of the world happy spring!

2018 Container Gardening–Week 16

Well, this week will be almost the final week I will share this year’s garden pictures. I will put up one last photo when our deck gets cleaned and everything is put away for winter. I started feeding the birds last summer and continued through until this summer without any breaks.  We’ve been feeding birds or occasionally squirrels for many, many years. Feeding them from a second-floor apartment with neighbors directly below has been a challenge.  Birds drop seed, feeders leak, and my favorite thing–birds poop. A LOT.   My life of late has been cleaning everything up out on the deck before work, and feeding–then returning home 8,10, sometimes 12 hours later and doing it all over again. Year after year for many years especially since we moved into this apartment. So, I’m taking a break and the birds are just fine with it. We cut off the syrup early for the Orioles and Finches so they were able to find other sources of food very easily before the Orioles migrate. We feed finches all winter long along with many other little birds that stick around these parts during the cold weather.  As far as gardening goes, I started seedlings late last winter/early spring, so I’ve been at it several months now. My container garden has been growing and producing a total of 16 weeks, but my seed starters for several plants started almost seven months ago. Again, busy because I water prior to work, then water and deadhead as soon as I get home. Because of the type of plants I choose to grow, I don’t get to take days off without having plant issues (mostly wilting).  So, it is nice that things are winding down. Fall is coming fast I’m afraid. I picked up a container of Henry Blue Asters and a mum plant the other day when I was out.

Without further ado–