Category: Health

Not Fueled by Chocolate

As I
another birthday,
I am reminded that
increasing age diminishes
my ability to shed those
extra pounds that cluster
around the part of my body
that makes me look like
a pear.

An unfortunate side effect of getting older is that it is getting harder to maintain anything remotely resembling an hour glass figure.

A brisk thirty minute walk in the morning and forty-five minutes at the gym after lunch just isn’t enough exercise to make my clothes feel ‘less snug’. I’ve been forced to cut calories too, starting with the ultimate sacrifice – no dark chocolate snacks until the pudginess is brought into submission again. For some indefinite amount of time, my blog writing will Not Be Fueled by Chocolate.’

There are any number of articles and advertisements that suggest how to lose weight (many are for bogus diets or are designed to drain your bank account), but it is only in the last few years that researchers have identified how our body fat makes us fat. With the rise in obesity and diabetes, researchers have had increased incentive to investigate how fat cells work.

It has now been suggested that the number of fat cells in our bodies increases from infancy into our early twenties. After that age, we keep the same number of fat cells throughout our lives. Gaining or losing weight does not affect the number of fat cells.

Fat cells do many good, important jobs besides being able to store a lot of energy in a small space. Unfortunately, when we take in more calories than we burn by exercise, the extra calories make the fat cells larger.

Scientists now say that our bodies have THREE kinds of fat cells: white ones, brown ones and beige ones. White fat stores extra energy. Brown and beige fat cells burn chemical energy to create heat.

Brown fat is present in most adults, but adults with more brown fat are generally slimmer than those without. (That explains that skinny friend who doesn’t exercise and can eat whatever they like.) Unfortunately, as we age, the heat production ability of brown fat cells decreases. This causes a natural increase in weight.

Beige and brown fat activation are both triggered by exercise. Combined with a decrease in calories, this is still the best way to shrink fat cells.

Scientists are hopeful, though, that they can find other ways to enhance the function of brown and beige fat cells or cause white fat to turn into brown fat. They have evidence that exposure to cold temperatures (16 degrees C) triggers beige and brown fat activation, but they continue to search for the ‘silver bullet’ that could be the game changing treatment for diabetes and obesity.

Other interesting facts about fat and weight:
– a single study published in the journal ‘Obesity’ showed that a year after liposuction removed fat, the fat came back, but not in the areas it was removed from. An increased fat appearance was observed in the upper abdomen, shoulders and the back of the arms.
– about 10 percent of your fat cells die and are replaced each year.
don’t diet – think instead about how to satisfy your hunger for fewer calories. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. (Eat less chocolate…)
exercise (aerobic and strength training) – the more you do, the more calories are burned. The largest muscles (and therefore the largest calorie burners) are in the thighs, abdomen, chest, and arms.
one size does not fit all, so to speak. Researchers are trying to understand why one person may lose weight faster or slower than another, even when they eat the same diet and do the same exercise.
– the set-point theory of metabolism may be a myth. Studies suggest that if we lose weight, our metabolism shifts to a normal rate for that new weight.
walking for 30 minutes most days of the week, is as effective as a structured exercise done three to five days a week.
“low-fat” or “fat-free” food is not necessarily low calorie food. A bunch of low-fat cookies might have more calories than one or two regular cookies.

With that, I’ll go have a carrot…

Do share – are you an hour-glass, a banana, a strawberry, an apple or a pear shaped person?

I’ve posted Weight and Diet Quotations on this page at The Quippery.

Canadian Snowbirds – Renewing a Prescription Drug in Arizona

The fountain in Fountain Hills Arizona – on St Patrick’s Day. the water is tinted green.

Good News for Canadian Snowbirds! If you are going to run out of a prescription drug before you can get back to Canada, there could be a way you can get it refilled.

Take the remaining medication to a local Urgent Care (Primary Care Walk-in) Centre (we used the one nearest  to us, in Fountain Hills Arizona). Be sure the medication is in the original container with the label from the pharmacy that filled your prescription.

The Doctors or Nurse Practitioners will give you a similar check-up to what your doctor at home would do before renewing your prescription. There will, of course, be a fee for this service.

The prescription will be sent to a pharmacy of your choice for pick-up the next day.

Totally unrelated to this topic – I’ve edited the following popular Snowbird joke that circulates in emails. I made it an Alberta/Arizona joke instead of Minneapolis/Florida (though it is rather far fetched to think someone would choose to honeymoon in Arizona…)

An Alberta couple decided to go to Arizona to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Calgary and flew to Phoenix on Thursday. His wife would fly down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an e-mail to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her e-mail address, and without realizing his error, sent the e-mail.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her e-mail since she was expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I’ve Arrived
Date: November 18, 2004

I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send e-mails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.
PS. Sure is freaking hot down here.
– Original Author Unknown –

The 2017 Alberta Flu Bug Arrives at my Door

purple monster

purple monsterI shall take you to bed and have my way with you. I will make you ache, shake, and sweat until you moan and groan. I will make you beg me to stop! When I am finished you will be weak for days. Sincerely, The Flu.

I’ve been getting an Annual Flu shot since 2003, and up until now I have been flu-free. My luck ran out last Monday. I woke up feeling awful – fever, chills, whole body muscle pain,  intense fatigue, a cough, and skin so sensitive I could hardly stand to wear clothes. All these symptoms pointed to a flu virus.

The flu, in a nutshell:
At First I was afraid I was gonna die.
Now I’m afraid I won’t.
– Author Unknown –

For 3 days I shuffled from bed to couch and back to bed. By Day 4, the whole body symptoms had receded, but site specific rashes and inflammations popped up. I felt well enough, though, to get out of bed and go see the Doctor. He confirmed I had the flu. He pointed out that if I had consulted him earlier, he could have prescribed a flu medication to reduce the symptoms.  I pointed out that I would have consulted him earlier if his office had been mid way between my bed and the couch!

The very first blog post I wrote in November 2009 was about the H1N1 Flu (Swine flu), which had been declared a global flu pandemic.  The strain of influenza sweeping through Alberta this season is Influenza A H3N2, but with a twist. It was able to mutate over the course of a single flu season, which meant the effectiveness of my vaccine was decreased. The vaccine should have lessened the severity of the flu and hastened my recovery time, though. Other factors that affect the course of the flu are age, general heath, underlying medical conditions, immune system, nutrition, mental outlook and support systems.

Speaking of support systems, I have to thank The Car Guy for being Mr. Mom this past week; my Doctor, who, so far, has always erased my worst fears; and the pretty spring daffodils that are popping up in my yard… and Tim’s Iced Capps… and chocolate.

I’m also thankful this was the Alberta flu, not the Arizona flu. Or worse yet, the ‘in transit between Arizona and Alberta’ flu.

What is the difference between Bird Flu and Swine Flu?
For Bird Flu you need tweetment and for Swine Flu you need oinkment.
– –

Have you ever had the flu? Do you get a flu shot?

Post 575

After a Flood – Responding to Stress

I read a study the other day that looked at post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in flood victims. The study observed the long term effects on residents of a flood in Poland in 1997. I was struck by the similarities between that flood and the floods here in Alberta – a sudden and huge water level rise; lack of adequate alert time; little or no time to deploy preventive measures; the permanence of disruptions and the lack of social and psychological support. Little or no financial compensation from any source was also a factor, and I expect that may be a reality for many of the residents of Hidden Valley too.

Now, I’m not going to make light of this, because I think it is important for each and every one of us to think about why we might be feeling the way we are today, and understand why we might still be feeling ‘off’ years from now if we don’t actively seek solutions.

We didn’t just lose our cabins or homes – we lost our community and all the things that meant. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the majority of flood victims in Alberta will eventually return to their communities. The residents of Hidden Valley will not.

I’m only mentioning all this because The Car Guy and I have been on this roller coaster ride of loss and adjustment for almost a year now. The loss of his Harley in the accident was the least of the issues we are still trying to come to terms with. The loss of the cabin, with no option to move it, or rescue much in the way of contents, is not a welcome diversion. But in relative terms, we are far more fortunate than a high percentage of the other people in Hidden Valley. I know that, and I send my best to all who have lost far more than I have.

People respond to situations like this in different ways. Some, like me, seek ways to laugh because eventually crying isn’t as helpful. Hidden Valley people are starting to replace their confusion and frustration with humour. One of the Hidden Valley residents posted this on Facebook: “I can’t remember how to hang out in my community. Is it wrong to walk around with a beer?”

I’m sure many others are finding ways to express what they are feeling in a way that makes others smile. If you hear of any, please let me know in the comments below!

Today would have been our Canada Day Parade at  Hidden Valley. Here are a few pictures of parades from previous years:

Happy Canada Day Week-end to one and all from my Hidden Valley Cabin on Lots 319/320. Have a great holiday, wherever you are all!

Post 430

Comforts Zones and Risk Tolerance

The length of this document defends it well against the risk of its being read.
– Winston Churchill –

I’ll keep this story short, then, with a few photos -not risqué, just risky.

Risk Tolerance and Comfort Zone – two concepts to think about now and then. At our house, The Car Guy is working hard to get back into his Comfort Zone, which for him is freedom from pain, and getting his neck brace off. (See A Perfect Storm.) Once that is achieved, he can start to think again about what his Risk Tolerance will be when the motorcycle is repaired!

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
– Anais Nin –

We live in an area of the country called Hail Alley.  These white lilies have been in my garden for ten years or more, and without fail they get hit by hail either just before they bloom, or just after.  That doesn’t stop them from blooming as best they can, though. Plucky little flowers.

lawn chairs

The concept of reducing risk is not new. People have been managing risks in some form since human beings first decided to keep their hands out of the cookfire.
– Risk Management – BC Fire Academy –

Summer bonfires (with marshmallows) at the cabin.  The grandchildren are old enough now to whittle sticks with sharp knives and use said weapons for tasks that bother timid adults. (This is the best I can do for a bonfire photo – I was never at the cabin on the evenings the extended family had a bonfire. It was just that kind of a summer.)

Adventure without risk is Disneyland.
– Doug Coupland –

My nephews little boy has a bike now and while he can’t keep up with the big kids on their bikes, he can sure park it where they do. He wears a helmet, of course, but the pot holes in the roads at the cabin have unseated him on more than one occasion, and he can show you the bruises to prove it.

I’m stepping out of my Comfort Zone today – I’m going to the dentist. Yes, I am a risk taker! How about you?

Post 358

LEGO Surgeon Says, This is What is Wrong!


The Car Guy was still in the hospital after his Motorcycle Accident when our daughter, The Nurse, gave her dad this Lego Surgeon. If you look very carefully at the x-ray in the Surgeon’s hand, you might see what is wrong with the patient.

We decided the x-ray showed a rib fracture, though if you turn the x-ray upside down, it might be a break in the clavicle. Since The Car Guy had both – rib fractures and a broken clavicle – the x-ray was fairly accurate!

Post 350

The Case of the Disappearing Leg – Reality Sometimes Hurts

I don’t think I will become a fan of America’s Funniest Home Videos. I only watched the first few minutes of one of the shows and thought, what is so funny about incidents and accidents where someone gets their feelings or their body hurt? What kind of person would take videos of those types of things and then send them off to a TV show? For that matter, why do people watch this kind of thing and then laugh?

Of course, I’m feeling a bit touchy about an incident that might have been funny if Charlie Chaplin had done it for a movie, but wasn’t so funny when it happened to me. Let me set up the scenario for you – we have a set of stairs at the back of our property. Two risers and a landing. They go nowhere, but the landing is a wonderful place to stand when I want a panoramic view of sunrises or sunsets. Yesterday morning’s sunrise was not one that held promise, but I had seen The Fox trying to rustle up breakfast in the field and when the fox finally settled down in a depression just beyond our fence, I thought I could sneak down to the viewing platform to get a better look at it.

The fox was not inclined to oblige me and departed very quickly. I decided to take a photo of something anyhow, so I climbed up the stairs onto the landing. I took one quick photo, then turned to take a picture in the opposite direction.

The broken board that allowed the deck to swallow my leg.

That is when one of the deck boards gave way. My right leg went with it, stopping only when the bulk of the upper part of my thigh matched the width of the gap in the decking. Twenty two inches of my leg  disappeared from view.

I sat there in stunned silence for a few seconds, then started to take inventory. My leg hurt in two places. My left hip and right shoulder were hurting too. The camera was still in my right hand, and both were resting on the deck. My hand felt okay, but I didn’t know if the thump had damaged the camera.

With a bit of effort I retrieved my leg and limped down the stairs, then back into the house to survey the damage. I’m a Hurtin’ Albertan!

Later in the day I  looked at my sunrise photo. It was as uninspired as I predicted. So I loaded it into Photoshop Elements and played with the Lighting Levels. Once the sky and cloud colours matched the colours of the bruise on the back of my thigh, I was satisfied.


Post 313

How Does Fear Affect You?

Fear is an excellent motivation tool. It exerts pressure on a person to act against their normal will. It gets the job done quickly, too.

Parents use fear to encourage certain behaviour (the example I use here is likely offensive to today’s parents, but you get the idea):

Even very young children need to be informed about dying. Explain the concept of death very carefully to your child. This will make threatening him with it much more effective.
–  P.J. O’Rourke –

Even grown children can be fearful of what a parent might do:

My parents did a really scary thing recently. They bought a Winnebago. This means they can pull up in front of my house anytime now and just live there.
– Paula Poundstone –

Governments and Media use fear on a daily basis:

By keeping the population in a state of artificially heightened apprehension, the government-cum-media prepares the ground for planting specific measures of taxation, regulation, surveillance, reporting, and other invasions of the people’s wealth, privacy, and freedoms.
– Robert Higgs (Fear: The Foundation of Every Government’s Power) –

The Business Pundit goes so far as to list 25 People and Industries that Profit from Fear. You shouldn’t be surprised to find the Beauty Industry listed there…

My age group are particularly vulnerable to fear tactics. Have you watched the Insurance commercials on TV? The ones that are trying to convince seniors that they should buy life insurance to protect their grown children from the diminished value of  an estate depleted by… insurance premiums, I think. Seems to me the only ones who need protection are the seniors and that is from the insurance companies. These vultures know that statistically they will get more money in premiums from the senior than they will ever pay out to the senior’s estates.

The last and greatest fear, is of course, the Fear of Impending Death. I have heard this expressed by many senior age bloggers who lament that the greater part of their lives is past. Their future doesn’t look as rosy as it once did because there are far fewer days left.

87-clock3Sorry if you feel that way, but I think you need to get your time clock reset. You have just as many days left now as you had when you were any other age – which is exactly one day – if all goes well. That is it. Just one day, and that is this one. You have a pretty good idea about what will transpire today, unless something happens to end it all. You have absolutely no guarantee what will happen tomorrow, nor tomorrow tomorrow. And you have never known that.

That is not to say you shouldn’t plan for your future. Because you should. But plan a good future, not a crappy one based on the fears passed on to you by everything you hear and read in the media.

So, get out there and “Have a Nice Day”. The phrase isn’t as trite as it sounds, is it?

Post 151

Alzheimers – What is the Future?

The QuipperyLast Monday a member of our family passed away. The dear lady was an Alzheimers patient in a Caregiving Facility. Her condition was not yet life threatening, so the family was surprised and shocked by her death. But they also took some comfort in the fact that she had been released from the ever increasing indignities of this disease.

There is no question that Alzheimers is on the rise and that it will continue to do so for some time in the future. This is because it is a disease of the aged, and people are living longer. A large group, the Baby Boomers, are just entering the first age category where Alzheimers begins to become more prevalent, so the number of patients will increase. But the big jump in death figures will come in 20 years when the Baby Boomers reach the age of 85. Alzheimer death rates rise dramatically after that age.

Considerable research is being done to cure Alzheimers. While this won’t change the fact that large numbers of people will still die of something when they are over the age of 85, it could mean that people won’t be robbed of their minds in their senior years. If there is no cure, the Boomer generation will respond with other unique coping tactics.

Post 118

Surfing the Internet – Addiction Disorder?


Internet Addiction Disorder
There has been an increased buzz the past few days about Internet Addiction Disorder. I thought I’d better check this out. Since I started blogging, I have been spending an awful lot of time on the internet. What with researching, writing, reading, organizing, thinking,  and corresponding, I probably spend 4 or 5 hours a day on the computer in the wintertime. Last summer, it was more like 1  hour, and at the cabin it was 0 hours.  Nevertheless, if I have developed a full blown Mental Disorder, (other than any of the other ones the family suspects I might have), I would like to be the first person to identify it.

The Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders seemed like a good place to start. The first sentence that caught my eye was: “Many people believe that spending large amounts of time on the Internet is a core feature of the disorder. The amount of time by itself, however, is not as important a factor as the ways in which the person’s Internet use is interfering with their daily functioning.”

Daily Functioning – that was a key clue to investigate for sure. I jotted it down in my Blue’s Clues Notebook (I sure miss watching that show with the Grandchildren – they outgrew it) and headed off to find the “Functioning Inspector” (my Spousal Unit).  He’s my go-to guy when I want to find out how badly I am misinterpreting things. “So,” I said casually. “Do you think I’m functioning okay?”

He looked at me like he often does when he can’t figure out why on earth I said what I did, and responded with a pithy “What!?”

Clearly I hadn’t explained the situation very well. “Daily Functioning. Am I functioning, daily, pretty much the way I always have?”

He responded, cautiously, “Why?” He wanted to test the waters to see if there was a safe way to reply to this.

“Well, I was wondering if this writing thing I’m doing is interfering with my day to day functioning.”

He didn’t answer right away. I think he was running down his mental check list of things I do for him. Clean underwear – check. Whatever else he thinks I should do – check. “No, I don’t think what you are doing is interfering with your daily functioning.”

So far so good. “What about socially? Is this affecting my social life? Am I using the computer and the internet as a replacement for social interaction?”

black and white cartoon faces

I’d like to go home now…

He thought for a moment, a brief one at that. “No, you’ve always been a Loner. Extroverted at times, but a loner, still the same. That hasn’t changed.”

I jotted a few things down next to Daily Functioning – Good – Loner. I was making real progress here. Steve (of Blue’s Clues) never looked for more than three clues, so I figured I was pretty much done with my investigation. I plunked myself down in my Thinking Chair, and started to write this post.

I concluded that… oh, wait, you should see some of the interesting things I found when I was researching this disorder, and pondering how disordered I might be:

Correct Use of Quotation Marks
I used a lot of quotation marks while trying to relay to you what the verbal exchange was between my Spousal Unit and me. I may not have got all the punctuation right, but I didn’t feel like wandering off in search of punctuation today. I also enclosed “Functioning Inspector” in quotation marks, which, according to some sources probably isn’t entirely right, but I liked the way they looked.

I couldn’t complete my assessment of whether I had a serious disorder or not without thinking about what it means to be a Loner. While Loners are often considered to be Introverted, I decided I leaned towards being an Extroverted Introverted Loner. You know, the kind that can easily meet and talk to strangers, but would sooner read about someones life than listen to the person explain their life.

After all my sleuthing and consulting, I decided I don’t have an Internet Addiction Disorder.  In fact, I think I could spend 8 or 9 hours a day on my computer without appearing any more addicted than the millions of other people in the world who spend all day tippy tapping on their keyboards all day. The only difference is, most of them get paid to do it.

How about you? Have you thought about whether you are addicted to the internet?

Post 88

Tooth Tales – A Dentist Story

The big rage in dental advertising right now is products to make your teeth whiter. Whiter teeth do what? I don’t understand why the money I spend on toothpaste is being ploughed into research and advertising for these products. Just give me a toothpaste that keeps crowns and bridges from falling off, stops night tooth grinding, and lets me eat ice cream without worrying about the calories. Is that too much to ask for?

I visited the dentist recently. One of my teeth decided to evict the crown that protected it. The crown, unhappy with that unilateral decision, took some of the tooth with it. Now I have a small stub of a tooth, not much use for anything. I don’t really miss that tooth much. I have lots of other ones to chew with. But my dentist says I can’t run around with a stubby little tooth for very long.

We’re discussing the merits of a bridge vs an implant. Like many other decisions in life, there are no simple or clear answers. There are merits to both paths, but it is all complicated by what the dental insurance company is willing to contribute towards the various schemes. At first glance, it would seem not much. I don’t really blame the insurance company. Over the years, we have helped several dentists enjoy nice annual vacations and put fish tanks in the waiting areas.

I’m quite okay with having this renegade tooth pulled out and call it a day. My concern, however, is what if the neighbouring teeth stage a rebellion, or start to lay down on the job? Then what?

Post 27

Did you Get the H1N1 Flu Shot in 2009?

purple monster

Toonaday flu bugH1N1 was probably the most talked about topic in the whole world in 2009. Worldwide, annual flu epidemics are estimated to result in about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, and about 250 000 to 500 000 deaths. In 2009, H1N1, or Swine Flu was the pandemic.

It was hard to pick through the rhetoric to find out how spooked (or not) you should be by this bug. The easiest to read and most user friendly source I found was at the US Department of Health site at FLU.GOV

Less easy to read, but useful to Canadians is FIGHT FLU

I wanted to understand how this flu affected my age group. Good News! According to several sources, there may be some benefit to being a healthy person over the age of 60. Research suggests a percentage of people in this age group may have some natural immunity to the H1N1 Flu virus. This immunity may not prevent you from getting the flu, but it may reduce the symptoms significantly.

Apparently H1N1 has met the criteria for inclusion as a pandemic.  I lived through the two previous flu pandemics, but I don’t remember anything about them. Will I live through this pandemic? It’s hard to say. I’m pretty healthy, but no one knows what this virus might do. Will I get the vaccine? I might, but I am not going to take a vaccine away from someone who is at greater risk than I am. According to the clinic in my area, the criteria for getting a flu shot this week is “pregnant women, children under five and people under 65 with chronic health issues”.

I’m not going to fall prey to all the hype and fear that swirls around this flu. That could make you sicker than the flu itself, I think.

I do, however, love all the stories that have circulated on the internet about Swine Flu and Miss Piggy…

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