sixtiestosixties

I was something in the 60s but now I'm just sixty something.

“The Plan” Diet

Flax seed granola anyone?

Flax seed granola anyone?

I’m working on The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas. The theory behind it is that inflammatory responses to foods can cause you to gain weight and feel like crap. Current thinking purports that all disease is derived from inflammation. Since these reactions are very individual and can occur from healthy foods, finding our personal triggers will (supposedly) make us healthier and slimmer. Maybe. I’ve been getting more aches and pains lately and can’t seem to shed the extra five pounds that have attached to my waistline so I figured I’d give it a try. What the hell.

This diet is basically an elimination diet which begins by eliminating just about everything edible so your body can heal. Then gradually you test new foods. (Kind of like weaning a baby onto solids.) It starts with a three-day cleanse in which you survive on flax seeds, kale, carrots and gallons of water which are all apparently non-inflammatory. (I’m not sure this will help you heal internally but I guarantee it will make you hungry.) After three days you introduce a small portion of a new food and see if you react negatively. If the food triggers inflammation you might feel crummy the next day. Or you might gain half a pound to two pounds overnight from your carrots, kale, and new food… say…pizza goat cheese. (Dream on. It could take a couple of months to eat pizza because you would have to do a separate test for each ingredient.)

In preparation, I pigged out over the weekend and went shopping for the essential carrots and a lot of what I would classify as weeds and seeds. Then I went home and started cooking…and cooking. I have never spent so much time in the kitchen producing such tasteless food. For a big burst of flavor there’s a recipe for “Spicy Coco Sauce” concocted from onions, garlic, ginger and coconut milk. If you like Thai food you might think it’s OK. I hate Thai food. In my world coconut should only be paired with chocolate. And ginger belongs in little men you assign names to and then bite off their heads.

Day one I started by guzzling water and drinking Dandelion Tea which is hailed as a liver detox. I figured I could use a little detoxing since I had been down at the Del drinking G&T’s all Sunday afternoon. The tea tastes just like the dirt from my childhood front yard. (I did lots of face plants over the years in that yard so I know.) Then I tucked into a big bowl of flaxseed for breakfast. On to thin, tasteless, seed garnished, pureed carrot soup for lunch, accompanied by weeds mixed greens (with more seeds) and steamed broccoli. Dinner was kale with the nasty coconut sauce and a shredded carrot and beet salad. They put shredded “beet root” in everything in Australia and my grandkids will eat it so I figured it might be pretty good. Ever see an Australian cookbook? Guess why.

Day two I was hungry, exhausted and cranky but also down a pound and a half. The weight drop was just the proverbial carrot I needed. Too bad I had to eat more carrot soup too. I also had to return to the store. Who knew eating such a skimpy amount of tasteless food could get so expensive?

Day three I awoke having dropped another pound and knowing I was thankfully done with carrot soup. Then I cheerfully spent the morning chopping vegetables to make another crappy soup that uses the horrid coconut sauce to enhance the bad flavoring. But I did get to eat 2 ounces of chicken breast. Hallelulia!

Day four “the cleanse” was over and I had dropped another pound. Just three days and I was down three and a half pounds! But as slowly as new foods are tested meals won’t be changing much for a good while. Forging on, day four I was allowed a whole serving of  chicken with mango salsa. And guess what? As soon as the pepper in the salsa hit my tongue, my nose started flooding. I was up half a pound the next morning and my arthritis was raging. Just like the book said it would. So who knows. Maybe there is something to this. The trouble is, I’m just not sure how long I can keep this program going before I cave in and order a pizza. But at least I’ll know to hold the peppers.

What my husband gets to eat.

What my husband gets to eat.

My dinner.

What I get to eat.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder and Growing Fur

I am fighting my annual war of avoiding pseudo hibernation. If you have never pseudo hibernated it involves a lot of sleep, TV and carbs. Wine can also play a part in this but given the length of the evenings this time of year it can be difficult to manage. I hate how short the days are now. I am one of those people who is extremely sensitive to daylight (or lack thereof). I just want to eat, sleep, and grow fur (although I am pretty sure PETA would object to this.) While some people love to go outside and take in the crispness of fall I just go to the refrigerator and take in what’s in the crisper. And since I don’t actually have fur to thicken, my waistline thickens instead. Basically, autumn just makes me hungry. And SAD.

Kicking up the exercise a notch usually helps with this. But to make matters worse, there was a construction “oops” involving water pipes in the building where my gym is located. So far the gym has been closed for a month. (So have the mouths of all the parties involved in this mess. I wonder how many lawyers are going to Disney World on this one? ) I have been unduly upset about this. I had just splurged on a very expensive gym outfit as a motivational tactic to prepare for the challenge of changing the clocks back.  Now I am all dressed up with no place to go. Maybe I’ll wear it to happy hour instead. My friend Michelle (name changed to protect the guilty) told me her butt has fallen two inches as a result of not having access to her favorite exercise machines. I had not even considered my butt!  She made me realize that with the gym closed and all that I eat at this time of year I am in big trouble. So now I have been trying hard to avoid three-way mirrors. Unfortunately, this eliminates shopping, which, like exercise,  I find to be an excellent adjunct therapy  for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I was taking out the garbage the other night and could hear the musical notes of  “Retreat”  drifting over from the navy base as they were lowering the flag for the evening. I went into shock. It wasn’t even five o’clock! I wanted to scream, “Stop,you can’t do this yet! It’s too early to be getting dark!” I had just been considering hopping on my bike to pedal over to the store for some sour cream to blob onto the giant carb laden potato I was planning to bake for dinner. The bugle made me realized I might be too late. And sour cream had sounded so soothing. Frantically I looked around. The shadows were rolling across the yard just like the fog does. I ran into the house and turned on the outdoor party lights in an attempt to chase away the fast approaching night in what seemed to me should have been late afternoon. All they provided were a few twinkles. My glorious, life sustaining  sunshine was gone.

Sadly, I groped my way into the darkened kitchen and found the light switch. I poured a (big) glass of wine, put the potato in the oven and plopped down on the couch with the remote and a big faux fur throw. I felt defeated. I had lost the day. I know my brain will adjust to this cruel trick of nature. It does every year. In the meantime I will finish off the Halloween candy. Chocolate works wonders.

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Yeah! It’s Only Pneumonia!

I haven’t been writing in awhile. I have been sick which really pissed me off at the time because I never get what I call “sick’. I get weird conditions like Bell’s Palsy and Dupuytren’s contracture. I get things attributed to aging like high blood pressure and osteopenia. I trip in potholes and break bones in my feet. I avoid certain foods because I can’t handle them and on rare occasions I’ll get a stomach virus which I’ve decided after watching TV shows like Bar Rescue is more likely food poisoning. But I have not had a cold in over 5 years and the last time I had the flu I was in my 20s. So when I first found out I might have pneumonia I was really shocked. By the time it was confirmed I was grateful.

I was exhausted. My throat was sore, my head hurt and I felt clammy. I was really cranky but I couldn’t even complain because I had completely lost my voice. But I really wasn’t coughing much. So I figured I had a summer cold. I was “sick” like normal people. But when I went back into the gym after two weeks I felt like I had never worked out in my life. I had to take a nap when I finished. When I tried to return to Zumba I experienced chest pains and had to shamefully slink out of class before it was over. I thought I should have recovered. Something wasn’t right and my worry meter started to register.

Fortunately, I had a physical scheduled so I chugged on down to my doctor’s office (OK, I confess I sped down the freeway going for a new record but hey, this is California). I figured if there was something bad going on he’d find it. I was given all kinds of tests in exchange for giving all kinds of fluids. I was scrutinized and poked and prodded. I was scanned visually for skin cancers and digitally for bone density.

By the time I got back home there was a message on my answering machine from my doctor telling me that my chest X-ray showed a spot on my upper right lung, where he casually added, you don’t often see pneumonia. He said that he was a little concerned and wanted me to go have a CT scan. I was not so casual about the whole thing nor only a” little” concerned. I was convinced I had lung cancer and was going to die. Cause, remember, I don’t get the usual kind of sick. And my mother died of lung cancer. And I smoked in my 20s and grew up in a house with parents who puffed away. And I had been having some pain in my shoulder and Dr. Oz said on TV that could be a sign of lung cancer from a tumor pressing on a nerve. And I tend to be  what you might call a catastrophizer. This was more frightening for me than my trip a few years back  to the breast surgeon for a lump.  I was used to lumps and no one in my family had ever had breast cancer. That time I only thought I might be dying. This time I was sure.

I am thrilled to say, it was only pneumonia.So I dodged another bullet. Life does at times feel like a game of Russian roulette which at some point you’re going to lose. But I plan on living another 20 or 30 years and I’m going make them good ones. Anxiety does offer insights.

How have you been feeling?

Mother puffing away too.

Me puffing.

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Numbers

What’s the verdict this year?

Numbers are killing me. They are just getting too big. My age,blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight are all creeping up. The only thing that seems to be going down is my height. Great. Just the number I want to see drop. I’ve been looking into inversion tables. A medieval torture rack might work.

I have a physical next month so I need to start getting ready now. I’m trying to escape taking another medication that can possibly cause dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, loss of sexual function, heart attack, stroke, hallucinations, and/or death. Apparently, any or all of these potential side effects are good alternatives to a deviant number on a lab report. Just ask your doctor and watch him shrug.

I  figure I can shave a few points off my cholesterol if I don’t eat any red meat for a month. I tried this last year and I think it worked. My cholesterol was actually down from the previous year when my appointment came shortly after feasting for three days on my annual pot roast. I’m not the only believer in this pre-physical crash diet. I know a woman who takes on scheduling annual blood work for both her and her husband but she doesn’t tell him about the appointment until a couple of days ahead of time. Meanwhile, she does everything she can for a month to insure she has better numbers than him. And I thought my husband and I were competitive.

I also need to drop five pounds to avoid the evil eye from the nurse who weighs me in. Oh sure, she never says anything but I know what she’s thinking. She doesn’t care that I broke my foot this year and couldn’t walk for three months, or that they changed the schedule at my gym and I lost one of my Zumba days. She doesn’t care that I had a houseful of young people for an entire month who bought every type of American junk food they can’t get when they are at home in Australia. I was stocked with things like Fritos and Butterfingers, two of my personal favorites, which is exactly why I don’t keep them around!  The nurse just doesn’t care about any of my very legitimate reasons. She’s just thinking to herself ,”here’s another patient with a bunch of lame ass excuses for gaining weight.” She can be such a bitch.

I’m happy to say I think my blood pressure will be OK. I already take the medication that makes you pee a lot but I like that one because then my shoes always fit. I don’t want to have to take any of that other stuff though. Before you know it you are so plagued with side effects you don’t even know if there is really anything wrong with you. I’ve found the best way to keep my blood pressure down is to tune out all the political campaign bullshit. Political carping is a really good way to provoke a stroke.

There’s a lot of other numbers on my medical chart that are so cryptic I don’t know what they stand for. Maybe it’s better that way. I’ve already got a lot of work cut out for me. I’ve started by shopping for a new pair of gym pants and finishing off the last of the Fritos.

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Jigglin’ Zumba

Shea

Remember when we were young and horribly critical of our bodies? What the hell were we thinking? Those bodies were strong, smooth, and for the most part they worked.  Don’t you wish you could go back and say to your younger self,  “Hey,you’re looking pretty good. Stop being so hard on yourself and enjoy what you’ve got.” And yes, that goes for you men too. This is not a gender issue. I remember those Atlas mail order tension bands that were supposed to turn 97 pound weaklings into muscle men.  Those ads were not aimed at the proud and secure.

I’ve belonged to one kind of gym or another since my late 20s. I started exercising to keep my weight down but to be honest it didn’t always work. ( I learned the hard way that you actually have to stick with the program and not eat a whole sleeve of Oreos for lunch.)  Now I exercise so I can get out of bed in the morning. Mornings can hurt. It’s a battle to stay ahead of the wave.

There have been all kinds of fitness movements over the years and I’m pretty sure I have tried them all. The current rage is Zumba . (If you don’t know about Zumba then you must be sleeping through the night and missing all the 3 a.m. infomercials.) I have to admit that I love Zumba! It’s not just a great workout, it’s fun.  When I look around the room though, I’m pretty sure I’m the oldest one in the class. That’s ok. Somebody has to take the honors and it might as well be me. I actually do a fair job of keeping up unless we have to do hip hop moves. Hip hop totally confuses me.

My Zumba instructor, Shea, has a routine to the song “Jigglin’ “.  She looked real hard to find us a clean version because  unlike “Louie, Louie”, the real version of “Jigglin’ ” is filthy. Still, it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it. According to Shea, if you keep jiggling when you stop, then you know you’re doing it right. Hey, no problem. I excel at this. Did she mean arms too?  Despite what she says, I’m a little concerned that if I’m still jiggling perhaps I shouldn’t be doing this in public.

The majority of the women in my class are at least 20 years younger than me. That should make me self-conscious but quite frankly, they can’t keep the jiggle going nearly as well as I can.  Their butts are still too firm and implanted breasts just don’t move as freely as the ones we had to grow on our own.  But even with all the cosmetic help available these days, I sense that most women are still not entirely comfortable shaking their ass all over the gym.  Shea helps us through this with cheers and high fives for provocative moves. She makes us laugh and we love her for this. I really have no idea how ridiculous I must look.  Nor do I care. And for me, that’s the best part of the class…letting go of my inhibitions…finally.

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The Big Drool

Boomers unite! There needs to be a better solution for the care of the elderly before the baby boomers start needing assistance. Today’s facilities simply will not meet our need for sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  We all know what will happen if we’re not satisfied. We will protest and riot, maybe stage a sit in if we think we can get back up. We’re liable to burn our Depends and medicare cards or barricade the administration office with our wheelchairs. I know some people who are likely to wander around naked like it’s Woodstock. If you thought it looked bad then, you surely don’t want to see it now.

Hell, no! We won’t go!

I’ve visited many care facilities over the years. Most of us have been around one to visit our parents. In case you’ve missed out on this opportunity there’s still time to go before they won’t let you back out.  My favorites are those designed for memory care. The people living there always seem to be on the go. Too bad they haven’t got a clue where they’re going. There is one thing they are sure of;  someone is stealing their underwear. ‘Cause, you know, it’s so sexy.

The baby boomers will more likely still be trying to get into someone’s underwear even if we won’t remember what to do if we get there.

I’m sure our families will eventually have to do something with us. They’ll try to lure us into agreement with the promise of good drugs and the possibility of  medical marijuana. Don’t be duped! Weed would be good but it’s only a start. Remember, we will never admit to being old so we need some changes to keep our delusion alive.

Seriously?

We might be OK with the entertainment if they kick it up a notch. Boomers love rock and roll and today’s facilities do have live music. As it is now, everybody sits around and sings the popular songs from their youth along with the piano. You know what this means when we start moving in.  We’re going to be sitting around drooling and singing “Louie Louie”. But which version? Does anybody even know the real words?  Personally, I think the activities directors will need to trade in the day room piano for a Fender Strat and a set of Slingerland drums.

We were the first generation raised on TV and we will be expecting flat screens and premium channels. I’m not sure what we will watch but it won’t be “Wheel of Fortune”. I haven’t watched that since my parents died but I think I am beginning  to understand the appeal. The letters are big enough to read and there is a lot of loud noise so you are bound to hear something. Anyone have any ideas what show might become the favorite of our generation?

Most places now have movie night but I don’t think they serve popcorn. There are good reasons for this but I won’t go into them…they’re gross. I have no idea what they show these days. PG ratings I presume. What would you think of demanding soft porn night once  in a while  just for old time’s sake?  Maybe we’ll be able to get the staff to pass out that promised medical marijuana and we can watch“Fantasia”.

Bingo just isn’t going to cut it for us either. We’ll more likely want casino  night afternoon. Roulette and poker tables should be easy to wheel around.  And there will need to be an open bar. I’m not big on juice.

Remember the old keggers? Let’s plan on having big bashes in the courtyard on warm summer nights. Maybe some of the underwear thieves will get busy in the bushes.

Yes,there definitely needs to be an elder care overhaul before we start showing up en masse at the door. We should probably start this revolution now before we’re too tired.

As for me, if I don’t see some major changes I’ve got a back up plan. (Kind of like Canada). My son once jokingly told me if I start acting like his grandma he’s going to take me for a long ride in the desert. I made him promise.

Now we’re talking!

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Losing Face via Bell’s Palsy

Signing on to Captain Hook's crew.
Aarrgghh matey!

I interpret the idiom “lost face” to mean being humiliated in public. This has happened to me on many occasions, usually by my own doing. I never gave much thought to the expression until I came down with Bell’s Palsy, a condition that causes facial paralysis. At first I looked kind of like a Picasso painting only much less colorful. Most people fully recover in a few weeks. I have what is referred to as a “less than optimal recovery”. Translation, my face is always going to be a freak show. I have literally lost my face. Having recently moved to a new town I was eager to meet new people and make some friends. Let’s just say I wasn’t making such a good first impression.

I did a lot of whining in the beginning. Now I’m trying to look on the bright side. That would be the side that actually works.

I had just come home from a trip to Australia to visits the kids and the grands. It’s a killer trip and nobody expects to look their best the next morning. When I glanced into the mirror I panicked and ran. Then I slowly crept  back for a second look hoping to see something different. No such luck. The left side of my face had completely fallen. The good news was I had absolutely no wrinkles on that side. My skin looked amazingly youthful. The bad news was my left eye was even with the bottom of my nose and my mouth had slipped right off my face and down the front of my pajamas. I went into denial mode and focused on my normal side thinking how it might look as smooth as the scary side with some Botox and a little collagen. I pulled the skin back on my face to see what a face lift could do. Then I snapped to and thought, “Holy shit, am I having a stroke?” I took my blood pressure and it was its usual pushing the limits of normal. I checked my balance and didn’t fall over any quicker on one side than the other. I tested my strength and found myself equally weak on both sides. I made a mental note to join a gym and hire a trainer. Then I hightailed it to the doctor’s office.

I was given prednisone and an antiviral. Mood swings? Prednisone should come with the warning “May induce homicide.” It could be a legal defense. “Not guilty by reason of prednisone.” I really, really, wanted to kill somebody. It didn’t matter who.

I tried physical therapy, acupuncture, warm face wraps, facial exercises, you name it. My face remained frozen. I could not blink, produce tears, or even keep my eye shut. It kept popping open. I taped quarters to my lid. Remember how that worked on dead people in the old cowboy movies? I had such a severe case of dry eyes my cornea was in serious danger. I put gooey, runny,ointment in my eye and patched it. Now I looked like a pirate. I scared little children and embarrassed their parents.

I hid in the house for a week or two until I just had to get out. My husband braved being seen with me in public and took me out to dinner. Unfortunately, my cheek muscles didn’t work either. I sucked my wine out of a straw so it wouldn’t dribble down my shirt. I had to eat very, very slowly, because the food kept slipping out of the corner of my mouth. I was eating chunks of the inside of my mouth which kept getting in the way of my teeth. I was not the elegant lady my mother so desperately tried to raise. Eventually I switched to gin and tonics which look more sophisticated with a straw and learned to swallow my food whole before it could escape my mouth.

Walking around with an eye taped shut presented another problem. I had no depth perception. I went to the farmers market and made three passes at a fruit sample before I could grasp it. Walking home from dinner I missed seeing a pothole and broke my foot. So now I had a patched eye and an orthopedic shoe. (Did I mentioned I was looking to make some new friends?) Do you know how long a foot takes to heal at this age? Do you know how quickly you can pack on the pounds when you have to stay off your foot?

I’m getting better now. The wrinkles have worked their way back across my forehead.  I can close my eye and I have a partial blink.  My eye looks pretty normal except when it doesn’t. The nerve fibers regenerate but they don’t know where to go. So now when my eye is open my mouth pulls up into this obnoxious sneer. When I smile my eye closes. When I blink I grimace. (Did I mention I was trying to meet some new people?) But hey, I’m alive and I’ve learned some patience. My foot has healed. I have a new talent of winking really good. And oh yeah, I can drink out of a wine glass now without a straw.

Cheers!

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