Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sargento Balanced Breaks

ProductServingsFat grams per servingProtein grams per servingCarb grams per servingFiber grams per servingFat gramsProtien gramsDigestable Carb gramsCalories% fat caloriesKetogenic Ratio
Pepper Jack with Peanuts and Raisins1.012712112711.00180.0060.00%86.22%
White Cheddar with Almonds and Cranberries1.013712213.007.0010.00185.0063.24%97.14%
Sharp Cheddar with Cashews and Cranberries1.012712112.007.0011.00180.0060.00%86.22%
Sharp White Cheddar with Cashews and Raisins1.012712112.007.0011.00180.0060.00%86.22%

They're sticking that 60% calories from fat like a guideline, although it's the protein number highlighted on the front of the package.  It is not ketogenic, nor is it a low Omega 6 food, but it looks like a decent compromise food when you need something convenient.  It is "lacto-paleo".  Each serving is 170 calories, but they are bundled in stacks of three so a full pack plus a single serve of milk would put you at a reasonable meal size.  I paid the same for this pack as I did for a half pound block of cheese worth 56% more calories.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Earthing: Gets you to the right place with the wrong reason

Now and then when one is researching minimalist shoe products, you come across the concept of earthing.

Earthing is bunk.

I do highly recommend proper grounding for all electrical appliances.  Low powered appliances are grounded through the neutral line, high powered appliances have an additional grounding plug.  A simple outlet tester should tell you if your house wiring is behaving correctly.  Stray voltage is no joke.

Another possible source of stray voltage is static.  This is almost impossible to avoid in indoor heated environments.  Even the best "earthing" shoes will do nothing because most indoor flooring is an insulative material.  The stray voltage you pick up with static is way less than stray voltage you can get from bad wiring and isn't a huge concern unless you're playing with a Van de Graaff generator.
From Wikipedia

Even if you were worried about proper "grounding" the earth isn't all that conductive, proper electrical grounding requires rods be sunk into the ground.  Electrical fences generally use three six foot rods for proper grounding.  Home systems are grounded with one eight foot rod.  Just touching the earth is not likely to do the trick.

That isn't to say that you won't experience an improvement in health if you try earthing.  Barefoot and minimalist shoes may help some people with gait issues through reducing constriction of the foot and leveraging the nerves in the foot that are muted through cushioned shoes to improve gait with biofeedback.  Sleeping on a hard surface with no pillow may have postural benefits for relieving back tension and even sinus issues.  Spending time outside increases your exercise level, sun exposure and Vitamin D production.  Soil also contains beneficial bacteria that you can alternatively pick up through gardening.  If earthing got you there and it's helped you, good for you, but it's probably not the actual earth contact doing the trick.

So if earthing helps you, but you're miserable in winter, get some good wool socks (insulative) and thin leather moccasins (water resistant), build yourself a platform bed with minimalist padding, take some Vitamin D supplements, get some exercise, bring in some plants potted in local soil, and enjoy being warm in winter.

(Amusingly this hits just about all of my non-diet blog labels.  Even endocrine, since Vitamin D is as much a hormone as a vitamin.  Earthing does touch on a lot of real benefits even though the reasoning is all wrong.)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Increasing my tolerance for tart, by adding sugar.

I used to have no tolerance for tart foods.  Sugar was a big no-no in our family since Dad was hypoglycemic, but I couldn't get by without the little bit we were allowed in applesauce, jelly, etc...  Most raw fruits were too tart to me and I didn't enjoy them.  Fermented dairy products also bothered me.

But then I started trying some higher fat yogurts, most of which only came in plain varieties, and therefore needed sugar added.  I made a bit of my own maple syrup last spring, so it was a natural match to flavor and sweeten my yogurt.  Except when you add your own sugar, it is not as completely stirred in as the commercial stuff, so there are variations of sweet throughout the cup.  At first I tasted these tart sections and stirred more or added more syrup, slowly I got accustomed to them, until eventually I was licking up spills of entirely unsweetened yogurt off the outside of the cup, and was able to start adding less sugar to each batch...

Today I'm eating grapes.  They make my mouth pucker, but I can still appreciate the deeper flavors underneath.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Calories In/Calories Out "Myth"

Lots of people advocating high fat diets try to say that the Calories In/Calories Out model of weight loss is a complete myth and doesn't work.

They're wrong.

But let's rephrase this in terms of physics.  "When someone looses weight, where does it go?"  Ruben Meerman has an excellent explanation of it:

In summary, you breathe it out as CO2 and H2O.

Let's back up further though, before the food you eat becomes fat.  Physics says that matter is neither created nor destroyed (without releasing massively more energy than we're talking about here) so everything that goes in your mouth has to go somewhere.  There are several types of things that enter your mouth:
  • Water - leaves body as urine
  • Fat - becomes part of the body
  • Fat and Water Soluble Compounds
    • Compounds we can use - becomes part of the body
    • Compounds we can't use - leaves body as urine
    • Some of these things spend time in the liver getting converted into something easier to use or eliminate.
    • Some of these things accumulate in the liver
  • Non-Soluble Compounds - leaves the body as feces
So Fat, Carbohydrates, Protein, and lots of micro-nutrients become part of the body when you ingest them.  You gain weight.  All macro nutrients break down into gasses when you exercise.  You loose weight.  Calories In/Calories Out, or to be more tangible, Mass In/Mass Out.

Fat does require more calories per gram than carbs and protein to break down into water and CO2, so you do have to work harder to convert that into a form you can expire, but let's not write it off as a diet food yet, as it may be helpful in other ways.

The real problems with the Calories In/Calories Out diet scheme are: hunger, metabolism, and feeling well enough to exercise.  In other words, when you're talking about real humans, our brains and our bodies don't always comply with the plan.  

I'm seriously re-evaluating the mass going into my body.  My last noticeable weight decrease was two years ago, my net mass has now come back up to where it was before I started.  Diet is a complex matter, especially if you have other health issues, it's not as simple as eating less and exercising more, but that does need to be factored in.  It is not as simple as avoiding ingredient X or adding ingredient Y, although that does need to be considered.  My primary goals right now is to home cook more of my food, continue to avoid empty calories, and eliminate snacking.  This is the basic plan I was doing well on before.  Hyper analyzing that and trying to replicate it with convenience foods and "healthy" snacks does not work for me.

I'd like to re-evaluate the mass leaving my body, but this is a terrible time of year to add exercise.  It's getting to be dark by the time I get home.  But I can make sure I'm idle less.  Even just being on my feet cleaning my kitchen, or bending over combing wool will spend more calories than computer or TV time...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Cento Eggplant Appetizer

4g fat, 3g sugars, 6g fiber, 1g protien.  2 servings per can, 140 calories per can.  Mostly veg,   Nutritionally probably good for me, but I'm not digging it although I do normally like eggplant.  It is a bit acidic, and I'm not fond of this style of tomato sauce.  The downside nutritionally is the sunflower oil, olive would be superior.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Avocado, Tomato, Salmon

2 roma tomatoes
1 advacado
1 can salmon
2 ounces of cream cheese
salt/seasoning mix

I think it was a bit much.  Next time I'll try canned chicken instead of salmon.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Spiral Sandals

My latest sandal design.


Drill holes every 1/2" around sole, excluding toe area.
Spiral cord through holes.
Run long end through the spiral
Bring short end across base of the toes and pick up the last spiral before it goes down the core of the spiral.
Now you have two ends on opposite sides of the foot, and any number of places that you can pick up that cord between spirals.  Lace as desired.


It is really easy to change the lacing pattern, as you can pick up the straight cord between loops anywhere and as many/few times as you like. Very secure side-to-side. Secure against forward slip. By pulling up a large loop at the heel, I'm able to get a very high heel strap that I find difficult to secure with other lacing styles.


Foot slides back about an inch in steep conditions. With the pictured lacing pattern, the rear most loops get pulled under the foot which is uncomfortable. There is a lot of cord in contact with the ground, may have poor lifetime and need re-lacing.


With the three rows of lace all continuous with no knot until the ends, tension moves all around. This is a pro in that it improves fit, but a con in that the lacing is a bit unpredictable and if you're OCD about symmetry or how it looks you may have to fiddle with it a lot.

Possible design modifications: 

I'm working on alternate lacing patterns, especially around the heel. Might re-work the first row to skip the loops at the heel, as these will see the most ground contact and are pretty useless in most lacing patterns.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Soylent guy at it again

Chris is more eloquent than I:

In addition, I must say the soylent guy is way off in left field.  He thinks he's saving the world but doesn't think of the effects of how products are manufactured.  He has proposed soylent as the solution to wold hunger.  So we take crops from poor farmers, send them to a factory, process them, throw out the parts that don't belong in soylent, and ship them back, and this is more economically viable than letting the farmers eat their own produce as it comes out of the ground?  Maybe it has application in refugee camps, as golden rice does, but for the greater populace there are much more efficient ways to obtain your daily calories in a balanced and ecologically sound method.

The soylet guy has a new kick of getting off of A/C power and going to a small solar cell.  Some of his changes are sensical, but in order to ditch his clothes washer, he has started buying all his clothes from China, wearing them once, and then donating them.  Sure it may take less water than washing his clothes, but considerable energy is spent in textile manufacturing, if the clothes are colored then nasty chemicals are used in the dye process, if they're flame retardant cotton or shrink resistant wool those are more chemicals...  Then he takes his nasty dirty laundry and dumps it in the donation bin.  This is unsanitary, and just pushes off the washing burden onto someone else.  If he was to trash those dirty clothes instead, then he adds to the landfill problem, if he was to buy clothes of recyclable materials, recycling takes more energy than washing...

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mind The Ducks 2015

My story holds no performance keys for our top contenders, but it is a story of disability to 10k+, which I think is a step up from the vaunted "Couch to 5k", and an example of how a casual runner/walker might "mind the ducks".

Since this is probably going to get read out of context of the rest of my blog, I'll start with a brief synopsis of why I did this insane thing.

In 2010 I was contemplating how much longer I could get away with not filing for disability, as 25% of fibromyalgia patients do.  I'd gotten worse after breaking a big toe, and still worse after my favorite shoe company reworked the last for my shoe.  It got to the point that sitting in a desk chair was painful.  When I worked customer service over the phone my boss would concede to letting me stay off the incoming line when I was in too much pain to be nice.   My other boss with two bad knees and two bad hips occasionally tried to get me to borrow one of his canes.

Then I found these crazy people online obsessed with nutrition, body alignment, footwear, physical therapy, massage, even sleeping positions, all the tools I needed to get a hold on my health and start recovering instead of declining.  They were minimalist endurance runners.  Even though I couldn't do lesson one of c25k, they took me in and coached me.   Tuck, Patrick, and Gordo I am forever grateful.

Some of the forum members I was less involved with decided to come to Mind the Ducks 2011, right in my neighborhood, so I decided to spectate.  I biked the three miles from home to race, which was the biggest physical accomplishment I'd had since high school.  I stayed a bit and did some photography, did some minor support tasks, and was of course pestered to run next year.

2014 I also dropped by to do some photography, (and was pestered to run next year).  

So now we’re up to 2015. Of course I'm not going to sign up, there are a limited number of slots,  and there are people trying to beat substantial goals that need those slots.  Except with two days left to register there were open slots, and in a fit of insanity I took one.

With no training behind me,  and no time to make up the deficit, I set a conservative goal of one lap per hour, but then realized that if I squeezed in one extra I'd have one of those special distances called a half marathon.  My secondary goal was to be the slowest runner still on the course at hour 12. (Not that I aimed to be slow, just am so.) My race plan had about equal amounts of walking slowly and napping.

Race day morning I woke up a half hour before my alarm and still could not get my act together.  Key items missing or forgotten, I slid into the site in time to get my number and set up camp,  but not early enough to get through the porta potty line.  I came out and the pack was off, already well ahead.  I took my time around the loop, snapping pictures of the pack way ahead or the racers that started lapping me at 0.3 miles.  After a bit though I realized that I was spending time on my feet and not moving, and I put the camera away.  After lap 2 I realized that the camera has weight to it and carrying it around without using it was counter productive.

At the end of lap one my race plan said to rest,  but I wanted to know my pace and went on through the checkpoint. Well after I'd passed my comfy camp and bedroll, it only made sense to keep going.

On lap two I discovered my abrasion points were not where I expected them, so I made liberal use of the Body Glide I had been gifted as I slid into camp and actually took my scheduled rest.

Lap three revealed that Body Glide was insufficient for what was happening with my left foot.  That is the side where I broke that big toe and I have not yet been able to completely fix my gait. My foot was sliding around in the sandal something fierce no matter how I adjusted it. I wondered if I was going to be undone early by blisters. Thankfully I was a Girl Scout and came prepared with moleskin.  Bodyglide for legs, moleskin for feet.  I spent most of my rest break patching my feet.  

An aside, yes, I said sandal. Part of my recovery is custom fit shoes.  A running shoe would cripple my hip in 4 hours although I might be able to move faster.

On lap 4 I was dragging.  The moleskin didn’t want to stay put where I need it. I texted hubby that I was metabolically great, ok on muscle fatigue, but worried about my feet.

For lap 5 I decided to try the moccasins and ate a salt potato. (I'd eaten my own food prior, but apparently I needed that particular potato.) I felt like I was getting a second wind (although I had not been pushing hard enough to get winded.)  Moccasins were not made of a breathable leather, but my hot spot moved to the end of one toe in contact with a seam, and moleskin did stick there very well. I stuck with the moccasins the rest of the day and the hot spots from my sandals felt fine without further treatment.

During lap 6 I was supposed to meet my lunch date near the halfway point, and picked up my stride, but he was going to be late and encouraged me to get one more lap in while I was waiting.

Lap 6.5 was done before 1 PM, on schedule.  But my date ran ahead to get my ice in the cooler and my expected break vanished.  I got into camp and collapsed for a bit.  I decided then that I was too tired to maintain the pace, and would increase rest breaks and forget the original 13 lap goal.

Laps 8 and 9 were a bit of a blur... Pizza, Popsicles, respect and encouragement from spectators and participants of every level...  Naps every quarter to third mile... Prodding someone else to get up while I stayed put...

Some people were amused by my repeated declarations that this might be my last lap, and then I would nap and start walking again.  My mother was the coach that taught me that.  Her chronic pain condition was worse than mine, the Doctors told her as a child that she would soon need a wheelchair, and she said no.  The trick is this, you convince yourself you can finish what you are doing and then rest, and when you get to the stopping point you reassess if you can do one more.  It is the positive flip side of the addict's "I can stop any time I want to."  Mom practiced and fostered an addiction to living life as fully as our conditions would allow.

Lap 9 came, and I was dragging, so I decided to clock in before my rest break in case I didn't get up again, but I didn't waste energy doubling back to camp and pressed onwards into lap 10 to find a nice shady spot.  I could not get comfortable enough to rest the full scheduled time and got moving again to find a better spot.  About then my hip started hurting.  Sure I'd had pain from hot spots, from muscle fatigue, but I know when the hip gets bad like that my body alignment is off.  I resolved to really make it my last lap, not just leave open the last lap possibility.  (Of course no one believed me by now.) I was well hydrated, on my last lap, and my water was heavy so I dumped it out.  At my next rest stop I forgot to set my rest timer, no idea how long I was out for.  I was refreshed enough to skip my next rest stop, but the hip got to be too much around .7.  Well one of mother’s other lessons was no complaints until you have tried to fix the problem yourself, so I threw down my bottle and shade shirt and started doing physical therapy exercises to realign my hip. It wasn't a cure, but it patched me up enough to get to the finish line.

Now giving your all and testing your limits is part of ultra running, but I purposely did not test myself to the limit, because when it comes down to it I am a farmer, and 34 lives are waiting on me back at the farm, so at hour 14 I did my "last lap", with my husband "pacing" me. Even the animals were kind, mostly coming when called and being easily herded through the gate. The one ewe/lamb pair that got stuck, it was the easier to herd ewe that I had to move in circles and coach through the gate. The rooster loomed over the feed bucket I needed to open, but he mercifully did not attack and test my post race reflexes.  As I closed the barn door I clutched my shepherds crook and supported my weak side and clocked in at my front door.  Now I could collapse, now my race is done.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Salmon, Rotel, and Marscapone

Another variation on salmon, veg, and dairy product, which is usually a win in my book.

1 can salmon, (drained)
1 can rotel (drained)
1/2 a container (8 servings) of Mascarpone cheese.
Pinch of salt
Pinch of favorite seasoning mix

Mascarpone is very similar to cream cheese, but is more often sold without a lot of additives.  The down side is that it's rather expensive.

I happened to pick up "tuna style" salmon this time around, and I rather like not having to pick out the bones, although I didn't mind skin bits at all.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Heart Rate Monitor

The battery in my old heart rate monitor died, and I figured this would be cheaper than a battery replacement. I should have known it was too cheap, it is the fingertip sensor type, not a continuous monitor type. I have used it a little bit, but it's not nearly as useful as my old monitor.

My Polar FT1 manual says if the strap battery is dead as well as the watch battery, I need to replace the strap, which is not available on their website, and the nearest service center is a six hour drive away. At that point it is sounding like a complete replacement might be worthwhile.

I could get the exact same thing for the same price at the same store as I did before, or shop around for less.

But I'm hoping that Android integration has come along since my last review 2 years ago.  For one, Polar now has the H6 and H7 options, although they are only compatible with some devices, I've been toying with getting a Samsung Galaxy S3 anyway.  I note that the H6 and H7 are compatible with the FT1, so I could just get a new battery for the FT1 and upgrade from watch to phone later...

The developer in me wants the Zephyr Development Kit, but really, when do I have time to play with that?

On the pricey end, there's the Fitbit Charge HR or Fitbit Surge, although I'd need to upgrade my phone to use all the features, it can do the basic stuff and upload to my PC later.  A co-worker had one of the more basic fitbit devices that tracks steps from your pocket, and thought it very useful and reliable.

I've also in the past been impressed with Garmin's quality, but just their sensor is $100 without a compatible receiver.  (It does have movement sensors as well as heart rate sensors, if you want to measure your running form's bounce it might be worthwhile.)

I have some time to research, I'm holding back on spending money at the moment, but things may be on more even keel iu a month.

Eat Fiber Daily

Ok, I'm not good at following this advice right now, but it's where I'm trying to head back to: Fiber-Famished Gut Microbes Linked to Poor Health Apparently not all the fiber loving microbes in your gut die off when starved. Some of them turn to parasitic activity, eating your gut mucus, which you rather need. The mostly meat and dairy diet did great things for my systemic inflammation, but not so great things to my gut and immune system. We're bringing back more veg slowly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Probiotics for your Sinuses?

Still closing down windows from my gut microbiome research, here's a tidbit about the sinus cavity microbiome.

American Gut Project

A quick note, if you're interested in finding out more about your gut microbes and contributing to science, look into the American Gut Project.

Eat Your Fructans

I have long advocated that a gluten free diet or a more severe elimination diet is a worthy trial for any chronic condition.  Six weeks should be enough to see improvement on an elimination diet, although it may take considerably longer to completely repair an inflammatory condition.

However...  When you eliminate a foods from your diet that are partially digested by bacteria in your gut, you can starve out those bacteria, and when you reach the end of your elimination diet, you might have a completely different gut biome, which is no longer able to digest large classes of carbohydrates.

Wheat is the biggest contributor of gluten to our diet, but it is also a major contributor of fructans.  Another important fructan to know about is Inulin, which is a well recognized prebiotic.  A prebiotic is a substance that helps keep your gut biome healthy and beneficial to you.

So when you're trying an elimination diet to address a health issue, you might want to make sure you're still getting enough of these prebiotic substances to keep your gut healthy, especially fructans if you're avoiding wheat.

If you have gotten yourself into the trouble that you can no longer digest one of the classes of FODMAPs, you may have a long recovery ahead of you.  Infants generally take years to build up the bacteria in their gut to adult proportions, and you know how much dirty stuff they put in their mouth to acquire bacteria.  How much longer does it take for a clean living adult?  I'm slowly coming around to see some value in the GAPS and Weston A. Price obsessions with probiotic foods, at least for people that have imbalanced gut bacteria as evidenced by favorable response to the low FODMAPs diet, or young children that are still building up their gut biome.  The fermented food is pre-digested outside the body, better able to be completely digested inside the body before it causes trouble in the lower gut, and some bacteria may survive the long trip through the gut to take up residence in the large intestine where they are needed.  As your gut biome heals, you should be able to slowly increase the amount of FODMAPs you eat without fermenting them first, and feed that fermentation vat in your own gut, slowly changing the proportion of bacteria present.  But if you ferment all your food before eating it, are you right back to starving your own fermentation bacteria?

One more little bit about probiotics.  Most probiotic foods contain lactobacillus.  Lactobacillus is very common in infants, not so much adults.  In the adult gut, lactobacillus makes up a small percentage of gut microbes, and is completely absent in many individuals.  (I'm lacking data, but I suspect it is absent in the lactose intolerant.)  It may be that lactobacillus does help change conditions in the gut to be more friendly for the permanent residents an adult needs, but it isn't going to help you digest all classes of FODMAPs.  It may be beneficial to shop for probiotics based on varieties of strains rather than cell counts, and to rotate through several brands/types to find the one that introduces the right bacteria you need into your gut.  Once you've seeded the right bacteria, you need to keep feeding them.  If they die out you may have to start over with rotating through the types of probiotics again.

There is still a lot of speculation and unknown variables in the science of gut microbes, but perhaps I've given you some leads to research further in your own quest for health...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Did Ketogenic Diet Kill My Beneficial Bacteria?

I'm starting to look more into gut flora and probiotics.

  1. Most probiotics made up of species that are not dominant in the healthy adult human gut.
  2. Although not dominant in adults, they are common in infants.
  3. Infants gradually adjust their gut flora to the adult biome over three years.
  4. The diet you regularly eat affects the ratios of the types of flora in your gut.
  5. The types of flora in your gut affect how well you digest different foods that reach your gut.
  6. Some categories of foods that are broken down by gut flora are: carbohydrates, disaccharides, monosaccharides, alcohols, fructose, lactose
  7. There is a high correlation between foods you need gut bacteria to break down and foods forbidden on some Paleo diets.
So it is pretty well known in Paleo circles that when you give up wheat you become more sensitive to it over time, but I've not seen a satisfactory explanation for why.  But if I'm understanding gut flora correctly, as you stop eating a particular food that is digested by gut flora, the relevant gut flora die out and next time you eat that food there may not be enough relevant gut flora left to digest it.

Did my stint trying to eat ketogenic kill off most of my FODMAP digesting bacteria?  If so, what is the best way to get them back?

I'm still trying to figure out the role of probiotics.  They have a pretty good track record in research, but yet they are not the normal guys in our gut.  In years past we ate a lot of preserved foods in winter, and many of those foods were preserved with lactic acid loving cultures, cheeses, sausages, sauerkraut, pickles...  There are entire alternative healing diets based on these lactic acid loving bacteria.  But they are not the dominant species in the gut, implying that the other species are more efficient at digesting most of the food that reaches them.  Do they do a "good enough" job when our other bacteria are not doing so hot?  Do they foster an environment friendly to the other bacteria and stimulate them?

Monday, February 16, 2015


It may be worthwhile to try the FODMAP diet.  FODMAP is an awkward acronym for a large group of carbohydrates that ferment in the large intestine.  It may be that many people that think they have gluten sensitivity or dairy sensitivity actually have FODMAP sensitivity as there is much overlap between those foods.

There are also many overlaps between FODMAP and the Paleo diet.  They recommend avoiding lactose, gluten, legumes, many kinds of seeds and high fructose fruits...

The FODMAP diet also has more scientific backing than similar diets like GAPS and Paleo.  Universities and WebMD suggest that it is worth trying, and works for 70-75% of IBS sufferers.

Further reading:

There seem to be some hints in these articles that the problem is really one of gut biome problems, but yet there is no concrete suggestion of probiotic solutions to the problem.  (Some mentioned probiotics, but they were downplayed and the suggestions were not specific.)  The most common probiotics are all the same strain, and often come in capsules that break down well before the target destination, exposing the delicate bacteria to stomach acid, but it seems to me that a multi-strain probiotic protocol with a better delivery system will eventually be a part of treating this sensitivity.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Jala Neti

I realized as I mentioned neti in passing in my last post that I've never discussed neti here.  I don't consider neti to be a major part of my health turnaround, but it is an alternative health practice that I find helpful to have in my toolbox.

In short, jala neti is the practice of cleaning the sinuses with salt water.  It is an ancient hindu medical and spiritual practice, and has gotten some recent attention under the more modern term of nasal irrigation.  The water is mixed with salt in a isotonic ratio, meaning it is the same as the salt concentration in your own body, and warmed to body temperature, which makes it more soothing to delicate nasal tissues.  Water is poured in one nostril, travels through the sinuses, and out the other side.  Be sure to read and follow your nasal irrigator product instructions for how to do this safely and comfortably.  It is not hard to do, but it may take some getting used to to relax into the correct position and perform comfortably.  As your sinuses clear up it should get easier in future sessions.

I bought my pot in 2007, from Health and Yoga.  I recommend their product because it is large, easy to sanitize, and if you get the starter kit has an excellent instructional video.  It is especially important to learn how to dry your sinuses after having done neti, to reduce side effects.  Other nasal irrigation products I've looked at do not emphasise this in their instructions.

I also used the SinuCleanse Squeeze bottle.  It is a bit easier to use than a neti pot, but the anti-backwash valve got leaky after a bit.  Advocates of the neti pot dislike the squeeze bottle method as it puts pressure behind the water, which may put stress on delicate sinus tissues.  In practice it also does blast past congestion better than the more gentle method.  It has some clinical trials behind it.

Although I ditched my SinuCleanse Squeeze, I do occasionally buy their refill packets, which travel much better than a jar of kosher salt.  (Packets also available from Health and Yoga, but I can find SinuCleanse locally in many ordinary drug stores.)

In the squeeze bottle category, you can also make your own nasal irrigator with a sport top disposable water bottle.  In my area Poland Springs is the brand that offers these, but your area may vary.  Simply measure out where 500ml of water comes to, and draw a line.  (You need to know how much water you are using to mix a good isotonic salt solution.)

There are some mild side effects.  You're sticking water up your nose, and if you don't dry your nose out enough, it will come out later.  This may manifest as a runny nose or post nasal drip.  Depending on the issue you're having this may not be entirely a bad thing, as this drip will continue to flush your sinuses for several hours after your cleansing.  Secondly if you mix the water incorrectly, you may have stinging in the nose.  If this happens stop immediately, dump out your water and re-prepare according to your irrigator's instructions, the water should not hurt.

Monday, February 9, 2015

New coach, new schedule

Some of my best writing comes after I delete the first draft, but it is frustrating when that happens involuntarily while trying to go back and fix a minor typo...
The Health, it is pointed out that HEALTH is a very individual matter and should be taken care of by the individual him/herself; anyone else, including medicine man or woman, can only give a second opinion.
John K. H. Kong. The Art of Tai Chi: John Kong Tai Chi 100 Forms (p. xii). Kindle Edition. 
My health is my own responsibility, but yet it is helpful to have second opinions from time to time.  I've had some questions about the things that my doc has been recommending, and a friend of a friend is helping me look into it.

Changes I'm making:
  • Actually take the recommended amount of Vitamin D.  I have three sources now (including Vitamin D Council)  telling me it's good, my prior adverse experience may be entirely coincidental.  
  • Add Magnesium back in.  I'd been taking a combined Zn, Mg, Ca supplement and dropped it when the doc added a standalone Zn.
  • Reduce B6 levels to avoid long term nerve damage.  I knew the amount the doc prescribed was a toxic dose, but I'd previously read that I had about three years to revise that down, so was giving the doc time on that one.
  • Increase Omega 3 supplementation to 1-2 grams per day.
  • Adding strength exercises.  The "ZMA" supplement replacing my prior zinc and B complex vitamins is designed to support recovery from exercise.
  • Keep up the dairy consumption, ignore doc's advice on that since I can't seem to get enough fat in my diet without it.
  • Making a strong effort at fixing my time management problems.
In the spirit of my prior post "Writing Your Way To Health" I'm going to try to write down a schedule to follow to help fix my time management issues.

This would apply to Winter, M-R, short term.

7 AM - Alarm, Stretches, Bathroom, Sleep
7:30 AM - Alarm, Bathroom, Barn Clothes, Walk Dogs
7:45 AM - Feed Dogs, AM Barn Chores (Outgoing checklist: water, basket, treats.  Incoming checklist: bowls, eggs, water.)
8 AM - Shower, Moisturize, Work Clothes
8:30 AM - AM Breakfast, Supplements, Teeth, Neti
8:45 AM - Carpool (Checklist: Keys, Wallet, Cell Phone, Badge, Bag, Lunch, Breakfast Pills)
9:30 AM - Work
1:30 PM - Lunch, Supplements, (Walk or Tai Chi)
6 PM - Carpool
6:45 PM - Home, do something active (gardening, extra barn chores, house chores)
7:30 PM - Supper, Supplements, Creative or Educational activity
9 PM - PM Barn Chores, Strength Exercise.
10 PM - Teeth, Neti, PJs, Wart Remover, Moisturize, Book
10:30 PM - Sleep

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Alexander Technique Squatting and Sitting

I don't think I've posted this before, but Youtube just now reminded me of it. I found this very helpful when learning the squat.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Writing Your Way to Health

Well the original article is Writing Your Way to Happiness, but not all good habits directly lead to happiness (I'd be pretty happy sitting around the house playing games and eating ice cream all day...) so let's focus more on writing our way to healthy bodies, minds, and spirits.

The article (and underlying research) suggests that if you write about your goals and obstacles, that you can analyze them in a way that helps you make positive change.  I've definitely seen some of that in my blog, but I won't be perfect until I get to heaven, there's always room for improvement.

Current obstacles:

  • Not enough time for all my ambitions
  • Slacking on physical therapy
  • Snacking too much
  • Chronic stomach problems since March 2014
  • Doubt about the new doctor and the $4000 I spent on medical expenses in the last 12 months with no significant improvement.
  • Not scheduling for sleep
  • Forgetting pills
Well, all but two of those things are schedule related, so perhaps that is what I should be focusing on.