Friday, May 28, 2010

Measure Up Bowls

I am proof that you can gain weight by eating too much healthy food. If you eat too many calories of anything you will still get fat, this is science, plain and simple.
I learned this the hard way of course. :0) When I first started dieting and eating better I traded desserts for a high fiber cereal after dinner. I was being healthy! And it still gave me the sweet fix I wanted at the end of the meal. But I didn't loose any weight. And so one day I realized, one serving of cereal was 3/4 cup, and I was eating at least 2 cups of cereal! Problem solved!
Well, not see, I'm just too lazy to measure my food. I am the queen of buying single serving sizes, even if they are more expensive. I know that I will eat more then one serving if I don't, and I know I wont measure the food. So instead I stopped buying cereal. Until now....

Last week I read in Health magazine about these "Measure Up Bowls". They are nice looking, pretty bowls, that have measurements on the insides of them. So you don't have to measure and then transfer to another bowl to eat. They are microwave and dishwasher safe. And they are cute! I ordered one the next day and it came in the mail on Tuesday. ($20) I love these bowls. It's so much easier to just put something in the bowl and not have to guess about the size of the portion, it's right there. And the markings are discreet, so you could use it when you have guests over and most wouldn't know the difference, but you could still stop at 2 cups of chili, instead of 4. What a great concept! I actually bought a large container of cottage cheese and dished it into the 1/2 cup mark. This is a fantastic new discovery for anyone who struggles with portion sizes. Here is the link if you want to get more information, I might have to get a whole set. :0)

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to go have some cereal in my new bowl!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Junk Food talks to me.....

So this past weekend I was dog sitting for a girlfriend. Since I live in a small townhouse in the city with no yard, I decided it would be easier to sit at her house, so Saturday morning Brad, Jake and I moved in for a few days. She has a great place, very homey, very comfortable, and I was happy to have a few days with a different place to enjoy. Until I saw the candy bowl. On the kitchen table was a giant Halloween size candy bowl full to the rim of bite size snickers, milky way and Reece's. Wait it gets worse...on the counter was a jar of peanut butter, there was another one in the fridge. Across the kitchen on the other counter was a container of sponge cake with a giant container of icing sitting on top of it. Everywhere I looked there was more. The bread drawer had at least 10 dark chocolate bars, along with some Debbie cakes and a kit kat. The freezer had ice cream, and giant slices of cake. I looked at Brad with panic across my face "We can't stay here! I can't do this!"

Junk food calls to me. Peanut butter calls my name, so does icing, and those little tiny cute chocolate bars in there little wrappers sing like in a chorus "Jenny....ohhhhh Jenny, we are here! We love you and we would taste sooooo good!" The only way I can be successful as a dieter is to not have any of these items in my house. When people come over for dinner or the weekend I make them take it home with them, and if they wont I immediately throw it away when they leave. If someone makes me take something home with me, I will throw it away before I get tempted to eat it all. Sometimes I will make Brad stop at a gas station on the way home so I can throw it away. I never take boxes home from a restaurant. So this is me admitting I have no secret "will power" where I can pass it up, I just have my own crazy ways of removing it from my life. But I have learned, that you figure out a way that works for you, and crazy as it may be you do it. I would rather enjoy one giant piece of great cake and eat every bite once a month, then snack on a bite size milky way or two every day. I can't eat just one and leave the rest, it sings to me till I eat them all. :0)

So what did I do at my dog sitting house? I taped the peanut butter jars shut with packing tape. I hid the giant candy bowl up high enough that I couldn't reach it, and didn't see it. I hid the frozen cake at the bottom of the freezer. And I took tinfoil and completely covered the whole bread drawer. A few times over the weekend the peanut butter calling me almost won me over, but I'm happy to say I made it without eating any of it. And now, today, I am back in the safe haven of my house which has no junk food calling my name.

Everyone is different. Robin can pass that candy bowl 14 times a day and never reach in. Louise can eat one section of a candy bar, or two bites of cake and leave the rest. It doesn't really matter how you stop eating the junk, it only matters that you do stop eating it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Diabetes Advocate - Tour de Cure

This summer I have signed up to ride in the ADA Tour de Cure, to help raise money for diabetes research. I joined the "Red Riders" team, which is a team of local diabetics. This week the lead for the Washington DC area wrote to me and asked me to write my story to be published in her monthly Diabetes Advocate Newsletter. I am both excited and honored! :0) Here is what I've submitted....enjoy!

When I was 6 years old, I dreamt of lakes—giant lakes that stretched as far as the eye could see, of beautiful clean, crisp water. In my dreams I would walk over to the lake, put my face down to it, and drink the entire lake. I would see the boats get lower and lower, and yet I would keep drinking.

That was 30 years ago. To say I was thirsty is an understatement. I dreamt of drinking more than anything else. I thought about it constantly. I would drink until my stomach was upset, and still be thirsty. Then in a snowstorm in 1979 my concerned parents took me to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and was immediately placed on insulin. For the first time I could remember I wasn’t thirsty. I didn’t dream of drinking lakes.

I grew up before there were blood testing meters, before A1c testing, before nutritional information was available on foods, and before NutraSweet. I was the kid who went trick or treating, but wasn’t allowed to eat the candy. I was the kid who couldn’t drink the Gatorade at halftime during soccer games. I was different. But being different, being healthy and monitoring my diabetes, whether it was done by my parents when I was young, or myself later in life, is what has kept me alive. It has also kept me from having any number of diabetic side effects like blindness, heart attack, stroke, or neuropathy.

Recently I have discovered and experienced a new range of diabetic side effects while I have gone through surgery, extensive chemotherapy, and radiation in my battle with breast cancer. I have struggled with severe lows, as well as extreme highs as I went on and off the steroids involved with chemo. It was during this period that I realized two things: first, there is not enough help and support out there for diabetics, and second, you are responsible for your own health—only you can control your actions. So, I vowed to help give back, to share my story, and offer advice to anyone going through a similar situation, as well to never live another day taking my health for granted.

I have fought all of my life to prove to everyone that diabetics can do anything non-diabetics can do. I have not let my disease stop me from living my life; in fact I have used it to propel me into living life more fully. I have hiked through Tuscany, biked the entire C&O Canal and have gone skydiving, and snorkeling. I have run a half marathon with my tester in my back pocket, and walked 39 miles for Breast Cancer research. It is with this passion that I look forward to the Tour de Cure 100K ride in June.

I have lived with Type 1 diabetes since I was 6 years old. I have lived through the advancements in new insulin types, smaller and less painful syringes, and the invention of blood testing meters. The advancements that have been made in 30 years are remarkable and inspiring. I am riding in the Tour de Cure this year in the hopes that this progress continues.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Icing....what not to do

I have always loved icing. It's my favorite thing. And not that fluffy cool whip stuff, real "lard" icing, with nothing in it, no nuts, no coconut, just plain soft creamy icing.....mmmmmm.....

Growing up a diabetic, icing was hardly ever allowed. Which, you know, makes it even more appealing. Much, much, later in life I have learned that you can allow "bad" things, in moderation. And even after I figured this out I figured out you can just eat what you like - meaning you don't have to eat the cake, you can just eat the icing. So these days, when I want a special dessert, I get the cake with creamy white icing, and I eat the icing and throw out the cake. If I'm lucky I get the corner piece. If I'm really lucky it's a Price Club cake with the giant roses of icing, and I get a corner with a rose. Heaven!

The day of my breast cancer surgery everyone wanted to bring me food. I didn't want any of it, but one thing. I asked my Mom to make me her icing, which is really my favorite. She thought it was odd, but she said ok. After my surgery she handed Brad a small cooler. Inside was a sandwich size container, when I took off the lid there was a full container of yummy creamy white icing. Written in beautiful pink letters across the bed of icing it said "Feel better Soon Jenny!" and it had pink flowers made of icing along the sides. Mom had decorated the icing with more icing. Perfect! I took out a spoon and ate it all and loved every bite.

Now, on a normal day this would have been ok, I could have taken extra insulin and life would have gone on, not much different then a Thanksgiving dinner. But this wasn't a normal day. The anesthesiologist had me not take my N's (long acting insulin), which I know now I should never do. The long lasting insulin is my baseline, and keeps me more like a normal human even with no food, so without it my sugar levels were way too high. That evening they kept climbing, 300, 400, 500. I kept taking fast acting insulin 20 units at a time (which is alot of insulin!) and it just kept climbing. I was scared. Brad was scared. We set the clock and got up to test and take more insulin every hour. Finally about 3am my next dose of N's which I had taken at bedtime started working and it finally started to come down. The next day I was more near normal numbers.

I did talk to my doctor about this and he explained to me how important N's are. He made me promise to never not take them again, and furthermore if anyone told me not to take them to make sure either they called him or I called him. He told me the fast acting insulin cannot work fast enough to bring levels down that are consistently that high. They work for food because food is digested, released into your system and then "wear off". But you cannot skip your long acting insulin dosage. Take it late if you have to, but never skip it.

So the lesson is not don't eat icing. Hee Hee. :0) The lesson is - you are responsible for your body, you are responsible for knowing what you are doing and why, and you are responsible for asking questions from your doctors. The doctors were not with us at 3am when my sugar was over 550. Educate yourself, know what to do........your health is your responsibility, no one else's.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Collect something

My tip for today has nothing to do with physical health or food or exercise, it's more a mental health tip. Collect something.

When I was little my Mom and her Mom encouraged both my sister and me to collect something that was free. Jill collected place mats (restaurants used to use paper place mats on the tables) and I collected napkins. :0) Yes, ok, I can hear you laughing from here, but it was fun and I learned so much.

My collection grew to several hundred napkins. I have them from every restaurant you could think of, as well as party napkins, holiday napkins, and even from airlines. My grandmother brought me napkins from her travels to London, Germany, and France. My parents brought them back from Mexico, and the west coast. I can remember carrying them back with me from outings with my family, excited to add another one to my collection. LOL. But it taught me to notice the small things in life. Napkins are free, yet my collection brings me as much joy as someone else's highly valuable collection.

Yes, ok, I said brings. I still have it. :0) This is why I write this today. As most of you know I have downsized my living arrangement dramatically, and therefore I am trying to simplify. When I noticed the giant box marked "Napkin Collection" in storage a few weeks ago I felt bad for keeping it, but I just could not throw it away. So, we are using it! Maybe one of my best ideas, slowly Brad and I are working our way through years of memories as we use the napkins. Last night at dinner we had some pretty flowered party napkins, this morning's breakfast was dog's drinking martini's. It's fun, and it's a great way to relive some of my childhood memories. And think of all of the money I am saving not having to buy napkins!

Now I'm off to have some lunch, with a nice 25th Anniversary napkin from a 1976 party for Max and Edith. It's purple with silver writing. :0)

Collect something!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Mother's Day Tribute

I am forever shocked by people who tell me I inspire them, my response is usually "then you should meet my Mom!"

Mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. She, unlike me, got very very nauseous and sick with each chemo session. Most days she barley had enough energy to get out of bed. Dad got her through. He helped her as much as possible, and softly coached her to get out of bed each day with different promises, a beautiful sunrise, a ride in the convertible, the first glimpse of a jukebox he had finished restoring. Little by little he gave her the courage to get through each day.

Three years later she got the chance to repay him. The roles reversed and it was Mom encouraging Dad to get out of bed to see the sunrise, go for a ride in the '57 Chevy, or go get a banana split. She did this through 3 solid years of his chemo. She was his biggest fan, his nurse, his love, his cook, and his partner in life. My parents have a love that I have never seen duplicated. They lived through both good and bad times, and each day the love they had for each other seemed to grow deeper.

Mom's cancer came back in 2007. This time she would have to endure a painful surgery that removed skin off of her back to help reconstruct the full mastectomy they were going to do. Dad had chemo the day before, but he was determined to be there for her, so I had planned to go and sit with him, to make sure he was ok. Two hours before her surgery I got the call that I had cancer. I sat with Dad that day and never mentioned it. Mom made it through the surgery and was kept at the hospital for 3 days. She hated to be away from Dad for that many days and fought with them to get them to release her sooner. She was home that Sunday, and Brad and I rode out to help her get settled. One of the hardest things I've ever had to do was tell both my parents, who were also going through cancer treatments of there own, that I too, had cancer.

A few weeks later I had my surgery, Dad was too weak to come to the hospital, so my girlfriend Melissa drove down from New York, picked up Mom and drove her up to the hospital to be with me. Mom was there for my surgery, and even brought me food and treats for after. She was there with Brad supporting him while they all waited. A few weeks later, still with stitches from her own surgery, numerous appointments for her own treatments and her daughter preparing for chemotherapy, the love of her life lost his battle. This is when I knew my Mom had guts. This is where she taught me that sheer will, determination, and faith can and will get you through anything.

The next few months were a living hell for her. She still had treatments, she was in immense pain, and she had lost the most important person in her life. Yet she remained positive most days, she worked at keeping it all together, and she showed up for life. She taught me so much in life, but the way she was able to endure having cancer, loosing her husband, and still was able to be there for me as a Mom taught me how tuff she was.

In the past year Mom has really impressed me with everything she's taken on. She's travelled both internationally and domestically. She's gotten into great shape and shed pounds by joining a gym and changing her eating habits. She's lowered her cholesterol and her blood pressure by eating better. She is healthy and positive, volunteers at church and in her community and has emense hope and faith for her future.

My Mom is tuff as nails, my Mom is my hero.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My love for Bret Michaels....

Did you know, Bret Michaels was only six years old when he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes? For those of you who don't know him, he's a twenty-year veteran of the rock and roll scene as the lead singer of the eighties band "Poison", he's also on The Celebrity Apprentice.

I was a teenager in the 1980's when Poison was at it's most popular, and I was in love with Bret Michaels. I still am. He is one of the diabetics in the world that has proven that this disease does not have to limit you in life. You can reach and fulfill your dreams. I think this quote from Diabetes Health Magazine says it best:

But in spite of his raunchy public style and rocker persona, there's a deep undercurrent of mature common sense when it comes to his life with diabetes. Diabetes Health August, 2007

Bret has given many interviews about his diabetes care. He takes the same type's of insulin as I do, and also like me takes 3-4 shots a day. He tests his sugar 4-5 times a day, and uses glucose tablets to treat lows. The band has deliberately built two breaks into the show, a guitar solo and a drum solo, just so that Bret can go to the dressing room under the stage and check his blood sugar. Even after late concert nights he gets up the next morning by 9am to take his insulin, eat breakfast, and exercise. He works hard to keep his diabetes in control. But he goes further then that, he more then any other diabetic celebrity I know really advocates for diabetes, I read this recently about his new show, The Celebrity Apprentice:

Bret's contract mandates that the reality show clearly acknowledge his diabetes. It was very important to him to convey the fact that he has survived well with it for a long time. Obviously, how much of his daily life with diabetes is portrayed will depend upon how the show is edited. During the filming, however, he explained diabetes to all the women, and he tested his blood sugar and injected his insulin in front of them.

I was very sad to read about his latest hospital visit, but it seems that his sheer will is going to once again pull him through. He is a hero to so many of us diabetics, giving us the push we need to reach for our dreams. I will leave you with this quote from him:

"Look at diabetes as a blessing in this way: If you deal with it right, it will give you total awareness of your body and what your limitations are, what you can and can't do. It may actually be an advantage, because it made me self-reliant at a young age and put me ahead of the game. It made me a non-self-pitying kid. When I wanted something, it was all about going for it, just like Jack Lambert. He always willed his team to win the game, and we got four Superbowl's out of it. I can do it; you can do it - let's rock." Diabetes Health, August 2007

And you thought he was just pretty.......

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Learning not to take it for granted

A few months ago I started tutoring ESL freshmen at my local high school. I go weekly and help them out with physic's and math, or anything they need help with. It's extremely enriching for me, and these kids continue to inspire me to work harder and live more. Yesterday though, yesterday I was blown away.

I was asked to help two girls with an essay they had to write, both of them on wars that had taken place in there home countries. I'm thinking World War II kind of report, until I start researching with them what they are writing about, and I see that the war in Guatemala was not over until 1996, a 36 year war that killed hundreds of thousands of people and left the country in extreme poverty. My second student was from Guinea. She was writing about the war in her country, and I could see the sadness in her face. One of the ESL teachers sitting behind us asked her if she would rather write about her experience with the war. What she said next I will never forget.

"It was so bad you didn't worry about things like eating or drinking, you were only trying to stay alive. My family tried to stay together and we constantly hid, if you even tried to walk outside you would be shot, I witnessed so many people being shot. Guns and explosions were everywhere, and there was so little food. Most of the time there was nothing to do but hide quietly in the dark and wait until we could move again. Eventually we escaped, we moved constantly to try and stay alive, but we did not feel safe until we made it to America."

Until that moment I had always taken my personal safety for granted. I have never had to worry about being shot. This girl was 14 years old. To say she has inspired me is an understatement. Never again will I take for granted my safety or the people that help keep it that way. Each time I walk outside I will remember to be thankful for the ability to go for a walk outside, to choose where I want to work, and to buy products that I want to buy. We really have so many freedoms in the USA, freedoms that most of us take for granted each day.

God Bless America, and may God help all of the children still in war areas fighting for their lives.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Mom, how did you know I had diabetes?"

"Mom, how did you know I had diabetes?"

"OH Jenny, it was awful, you had no energy at all. You would just sit and be so very tired. You didn't even want to walk across the back yard to go play with the Perote girls. So we made an appointment for you to go to the doctor, and that day we had a huge snowstorm and I couldn't get the car out. So I called your Dad at work, and a lady working with him in the office told him "You go, you take her, something is wrong" and so he came home and took us to the doctor and then to the hospital."

"And you saw a difference once I came home?"

Smiles.."are you kidding? you never stopped! you ran all the way around the block to the front door of the Perote's house! You rode your bike, you played basketball, you had so much energy! I don't think you've stopped since!"

The picture above is me a few months before I was diagnosed. To say I was a chubby girl would not be a lie. :0) This is me a few months later, after being diagnosed and being put on insulin:

It wasn't a diet, it was simply fixing the body. Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells within the pancreas. When the beta cells detect that food has been eaten, the cells release insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin triggers the body's cells to allow glucose to enter them. The body's cells need insulin for energy. If glucose isn't helped by insulin, the body's cells starve and begin to break down fat to get energy. ( My body stopped producing insulin, so it was starving my cells, and I had no energy. Once we manually put insulin back in my body, this system worked again, and I had energy.

Not every one's symptoms will be the same, but in general you will not feel your best if you have undiagnosed diabetes. Listen to your body. Mothers and Fathers, watch your children, notice drastic changes in both weight and energy levels. Go to the doctor and get tested.

I have never met that woman who worked in my Dad's office that told him to take me to the doctor in the snowstorm. But I am grateful to her for voicing her opinion that day, and to my parents for being observant.

The Centers for Disease Control report that diabetes is ranked as one of the leading chronic illnesses for younger children and teens. Approximately 151,000 children and youths 20 years of age and younger have the disease.

Be informed, be aware, and take action. Life is too short to take it for granted.