Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Even the Worst Days

"If you don't think every day is a good day, just try missing one." - Cavett Robert

Sometimes when I have a "bad day" I remember how lucky I am to be alive. I also think about women who had worse times than me and still became great. Women like Helen Keller and Oprah had very difficult lives and yet they have been written onto the pages of history. I think my worst day is not even close to days that frequently happened to them.

Any of us can achieve our dreams, we just have to keep believing. What is we all had half the drive and direction as Oprah? We would probably have very great and fulfilled lives with a mere half.

John Johnson once said "Men and women are not limited by the place of their birth, not by the color of their skin, but by the size of their hope."

What dreams do you have? What hopes?

Speaking of good days, Buddy also has good and bad days. It's funny, but his attitude changes from day to day like people depending on his situation. Here's Buddy enjoying a nice roll!

He's so fat these days!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Angular Cheilitis and How to Treat It

I decided to write about Angular Cheilitis today because it is something I suffer from periodically and it flared up today, ugh.

What is Angular Cheilitis?

In short, Angular Cheilitis is a type of inflammation in one or both corners of the mouth.
What are the Symptoms?

  • Initial Symptoms mimic dry lips. You may feel like you need to put extra lip balm in the corners of your mouth.
  • Early inflammation may cause a feeling of tightness of the skin in the corners of the mouth.
  • As the inflammation increases the tightness will transform into mild pain. When you open your mouth you may feel pain in the corners. It often feels like the skin is splitting.
  • Dry skin or flakiness in the corners of the mouth.
  • Swelling and redness around the inflamed area.
  • Serious Angular Cheilitis can cause blisters or skin that splits in the corners of the mouth.
Luckily, Angular Cheilitis is not contagious, so don't worry about that!

 What Causes It?

There are many things that can instigate it. The main ones are:
  • Drooling (i.e. while sleeping)
  • Stress or weakened immune system
  • Longer or deeper folds of skin at the corners of the mouth
  • Allergic reactions
  • Nutritional deficiencies, most notably B2 (Riboflavin) and Iron
Almost all cases are afflicted with candida yeast. Candida are naturally occurring in saliva and on the surface of your skin. In fact, your skin is covered in millions of microorganisms that maintain a tiny ecosystem. Occasionally something can cause this ecosystem to be thrown out of whack (the instigators listed above) and the candida yeast can overtake the corners of your mouth. There are also a few bacteria that can overtake your mouth as well.

How can I treat it?

I have had lots of luck clearing mine up in a manner or days by following the procedure below. Please note that I am not a doctor or expert of any kind, I am merely using my personal experience.

Start by taking some vitamin sand minerals that will boost your immune system such as Vitamin C and Zinc. Take some iron and vitamin B complex as well in case you are suffering from a nutritional deficiency. It helps fight the candida yeast you can find a supplement called "oregano oil" in a capsule. Take it once a day until the infection clears up.

That's what I do to fight my Angular Cheilitis. Mine is cause by the vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency and candida yeast, so this is tailored toward that situation. You should probably determine your reason for Angular Cheilitis so you can treat it appropriately.

Always consult your doctor before beginning any sort of treatment program.

What do you do for your Angular Cheilitis? Let me know!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

7 Health Reasons to get Pedicures

Just in case you need a good argument prepared for your husband here are some health reasons that you should get a pedicure!

1) It relieves stress. Nothing like a nice hot foot soak and foot massage to take away the stress. You will get a nice hour to yourself or with a friend to do nothing but just relax. You know what they say "happy wife, happy life" right?

2) It improves the health of your skin. We frequently don't spend as long caring for our foot skin as we do for our face or hands. We abuse our feet and then aside from putting on a little lotion before bed or making use of a pumice stone once in a while we do little to keep our skin healthy.

3) It helps prevent corns and callouses. It's not fun to think about but corns and callouses are very common and are not fun as all. They are collections of hardened dead skin and can quickly become painful. A pedicure will soak and thoroughly scrub away the dead skin, preventing the buildup.

4) It improves circulation. The warm foot soak is a good way to start getting the blood flowing in your feet, but the massage will really improve the circulation. Sometimes our hearts have a heard time pumping blood to and from our feet and as a result circulation tends to be poor. If you suffer from a medical condition that exacerbates this situation then you could especially benefit from this experience.

5) It relieves pain. Between the massage, the removed corns and callouses, and the increased blood flow you should also get pain relieve. Women particularly suffer frequently from foot pain because of poorly fitting shoes. A pedicure can easily improve the happiness of your feet.

6) It prevents infection. It's gnarly, but there is bacteria everywhere on your foot. It especially loves to get under your toenails or into the rough dead skin. Bacteria around the nail can cause ugly nail infections or can get into the skin of ingrown toenails and cause infection there. Pedicures are a good way to reset your bacteria levels. Your toenails will be thoroughly cleansed all around and your dead skin will be completely removed. It's good to start from square one with bacteria as often as you can to keep it in check. Less foot bacteria can also cause less foot stank as well, which is always a plus!

7) It boosts confidence. Hey, confidence is super healthy. A lot of women avoid wearing shoes that they think are cute because they fear their feet are cracked, scaly, or "ugly". Don't let that stop you from getting shoes that will make you feel fabulous! A pedicure will brighten your feet right up and you can rock those shoes that day.

I keep trying to get my husband to get a pedicure to help him with his starting-to-be-ingrown toenails, but he won't do it! To my men friends out there: it's fine for men to enjoy the benefits as well, go with your lady friend next time, you won't regret it.

Even horses enjoy the benefits! I told Buddy he'd be the envy of all the girls with his fresh pedicure and new shoes!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cheating Low Calorie Pasta

Pasta is great! It's cheap, super fast to make, and full of carby-deliciousness. We used to eat it all the time before some of us gained a lot of weight *cough* and it's now become Tuesday lazy dinner since it's hard to fix a real dinner before I go to orchestra practice.

Ah, pasta. Now we can get along a little better though. Used to be my meat-and-potatoes husband would only eat alfredo sauce. Which is about the most fattening thing you can eat. Cheese and cream on pasta! I'm not a huge fan, personally, but a lot of people love alfredo! The difficulty here was that my husband HATED marinara. I remember a time when I would cook pasta and then offer two sauces, since we couldn't agree. His weight gain has forced him to learn to like marinara, hahaha, because it's a fraction of the calories. That plus the addition of several veggies in the sauce makes it a much lower calorie option now.

Since I'm a mediocre cook (I wish I was one of those chef-supreme women I follow on the internet, but I'm not...) I usually start with a store-bought pasta sauce. Husband likes arrabbiata sauce the best, which is what I usually buy. There's a lot of research out there that suggests spicy food is better for weight loss and husband and I love spicy! Try to get a low calorie sauce, some of them can get up to 120 calories a half-cup. Yikes!

I put the sauce in a pan to heat up and I always add a can or two of straight, nothing added, no sodium, tomato sauce. Why? A lot of store-bought sauces have sooo much sugar! Some have more sugar than a bowl of frosted cereal, which makes me think pasta sauce should be eaten with milk. The extra tomato sauce thins out the sugar.

Here's an interesting factoid I read: In the hunter and gatherer days the average person ate 4lbs of sugar a year. Modern Americans eat on average over 100lbs a year now. That's 25 times as much. Goodness! I like to blame my weight gain on that and not on my eating too much....

Back to pasta: I then add a chopped zucchini and several sliced mushrooms to my sauce. I let them boil in the sauce to get tender. I don't saute them because that adds extra oil calories that can be avoided. (Please excuse the awful photo...)

My mushrooms were starting to get kinda old and wrinkled. I also add lots of garlic and fresh herbs. I grow my own herbs in pots on my patio. I'm not a very good gardener but for some reason the basil sprouted up in almost every pot, there is so much of it! Fresh herbs make a huge improvement in the flavor. Just tear 'em and toss 'em in. I like to add lots of red pepper flake to ramp up the bite.

I also steam some cauliflower to add into the pasta. Shell pasta is a good choice and the cauliflower makes a super low calorie addition. After it was all done one serving of pasta with a cup of cauliflower and half the sauce was 470 calories. That was for a huge bowl! Not bad for pasta.

Now for a tangent:
I don't know about you, but I often worry about foods that claim "now better tasting!". It makes me concerned about the original situation. I saw this on a bad of dog food:

How do they know it's better tasting? Whose job is it to taste the dog food? I hope that's a high paying job!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weight Loss and Limiting Medical Conditions

Ask anyone how to lose weight and they will tell you "diet and exercise!" and I fully believe that to be the truth. But what if you can't exercise normally?

I frequently admire the thin and toned bodies of joggers or gym goers. I often fantasize that some day I can look like that too. Is it possible? Is it possible to have such a perfect toned body without traditional exercise?

So many people out there suffer from various conditions that are limiting to exercise. I have a friend who had major spine surgery and has a titanium neck, she has to be very careful of back or neck injury. I have a friend with very severe arthritis in her back and deformed bones, life is often painful for her to just sit. These women also want trim, fit bodies.

I get angry at perfectly healthy people who blatantly describe these women as "lazy", having no knowledge of their struggles. I always say that "you never know", so be careful before judging.

I am frequently inspired by the recoveries of people with severe injuries. I often think about Morris Goodman, the "miracle man" who crashed his plane and had injuries that were so severe they thought he would be fully paralyzed and stuck to an iron lung for the rest of his life. He walked out of the hospital a few months later, able to breathe on his own. It's truly remarkable!

I am less heroic than Morris Goodman, I think, but still interested in a healthy and thin life. Most of my "diet and exercise" leans more toward the "diet" end (*sigh* I really love food....and that's the problem here). I have been having some pretty good success, it's been slow, but steady.

I do want to be healthier and less flabby though, so I'm trying to work in extra movement during my week to help. I can walk for a pretty good distance without paying for it too badly the next day, so here are some ways I've been working in some extra walking and low impact exercise:

1) I've been trying to visit parks, arboretums, and nature trails, so I can enjoy nature and get in an extra mile or so!

Husband likes nature trails too.

2) I've been parking further away from the store entrances. I'm hoping over the week that'll add in an extra mile.

3) I've been trying to do squats and calf raisers while brushing my teeth. You can't overdo it in that limited time.

4) I've been trying to attend parties and events. If something exciting is going on I walk more before I realize it.

5) We've been trying to get over to the beach more. Wading and swimming against gentle waves is great exercise. It'll wear you out, phew.

6) I ride horses. It's low impact, full body work (if you do it right), and lots of fun!

Every little bit counts, so don't feel bad if you can only get in an extra 10 minutes a day. 10 extra minutes a day will add up to 3,650 minutes by the end of the year. That's over 60 hours! What will 60 hours of walking do for you? Get up and try to get moving as well as you can. Do you have a condition that makes you opt out of jogging and stair machines? How do you get in your low-impact and limited workout? How do you stay motivated to keep trying?

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Horse Halloween! Or, How I Learned to Dress up my Horse and Love that Bomb.

As Halloween approaches it is the perfect time for Halloween parties. This past weekend we had one at our barn and it was great fun! There was an obstacle course and scavenger hunt for the children, lots of good food, and a horse costume contest for the adults.

I LOVE horse costume contests! I love costumes by themselves, but they are incredibly more fun when combined with horses. I very frequently make costumes (husband and I go to comic conventions and renaissance fairs and I always make our outfits) so it's fun to try to make one for my horse, Buddy.

I asked many friends what kind of costume I should make for Buddy and they had many good ideas. I thought he could be the painting "Starry Night", a brick wall of graffiti, a dust bunny, or an Egyptian pharaoh. Husband thought he should be a sea horse (which we have done in the past) or the terminator (not sure how I could accomplish that!) My best friends suggested a pumpkin (Buddy is REALLY fat...), "Draculorse", a lamp, or a mushroom. Mom threw in the tooth fairy, Winnie-the-pooh, or the Goodyear Blimp. Looking at pictures of the Goodyear Blimp and remembering the mushroom suggestion I got a great idea! Dr. Strangelove!

For those of you who have never seen the movie "Dr. Strangelove" you should watch it! It's a black and white comedy about the cold war. It is very funny. There is an  iconic scene in which, through a misunderstanding, a nuclear bomb is dropped and the character "Major Kong" accidentally falls out of the plane with it. Major Kong then rides the bomb down while hooting and waving around his cowboy hat. That scene has been referenced many many times. An example that I can remember (I've seen many I can't remember) is the casino "The Atomic Wrangler" in the video game "Fallout: New Vegas". The icon is a cowboy riding an atom.

He was supposed to have little tail fins on his bum, but they wouldn't stand up correctly :(. The nuclear bomb in the movie was named "Hi There!" so I made sure to include it on Buddy.

The only problem with the party was that I ate way too much. I went WAY over my calorie count (1500 calories over my goal). I did walk for at least 3 hours though, and I rode a nice quarter horse named Dexter, so I burned some of those extra calories off. Looks like I'll lose 1/2 lb this week instead of a whole pound. Any downward is progress though, and I'm happy about that.

What do you think would be a clever horse costume?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Swallowtail Caterpillars!

I thought today I'd talk about my 'pillars! A few weeks ago I found these little caterpillars on my parsley. I tried to look them up but had no luck until I looked up what butterflies/moths use parsley as a host plant. I decided they were black swallowtail butterflies. It turns out caterpillars go through about five stages called "instars" and you can't use a caterpillar identification tool until fifth instar, mine were about 2nd instar.

Well I decided I wanted to raise them and they seemed a bit like a bird buffet (ten big fat caterpillars in the open?) so I built a cage around the parsley. I used dowel rods that I stuck in the dirt and I wrapped some nylon screen around it. I then folded the top down and clipped it with a chip bag clip.

Those little dudes ate 6 parsley plants! I kept having to put new ones in the cage. After a few weeks they pupated and about a week after that they emerged. How beautiful they were!

These pictures were taken as I opened the top to release them after their wings dried. The one in the top view picture had a deformed wing (see the crimp?) and was unable to fly away. I was so sad :( I did so much research but there wasn't much I could do, so I put it on my giant Lantana and went out every few hours to check that it hadn't fallen to the ground. It disappeared the second day, I'm sure it was eaten. Which is very very sad, but probably for the best, life must be miserable for a butterfly that can't fly.

It was a great experience though! I hope some day I can grow more butterflies. Next year I'll plant host plants for various butterflies varieties to see if I can get more caterpillars. I also like to plant for the honeybees to try to support their populations as best as I can.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nephew Caught a Spanx

I haven't done much with this blog yet, I need to make it pretty and add some pictures!

Had a great weekend! My sister came down with her hubby and little one. I was excited to take my nephew to the renaissance fair. I have to admit, I ate TONS of calories at the fair (my day ended up being over 3,100 calories, YIKES). But after counting in all the calories burned walking I was only (cough) a thousand over my daily limit, which I guess means I'll lose 2/3lb instead of a whole pound this week, but it was worth it for a turkey leg and lots of mead.

Speaking of mead, husband and I are brewing our own for the first time. I don't know anything about it except that it's bubbling away merrily. I have high hopes, I hope it turns out good.

At one point this weekend my nephew was playing a video game in which you roll things up on a ball and he happened to roll up a flying Sphinx. He proudly announced "I rolled up a Spanx!" "A Spanx?" I asked. "Yep," he said "a flying Spanx". Hahahaha. I told my sister that I need to get one of those! Kids say the funniest things...what do your kids say that's funny?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Getting Off the Ground

Let's see how well this goes and if I can keep my bum in gear to write!

I'm not really sure what to say, I've never done a blog before. I guess ultimately I want to inspire others to live healthy, happy, and positive lives.

I suppose I should say something about myself? I'm an artist (well, my degree is in art anyway...) and I am married to an engineer. Opposites attract right? I have a very nice little horse named Buddy that was recently retired and a big dog named Sato that I have had for years named.

I am on a weight loss journey right now. Seems I've gained quite a bit out of college and during my few years of marriage! I want to lose 20-25 pounds total. I have currently lost about 3 pounds using a calorie tracker. It's been a slow loss as I seem to lack self control (I just LOVE food), but slow and steady wins the race, right?

I hope this will be a good experience!