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Taking A Bacon Break

baconYes, I’m braking for bacon! I’ve been on this Ideal Protein diet and I’ve done well! I love the way I feel eating low carb. However, the routine has grown stale. I’ve taken a leave of absence from my lovely coach and my IP way of life. I’m trying on the Low Carb, High Fat diet that so many people are having success with. Okay, it’s a glorified Adkins type diet, I admit, but well, my family really seems to like this one. My dad and brothers have had good success while on this. Have I mentioned I’m built like a football player? (grin) I’m just lucky that way. I like muscle, and it likes me. (so does fat, though… who am I kidding?)

Yesterday was my first day, and I’m trying to keep my carb intake under 30. It wasn’t hard. I’m eating bacon. “I’m a bacon-aterian”, as my son once announced when he was about 4. I’m taking that idea, and I’m running with it. I mean, for gosh sakes, who wouldn’t want to be a bacon-aterian.

The hardest part though, is getting over my fear of fat. No, I’m not scared of myself, but I’m sort of balking (okay I ate about 8 pieces of bacon yesterday) but in my head, I’m balking at ingesting fat. It seems so counter-intuitive. I will go have my blood work done soon just to be sure I’m not absolutely freaking my numbers out. The research says my numbers will get better, but well, (*blush*) they’re already good! Except that blasted scale number, that one’s still bad.

Anyone out there on a LCHF stint? Can you please chime in here? Tell me how great you’re doing with full fat cream, lots of butter and sour cream by the spoonful… please?

Carbs and Memory Loss

brainAlzheimer’s is a scary, brutal disease. My mom, and my grandmothers all had it. I’m scared to death of it. I don’t know if it’s in my head because what would have been my mom’s 78th birthday is a few days away, or if it’s coincidental that new studies are hitting the media. Either way, I’m an advocate of research for this problem.

Did you know:

  • Worldwide, nearly 44 million people are believed to be living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. By 2030, if breakthroughs are not discovered, we will see an increase to nearly 76 million. By 2050, rates could exceed 135 million. (source)
  • Between 2000 and 2008, deaths attributed to Alzheimer’s disease increased 66%, while those attributed to the number one cause of death-heart disease-decreased 13%. (source) And there’s evidence that heart disease can be prevented with the same approach.
  • Cancer research is 12 times the level spent for Alzheimer’s disease research. Yet, more people die each year in the United States from Alzheimer’s disease than from the two most commonly diagnosed types of cancer (breast and prostate) combined. (source)
  • Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. (source)
  • Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. (source)

I read everything I can about this disease. It’s been called Type 3 Diabetes recently, which really shocked me. And now, that last fact above, is being called into question. New research indicates that memory loss can possibly be reversed (this makes me so hopeful!)! I’ll take excerpts from the news article, but please read it here: Study: Memory Loss From Alzheimer’s Reversed.

The study was performed by a neuroscientist from UCLA. He said that, “Everybody knows you can’t reverse this. Once you lose it you can’t get it back,” said Dr. Dale Bredesen, “And I said, ‘Well maybe that’s not the case.”

Here’s the amazing part. the study showed that 9 out of 10 patients with progressive memory loss reversed their symptoms within a three to six month time period after an ultra healthy lifestyle change. What?

For one patient this meant:

  • Eliminating simple carbs from her diet; no gluten or processed foods
  • Eating more veggies, fruits and wild caught fish
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Increasing sleep to at least seven hours a night

She is quoted as saying that now she doesn’t feel she has any issues with memory. The one person who did not show improvement was a patient with “late stage” Alzheimer’s. Catch it before it starts. A new, much larger study, is already in the works.

You might say to yourself, “That was only 10 people, I’ll wait for a bigger study and PROOF.” Why? Why wait another second? Friends, step away from the simple carbs. Put them down and never venture there again. Please! What if it’s preventable? What if we can stop this?

Either way, it’s not gonna hurt you to back off the simple carbs, and trust me, if your loved ones don’t have to see you drift away little by little, endure the moments where you have no idea who they are… where they are, and see a ghost where their favorite person used to be, you’d drop the carbs in a heartbeat.

Think about it. Please! You might even lose a pound or two in the process.

Low Carb Lifestyle Benefits: By The Numbers

numbersHealth benefits should outweigh (pun intended) vanity for us all when trying to lose weight. I mean, gosh, it really doesn’t matter how good you look, or how thin you are if you’re sick. If you’re life/health are in jeopardy, what’s the point? I know, looking better is big (there’s that word again…) for most of us, but feeling better and knowing that you’re not a ticking time bomb is HUGE!

My health has always been pretty great. With my weight gain though, I was on the verge of Type 2 Diabetes, and was at a fairly high risk, after having gestational diabetes 14 years ago, but other than that? Well, I’m a high-risk for Alzheimer’s too. My grandmothers both had it, and my sweet mom had it too. Considering that research is now tying Alzheimer’s to diabetes, it looks like my health was more dangerously imperiled than I believed. Denial? Oh yes.

I’ll give you a peek at my numbers. Keep in mind that last year, I weighed about 30 pounds more. I’ve been on a low carb, high protein diet for the last 112 days (almost 4 months).

Blood pressure a year ago was 123/81 (pre-hypertensive). Most health care practitioners would say that it was fine. However, I know that for me, that was pretty high and it always shocked me to see it like that. This year my blood pressure was taken after having blood drawn and having been poked TWICE trying to find the proper vein (uh, yes, my blood pressure went up with those sticks thank you very much…), my blood pressure was 119/70. Honestly, it’s consistently 110/70 when there are no needles involved. Awesome.

My total cholesterol which was already in the “ideal range” at 181 last year, is now 153. My only downer was that my good cholesterol dropped slightly too. That, I’m sure is because I’ve done no exercise for the last 3 months because of the knee surgery. That will go up with exercise, I’m sure.

My fasting glucose was below 100 for the first time in years! That’s a good sign too!

My hubby’s cholesterol dropped on his screening too. His is not naturally low like mine, so that makes me super happy! He’s been eating (fairly) low carb with me. He’s not as strict, but he is sticking to gluten-free most often too. We’ve had plenty of red meat and eggs which traditionally were no-no’s. He also adds a lot of naturally cholesterol lowering foods like steel cut oats, grapefruit, extra fiber and  chia seeds. We’re not eating “low” fat either. I guess that we’re living the article I posted a few days ago.

I really hate doing those health screenings for his insurance company. Every year I’ve rolled my eyes and gone in because we save money by doing so. This year, I went in genuinely curious at what my numbers would look like. I was rewarded with big improvements where I didn’t think I needed any (cholesterol) and my health went from a C grade to an A!

I can’t argue with the numbers. Huge strides were made health wise in just four months. And, though I said vanity shouldn’t really matter, we all know it does. I don’t just feel better, I look better in my own healthier skin!

The Wake: The Good, The Sad and the Edibles

celtic crossMy grandfather in law passed away last week. He’d been in the hospital for a few weeks, but somehow you just don’t expect it to happen. We got the call at noon, and were on the 6 pm direct to London, then hopped direct to Belfast. We went straight to his Grandma’s house and were greeted by his large Irish family. The wake went on for four days, due to scheduling problems at the church. Someone stayed with Grandpa in the tiny sitting room, as is the custom, at all times. Over 500 people visited him and paid their respects during those days, according to the number of Mass Cards. He was a well respected patriarch of the family, adored by all. He was small in stature, and quiet, however, he spoke up when he needed to. He was married to Granny for 63 years. They’d lived in that wee house for 61.

The four days of visiting with the family were a gift, a goodness in the sadness. I feel like I know them now, more than the introductions and small talk. We’ve met at weddings, but we got to actually talk for untold hours. From the beginning, the family has accepted me and the kids and welcomed us with open arms, but I now feel I really belong. One day, I will write about the experience of the Irish traditions and how they differ, and how lovely it was to see people join in the procession on the way to the church. Another time, another blog. It’s all stored right here in my heart.

The trip offered me many challenges, not the least of which was travelling 13 days post surgery. Heathrow is a huge, huge airport. The gate agent in Austin promised there would be a wheelchair waiting my arrival. Um… no. At Heathrow, it is not uncommon to be dumped on the Tarmac for a bus, and not jetwayed into a terminal. Huge planes mean big staircases down. After 9 hours of plane ride, I was happy to be moving, even though it meant one stair at a time. Onto a bus, and a surprisingly long ride to the terminal. No help awaited. I hobbled, and hobbled and freaking hobbled through the ugly dirty guts of Heathrow. We did get fast tracked through the “medical” line at immigration after someone finally cared enough to get off their butt and offer. We walked past 4 people who, I assume it was their job to fast track me- considering they were in the medical area. It was a man pushing a passenger in a wheel chair (already doing his job) who corralled us into his wake in the medical queue. Then, it was lots and lots and lots of hobbling. Unpleasant at best, painful most often. Thanks Heathrow, you suck.

My other big issue was food. The Irish diet is not healthy (and is chock full of gluten): sausage rolls, scones, toast, bangers, crisps, chips, fried fish, fruit cakes and I could go on and on. At wakes, people bring lots of food (as is our custom here too) and in addition to the aforementioned delectables, there were tea cakes, cakes, sandwiches, cookies, biscuits, pies, soup (gluten) and every kind of sweet pastry imaginable. I sat there in their midst. Hours and hours of sitting and visiting and trying to stay out of the way of the crowds in the tiny kitchen and sitting room. When you’re sad, and you are around sad people, you just want to eat. That is a fact. There were so many things there to nibble on, and frankly, my husband enjoyed the things that he misses living in the states. I took bites here and there, but for the most part, I would deconstruct sandwiches and sausage rolls eating the protein part and my obliging husband would eat the bread. I didn’t eat much. At night, his mum and I would drive the 30 minutes back to their wee town and make chicken breast. She’s a really good cook and had made a pot of curry and some carrot soup, that I LOVE. I compromised and had a bit of the curry as sauce on my chicken breast. I avoided the delicious soup because the sugar content in the carrots. I did taste it though. Yum!

A few people commented that I had lost some weight. The last time they’d seen me I was 25 pounds heavier just 9 months ago. In fact, my sister-in-law’s wedding was the last time we were there. It was her mother-in-law who really noticed. “You look wonderful and fresh, younger, I think!” This was after the burial at the reception when she’d watched me eat plain sausage, and take the meat from several wee sandwiches. We discussed the low-carb lifestyle. I like being fresh! 

Despite the long 20 hours getting home, and the crisps during our wait at Heathrow, and the chips (french fries) I ate the night before we left, my scale says I lost a pound. I didn’t really think I would have, but I’m grateful. I had already decided that emotionally, this week wouldn’t count. It was a tough trip, but I wouldn’t have missed it.

RIP Granda, you will be missed by all of us.

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