Healing: Getting Better All the Time (It Can’t Get Much Worse)

I was just going to title this Getting Better, but the Beatles song came into my head.  Let me be clear, I am doing well with my health journey.  I’m down two pounds from last week’s check in, but I’ve been having trouble in my hip.

Last week, I had a bad hip flare in the acetabulum joint.  The pain was bad, but it only lasted about 8 hours.  However, the tendons and muscles around it haven’t stopped being inflamed.  The pain there comes and goes. It isn’t debilitating. I have been able to run and do yoga.

Let me be upfront and clear right here, I’M NOT A BEACHBODY COACH. I like their workouts but I think that a lot of their supplements are way over priced and have no interest in buying most of them.  Most of the reviews of Beachbody videos online seem to be from coaches.  I can still say unequivocally that 3 Week Yoga Retreat, so far, has been a great program for me.  My back feels better when I do it.  I’m two weeks into it and I already feel some differences. I feel like I’m sitting with better posture.  The first sessions, I could barely do downward dog.  Now, I can do it for quite a few breaths and in the proper position. There are a lot of moves I obviously can’t do yet, but that’s why this needs to be an ongoing process.  I plan on doing it every day until April.  Then I might scale it back to a few days a week.  There are also plenty of different other yoga programs on Beachbody, so I plan on having this as part of my regular exercise repertoire.

We also have been doing our Easy 5K with Joey Galloway.  Since we are just starting we have chosen a walk 45 seconds/run 30 seconds ratio for our runs.  This gives us a lot of time for our muscles to recover.  Once we feel really comfortable with this ratio, we will change the ratio. However, this program works us hard without wearing us out.  We also have been taking advantage of the running trails near us. Running in the neighborhood is fine, but sometimes you need a change of scenery. 



Healing: New Year, New Me

I know, the title of this post is as cliched as they come. I don’t care.

For me, it has become a mantra.

I have palindromic rheumatism.  Basically, my white blood cells attack joints and the muscles and tendons connecting them even though they are health.  I don’t have arthritis; I have an autoimmune disease. The joint pain are symptoms.  The joints aren’t the cause. You can read more about my condition here and  here

One of the tings that I have neglected to mention in the previous posts is the depression that comes with this disease.  Pain causes depression.  Chronic fatigue causes depression.  Helplessness causes depression. Now, the medication for me has worked well and my flares are few and far between.  However, the fatigue hasn’t really gone away.

This has led me to not doing much over the last three years.  This in turn has led me to  gaining weight.  Lots of it.  The highest I have been was 242 lbs. At Christmas, I was 239.  I’m on the short side of 5’6″. Most of my weight is around my waist.  If I stay on this path, I’m on the way to having more health problems.

So, I’ve decided new year, new me. I have to clear my mind of can’t.

Step 1:  Diet.  I’m not going to do any weird diet.  Not paleo, low-carb, low-fat diet for me.  I’m going to restrict calories by counting them. I’m going to eat smaller meals and more often.  You can follow my diary on My Fitness Pal. I am making better healthier choices, but not telling myself I can’t have this or that.  I just need to make adjustments for those treats.

Step 2: Yoga.  I’m not one of those people that are very flexible. That’s why I want to do yoga!  Also, it’s not heavy on resistance so It is not hard on the joints.  Any resistance comes from my own advancement into each pose so this allows me to do only those poses that I can. I’m using the yoga programs on Beach Body on Demand, which leads me to…

Step 3: BeachBody on  Demand.  We decided to subscribe to this streaming service.  $99 for the whole year is better than both of us joining a gym from a financial point of view.  Besides the yoga, they have P90X and Insanity as part of it’s lineup. We probably won’t get to them this year.  More our speed is 10 minute workout and T25.  The great thing about it is that they have different aerobic activities for each level.

Step 4: Cycling.  I won a trek hybrid bicycle from our insurance company’s wellness program.  I love it. Living close to the Mississippi River, I’m fortunate that there is a paved path on top the levee next to it.  It’s a tough ride because the winds off the levee can be extremely difficult.  Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple also got a hybrid so hopefully she will join me on a few rides.

Step 5:  Running.  We started doing Jeff Galloway’s run walk program. It’s great on the knees and he has designed it for every speed out there.

Now for the goals:

Main goal:  I’m 229 lbs right now.  I want to be 190 by Christmas.  I want to lose the weight slowly but surely.  If I lose more, that would be fantastic.

Level Up goal:  I do the above and will be able to run a 5K easily. By easily, I mean a sub 40 minute 5k.

+5 experience goal: To do next year’s Star Wars Half-Marathon – Light Side  at Disneyland.

+100 experience goal: To do next year’s Star Wars Half-Marathon – Dark Side at Disney World four months later. This would mean I would have completed the Kessel Run which is a Disney coast to coast challenge.

I’m going to write posts time to time giving updates of how I’m doing, both successes and failures.

Now excuse me while I go work on a new me.




Healing: Palindromic Rheumatism Update

It’s been about two years that I have been diagnosed with Palindromic Rheumatism.  PR acts like Rheumatoid Arthritis except in two important ways.  One, RA is bilateral where PR affects whatever joint it wants.  RA also will provide structural damage to the joints where PR doesn’t. Treatment is the same and pain is the same; however, because of those two reasons, I’m not complaining about having PR instead of RA.  There is some disagreement if there are two separate diseases.  Some believe that that they are, but in more than 40% of cases PR will develop into RA.  This makes some believe that PR is just an early stage of RA.

Before I started treatment two years ago, I was in pain everyday.  A different joint would flare causing immense pain. It made me think that I would have to start early retirement.  After being diagnosed, the pain lessened.  Flares, the intense moments of pain in the joints, decreased in number.  For the last two years, I can count my flares on my hands.  That doesn’t mean they are less intense; they are just less frequent. This leads to me not looking sick so people don’t think I am.

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Healing: Cristina’s Hurricane Katrina Story

On Friday, August 26, 2005, I was working out at the gym with my best friend Beth. We made plans to see The 40 Year Old Virgin at the movies the next day and I went back to the apartment that I was planning to move out of during Labor Day. I was living on Lake Ave in Metairie in Jefferson Parish, along the 17th Street Canal. I had already checked out the new apartment and was just waiting for the apartment to be ready. I went to bed in the guest bedroom, hopeful for the future, the word hurricane not even on my mind. When I awoke the next morning, I got dressed and washed some clothes. A few minutes later, Beth called and asked what I planned on doing. She was getting gas, the lines were long, and they were running out. That hurricane I was not thinking about, Hurricane Katrina, that was supposed to be landing somewhere in Florida, had turned, and was now headed straight to New Orleans. I immediately drove to the gas station and as I was filling up my tank, my cousin Lori called me. Her, her son, and my Nannie were leaving to go to Panama City Beach where my immediate family lives. I needed to be at my Nannie’s house by 2pm to go with them. It wasn’t really a question as much as an order. It was then that it dawned on me…this wasn’t just some normal hurricane. This one was going to be different. Even though my life was going through some major changes as it was – brand new teacher, bad break-up, finding out my dad had a terminal illness – I, along with the rest of the people in and around New Orleans, were in for one more big one.

Hurricane Katrina

The waves caused the day before Hurricane Katrina in Panama City Beach. Check out how high those waves are reaching up the pier.

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Healing: How Not to Get PR for Your Website, or Palindromic Rheumatism and Me

My 2014 seemed to be the year of music.  I saw more concerts last year than any other year.  Every trip included a stop at a record store. It was also a year in which my life changed.

Of course, this change started on the day we were going to a concert.

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Healing: Back on Track

The half marathon has come and gone. Our original plan was to take a week or two break from working out. Of course, this translates to a three-week break. In those three weeks, I’ve also took a break from watching what I eat. It’s amazing how ten pounds can come back on so quickly. It’s time to hit the gym again.

It’s also time to start cooking eighty percent of my meals again. It’s time to go back to the farmer’s market to load up on fruits and vegetables. Time to buy fish from trusted markets. If anybody from the bayou saw me fish they would demand my Cajun card back on the spot. In full confessional mode, I’ve only been fishing twice resulting in only four fish that were taken home. And I’ve never been hunting. Thank god for my Cajun blood lines because when I think about it, I’m a terrible Cajun.

But I digress.

I don’t believe that good food means bland food. I’m getting confident enough in my cooking skills that I feel I can alter any recipe to fit both our picky taste buds and our shrinking waistlines. Yet, I’m always looking for help.  One of the blogs I’ve been following lately is memeinge.  There are plenty of healthy recipes on her site that I can’t wait to try out…especially the healthier cookie dough dip.

How do you keep flavor in your dishes while keeping calories low?

Healing: Slimming Down

I’m sorry for the lack of blogging lately. I would like to blame it on the fact that I’ve been cooking more. I really have, and our shrinking waistlines are the proof of that. However, that really isn’t the reason. I would like to blame our more active lifestyle especially since I consider Tiger Woods for the Wii as being active. I could blame the start of school, but while I work hard I don’t work nearly that hard. No, the lack of posts lately has been due to just good ole laziness. Not that laziness is such a bad thing.

However, this blog hasn’t totally left my mind. It just left my to do list. In the absence of writing I’ve been wondering what to write about. This blog actually started as  one in which I learn how to cook. It then grew to more of a food blog, then a travel blog, then basically just stuff we like to do. And getting our health back under control has been the thing we like to do the most lately.

We have both lost a good deal of weight since the honeymoon. Of course, people are asking what diet we are on. We aren’t dieting. We are following Michael Pollan’s advice in The Defense of Food: Eat food. Less of it. Mostly Plants.

The eating less and mostly fruits and vegetables are the parts of that philosophy that are easy to understand. However, most people I talk to about this don’t really understand the “Eat food” part. Unfortunately, most of the food in the supermarket aisles are just really well done chemical experiments done to corn. We try to only shop at farmers markets, side of the road vegetable stands, and the walls of the supermarket. We read ingredients. Now, this causes to eat things that most dieters would never dream of eating. If I’m making an almandine sauce, I’m going to use butter. Real full of fat butter. I don’t make it that often. You won’t find margarine or something that is “not butter” (whatever in the world that is) in our fridge.

We do make some exceptions.  We have limited freezer space so I usually buy some things already made such as tomato sauce.  Also, we buy dried pasta.  Of course, we buy whole grain pasta.  We try not to eat canned vegetables, yet we make an exception for beans since beans take so long to cook.  However, we aren’t perfect. Processed mac and cheese is a guilty pleasure for both of us.  And, we aren’t apologizing for it.

As for eating less, we measure and weigh almost everything. If I can, I do this right when we get home and then freeze it. If buy meat for a pasta, I weigh the meat and freeze them as two serving sizes so we avoid the temptation to get seconds. We do the same thing with the pasta itself, we only cook the serving size making our food scale one of our most used kitchen appliances. We also load it up with onions, celery, olives, mushrooms and other vegetables to make it have more volume and satisfy our hunger.  Also, I can make this in the time it takes me to get to Wendy’s and back and much less time than it takes for a pizza to be delivered.

As for eating plants, it’s not hard to find beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetables that we like. Also, it’s not hard to hide vegetables. We both got the idea of putting spinach and other greens in our smoothies from two different sources. Also, there is a certain amount of fun in going to the farmers market, buying a vegetable you never ate before, searching for a recipe and hoping it is good. In fact, we treat it like an adventure.

You can definitely see Cristina's 13 lb loss and Kurt's 22 lb loss in this picture, taken at Kurt's 20th high school reunion on August 20, 2011.