Archive for September, 2010

we interrupt this program…

Well … the computer died. I don’t know yet what’s wrong with it, but I do know that typing on an iPod Touch is a pain at best. So if I have a computer available at times when I have half a brain to write with, I’ll put up some more posts. Otherwise … I’ll see you when it’s working again!


medical “normalcy”

Today’s post piggy-backs on yesterday’s theme of finding what works for you and your body.

Just because there are medical averages and norms doesn’t mean you’ll fall into them.

I’ve mentioned on here that my blood pressure is low, typically around 100/60-65. My temperature is low, too.

My resting heart rate is on the high end of average. My exercising heart rate is crazy high. (I’ve been to a cardiologist, had stress tests, etc.  He said my heart is healthy — it just beats a lot.) If I let myself work to my peak, it’ll cross 200. In the 150s, I don’t break a sweat. Slow jog? Instant 180.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend exercising unconcerned with a high heart rate. Get it checked out. But I know that with sustained effort, I’m going to be between 165 and 180. That’s just my body right now. (I’m hoping that over time, it will come down.) I also know that for most people, 165 induces quite a bit of huffing, puffing, and fatigue. A fair number of people can’t even get their heart rate that high.

I would recommend knowing what’s normal for you, so that if you come into a situation where you need to know it, you can compare yourself to yourself, and not yourself to what some textbook says you ought to be.

Example: A few years ago, I was in a bicycle accident (watch for bikers before you turn!) and was taken to the ER for some stitches in my leg. They were waiting for my blood pressure to return to normal before they released me. I told them that we ought to pitch a tent because my blood pressure is always low. When they checked it again an hour later and it was still low, they believed me and let me go. If I hadn’t known that, how long would I have been stuck in the ER?

So get ahold of what “normal” is for you.

so much advice…

I realize that there is irony in my writing about this, since I am part of the “out there” to which I am about to refer. That’s OK.

I spend a good chunk of time last night reading articles and blog posts on a variety of topics, but most of them were in some way related to eating, cancer, or finance.

I’m not going to touch on finance right now.

There was a blog post that piqued my interest because it was about gluten. Sort of. It turned out to be an article looking to sway readers to a Paleolithic diet (the diet believed by these folks to have been consumed by our Paleolithic ancestors). I read some of it and skimmed some of it and at one point glanced at the scroll bar to get an idea of how much was left, and I had more than 3/4 of the page to go.

It turned out that the article was long but not that long, but there were hundreds upon hundreds of comments.

So I read some of them.

A fierce debate raged on whether the advice was sound, whether the Paleo diet is actually representative of what those people ate (did they have cows and chickens?), how that would mesh with a vegetarian or vegan diet, why Paleo would or wouldn’t be better than Atkins, etc., etc.

It was quite something.

After a while, I got tired of reading the bickering, and I closed it.

Now, for some people, there is benefit to being gluten-free. My niece is one who I’ve seen first-hand. I know there are countless others.

It is possible that I would feel better and function better if I was gluten-free. I am considering giving it a try.

But there is no one way of eating that is absolutely the correct way for everyone to eat. Bodies are different. By the time you’re old enough to be reading this (and interested in it), there has been all sorts of environmental damage done to your body. So to say “eat this and only this in these proportions at these times” works for everyone is silly.

Everyone needs to find what works for them, for their body, for their mind, for everything that they’re feeding. I know a higher-than-average number of vegans. Most of them are vegan because of their convictions in the area of animal rights. Does it matter to them if their body is as adequately fed as it could be? I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer was no. They’re feeding their conscience and their political belief when they eat. (So is everyone else, though perhaps passively.)

I read another blog post on why clean eating is a scam. Turns out that the author went on a “clean eating” bender in college, ate a lot of food he didn’t like, did cardio in the morning and weight training in the evening (which has nothing to do with clean eating, but he blamed it on clean eating…), lost weight, got toned, looked great … and then couldn’t stop. And he blamed it on clean eating. Sounds to me like the double-or-nothing approach was the problem, not the eating well.

There were more, some on avoiding cancer, some on losing weight, some on healthy eating … but they were all very black-and-white.

Unfortunately, it’s not that way. We just don’t know enough about human nutrition and about the mess we’ve created with our food to be able to say very much for certain.

There’s a lot of advice out there. Some of it is just bad. (Soda, ice cream, cookies, etc. are not good for you.) Most of it lies in the great grey area. Take what resonates for your mind. Or what you’ve had success with in your body. Be open to ideas, but be aware of how your body feels when you are trying new ways of eating.


I have struggled off and on with depression for most of my life. I was talking to a friend recently about some of these struggles and thought I’d try to explain it a bit here, especially since it is a fairly common affliction.

I know that if I exercise fairly vigorously on a daily basis, I feel better emotionally. (Well, and physically, but that’s not what this post is about.)

I know that when I am feeling lousy, don’t want to do anything or go anywhere, if I just get up and run or lift or bike or swim, I will feel better.  (If I “just” – ha!)

“Exercise is like Prozac for me,” I said.

So why don’t you do it? she asked. Fair question.

Most of the time, I do, whether I “need” to or not. But sometimes, it’s all but impossible. And this is the part that I couldn’t really explain so well.

It’s not quite as simple as just getting up and doing it. It’s not, “I feel sad, so I’m not going to exercise.” It’s not so much about sad, but I struggle to explain what it is.

It’s sort of like when you just don’t feel like doing something – feeling lazy or lethargic – but times 100. Or 1000. Or 10,000. Depending on the day. And often, it includes a component of “I don’t want to feel better,” which of course is entirely not true … But it feels true, which makes it true enough.

Really, it looks like a combination of sad, lazy, and self-pity. But it’s not. Again, I can’t tell you what it is, just what it’s not.

Many years ago, I read The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon. It is fairly lengthy and very detailed. Reading it was cathartic. I felt validation. Finally, someone was describing perfectly how I felt, why I wasn’t functioning the way I knew I ought to. I have (thankfully!) never been as bad/deep/whatever you want to call it as he describes in the book, but reading it, I felt less alone.

My struggles these days are minor compared to where they once were, and I am glad to have a better hold on myself, on my life, on what helps and what doesn’t. My self-management isn’t perfect, but it’s quite good. And most of the time, I’m fine, fine, fine 🙂

other people’s handiwork

Achieve One Goal from How to Have Great Self-Confidence: Even if you don’t read this post — though I think you should — click through and watch the first video.  It is less than two minutes long.  The second video is also interesting, but it’s more knowledge than action.

15 Real Food Snack Ideas for Your Children from Zen Family Habits: It says “for your children,” but it’s really for anyone looking for healthy snacks.

Metabolic rate: the slower, the better from Disease Proof: I was planning to put up a post last week about metabolism, but then this showed up in my reader.  I might still put up a post about it — I have a different writing style than he does — but the gist is that slower is actually better when it comes to metabolism.

Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

Well, we hadn’t tried any new recipes this week, and I think I’ve posted all of the ones we’ve done over and over and loved, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to post today.

Then I decided to make waffles for breakfast. Did we have the necessary ingredients? We had what was needed for whole wheat (which we’ve made before) and oatmeal (which we’ve not made before). But I have the wheat germ and the wheat bran in unlabeled jars (whose brilliant idea was that?), and I didn’t know which was which, so I decided to try out the oatmeal.

The batter, once it was mixed, just looked like wet oatmeal; I was not hopeful. But once cooked (a little extra, as suggested by the recipe), they were excellent! I was very excited. And The Big Man, who is not a big fan of oatmeal, enjoyed these as well.

We only had rice milk on hand, so that’s what I used, though I did use real butter. I also don’t separate the egg or stiffen the white when I make waffles (which also removes the step of adding the white).

We have a VillaWare waffle iron; this recipe came from the booklet that came with the waffle iron.

Without further ado, the recipe!

Oatmeal Waffles — A Healthy Recipe for Oatmeal Lovers


  • 1 egg, room temperature, separated
  • 1-1/2 cup oats
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted, cooled
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar


Beat the egg white in a small bowl until stiff and set aside.  Mix together the dry ingredients and set aside. Combine egg yolk, milk, and melted butter. Add to dry ingredients, mixing until just blended. Fold in beaten egg white until just mixed. Do not over beat batter. Cook waffles a little longer for extra crispness.


Does muscle turn into fat?

The short answer: no.

Muscle cells and fat cells are specialized and they each do their own thing.  They cannot turn into each other any more than liver cells can turn into fingernail cells.

The reason (I think) that people believe muscle turns into fat is because typically, when people have been exercising and have nice muscles (whether big, strong, toned, or any combination thereof) and then stop exercising, not only are they losing their muscle mass, but they’re gaining fat.

However, it is completely possible to stop exercising, decrease caloric intake appropriately, and not get fat.

Also, as the muscles lose tone, they lose their nice firmness, so you’ll be softer. Again, not fat. Just de-conditioned muscle.

But if you exercise and have nice muscles and simply keep exercising, then it’s a non-issue 😉

What do you have in the plans to stay active this weekend?

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