health and wellness


This Spring has been quite busy!!!

I’m afraid that is a bit of an understatement.

We had snow in early March! That almost never happens here in central Arkansas!

Things warmed up and were pretty nice for Spring Break-well, for a couple of days anyway.

It was in those couple of days that things took a turn for the worse. We had just returned from Tulsa, OK where my chorus participated in the annual regional competition. Since the weather was nice when we returned home, Chip and I decided to work in the yard a bit.

The ground was very soft from all the snow and rain we had in the month of March–perfect for pulling up all those little saplings the birds planted in my flowerbeds.

I really am not much of a gardener. I enjoy pretending to be one, however, saplings continue to grow in my flowerbeds-sigh.

We made great progress, despite uncovering a nest of baby copperhead snakes!!!

A couple of days later, my arms started to itch.

You guessed it…poison ivy.

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Apparently, poison ivy is not my friend. Thank goodness I was at least wearing gloves!

I do know what poison ivy looks like. “Leaves of 3–let them be!”

Poison_Ivy628

However, in early Spring, apparently the leaves were not yet visible. Either that or there were just old vines which had the oil on them.

Oh, I had dug and pulled and yanked all day! There were big piles of weeds to carry to the edge of the yard.

Later that week the itching got worse–so much so that my husband took me to the little walk-in clinic here in town on Sunday afternoon.

The diagnosis was indeed poison ivy. They gave me a steroid shot and a prescription for oral steroids and sent me on my way.

So, that night I did not sleep at all thanks to the steroids and the itching.

Things seemed to get worse, so back to the clinic I went. My arms red, swollen and itchy. Another round of steroids plus an antibiotic this time.

The swelling and redness was so severe that the nurse drew on my arms with a Sharpie to be able to watch for spreading of the infection. Here are some pictures about half-way through the whole ordeal. Trust me this looks GOOD! They nice folks at the clinic told me it was probably cellulitis.

poison ivy arms

poison ivy infection

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The itching from the cellulitis was so intense! I think it was worse than the poison ivy. Of course, taking all those pills was no picnic either.

That Friday was Good Friday. As I lay awake, unable to sleep, trying not to scratch, I was convicted about my “suffering”. There it was Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ suffered a horrible death on a cross for my sins! This changed how things looked to me for the duration of the itching.

I am extremely grateful to have had so many friends and family praying for me during the ordeal. It was very humbling, and I felt very loved.

Be careful out there in your gardens!

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Back in February I made an investment. No, I’m not about to give you financial advice. When I committed to eat less and exercise more, I had to find exercises I was willing to do.

So, we bought bikes–an investment in fitness.

bike

That was in late February. We had an unusually cool, rainy Spring, by Arkansas standards.

Too wet to go out

And too cold to play ball.

So we sat in the house.

We did nothing at all.

(Can you name that quote?)

We didn’t really “do nothing at all”. We signed up to participate in the CARTI Tour de Rock Family Fun Ride.

The Fun Ride was 10 miles!

So, we started training. We rode 3 miles and thought we would all DIE! It was going to take bit of training to build up our stamina to go the whole 10 miles. Drain we did! But I was getting nervous! Would I be able to do it?

The day of the race came. The farthest our crew had ridden was 8.1 miles. Now I was REALLY nervous!

We loaded the bikes and took off for the race!

bikes

It was very exciting for all of us to have our very own official race bibs and t-shirts.

bib

tshirt

Don’t we look happy?

happy

This was our route for the Fun Ride.

route map

The happy faces didn’t last long, however. This was the scene as we pulled into the parking lot that morning.

more rain

Hoping the weather would clear up, we hung out for a little while.

finish line

Then a race official came and told us the race had been cancelled because the radar looked like this…

radar

Our happy faces were gone!

sad

All our hard work! All our training! For what? A rained out race!

We weren’t going to let a little rain keep us from achieving our 10 mile goal. The next day was GORGEOUS! So, we decided to go for a ride. We were going to ride our 10 mile family fun ride for ourselves!

girls riding bikes

farm

tired bikers

I love riding in the country! The sights, smells and sounds are wonderful! Crop dusters flying by. Privet Hedge in full bloom. The smell of lumber as a new home is being built. Amber waves of grain blowing in a field. Frogs croaking in a nearby ditch.

We rode all the way to a little church 7 miles from our house. That, of course, meant 7 miles home.

rest break

We did it! We rode the 10 miles, and then some!

We made quite an investment in February–an investment in Fitness, Family and Fun!

Yes, the “D” word! That 4-letter word we dread after the holidays-DIET!

This is only the third time in my life I have ever “officially” been on a diet of any sort.

When I was in high school I drank the Slim Fast shakes.

Slim Fast Mix

This was back before they had the pre-mixed shakes. My mom would send me the powder in a paper cup covered with plastic wrap held on by a rubber band. I would buy my milk at school and mix it there in the cafeteria. I always liked the vanilla shakes the best.

I didn’t really have a “plan” back then. I just wanted my jeans to fit better.

Isn’t that always what we want…for our jeans to fit better?

I lost weight, as best I can remember. Now don’t get the wrong idea here. I was never a “fat” kid. I have always been very average. However, based on my height and build, I should probably be on the smaller side of average.

I have always been in the proper weight category for my height–sometimes only by a pound or two.

Several years ago, when I say several, I really mean a lot, I went to on diet #2.

weight-watchersI went to Weight Watchers even before the kids came along. I was teaching at the time. If you are a teacher, you are well aware of how frequently there are snacks in the lounge! More than that, I think my weight gain at the time was from other factors. Being a “grown up” and out on my own for the first time and newly married, I think, had a lot to do with it. I was learning to cook. Really the only thing I knew how to make was Lemon Bars and French Toast. The learning curve added unwanted curves.

I was on Weight Watchers back when they had the Fat and Fiber plan. Basically, for a woman, you had to have 15-30 grams of fat per day. It seems like the minimum of fiber was 15 grams  per day. You were required, I think,  to have 5 fruits and veggies daily. You could even include juice! Like all diets, you had to drink your 8 glasses of water.

I did really great on the Fat and Fiber plan. I went to aerobics three times a week. I weighed in every Saturday morning. Chip and I would go walking. Jeans were fitting better. I think I lost close to 25 pounds. I even got a little ribbon! I don’t remember how long I was on it. I still have my little log book somewhere.

That brings us to diet #3.

bathroom scale

It seems to be fashionable to say one is making “lifestyle changes” or some fruity sounding phrase. Hooey! It’s a diet!

You know what else is Hooey??? The phrase “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” Excuse me! Apparently, whoever made that up has never eaten Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and gravy or Cocoa Cola Cake or Strawberry Delight or….

Okay, I get it, we DO intend to incorporate those new eating habits forever. Skinny does feel good. I get it!

So, diet #3. You know, there is always a trigger of some sort that pushes you into that diet. Maybe you just want your jeans to fit a little better. Maybe you see a picture of yourself and gasp! Maybe you have a reunion coming up soon.

Actually, this “life change” has been a long time coming.

You know, after the kids were born, I lost the baby weight pretty quickly. The nursing for 15 months helped, I’m sure. Then the chasing of toddlers was also beneficial. Somehow, I guess I got in a rut. There was lots of late night snacking on things I didn’t want the kids to have. Wow! Super Mom!

As the kids got a little older, they were off and running, doing their own things. They didn’t really need Mom to push them in the swing any more. They wanted to SHOW Mom all they could do by themselves. So, Mom pulled up a chair and a glass of lemonade and watched from the sidelines. I guess that is where I have been for the past several years.

I am an emotional eater.

When I’m happy–I eat.

When I am stressed–I eat.

When I am bored–I eat.

I am also a grazer and a sugar-holic.

I blog about food! Hello!

The sugar thing has been on my mind for a while. I KNEW I had to do something about it. No, I didn’t get a bad doctor’s report or anything like that. I just knew.

A couple of years ago, I gave a stab a cutting back sugar. Listen to what I did…I quit adding fancy creamers to my coffee. However, I can’t stand drinking black coffee, so I added CREAM! Yeah, I’m thinking that didn’t really accomplish a lot.

When I first got my iPad, I downloaded tons of free apps. One was My Fitness Pal.

My Fitness Pal

Well, there that app sat on my iPad for a year with me never using it.

After Christmas, the only options left for my jeans was buy bigger ones or lose weight.

This time I actually TOLD my family and friends that I was going on a diet. I figured I might start to get some weird looks at the dinner table if I didn’t prep the family first.

I started using the My Fitness Pal app. All it is is a place to log your food and exercise. The app keeps up with your calories, fat grams, carbs, sugars, proteins, all that! There is also a “community” you can belong to if you choose.

I really like using it. There is even a place to add recipe ingredients to figure out the info. on things you cook at home! THAT I really like! You can use the online version, too, but I like the app better. It keeps up with the sugars.

I have been using the app since the first of the year. So far I have lost 9 pounds! My family has been GREAT encouragement. Chip and I go walking from time to time. The kids ask me to play the Wii dance game with them. Hooray! I am not on the sidelines any more.

So far, I am just trying to stick to the 1200 calories/day. It was hard at first. I’m learning! I am TRYING to stay within the limit of 24 grams of sugar per day. Now THAT is hard for this sugar baby!

I haven’t started any major exercise regimen just yet. I can only handle one major life change at this moment.

Really, I guess this diet has helped me be much more intentional about what I eat. I suppose I shouldn’t look at “diet” as a “4-letter word” any more.

How about you? Did you start the “D” word at the first of the year? What is working for you? Do you have a fabulous low-cal recipe to share? Leave me a comment.

I’ve been feeling a little under the weather the past couple of days. Wouldn’t you know it, sore throat and sinus pressure always strike when I have a week of singing. Monday, I had the privilege of singing in a double quartet on a local morning tv show to help promote the event at which my chorus will sing on Friday–regular chorus rehearsal on Tuesday–quartet performance on Wednesday–Thursday, rehearsal with a different quartet–performance Friday.

Ahhh, the life of a Sweet Adeline! I love it! Click here to read about my chorus.

So, in order to survive this week, I have pulled out my trusty recipe for Singer’s Tea. This recipe comes from Darlene Rogers. Darlene is one of the brilliant women who often coaches our chorus. She knows a thing or two about what is good for singers.

Singer’s Tea (Serve warm. Sipping is recommended.)

1 fresh ginger root

1 can apple juice concentrate (6 oz.)

1 fresh lemon

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/3 cup honey

Chop ginger root into 1/4 inch slice rounds (about 8-10 inches of the root) and boil (simmer) for 45 minutes. Add cayenne, honey, lemon and apple juice concentrate to taste.

This tea warms and soothes the throat, cuts mucous and stimulates circulation.
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This time I boiled my ginger root in apple cider rather than water or apple juice. I drink tea without any sweetener. Using the apple cider rather than the concentrate cut some of the sweetness. You will have to adjust all of the ingredients to your taste. The ginger and cayenne really give this tea a kick! The longer it sits, the stronger it gets! (thus the suggestion for sipping)

This tea doesn’t have magical healing powers. It sure does feel good going down though!

Thanks, Darlene, for sharing this!