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The Death of the G.O.P… And the Rise of the Dems…

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So we’ve survived this last round of presidential elections and I managed to only discuss it in the Twitterverse.  Then Romney and Ryan and the other annoying “r” guy… Rove, began their assault on the voting public due to their failure to acquire a win.  There are some significant lessons to be learned here for Democrats and Republicans alike.

But first, a little history… In 1991, at the tender age of 18, I registered as a Republican for my first election.  Why? Well, it was contrary to my parents political views and I did believe it to be the original party of Lincoln.  Parenthetically, based on the cheesy films I was exposed to in the ’80’s, I also thought it was the party of rich people and by being one, I’d somehow be rich.  That never happened.  Ultimately, William Jefferson Clinton happened to me and I was wooed over to declare my status as a Democrat where I have remained since, firmly aligned with core democratic values and principles.  But I digress.

It is worth noting that Ronald Reagan began his career as a Democrat and later switched to the Republican party. (Under the Republican party he served as Governor of California and ultimately succeeded Jimmy Carter as President of the United States.) While I began as a Republican, I associated myself as a Republican with liberal leanings, who was very concerned with social issues and ensuring that all people had basic needs met, without necessarily having big government.  In short, I was and continue to be at heart, a Lincoln Republican. This context is relevant because as a voter who is (1) female, (2) a child of social and political activist, (3) Caribbean descent (specifically Puerto Rican and Barbadian), and (4) politically astute, I am not your typical run of the mill voted down the ticket voter.  I vote and have voted across party lines.  I stay informed on current and historical trends.  I live and love politics and believe in our government and leadership.  I’ve read the constitution, the bill of rights.  In short, I am a true Lincoln Republican/moderate Democrat.

But the reality is that party of Lincoln no longer exists.  And Reagan Republicans have been forced out of the Republican party because they are too moderate and/or liberal in their leanings to be accepted.  Even Senator John McCain’s daughter and wife have advised Republicans to evolve or die.  And while many liberals  and conservative, extreme leftist and right wingers don’t care if the Republicans evolve or not, I do.  I care about those who have been left out of the political process because they don’t fit an either/or category.  I care that it is in the interest of the citizens of this country to have at minimum a two-party system (if not a multi-party system) which, focuses more on policies than rhetoric.  Americans should have a real opportunity to choose the best leaders to represent us, not least bad of two.  And more importantly, I care where those votes will go over the next four years, in 2016, and beyond.

So, where does that leave us?

With a Democratic party that was against the ropes in 2010 and rebounded thanks to a sect of extreme right-wing social conservatives that managed to hold hostage the Republican party.  And with GOPers became weak-kneed and scared that folks like the Tea Party Movement (note movement, not party) had somehow created a large and concentrated base that required pandering to.  Everyone jumped on that fascist band wagon and Republicans moved from the middle to the far right in order to show an essentially racist coalition, that they were on their side.  In 2010, the Dems were reeling from a butt kicking, the GOP is now in the same boat.

2008 brought back the Lee Atwater Southern Republican strategy (a la Karl Rove per Reagan) to scare the crap out of White Americans regarding African Americans.  They increased their efforts around utilizing  “code words” to speak to those fears publicly and institutionally in the hallowed halls of government.  And it was this particular strategy, the Atwater strategy, that Romney and Ryan employed in this election.  Only we saw it.  We knew.  And, as Americans (with a slim majority 50.6% vs 47.8%) we did not find it acceptable.  This election was a fight about the soul of America; who we are and what we represent.

Let me be clear (and I say this as an Obama supporter) I agree with my good friend, Obama would not have won had Romney stayed true to his core moderate Republican roots and base.  Had Romney remained centered and not pandered to the racist and extremist base as he did, women, liberals, Latinos (who are a diverse and disparate voting bloc), independents, and those who were disappointed in his performance would not have voted for Obama.  But instead, Romney’s inconsistencies, his rhetoric, along with those of Fox News idiots, and the Rush Limbaugh’s of the world ensured an Obama win through their Atwater-ish stupidity. And even now they continue.

The GOP need to realize, people by in large did not vote for Obama per se. They voted to reject the GOP’s message and proposed policies.  They voted to send a message to the party that while they were pissed off at Obama in 2010, they are thoroughly disgusted with the direction that the party has gone in 2012.  Marco Rubio is changing his stance (passively), Bobby Jindal is back to opening his mouth after being silenced by his party,  and other prominent Republican leaders are suggesting that the party reflect and regroup (via a proctology exam).

The GOP as is should die.  The level of hate and racism emitting from the party’s leadership and its pundits is divisive and horrible for this country.  As Meghan McCain stated in her Tweet, it must evolve, it must reflect the growing diversity that is America, it must embrace its roots as the party of Lincoln, it must review in great detail, it’s decision to move so far to the right and those implications. OR it should embrace it’s current extreme configuration with aplomb.  And if they do, those with any basic sense and love for this country, should create a nationally recognized 3rd party that holds true the core principles of the Republicans while ensuring its evolution.

And my fellow Dems should take heed. We should not pat ourselves on our collective backs or rest on our laurels.  People, throughout this nation, are pissed off and disenfranchised with their political leadership.  From local state races to major national races, the people are getting tired of the bullshit.  And they should.  With social media being utilized to share information and call out mis-information, we have a more sophisticated constituency who seeks results and accountability of its leadership.  Obama won by 2.8%.  That isn’t much and it is a message for those in either party willing to listen.  While the GOP is licking it’s wounds, now is the time to batten down the hatches, take a good look at ourselves, and make sure that the next election (when the campaign begins in roughly 2.5) we can give the voting public a clear reason why they should continue to let us represent them. Because the jury on that is still out.  And there is enough time to rebuild a  party or create a New Republican Party…

So you’ve hit a plateau… NOW WHAT???

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So you’ve gone through all the proper steps in your weight loss journey – you’ve assessed your weight loss readiness (check), you have found the time to exercise (check), you are eating right (check).  It’s all groovy, you are  managing your nutrition and health – then BOOM!  You hit a wall.  THE WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAU!!!! (wah!) That confounded weight loss plateau that all of us hit sooner or later and get frustrated about… but what happens here? Many of us revert, many of us fall back into old habits, sometimes out of fear, frustration, anger (insert emotion here).  Sometimes we indulge in treats to pat ourselves on the back for a good job.  So how do you know when you hit a plateau and what do you do when you hit it?

Let’s look at what a weight loss plateau is and what is means  for your body (and in keeping it real with ourselves, just to make sure you are actually hitting a plateau rather than cheating/patting yourself on the back.  What? Just saying).

My good friends at the Mayo Clinic  of course have the answers to these questions and more.  They are a great resource for you on your weight loss journey and you’ll notice, I reference them often.  Here, I am just asking the questions and they provide all the answers.

What is a weight-loss plateau?

A weight-loss plateau occurs when you no longer lose weight despite continuing with your exercise and healthy-eating habits. Being stuck at a weight-loss plateau eventually happens to everyone who is trying to lose weight. At that point, losing additional weight becomes more difficult. Although hitting a plateau is common, most people are surprised when it happens to them, believing that if they just maintain a reduced-calorie diet, they should continue to lose weight. The frustrating reality is that even well-planned weight-loss efforts can become stalled.

Akilah’s Editorial: If you are losing a lot of weight (50+ pounds) it is conceivable that you will hit a weight loss plateau more than once.  Your body is attempting to adjust to the new metabolic rate, the fact that your body may have become accostumed to exercises, etc.  So be prepared and know what to do.  How do you know what do you? Understand what causes the plateau…

What causes a weight-loss plateau?

The progression from initial weight loss to a weight-loss plateau follows a typical pattern. During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop in pounds is normal. When calories from food are reduced, the body gets needed energy by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen holds onto water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it also releases the water — about 4 grams of water for every gram of glycogen — resulting in substantial weight loss that’s mostly water.

A plateau occurs because your metabolism — the process of burning calories for energy — slows as you lose lean tissue (muscle). When you lose weight, you lose both fat and lean tissue. (The notion that overweight people have a slower metabolism is a myth. In general, the higher a person’s weight, the higher the body’s metabolic rate.) Your weight-loss efforts result in a new equilibrium with your now slower metabolism. This means that in order to lose more weight, you need to increase activity or decrease the calories you eat. Using the same approach that worked initially will maintain your weight loss, but it won’t lead to more weight loss.

Akilah’s Editorial: In order to continue losing more fat, you will have to change your activity.  If you are into yoga, rev up your strength training.  Increase the time spent on cardio. Instead of working out 3x a week at 30 min, try 4x a week for 45 min.  Changes and increases in the types of activity you do will help tremendously… coupled with lowering your caloric intake will change how your body functions and if done healthfully get you through your plateau. I would recommend talking to your doctor and nutritionist about changes to your exercise and eating program.

How can you overcome a weight-loss plateau?

If you’re at a plateau, you may have lost all of the weight you will given the number of calories you’re eating each day and the time you spend exercising. At this point, you need to ask yourself if you’re satisfied with your current weight or if you want to lose more, in which case you’ll need to adjust your weight-loss program. (Akilah’s editorial: You may have to do this several times before you hit your weight goal target depending on how much you are trying to lose.)  If you’re committed to losing more weight, try these tips for getting past the plateau:

  • Reassess your habits. Look back at your food and activity records. Make sure you haven’t loosened the rules, letting yourself get by with larger portions or less exercise.
  • Cut more calories. Reduce your daily calorie intake by 200 calories — provided this doesn’t put you below 1,200 calories. Fewer than 1,200 calories a day may not be enough to keep you from feeling hungry all of the time, which increases your risk of overeating.
  • Rev up your workout. Increase the amount of time you exercise by an additional 15 to 30 minutes. You might also try increasing the intensity of your exercise, if you feel that’s possible. Additional exercise will cause you to burn more calories.
  • Pack more activity into your day. Think outside the gym. Increase your general physical activity throughout the day by walking more and using your car less, or try doing more yardwork or vigorous spring cleaning.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing in addressing any plateau is NOT to go back into old habits that are harmful to your work and health.  If you are hitting a genuine plateau, that says you’ve come so far, why go back to bad habits.  Consider this a time to challenge yourself further, change your exercise, try jogging, train for a sprint triathelon, learn to swim, play tennis, do something that is better for your mind and body that will allow you to continue to meet your goals.

Good luck!

Finding Time to Exercise

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Now that we’ve done the self-assessment to determine weight loss readiness here and you’ve determined that you are ready to shed the extra weight, let’s talk about another challenge that we often face in our weight loss journey…  Finding time to exercise (thank you Melinda Alexis-Hayes for the idea)…

Many of us often do not exercise because we say we can’t find the time for it or life is too busy right now (insert excuse here).  It’s time for a reality check…  You CANNOT lose weight and get healthy without exercise.  You can lose some weight changing your eating habits but if you want to see real change, you HAVE to incorporate exercise into your life on a regular – at minimum 2 hours a week – basis.  Optimally, you want to work out 5-6 times a week and incorporate strength training into the mix.

So, you know how much you are supposed to exercise, again, how do you get past the everyday of your “everyday” work, stress, family, obligations, etc.  What do you do in order to find the time to exercise? Well, here’s my list:

Put aside your excuses.  Just stop making them, put them aside.

Make it a priority. You make time to eat, sleep, and potty.  Exercise should be on that list of priorities.

Don’t get frustrated.  People always like to see immediate results and that’s not how it works.  You gained weight over time, you lose weight over time.

Wake up early. If coming home and working out seems to be inconvenient, then perhaps getting up early will give you the time you need to be good to yourself.

Do your chores! Yes, cleaning the house thoroughly (mopping, sweeping, scrubbing stoves and floors) burns lots of calories.  Washing dishes and cooking burns calories.  You could have a clean house and get your exercise in simultaneously!

Maximize time.  Want to watch television? Fine, but don’t just sit there.  Stretch, do your crunches, use hand weights, do planks, ride a stationary bike, whatever works for you, but get it in while you are watching that episode of Mob Wives, Basketball Wives, Housewives of NJ/ALT/NY/OC, A Tale of Two Wives…

 Or skip the tv and workout during lunch or before heading home after work.

Incorporate family time into your workout.  During the summer, my daughter and husband (and I) like to eat ices.  So we all walk 30 minutes to the nearest Uncle Louis’ frozen ice /ice cream shop and eat our ices walking another 30 minutes home.  Or when in a pinch, my kid rides her bike 3 miles while I jog trying to catch up (she is a sadist because she loves this).  Play tag, play hide and seek, not only will you bond with your kid, but get to burn calories.

Find a buddy. If you are like me, you would much rather workout solo than with people.  But some people really need a buddy and finding one creates co-accountability and support.

DANCE! Zumba, dancing, salsa, dancing with your kids, partner, etc…  These are all great ways of creating opportunities for fitness.  Or just dance with your daughter.  I grab brushes and my daughter and I sing and dance and sweat.  Then mommy gets to relax while mini me crashes for the night. 🙂

Avoid boredom! Netflix and your local library have fitness dvd’s that allow you to change up regularly so your routine aren’t so routine.

Get a trainer. If you are spending money on a trainer, he/she will hold you accountable for showing up.

Do it differently with the little things. Instead of taking the elevator at work or home, take the stairs.  Instead of sitting on the train, stand.  All of these little changes add up to calories burned.

Keep it short. Keeping exercise to 20-30 minutes a few times a week will allow you to get your workout in with less time.

Invest in equipment. If you think that you need a bowflex or something to help you get into the groove of exercising, I say go for it if it makes it easier for you.

Now, if you absolutely CANNOT find a way to fit in exercise into your life after this, then I don’t know what to tell ya… Good luck!

Assessing Weight Loss Readiness

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One of the biggest impediments for anyone seeking to lose weight is attempting to do so when you are not ready.  How do you know you are ready?  The Mayo Clinic has done a pretty good job of creating a list of questions that serves as a self-assessment.  (Source: Mayo Clinic)  Questions are courtesy of the Mayo Clinic, the answers are my own.

Let the assessment begin…

1. Are you motivated to make long-term lifestyle changes?

This is important because losing weight is founded on a willingness to incorporate a whole lifestyle change.  You cannot accomplish much or confront your challenges if you are looking for a quick fix and not willing to do the hard work and heavy lifting.  The bad habits that get us into negative conditions have to be reversed and incorporated into healthier habits.

2. Have you addressed the big distractions in your life?

As an emotional eater and drinker, stress, pain, depression, and other hardships resulted in me spending more time sitting on my butt consuming food rather than using exercise and healthy habits to deal with and overcome my distractions and challenges.

 

3. Do you have a realistic picture of how much weight you’ll lose and how quickly?

If you are a female that weighs 300 lbs, it is NOT realistic to think you are going to be 125 lbs within the year.  In fact, I’d say you are setting yourself up for major failure and fall back.  At my heaviest, I just wanted to get healthy and that was my goal.  Now, I have a weight loss goal in mine that is realistic but that’s after losing the first 50 lbs.  Remember, losing 1-2 a week is healthy and is great, and there will be plateaus and weeks where you may not lose that weight.  But week-by-week, you have to burn more than you consume (3500 calories to lose a pound).

Even more interesting, it’s typically easier to lose weight at the front end (beginning) than at the back end (the closer you get to your goal, the harder it will be to lose it).  Frustrating? Yes, I am there with you. 😉

 

4. Have you resolved any emotional issues connected to your weight?

It’s hard to resolve emotional issues connected to your weight.  I know because I went through that process and it sucked, it was hard, I had to face many things about myself and my life choices that were uncomfortable.  But you come out of it better off, which each pound shed, you can find a better understand of self and love of self.  It’s healing, it’s cathartic, it’s important…  And it is critical to losing weight.

5. Do you have support and accountability?

It is incredibly difficult to be successful in losing weight if you do not have a support system and a positive means of being held accountable.  Finding a life coach, a therapist, an exercise group, a sister circle, good friends, etc…  All factor into being successful in your weight loss journey.  If you have someone constantly putting you down or have low self-esteem, it will wreck havoc on your capacity to be successful in your journey.

 

6. Have you embraced the weight-loss challenge?

Like anything in life, it’s all an issue of mind over matter.  If you have a positive approach to your weight loss journey, then you can be successful.  And be prepared for the highs and lows that come with it.  If you are mentally strong, you can be successful.

 

Anything else?

Sure, I would also add that you should not attempt to lose weight if you are not ready.  It’s just set up for failure.  I would urge anyone thinking about losing weight to do the research, find an exercise that works for you, accept the challenges ahead, and embrace the success.

Know that you aren’t the only person who has been here and you aren’t the only one who will struggle.  There will be bad days and good days, victories and cheats…  but you’ll get through this.

The truth about Diabetes (and Weight)

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As some of you know, in my ongoing effort to manage my Type 2 diabetes, I am reading, researching, juicing, experimenting, and devouring kernals of knowledge that will make me healthier and keep me on course with respect to my own regiment.  I know I probably sound like a baby bitching about taking pills when there are people (a close friend included) shooting straight insulin daily, sometimes several times a day…  And I know how that feels from my bout with gestational diabetes…  However, I also feel strongly that  this doesn’t have to be my reality and I want to affect change within my body.  So with enough elbow grease, maybe I can “defeat” this condition…

That said, today is one of those days when I feel like my diabetes is here for the long haul and isn’t going to go away… that maybe its the universe’s way of keeping me honest and in check for life (I don’t like that notion because I hate being regulated by anyone).  The truth is diabetes drives my desire to lose weight.  But there are some real consequences with respect to just having diabetes… there are day-to-day realities, when in spite of my best efforts, my numbers SUCK moose ca-ca.  There are days when I am too high because I did cheat and eat some tortilla chips (which I LOVE with guacamole or salsa) or when subtle hormone fluctuations cause my pancreas to be even more insulin resistant than it’s been…  There are days when I feel lazy due to high/low numbers and don’t want to work out and in not working out, my BGNs are crappy.  There are days when I am so wound up at work and forget to eat that I go low and don’t realize it until I am woozy and feel like a run down battery… The fact is diabetes has a tremendous impact on my life and I wish it would go away.  However, it is directly connected to my weight and activity… so, while it’s not going away (as quickly as I’d like)… my goal is to make it go away.

My sister, who is a nurse, is one of my biggest supporters and sources of information.  She regularly reminds me that  me I am doing great and have made tremendous strides in the last 12 months and I should be proud and stop pushing myself so hard.  But me pushing has gotten me to where I am… further, here is why I think I should push.

Type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes) is typically tied to weight, being overweight or obese.  Why? Because, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the definition of diabetes is the result of the body having difficulty controlling sugar levels in the bloodstream. In a normal functioning body, the pancreas (located in the abdomen)  produces insulin, which is the the hormone that regulates our blood sugar levels.  The location of the pancreas is important and I’ll get to that in a minute – read on.

For those with type 1 diabetes (which usually starts by the early teen years), the body does not make enough insulin to control blood sugar, so they must receive insulin injections.  Essentially, in the case of type 1, the pancreas does not function in a normally and weight isn’t necessarily a factor here.

HOWEVER, for those type 2 diabetes, the body has become resistant to the effects of insulin.  Remember, Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adulthood but can also occur in overweight children which I’ve written about  in a previous blog.  While a family history of diabetes can be a major consideration for type 2 diabetes, excess weight,especially weight carried around the middle, are strong risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.

Why is that last sentance important? Go up a bit and read the part where the pancreas is located in the abdomen.  If we are carrying a bunch of fat around our abdomen and it interferes with our external body, what kind of impact do you think those juicy little fat cells are posing to our internal organs?  We know that fat deposits that build up in arteries can cause a heart attack or stroke, we know that fat build up in the eyes can cause blindness, we know that fat built up in any part of the body (organs, veins, etc) can create a problem.  What does that tell you? (obvious question inserted here)

There IS a direct correlation between fat/fat deposits and it’s capacity to screw up our body’s functions.  This is why losing weight around the middle greatly reduces your chances for type 2 diabetes and can help bring your blood sugar under control if you already have type 2 diabetes.

Why is this important? (another obvious question)  I am getting to that.  Because diet and exercise have been shown in clinical research to significantly improve the health conditions of patients with type 2 diabetes.  I am going to use myself as an example to further show a correlation – when I dropped from a size 20 to a 16, my metformin was cut in half by my doctor because my A1C had vastly improved from nearly 11 to 7.  My belly fat had been significantly reduced and the result for my pancreas was better function.  Now, I am a size 14 (working goal is 10/12).

Here’s something else:

On February 7 and 8 2011 my BGNs were as follows:

2/7/11  Fasting: 292   Midday: 287  Pre-bed: 198  – 2/7/12 Fasting: 83  Midday: 99   Pre-bed: 87

2/8/11 Fasting: 196    Midday: 252  Pre-bed: 200 – 2/8/12  Fasting: 91  Midday: 90   Pre-bed: 86

A1C: 10.8    A1C: 5.7

This tells me that while I am still currently stuck on that damn metformin pill once a day (for the moment), my body is functioning significantly better with 1/2 the dose than it did a year ago.  I’ve also further decreased my dress size which again decreases the belly fat taking some of the pressure off of organs and promoting healthy functions among my organs, especially those located around the middle like say, the pancreas.

That said, what else do you need to know about diabetes?  (Source: American Diabetes Association)

Total prevalence of diabetes

Total: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.

Diagnosed: 18.8 million people

Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people

Prediabetes: 79 million people*

New Cases: 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010.

* In contrast to the 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, which used fasting glucose data to estimate undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes, the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet uses both fasting glucose and A1C levels to derive estimates for undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes. These tests were chosen because they are most frequently used in clinical practice.

Race and ethnic differences in prevalence of diagnosed diabetes

After adjusting for population age differences, 2007-2009 national survey data for people diagnosed with diabetes, aged 20 years or older include the following prevalence by race/ethnicity:

  • 7.1% of non-Hispanic whites
  • 8.4% of Asian Americans
  • 12.6% of non-Hispanic blacks
  • 11.8% of Hispanics

Among Hispanics rates were:

  • 7.6% for Cubans
  • 13.3% for Mexican Americans
  • 13.8% for Puerto Ricans (Me encanta mi gente but we have to get healthier!)

Morbidity and Mortality

  • In 2007, diabetes was listed as the underlying cause on 71,382 death certificates and was listed as a contributing factor on an additional 160,022 death certificates. This means that diabetes contributed to a total of 231,404 deaths.

Complications

Heart disease and stroke

  • In 2004, heart disease was noted on 68% of diabetes-related death certificates among people aged 65 years or older.
  • In 2004, stroke was noted on 16% of diabetes-related death certificates among people aged 65 years or older.
  • Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes.
  • The risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes.

High blood pressure

  • In 2005-2008, of adults aged 20 years or older with self-reported diabetes, 67% had blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg or used prescription medications for hypertension.

Blindness

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20–74 years.
  • In 2005-2008, 4.2 million (28.5%) people with diabetes aged 40 years or older had diabetic retinopathy, and of these, almost 0.7 million (4.4% of those with diabetes) had advanced diabetic retinopathy that could lead to severe vision loss.

Kidney disease

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44% of new cases in 2008.
  • In 2008, 48,374 people with diabetes began treatment for end-stage kidney disease in the United States.
  • In 2008, a total of 202,290 people with end-stage kidney disease due to diabetes were living on chronic dialysis or with a kidney transplant in the United States.

Nervous system disease (Neuropathy)

  • About 60% to 70% of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nervous system damage.

Amputation

  • More than 60% of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.
  • In 2006, about 65,700 nontraumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in people with diabetes.

Cost of Diabetes

  • $174 billion: Total costs of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2007
  • $116 billion for direct medical costs
  • $58 billion for indirect costs (disability, work loss, premature mortality)

After adjusting for population age and sex differences, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association has created a Diabetes Cost Calculator that takes the national cost of diabetes data and provides estimates at the state and congressional district level.  Factoring in the additional costs of undiagnosed diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes brings the total cost of diabetes in the United States in 2007 to $218 billion.

  • $18 billion for people with undiagnosed diabetes
  • $25 billion for American adults with prediabetes
  • $623 million for gestational diabetes

So knowing all of this and seeing how much it cost to have diabetes, doesn’t it make way more sense to take a sensible approach to this disease? Sure, it’s not a “sexy” disease like breast cancer (and I don’t think breast cancer is sexy) so therefore the support for and funding sources aren’t the same as say Komen (never mind!!!!).  We don’t have a mass group of people talking about it relative to taking a comprehensive approach in fighting it.  Diabetes is typically that throw away word that gets wrapped into and under other health conditions and complications… but as a stand alone disease, diabetes has the capacity to cause serious complications and problems.  And type 2 diabetes doesn’t have to claim as many people as it does in this country if we just became a bit more aware of its relationship to fat.

Type 2 diabetes is what I call my fat disease.  When I get fat, I get it.  When I hit 230 during pregnancy, I got gestational diabetes.  When I hit 243 from laziness and food, I got type 2 diabetes…  At 185 and size 14, it hasn’t really gone away… yet.  But I have some more fat to get rid of… stay tuned.

Can food really be thy medicine?

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I’ve spent the better part of the year learning about nutrition, exercise, losing weight, portions.  Moreso, I have spent the better part of the last year learning what is healthy and good for me. I don’t claim expertise in any of this but I can claim a level of expertise with respect to my own well being.  Sometimes that translates to others.

More and more,  I have been reading about  medical and clinical research relative to using food in the context of managing a condition (high blood pressure, heart conditions, cancer, migraines, etc).  So my research into nutrition, health, and weight loss has broadened to look at how food can actually improve or even reverse health conditions.  Crazy, right?  Except, not so much.  Remember in one of my previous notes, I talked about you are what you eat?  In another I referenced the important of micronutrients?  Additionally, there are studies that have been  noted in various documentaries, including The China Study by Dr. Colin Campbell (Professor Emeritus at Cornell) which was prominently featured in Forks Over Knives (http://www.forksoverknives.com/).  Or any of the books published by Alex Jack who published 265 studies of the impact of whole foods on body, mind, and environment as well as his own research.  Then we have Food, Inc. which discusses how companies have changed how our food is even raised (genetically modified and hormone induced meats and vegetables).  Jamie Oliver started a Food Revolution (http://www.jamieoliver.com/us/foundation/jamies-food-revolution/about) to combat poor nutrition and its impacts on our children.  And of course, there is Joe Cross of Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (http://www.hulu.com/watch/289122/fat-sick-and-nearly-dead) fame, who used whole foods and micronutrients to completely reverse his medical conditions.  Amazing how all this “new” research is coming up.

Well, turns out Hippocrates, that genius that he was, may have started this whole thing and been on to something meaningful when he said “Let food be thy medicine.”  It is an undisputed, scientific fat that all non processed micronutrients (see plant-based foods) have some important medicinal capacity that benefits the human body.  So eating these foods (which don’t often make it onto our plates) is of tremendous benefit to us.  These “superfoods” supply the body with important nutrients that make us healthier.

 

So the real question is, is there a list of “superfoods”?  Actually… yes.  It can be found here:

http://www.healthfoodmadeeasy.com/superfoods-list/

and I’ve included that link’s list of over 100 superfoods here it in this note as an easy reference (scroll down so you can cut and paste and include on your shopping list!).

Now clearly there are foods on this list that some may be allergic to or not like or whatever.  Use your judgement but understand that these foods are considered superfoods because of their health benefits and medicinal qualities; and including them in your daily diet allows you to eat in a healthier way.  But DO NOT forget moderation.

And because I don’t feel like I stress this enough, WATER!  Our bodies are 90% water and we need to hydrate regularly.  Make sure you are attempting to get to 68 ounces daily (yes, you pee a lot but who cares your body will thank you!).  Don’t forget to buy organic (certified organic if possible) so you can be sure that your foods haven’t been inundated with pesticides and hormones and crap that is generally put into our food.

Now, why are you sitting there reading this? Go eat some super foods!

 

  1. Acai (antioxidants, omega-9 fats)
  2. Almonds (protein and fiber)
  3. Amaranth (highest protein in any grain)
  4. Apples (vitamin C, fiber, phytonutrients)
  5. Apricots (vitamin A and beta-carotene)
  6. Artichoke (vitamin C, fiber, minerals, silymarin, 7th out of top 100 antioxidant foods)
  7. Asparagus (C and B vitamins, antioxidants)
  8. Avocados (monounsaturated fat & other nutrients)
  9. Bananas (vitamins C & B6, fiber, potassium)
  10. Barley (fiber, vitamins & minerals)
  11. Basil (antioxidants)
  12. Beans (protein and fiber)
  13. Beef, Lean (protein, B vitamins, selenium and zinc)
  14. Beets (phytonutrients, carotenoids)
  15. Blackberries (antioxidants, vitamin C, phytochemicals)
  16. Blueberries (antioxidants, phytochemicals)
  17. Broccoli (vitamin and beta-carotene, cancer-fighting compounds)
  18. Buckwheat (fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, manganese)
  19. Cabbage (vitamin C, fiber)
  20. Cantaloupe (beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, fiber)
  21. Cardamom (antioxidants, fights H. pylori bacteria)
  22. Carob (fiber, protein, minerals, antioxidants)
  23. Carrots (carotene, fiber, vitamins & minerals)
  24. Cauliflower (fiber, vitamin C, biotin, folate, phytochemical)
  25. Celery (vitamin A, minerals)
  26. Cheese, low-fat (calcium, protein)
  27. Cherries (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals)
  28. Cilantro/Coriander (phytonutrients, minerals)
  29. Cinnamon (antioxidants, minerals)
  30. Cloves (vitamins C & K, minerals, fiber, eugenol)
  31. Cod (protein, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins)
  32. Collard greens (antioxidants, vitamin C, beta-carotene, minerals)
  33. Corn (fiber, vitamins, phytochemicals)
  34. Cranberries (vitamin C, fiber, phytonutrients)
  35. Cumin (iron, lowers blood-glucose)
  36. Currants (vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants)
  37. Eggplant (minerals, fiber, flavonoids)
  38. Eggs (high protein vitamins B and D)
  39. Elderberries (high vitamin C, flavonoids, antioxidants)
  40. Fennel (fiber, potassium, vitamin C, phytochemicals)
  41. Figs (high fiber, minerals, polyphenols, antioxidents)
  42. Flaxseeds (omega-3 fats, fiber, lignans)
  43. Garlic (phytochemicals)
  44. Ginger (antioxidants)
  45. Goji Berries or Wolfberries (beta-carotene and zeaxanthin)
  46. Grapefruit (vitamin C minerals, phytonutrients)
  47. Grapes (vitamin C, potassium, resveratrol)
  48. Guava (vitamins C & A, fiber potassium, phytochemicals)
  49. Halibut (protein, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids)
  50. Hazelnuts (protein, fiber, antioxidants, folate)
  51. Honey (trace enzymes, minerals, amino acids, flavonoids, antioxidants, prebiotic)
  52. Kale (nutrient dense, vitamins, minerals, folate, phytochemicals, lutein)
  53. Kiwi (nutrient dense vitamin C, lutein)
  54. Lemons (vitamin C, limonene and other flavonoids)
  55. Limes (powerful phytochemicals, antioxidants)
  56. Mangoes (vitamins A, C and K, potassium, carotenes)
  57. Maple Syrup (manganese, zinc)
  58. Millet (fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids)
  59. Mint (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals)
  60. Molasses, Blackstrap (calcium, iron and other minerals)
  61. Mushrooms (selenium, B vitamins, potassium vitamin D)
  62. Oats (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber)
  63. Olives & Olive Oil (monounsaturated fat, polyphenols are antioxidants)
  64. Onions (flavonoids quercetin is antioxidant, other phytochemicals)
  65. Oranges (potassium, vitamin C, folate, phytochemicals)
  66. Oregano (strong antioxidants carotenoids)
  67. Papaya (vitamins C &A, carotenoids)
  68. Parsley (vitamin C, iodine, iron, phytochemicals)
  69. Passionfruit (vitamin A & C, potassium, calcium, iron, phytochemicals)
  70. Peanuts (resveratol and other antioxidants)
  71. Pears (vitamin C, potassium, fiber antioxidants)
  72. Pecans (thiamine, magnesium, protein, fiber, antioxidants, oleic acid)
  73. Pepper, Black (improves digestion, antioxidant, antibacterial)
  74. Pepper, Cayenne (capsaicin, beta-carotene, thermogenesis)
  75. Pepper, Chili (vitamins A & C, potassium, iron, capsaicin)
  76. Peppers (vitamin C, beat-carotene & B vitamins flavonoids, capsaicinoids)
  77. Persimmon (vitamin A, C, and fiber, antioxidants, minerals)
  78. Pineapple (vitamins C & B6, manganese,, copper, anti-inflammatory bromelain)
  79. Pistachios (fiber, protein, potassium, phytosterols)
  80. Plums/Prunes (fiber, potassium, vitamin K, iron, antioxidants)
  81. Pomegranates (vitamin C, antioxidants, polyphenol)
  82. Potatoes (vitamin C, potassium, antioxidants)
  83. Poultry, Chicken & Turkey (protein, niacin, selenium)
  84. Pumpkin (fiber, potassium, vitamin A, beta-carotenes)
  85. Pumpkin seeds (omega-3 fatty acids, phytosterols)
  86. Quinoa (more protein than any other grain, iron, vitamins)
  87. Raisins (phytonutrients, boron)
  88. Raspberries (fiber, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin C, antioxidants)
  89. Rice, Brown (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals)
  90. Romaine Lettuce (vitamins A & C folic acid, minerals)
  91. Rosemary (antioxidants)
  92. Rye (fiber, lignans, vitamins and minerals)
  93. Salmon (omega-3 fatty acids)
  94. Sardines (omega-3 fatty acids, calcium)
  95. Sesame (lignans, phytosterols)
  96. Shrimp (protein, selenium, vitamins D and B12, omega-3 fatty acids)
  97. Spelt (B vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein)
  98. Spinach (fiber, folate, vitamin K, minerals)
  99. Strawberries (vitamin C, folate, potassium, fiber, antioxidants)
  100. Sunflower Seeds (Vitamin E, folate, minerals, phytosterols)
  101. Sweet Potatoes (Vitamin A and beta-carotene, minerals, fiber)
  102. Swiss chard (fiber, vitamins A, C & K)
  103. Tea (flavonoids)
  104. Tomatoes (vitamin C, potassium phytosterols, beta-carotene lycopene)
  105. Tumeric (vitamins, minerals, antioxidant curcumin)
  106. Tuna (protein, minerals, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids)
  107. Walnuts (omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals)
  108. Watermelon (lycopene)
  109. Whole Wheat (antioxidants, vitamins)
  110. Whey protein (amino acids)
  111. Yogurt (calcium, probiotic)

The Importance of Being Earnest – Why you SHOULD keep a food diary

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I know all the reasons in the world that people give for not wanting to keep a food journal, it’s annoying time consuming I don’t want to confront what I am eating and I should have the flexibility to eat as I need to on any given day like birthdays holidays tax day happy days and the like.  I don’t need a food journal to be the boss of me because I “eat good” and only eat chips once, twice, four times a week but I work it off when I ran across the street to get them…

Okay, I am sure most of you aren’t as bad as I was in creating excuses.  But seriously, why bother to keep a food journal and why is it important to be earnest in this endeavor?  According to the handsome Buck, from Body by Buck, keeping a food diary is good because:

  1. It will help you see exactly what you’re eating and how much. A lot of times you think you’re eating a lot better than you really are, whether that’s quality of food or quantity, be it weight loss or gain.  Most people trying to lose weight think they are eating less than they really are.
  2. It help you track your eating patterns. e.g. frequency – Are you getting your extra snacks/meals in? When do you crave unhealthy things the most (sweets, chips, etc)?
  3. It will hold you accountable at the end of the day. e.g.  If you have a target goal of calories for the day, you will see in the evening if you need to really cut back, eat more, or enjoy a balanced meal because you followed your plan. (Source Body By Buck:  http://bodybybuck.com/nutrition/3-reasons-why-you-keep-a-food-journal/)

I am going to add some things to this.  If you can be honest (ergo earnest) with yourself about your eating habits, you can be more honest with yourself about what changes need to take place in your life relative to your health and weight – this is important. In fact, it is not only a tremendous first step but it is typically the hardest. Seeing how you eat in a real way is an incredible eye opener and powerful in the sense that it brings about a reality check – this sets the stage for many people to successfully improve their health and eating habits.

Once you can manage the honesty part, tracking is a breeze, there are so many various apps and websites that allow you to track your eating habits which in turn allows you to track your caloric intake.  Why is this important? If you’ve been following my notes you know that in order to lose 1 pound you have to burn 3500 calories a week and you have to burn more than you consume to do that.  So you learn how to manage your food and track what you are burning compared to what you are consuming.  Think it’s hard? Here is an example of what I ate and burned one day:

 

Breakfast: .25 cups of Quina with Feta Cheese, grape tomatoes, and cucumber, Coffee with Almond milk

Calories: 385

 

Lunch: Grilled salmon (2.3 oz), spinach sauteed, water with lemon

Calories: 297

 

Dinner: Sweet Greens by Cooler Cleanse (16 oz micronutrients), 1.5 servings of whole wheat pasta with olives, tomato, garlic.

Calories: 329

 

Snack during day: sunflower seeds, grapefruit, and strawberries

Calories: 215

 

Total consumed: 1226

Exercise: AM Yoga, PM Pilates, Walking during a work break 25-30 min

Approximate calories burned: 642

And I don’t feel regimented.  There are days I will consume 1400-1600 calories and not even burn half, but I am honest about it and I know that I may not reach my weight loss goal for that week.  But for the most part, I keep it up daily, weekly, monthly.  And it keeps me honest about what I am putting in my body.  This isn’t about what other people think, it’s about being honest and real about what I am doing to my body.  And for those of us who have diabetes, it’s another way of seeing the direct impact of food on your blood glucose numbers.  Some folks can have quinoa and no real impact on their after meal numbers, while for others, it may make those numbers soar.

As I said in an earlier note, this is my weight loss journey, but I know many of you out there that I’ve talked to and share tears, hugs, and triumphs with are on your own journeys.  So we are in part on a shared journey, to do better, be better, feel better, and live better lives.  We know at this point food has a tremendous impact on our system and knowing what you are eating, how much you are eating, and how much you are burning is helpful…  but above all, to thine ownself be true…  and this is where it starts, being earnest.