Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WWU - All Kinds of Critters

I've mentioned here that my walking buddy, Jenny, is always on the lookout for snakes - she likes them!  Last week, we came across one slithering along the path, and I took a picture - it's not the greatest shot, but it was a SNAKE and I wasn't getting close:
Ssssssssnake.

OK, I have to admit that it was kind of cute.  I know, in what world is a snake ever cute?  Well, this one happened to be the tiniest snake either of us had ever seen:
Here's Jenny pretending to be scared...
...but really, she was fascinated by it.  And it truly was a snake and not a worm - you could see the triangular head and it looked like a snake...a teeny, tiny snake.

We also saw our share of jackrabbits on that walk, but what we mostly saw?  Pokemon.  It was fun to do our regular walk AND capture Pokemon along the way:
 
 
We kept coming across the fish out of water - poor critter was flapping around and gasping for air - I guess this was because there is a pond at this park.

There were a lot more people walking around the park than we usually see, so kudos to the Pokemon peeps for getting everyone up and moving - it's working!

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Running is going OK.  I was struggling with it, on both the mental and physical front, because I'd run a mile without stopping and feel fine, but then I couldn't get to the second mile without feeling more spent than I thought I should be feeling.  Yes, yes - the heat and humidity has a lot to do with this, but still - why was it so hard??  Finally Jeff brought up a valid point:  at the beginning of June, I went from running two minutes at a time to running 13+ minutes without stopping.  And then I was trying to double that to make it two miles.  No wonder I was struggling!  That was a bigger change than I realized, and I think, because I managed to hit the first mile, I figured I'd just keep building on that for miles two and three and so on - but as with most things, there are bound to be setbacks and struggles along the way.

So I made some changes to my "long" runs (lately it's only been three miles).  For example, one week I ran the first mile without stopping, but my breathing was ragged and it took quite a while to get myself calmed down.  I ended up taking several walking breaks during miles two and three on that run.  But the next week, I ran 2:1 intervals for the first mile, which gave me time to get myself situated with my ridiculous OH MY GOD I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT running anxiety, and then I was able to run the next mile straight through.  Mile three had a couple of walk breaks but that's mostly because I didn't want to run up a hill.

This Saturday, I'm going to go for four miles, which will probably result in some walking at some point, but if I can just get through the run without freaking out internally, I'll be happy.  Baby steps...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Vindication

For several years now, Jeff's employer has mandated that we have a yearly physical (which is free), or else they will increase our health insurance premiums by $40/month.  Much as that irks me to be told to do something, I've begrudgingly gone along with it because it would be fiscally dumb not to...and let's face it, $480 buys a lot of race entry fees, yarn, and dog treats.

That said, I had an incident this year with my former doctor that really irritated me - and yes, I said FORMER doctor, as you will soon see why.  Along with the cursory examination, routine blood work is done each year.  The health system we go to uses MyChart online, which is really great - you can make routine appointments online, send messages to your doctor, and see your test results.  So I was able to log in and see my blood work results a couple of days later, and I saw that for the fourth year in a row, my cholesterol levels were high...nothing horrible, but they were not in the normal range.  And that didn't surprise me, because both of my parents, who are thin and exercise regularly, have high cholesterol and are on medication - obviously, it's a genetic thing for me.

But, here's where the story takes a turn.  A day or so after I saw the test results, someone from his office called and told me that my doctor had prescribed Lipitor as a result of my blood tests because he did not believe my cholesterol could be controlled by diet or exercise.  Which, OK - I can see that, considering I eat pretty decently and exercise regularly.  However, none of this was discussed during the visit; it's not like my doctor looked at my previous test results and said "I see your cholesterol has been high in the past and if this year shows the same, I want to start you on medication for it" - nope, nothing.  So the phone call kind of caught me off guard, especially when I realized that I would be taking this medicine for the rest of my life.

Without having had one discussion about it with my doctor.

This might have been a routine thing for him, but it was a little jarring for me...and without getting to speak with him about it, I did the next logical step:  I Googled the medication.

I read about the side effects of Lipitor - and of immediate concern to me was muscle pain, because I didn't want to make running any harder than it already is for me.  I also read about the dosage, which varies from 10mg to 80mg per day.  Then I went back to MyChart and saw the prescription that he'd called in to my pharmacy.  It surprised me to see 40mg - why such a high dosage?  Why not start with a lower dosage and see if that works?  So I emailed my doctor:

After digesting the phone call from your nurse on Monday morning regarding putting me on Lipitor for high cholesterol, I did a little research and am concerned about the side effects of the medicine. For that reason, I'd like to start at the lowest dosage possible, which looks to be 10 mg. I can see in MyChart that you've prescribed 40 mg - can you please change the prescription? I don't want to start another set of problems while trying to solve the cholesterol issue.

This was the response I got back - I'm assuming it was dictated or something, because of the typos:

I'll change the dose if you want, but....

Not everything that she read on the Internet is based on good science. He also have to keep in mind that the incidence of complications with statins is exceedingly low.

There is a large amount of evidence that shows that the higher the dose of statin the more cardioprotection that she will get.

You have a choice: Do want to significantly reduce your risk of a common occurrence (heart attack/stroke), or do you want to decrease you risk of a already low/rare occurrence (side effects to statins.)?



All I could think after reading his response was WHAT IN THE HELL???  When did this turn into a heart attack/stroke?  Again, there had been zero discussion about cholesterol, heart attacks, or strokes during the visit - and suddenly, apparently, I'm Fred Sanford, about to croak:

Obviously I can see the humor in this, but truth be told, I was also pretty angry.  What happened to the educated patient?  Why are there brochures in the waiting rooms of medical offices, telling us to learn more about diseases and treatments, if we're not allowed to question anything?  I vented about this at different times to several of my running buddies, and each one, upon hearing about my doctor's email response, said the same thing - "you need a new doctor" - and they were right.  I emailed my original doctor one last time:

I would like to start with the 10mg dose, please.

And with that, I was done with him.  He did call in that dosage, and I started taking the Lipitor (with no side effects, thankfully).  I knew I needed to have blood work done again to see if the medicine was working, so I found another doctor, made an appointment with her, and explained what had transpired and asked her to order the next round of blood work, which I had about 10 days ago.  As you can probably guess by the title of this post, the results were excellent - the Lipitor, at the lowest dosage, had done the job and my numbers were all drastically better.


Even though I lost my trust in a doctor who I'd previously liked, I'm glad I went this direction and questioned his authority.  I have a feeling that we are an overmedicated society in general - yes, there is a time and a place for medicine, absolutely - but just because something might need addressing, it doesn't necessarily need the entire book thrown at it...sometimes just a page will do.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Mishmash

File this under "someone's trying to tell me something" - twice now, I've tried to buy a little Fossil wallet at the gift shop where I volunteer.  I've been wanting something small to carry my ID, cash, and a credit card or two, when we're out and about, like when we were walking all over the Riverwalk in San Antonio, or when we're at race expos - Fossil makes one that would fit into the front pocket of my jeans, and since I get a discount at the gift shop, I might as well buy it there, right?  And since Rosalie and I get to order the Fossil wallets, purses, and now jewelry for the gift shop, I picked out exactly what I wanted. 

Well, the one that I liked from the springtime line didn't come in looking like the picture from their website - it had a floral print with a big hot pink splash of color on it, but the one that came to the gift shop was mostly peach, with a dime-sized bit of hot pink.  Cute enough, but not what I wanted, so I didn't buy it.  No worries, a customer bought it.  Then a few weeks ago, I got to place another order, and among everything, I chose a bunch of those tiny wallets in all kinds of colors, with one specifically for me.  Guess what came in yesterday?  Pretty much everything EXCEPT for the one I wanted.  Seriously??  I'm trying to support the gift shop, but Fossil is not making it easy for me.  Sheesh!

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I walked outside to take a picture of my dying/dead lavender plant to show my mom, when I saw Henners looking extra cute, just lying under the Sago palm plant:
He's taking cover under the shade of the palm leaves - smart kitty!

The greenery in the pot next to the palm is weeds, I think - nothing was there, and then suddenly all that green stuff came up.  I'd pull it, but hey - it's green, and I don't have anything else to put in that pot, so we're just gonna go with it.
Here's the lavender - is it dead?  Dying?  Should I leave it - will it reseed/come back next year?  (p.s. hey mom, here's the picture...I don't think I actually ever sent it to you)

I just realized that most bloggers show you what's blooming in their gardens, but here I am showing you what's dying.  Welcome to summertime in Texas - it's hard on plants!  Here's another example:
This was a red day lily.  The yellow/orange ones always seem to survive the summer heat and continue to bloom off and on, but this red one blooms for about a week in the springtime and then looks like this.  We really need to find something better for this spot.

Come back next week for more of what's dying in my garden!  Haha, kidding - I hope.

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File this under "a little creepy" -  Kip would not stop licking my fingers the other day, so naturally I had to document it:
I don't get you, Kippers.

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Paco has been busy going on Pokewalks in the evening with us, which he loves, especially when he catches one:
Paco found an Oddish - good boy!
And then, this is him for the rest of the evening - out cold.  I think we're maybe only walking about a mile, but he is exhausted afterward.  It's a far cry from when Jeff used to ride the bike with Paco pulling him by the leash, for a mile, at full speed...oh, my aging dog.

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A hot weekend is in store for not just Texas, but the entire country - all we're going to do is our usual run, breakfast, and then shelter in place in the air conditioning.  Stay cool, peeps!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

WWU - We're Having a BABY!!!!!

Well, not me.  That ship has sailed.  But we, the collective, the royal, the Renegade Run Club - WE are having a baby!!!  I keep wanting to break out in the song Ricky Ricardo sang to Lucy when she told him she was pregnant - click here if you want to see the video...it's such a sweet moment and seriously, it's such a perfectly happy song that epitomizes the anticipation and joy of a baby on the way.
CC and LOLO.

Our dear friends have been wanting this baby for quite a while, and it's finally become a reality - CC is pregnant.  Sure, the baby will live with her and Loretta, but it's OUR baby - our first little running club baby!  We are all so thrilled and excited for them; this baby is much loved already and we can't wait until January to meet the newest member of the RRC.  Our running family is growing and we couldn't be happier.
After we ran on Saturday, they had a gender reveal at Blue Baker.  They'd told Brian, so he (with Cary's help) colored in mini Hershey's bars with either "he" or "her" and we all chose one; it was fairly evenly divided between boy and girl.  Jeff and I both picked this:
HE.  Were we right?

We were!  It's a boy!!!  Here's CC with the reveal candy bar:
She is so tiny that her baby bump is really showing already!

So that's our - OK, CC and Loretta's - happy news.  CC won't be running Houston this January, being that she'll be a brand new mama by then, but she's still doing an easy three miles with us on Saturdays, while Loretta bikes and tries not to worry too much about CC.  And of course you know I am finding all kinds of baby things to knit; tiny baby things are the best!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil Review!


While coconut oil has been all the rage for years now, I haven't jumped on the bandwagon.  Why?  Mostly because I don't cook all that much and can't be bothered to do anything different.  However, when Skinny & Co. offered to send me some of their coconut oil, I decided to give it a try.  I'll be honest - I get quite a few offers of freebies for review, and I am not interested in most of them, but I love the smell of coconut and wanted to try making my Hippie Granola, which contains unsweetened coconut flakes, with coconut oil instead of the canola oil that I've been using for years. 

Skinny &Co.'s coconut oil comes from the jungles of Vietnam, where it's processed right there in the jungle, less than five hours from when the coconuts are harvested - it's unique in that it's not heat processed, has zero fillers, and is completely clear when in liquid form...which is what it looked like when it arrived at my house:
This is what traveling in 100 degree heat does to coconut oil.

I couldn't resist opening up the jar and taking a sniff; I was rewarded with the light scent of fresh coconuts!  Aromatherapy at its best for me, as I was brought back to Maui in an instant (if only in my mind, sadly).  I wasn't ready to cook with it, but I got a spoon and took out a tiny amount and used it as moisturizer for my hands and elbows, which made me inordinately happy all day, as my skin was super soft - plus it smelled amazing.

I also received a smaller jar of facial oil, which arrived in liquid form as well:

In addition to coconut oil, the facial oil also contains roman chamomile extract and lavender extract, so the scent is more than just coconut.  This can be used as a makeup remover, a facial cleanser (not that I would ever need to use oil for that - I'm still enjoying my greasy teenage skin), as a moisturizer (again - greasy mcgreaserson over here has no need for this), and as a beard oil.  I usually don't like using scented products on my face, so I tried it on my feet first and I have to say, my heels, which never look all that great, are starting to lose their dry, cracked look - plus they are definitely softer.   I noticed that the scent dissipated pretty quickly, so I dabbed a tiny bit around my eyes, which is pretty much the only place on my fact that could use a little moisturizer; the scent didn't bother me at all, and that is saying something because I've had to wipe off lipsticks in the past due to their scent.

The only thing that confuses me a little about the facial oil is that it's turned solid now that it's been inside a cooler environment (i.e. my house) for a while, and I can't envision trying to remove mascara with a solid product vs a liquid.  Of course, I rarely actually remove my makeup anyway - true confession time - usually it melts into my face by the end of the day, and I just wash off whatever is remaining in the shower.  I am low maintenance.  Or lazy.  Sometimes one and the same.

But getting back to the coconut oil, I'd like to tell you that I made my Hippie Granola with it.  I have all of the ingredients on hand, and I'm sure it's going to taste so good and remind me of the tropics and I'll be Hawaii-dreaming all day long...but the fact is, it's just too darn hot to turn on my oven right now.  Maybe someone in, I don't know, Minnesota (I hear it can snow there in JULY, what the heck?!?) would bake in the summertime, but it's just not happening here in Texas.  So I'm tucking this lovely bottle in my pantry, next to my boring old olive oil, and I'll give it a whirl next time the temperatures drop below 85 degrees and I can stand to heat up my kitchen.

If you'd like to try any Skinny & Co. coconut oil products (they have body butter, sugar scrub, lip balm, raw soap, shampoo bars, and pulling oil), I have a discount code for you:  SKINNYCO15 will take 15% off of your order!  And if you do happen to make my Hippie Granola recipe with the coconut oil, could you take pity on this sweaty Texan and send me some?

FTC Disclosure:  I was not financially compensated for this post. I received samples for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Mishmash

I've been playing an online game called PackRat for years - you collect cards and make recipes and basically it's something I do while I'm writing my blog posts - play a little PackRat, write a few paragraphs.  They release different collections, and a recent one was Dutch-themed, so naturally I though of Fran as I played this one.  I was so happy when I collected all of the cards that I took a screenshot:

My favorite Dutch words were "klompen" for the wooden clogs, "omafiet" for the bicycle, and "gezelligheid" which loosely translates into the essence of Dutch culture.  And while I think I can do a decent job of pronouncing klompen and omafiet, gezelligheid is beyond me at the moment, which makes me think I really need to plan a trip to the Netherlands so I can get that one down...and of course, meet my favorite Dutch blogger!

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I've mentioned a time or two that our cats, who we adopted from the same cage as tiny kittens from the animal shelter, don't get along.  Well, it's Kip - he doesn't like Henry.  So imagine my shock when I walked into the family room one morning to see this:
Sharing the same couch?  No hissing??
Still no hissing...very odd.

Kip woke up and he still didn't act all offended that Henry deigned to be in his space!  I called Jeff in to see this phenomenon, and he said what I was thinking - "someone is gonna die" - because our oldest cat, Mabel?  Who was never nice, except to our dachshund?  She started being all sweet and cuddly about three weeks before she died of kidney failure.  So if I post that one of these cats has passed on soon, here's proof.  I know it's a little morbid, but seriously, this is really odd behavior!

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After reading about the cats, you might be thinking that I'm hard-hearted.  No, it's just that, well...Bloom County summed it up perfectly for me in a recent comic:
So happy this comic is back - Berkeley Breathed brings sanity to my life.

Yes, I could be worrying about Kip.  Or the state of our country.  Or any number of things, big and small.  And it's not that I don't care - I'm just declining to freterize about them.  Because honestly, worrying isn't going to change anything.  So I'll be off in the meadow of my mind, doing strange yoga with butterflies and an awesome penguin, while life continues to happen all around me. 

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Tomorrow starts our official Renegade Run Club training program - as opposed to every other Saturday where we just run...this time, it counts!  And it counts more for some people than others - several are training for a half marathon in October, while others are not, so mileage run will vary, but we'll all be out there, and more importantly, we'll all be together.  I predict a lot of fun times ahead with my RRC peeps.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

WWU - Thank You, Aly Raisman!

"When I salute, I remind myself I've worked really hard and that I'm good" - Aly Raisman, U.S. Olympic gymnast.

I was watching the Olympic trials over the weekend, and it was during the gymnastic trials that I heard the quote above, which really resonated with me.  Right before each event she, like all of the gymnasts, raises her arms in the air like this:
Image taken from the video where I heard her quote.

...and to calm her nerves, she reminds herself that she worked really hard and that she's good.  I love this.  I love that she gives herself such an empowering pep talk right before performing her routine.  I love the symbolism of her raised arms.  I love the acknowledgement of her training.

I related this story to my running buddies at breakfast, and it clicked with them, too.  As you might remember, I've had some pretty terrible race anxiety for years now, so I'm going to borrow Aly's pep talk.  Because while I'm not the fastest runner out there, and I don't win my age group, I DO work really hard at running, and I AM good at it.  So next time I race (and heck, maybe even next time I do a long run), I'm going to take a moment to pause, raise my arms in the air, and remember Aly's words.  And then?  I'm going to do my best  - period.  So thank you, Aly - and hey - congratulations on making the Olympic team again!  Good luck in Rio!

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I think this picture pretty much sums up our Saturday run:
This would be Jeff's sweat angel.  You can even read the backwards "just run" words that were on his shirt, if you look carefully.

Actually, our run was a little different because we met at a different park.  While I walk there with Jenny all the time, I haven't done a run in that area in years.  Jeff went one direction while Karen, Andi, Julia, and I went another.  Julia and I ran together for the first time in forever and tried to catch up on each other's lives, but most of the conversation *gasp* went *gasp* like *gasp* this.  No worries, that's what breakfast is for!

Anyway, we ended up doing a mile run along the street, which actually was nice - we were running just slightly at a downward slope, and there was a bit of a breeze.  Even with having to wait for a green light at a big intersection, my first mile was 13:18, which was great for an easy run in hot weather.  After we turned around, the breeze disappeared and so did our downhill slope - the second mile was a bit more challenging.  We did some random intervals during our last mile, like running to the light post with the yellow tape on it, then walking to the edge of the bridge, and so on - it's not the most technical way to run, but the result was nearly the same as if we'd had our interval timers set on our Garmins, so it was all good.

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This week is more running and walking and mostly trying to survive exercising in our hot and humid climate.  I'm not amassing a lot of miles, but I am out there, and that's something.