I posted two blogs about calcium in 2012. They were both related to a study that linked calcium supplements to calcium buildup in arteries. At first I discounted the study. As I kept reading more and more articles warning about taking too much calcium. I decided to experiment.
After 13 months, the experiment is over. I need calcium and magnesium supplementation. So does my Honorable Husband. Unless the study was done with people taking hard pressed calcium tablets alone without magnesium -- in my opinion -- the study is bogus.
When I first lowered our cal/mag supplementation, I went through a period of nighttime cramps and cricks. However, I adjusted to the new levels of calcium and magnesium. At first there was a funny taste in my mouth, but it went away. It was nice to cut down the number of pills I swallowed every morning, and nice to save the money. Life went on. I forgot that I was experimenting.
I didn't think about the experiment the first time HH's shoulder muscle knotted up. He said he had slept funny. Our Physical Therapist Strong Son gave him a stretching exercise that took the pain away.
I didn't think about it when HH's shoulder muscle knotted up a second time with even worse pain. The stretching exercise took care of it again, and HH decided to add stretching that muscle to his daily routine.
I didn't think about it when I got the pain in my right arm that I feared was a rotator cuff injury. SS examined me, said my rotator cuff was fine and gave me a stretch for a strained nerve. The stretch has helped. I have very little pain, but I have not regained full range of motion.
I didn't think about it on vacation when I was carrying too many water bottles and felt a muscle pull in my right hip. The pain didn't last long, but I'm aware that two months later, there is still a dull sensation in my upper right leg.
I didn't even think about it two weeks ago when HH, who had back surgery in 1985, began to have back pain. Over a period of several days it grew from being annoying to being debilitating. He was terrified that he had ruptured another disk. He could not put on his own shoes and socks.
We drove to see SS, who after a thorough exam told him it was muscular rather than nerve pain. SS gave his Dad some exercises, and told us to go to the doctor to get anti inflammatories and muscle relaxers. The doctor did her own exam, and concurred with SS's conclusions. She identified two specific muscles in his back that were in hard knots. She increased his ibuprofen and said to use a heating pad.
Gradually HH got better. Then yesterday, for no apparent reason, the muscles knotted up again. He did not lift anything; he did not twist; he had mostly been at bed rest. Frankly, we were both scared. Living with this kind of pain is not what we expected out of retirement.
I was off on a photo shoot, when I got a text asking how soon I could come home. He felt terrible. I finished up my work, and as I drove home I prayed. As I prayed I remembered all I had read for 35 years about calcium/magnesium, and how essential it was for muscles. I remembered the study that discouraged taking calcium supplements. I remembered my experiment.
HH and I immediately upped our calcium. My goal is to return to our pre-study dosage, but right now we're both taking a little more than that. Again I have a funny taste in my mouth. That seems to happen whether I increase or decrease my dosage. I am optimistic that we will return to our previous level of wellbeing. We will continue to take Vitamin K. That seems to be one way to prevent calcium from building up in soft tissues.
If my two previous blogs influenced you to cut back on your cal/mag intake, take a moment and think about how your muscles and nerves have functioned in the past year. Be more aware of changes in your body than I was.
If you have never taken a cal/mag supplement, and you struggle with muscle pain, all I can say is cal/mag worked for my family for years. I regret letting that study influence me.
These are links to my original two blogs.
There's a part of the gluten free craze that I like. Trying to explain to a friend or a server that I don't eat wheat is sometimes complicated. Like the friend, urging me eat a muffin, who said "It's not wheat, it's bread." Or the server who had no clue what ingredients were in the chopped steak. But if I say I'm gluten free, suddenly everyone understands. Friends say, "Oh, that's what Bill O'Reilly is into." Servers whip out a gluten free menu.
This is good. It's not as precise as Blood Type Diet, but it's good.
However, the dark side of gluten free is the food manufacturers who have jumped into marketing gluten free products. I am aghast when I read ingredients that are almost all potato starch and chemicals. This is not good!
I understand that people suddenly giving up gluten want to keep their lives feeling normal. They're on a quest to find replacements for familiar foods. I started off on the BTD doing the same thing. I know now that eating becomes less stressful when you accept that there is no wheat free or gluten free product that tastes like Wonder Bread.
In today's gluten free environment, if you look at grocery store shelves you could convince yourself that you can have it all. Just be sure you don't read the ingredients of that gluten free roll with an expiration date of 2015. It contains no real food, and it will not build your health.
I'm thinking about this today, because of a trip to the grocery store yesterday. The grocer in our small town must have someone gluten free in his family. Since we moved here, I have found lots of alternate grains in our grocery store. The store has stocked natural rice crackers on the shelves and 100% rice bread in the freezer. When we lived in the city, I had to go to a health food store to buy these products.
But yesterday the rice bread was gone. It was replaced by several bread varieties with bold wrappers proclaiming gluten free. Every one of them was made of potato starch and chemicals. I filled out a comment card for the store manager, but I'm not optimistic he will bring back the basic healthy products when exciting products in snazzy wrappers are available.
I'm thankful that there is a health food store nearby that values real food as much as I do.
If you think barbacoa is a Spanish word for barbeque you are wrong.
If you told me a year ago, that I would not only eat, but cook for myself the cheek of a cow, I would have thought you crazy.
I confess, it's true. I truly enjoy this tender Mexican dish.
I have been working on a genealogy project for a client. Two books in the three volume set have already been printed, and we finished work on the third yesterday. Now we proof...and proof...and proof again.
My client and I work together 2-3 days a week. We usually start about 10:30, and she serves us lunch. Often it is fresh fruit or vegetables from her garden. Sometimes it is fresh eggs from the chickens who run wild in her yard. One day, she asked if I liked barbacoa and picadillo. I told her that I had eaten picadillo, but I wasn't familiar with barbacoa. She sent out for one taco of each, from a little taco stand near her home.
Picadillo is ground beef and potatoes, cooked with onion and spices. It is good.
I tasted the barbacoa and immediately loved it. It was a very flavorful, tender shredded beef served with raw onions and cilantro. My client waited until I had finished, then she told me that barbacoa is the meat from the cheek of the cow.
If I had known what I was going to eat that first time, I think I would have gagged. Cheek meat? Really? Yuk!
However I had already tried it and was hooked. From that point on, if she didn't have any specific lunch plans, she sent out for barbacoa.
She cooks her own barbacoa, and one day pulled a package of raw meat out of her freezer and told me it was a cow's cheek. She told me to cook it in my crockpot all day with onion and garlic. After it cooled she said to separate the meat from the fat with my hands. There is a lot of fat around the meat, but if you separate carefully, the meat itself is very lean.
It was so good, and since I was the only Type O in the house at the time, it lasted several days.
I've seen barbacoa recipes on the internet that call for tomatoes, chili powder, peppers and other spices. No, No, No. That's not how barbacoa is made in South Texas.
My client and I have talked a lot about food, including the Blood Type Diet. She is also Type O. I would say she is politely skeptical about this diet. Once in a while she tempts me with something that is avoid. Sometimes by accident, and sometimes she is testing me.
It amuses her to watch me eat the barbacoa and onions out of the tortilla with a fork. That's ok, because I'm smiling as I enjoy this unique cut of beef.
This morning my weight is within a half pound of what it was last December. This has been an unexpected struggle. I thought I would share what I have learned.
1. I know I run the risk of appearing hypocritical when I am happy that I have lost weight. After all, it was not many weeks ago that I wrote a blog called "Skinny Jeans Can Kill You." In a way that blog was a warning to myself not to let my desire to lose the weight I put on in January become an obsession with fashion fads or trying to change my body type. I walked through several years with DD as she fell victim to an exercise/eating disorder. It is dangerous territory both physically and spiritually. I stand by the Skinny Jeans blog. And you can hold me accountable if I ever express the hint of a desire to weigh less than 125 - a healthy weight for my height and body type.
2. For many years I have put on a few pounds in the winter. I remember one year when SS was running middle school track. I put on a pair of shorts on the first warm day of spring and took them off again. I mentally called this "winter weight gain." It was 3-5 pounds, and I didn't worry about it because it always seemed to melt away when the weather got warm.
3. This is not holiday weight gain. Because I'm focused on health, I don't overindulge in rich holiday foods. My weight going into January is normal. Then the scale starts to go up.
4. I think part of it is that I'm not doing as many outdoor activities in January and February. There's no yard work. I don't stop exercising, but my lifestyle is not as active. I work out at the neighborhood fitness center or with a video in my living room, but that's not the same as an outdoor excursion or a project in the yard that takes half a day.
5. I think it's also that I'm cold. Those of you who live north of Dallas, will laugh at me. South Texas doesn't really get cold, compared to most of the country. However it is colder than the rest of the year, and I think my metabolism slows down a little to compensate.
This year was different.
* I put on more than 3-5 pounds. At one point my weight was up nearly 10 pounds.
* Instead of storing weight in my legs and thighs, it went to my tummy. I have always had a small waist - a decent trade off for having "big leg genes." But this year I found myself identifying with belly fat commercials. Belly fat is dangerous and has serious consequences for long term health.
* The extra weight didn't disappear when the weather turned warm.
At Memorial Day I faced the fact that I was going to have to be proactive, if I wanted to fit in my summer clothes and look nice in my swimsuit.
I faced the fact that my exciting book publishing project has kept me at the computer more hours than I'm used to. I've been sitting much more than is good for me. Now, I try to make myself get up and do a household chore after an hour at the computer. I ought to get up right now, but I'm going to finish this blog first.
I faced the fact that I am almost 60, and hormone changes are going to force me to add exercise or cut back on food for the rest of my life. I really like to eat. But I made myself take a hard look at portion sizes and cut back a little on food. Then I upped my exercise.
I faced the fact that we were eating supper way too late at night. 8:30 was normal. 9:30 was not unusual. I'm now eating my supper between 6:00 and 6:30. HH does not like this schedule. I warm his dinner up in the microwave about 8:00. I'm hoping he will eventually join me for an earlier supper, but if not, I have to do what is healthiest for me.
I don't understand it, but some beneficial and neutral foods seem to add noticeable weight over night - almost like wheat does. I have practically eliminated nuts, except as a garnish. I've cut way back on ghee and mayonnaise as well. I really miss trail mix, nut butter & carrots, and chicken salad. I'm hoping that I can bring some of these foods back in a small way for the warm part of the year. I have faced the fact that I will not eat them during the winter months.
Mostly, I am facing the fact that my body is changing as I get older. This is not popular in our youth obsessed culture. But it is completely predictable according to my Biblical world view. I may as well embrace it, and make healthy adjustments where necessary. The other choices would be surrender to fat or take prescription medications. Neither of those sound good to me. So, I'll post this blog and get moving!
One day I looked down and there were bruises on my ankles. I didn't remember bumping my ankle. I felt around and they weren't tender. I suddenly recognized where I had seen that kind of blue mark before.
My father had read about benefits of Vitamin E and he began to take a supplement. He also read about the benefits of aspirin to prevent heart attacks. So he started taking a low dose enteric aspirin every day as well. Soon he began to have blue blotches on his arms. I remembered that Dr D does not recommend Vitamin E for Type Os. Our blood is already thin. It is the thick blooded Type As who benefit from blood thinning properties of Vitamin E and aspirin.
I challenged my Dad to take a break from Vitamin E and aspirin. The next time I saw him his arms were free of bruising.
I give my Type A husband a Vitamin E capsule every day, but I don't take it. I knew there was Vitamin E in my multiple. I thought it was a low dose. Wrong. It had 100 iu, more than 3 times the RDA. How did I let that slip by? Dumb, dumb, dumb.
I stopped taking the multiple right away. I decided I probably needed to take Vitamins A and D, B complex, and zinc. I eat less processed food and more fresh food than most people I know. In a perfect world, I wouldn't need supplements. However, I know that by the time my food is harvested, stored and transported, I won't get the quality of nutrients from food that God intended.
I read the label on the B Complex that I had on my shelf. Everything looked in order except it only contained 15% of the RDA for Biotin. That seemed peculiar until I read that Biotin is the one B Vitamin that your body can make for itself - if you have eaten food that provides the right ingredients and if you are in good health.
Biotin is necessary for healthy hair and nails. That caught my attention because my nails have been chipping. When I had searched the Internet for chipped nails, there were a few specific things, none of which seemed to apply to me. However the most common answer was that chipping nails and thinning hair were normal parts of aging. What if, I asked myself, as people age they lose their ability to make Biotin? I'm interested in these kinds of questions since I will turn 60 this summer.
I stopped the multiple. I added several supplements including Biotin.
In a month the blood in my ankles has reabsorbed. Hurrah! The blue blotches are gone. I think I see an improvement in my nails, but it's too early to tell. I'll have to see what happens as they grow out.