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Author: David Yochim

No Hill For a Climber, What To Expect After Mastectomy

You might be the one actually facing the process of a mastectomy, or maybe you are a caregiver to a loved one. Either way, from my point of view as a loving husband and caregiver to my beautiful wife of 33 years, I’m not sure anything can fully prepare you for the impact of a mastectomy. You know the breasts are going to be removed, and maybe you have been told there will be drain tubes inserted for the healing process. You might have seen a picture such as the one above and thought “oh, that does not look too bad”. Those pictures give you an idea of what you will be facing, but they do not actually prepare you for the reality of seeing this up close and personal. The difference in the picture and real life is as stark as the difference between a very slight exposure to pepper spray available to  the civilian population and that of 4% OC pepper spray we utilized in the prison when I was a Correctional Officer.

On Sunday afternoon, the day before Loraine’s mastectomy, after I had come off the road from my trucking job I met Loraine at Target to buy her some new pajamas. We knew from her visit with her physical therapist that she would not be able to raise her arms above her head, and pajamas that button down the front would be the easiest for her to put on and remove by herself. We found a couple nice sets of soft button down pajamas and made our purchase. We got the same size as Loraine normally wears and did not foresee any problems with the fit being as her D-cup breasts were going to be removed. These pajamas should be a perfect fit, yet we found out yesterday after she was getting out of her hospital gown the size should have been a bit larger than normal.

Yesterday morning before Loraine’s discharge, her nurse navigator Melissa came by with instructions for going home. Part of these instructions consisted of how to care for the incision drains and suction bulbs. This instruction involved emptying them before the bulbs get over half full, and how to strip the lines should they become blocked by clotting blood. Before proceeding with these instructions, Melissa asked if I was squeamish at all. I’m not, but I can see where this needs to be asked. These drains are long tubes which the surgeon inserts into the breast area or armpit to collect excess fluid that can accumulate in the space where the tumor was. The tubes have plastic bulbs on the ends to create suction, which helps the fluid  and some blood to exit your body.

No problem! This is a pretty simple concept.

No hill for a climber!

And then it was time for her to check out of the hospital…

We packed all our belongings that we had brought with us for the overnight stay back into our bags, and left Loraine’s pretty new pajamas out for her to wear home. We wanted her to be comfortable for the ride. Yet, when I was trying to button her pajamas, we discovered that the drain bulbs which are kept in bags that were fastened to the lower sides of the ace bandage covering her chest were not allowing for full closure at her midsection.

Lesson learned ladies. If you are going to go through with a mastectomy, do yourself a favor and buy yourself pajamas that not only button down the front, but also pajamas that might be a size or two larger than you believe you might need in order to accommodate swelling, and the four drain tubes and their carry bags that will be necessary. You cannot leave the bulbs dangling by their tubes. Dangling drain bulbs would cause you problems you can be assured you will not want to experience anytime soon.

Melissa instructed us to monitor the amount of output from the four drains. She gave us a couple  of small measuring cups and syringes for doing this task along with a log sheet where we are to fill in the date, time and quantity of fluid from each drain. This record will be brought to follow-up office appointments to help determine when the drains can be removed. Drain removal could be as soon as one week, or as long as three weeks from the surgery.

We have discovered so far, that the drains can be emptied and logged at about 5 hour intervals when Loraine is due for her pain medication. Although your experience could be different, and Loraine’s could change. In order for the drains to work properly, the suction bulbs must be emptied before they become half way full as the fuller they become, the less suction they will provide. This would cause the fluids to not empty from the incision sites as they should. This can also lead to the drains becoming clogged with clotted blood.

Shortly after we got home from the hospital, we decided to try our hand, rather my hand, at draining the bulbs. This went easy enough for the first go round. I removed the bulbs individually from their carry bags, removed the stopper, squeezed the contents into a cup, measured it, and then made my log entry.

Too easy!

I then squeezed the bulbs to create a suction when I reinserted the stopper and put the bulb back in their bags. No problems. Then with the next cycle five hours later, I went about the same procedure, but noticed a little bit of clotted blood in each line. No problem, I have been shown how to strip the lines. This is too easy. Until I discovered to Loraine’s detriment, attention to being gentle is of upmost importance. I grasped the tube as instructed in one hand, squeezed it between my thumb and finger of the other and began pulling down. When you do this, you must take extra care to not allow tension on the drain tube to pass beyond the hand that you are grasping it with. Loraine cried out in pain as the tension from me stripping the line was creating a painful pulling sensation up inside her body. I discovered the best thing to do is to hold the line against the body in a non-painful site in order to keep from putting tension on the tube. By not holding my grip against her body, when I began stripping the line of blood clots, my grip hand had also moved down as the tube stretched downward.

You might feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you have to absorb as the patient or caretaker. However, it is critical that you still pay close attention to all of your instructions. Take notes, ask questions. The only dumb question is the question not asked.

We got through the night alright. At midnight we got up so Loraine could take her pain medication and for me to empty the drain bulbs, then we repeated this again at 5:00 a.m.  About 10:00 a.m., it was shower time. You have to steel yourself for the first shower. I thought I was better prepared since I had been doing the drain tubes with no issues other than when I accidentally put internal tension on one when stripping it. When you have had a mastectomy, you will be limited on being able to put your arms and hands above your head, yet this will be somewhat necessary in order to remove the inner compression top that is almost just like a 1970’s era tube top that was popular with all the girls back in the day.

I first unpinned the drain bulb bags from the outer ace bandage that is wrapped around her chest. Then after unwrapping the ace bandage, it was time to get the tube top bandage off. It caused Loraine some pain and discomfort during removal, but we managed without it getting too bad. This is not something you just pull off the body. Once it was removed, we both were able to see exactly what her chest now looks like. My dear wife will always be beautiful in my eyes, even without her breasts. She is the love of my life and the removal of her breasts is not an issue. But, what I found shocking, the sight that made me want to cry for her was how bruised her upper torso was. Where her breasts had been, the tissue is greatly discolored and bruised. It looks as if someone had used her chest for a professional boxers punching bag. It was all I could do to maintain my emotions for my sweet woman while assisting her with her shower. I know the bruising and discoloration is temporary, but feel it is necessary for people to know what they will see the first time you or your loved ones removes the bandages. Seeing my wife of almost 34 years like this was breaking my heart for her. It is things like this that makes me not too sympathetic to people who whine over the smallest of problems in their lives, especially when their petty issues are entirely self inflicted. My dear wife never asked for this to happen, but sometimes bad shit happens to the best of people.

 If you are undergoing a mastectomy, here are a few tips to help you during your healing and recovery at home:

  • Rest. When you get home from the hospital, you will probably be fatigued from the experience. Allow yourself to get extra rest in the first few weeks after surgery. Read more about managing  fatigue.
  • Take pain medication as needed. You will probably feel a mixture of numbness and pain around the breast incision and the chest wall (and the armpit incision, if you had axillary dissection). If you feel the need, take pain medication according to your doctor’s instructions. Learn more about managing  chest pain, armpit discomfort , and general pain. 
  • Take sponge baths until your doctor has removed your drains and/or sutures. You can take your first shower when your drains and any staples or sutures have been removed. A sponge bath can refresh you until showers or baths are approved by your doctor.
  • Continue doing arm exercises each day. It’s important to continue doing arm exercises on a regular basis to prevent stiffness and to keep your arm flexible.
  • Have friends and family pitch in around the house. Recovery from mastectomy can take time. Ask friends and family to help with meals, laundry, shopping, and childcare. As your body heals, don’t feel you should take on more than you can handle. (1)

If there is any positive that can come out of breast cancer, it has been the tremendous outpouring of love and support from family and friends. We are eternally grateful to all who have showed us how much they care. I am most humbly grateful to Loraine’s employers, Geri and Larry Martin of Prestige Home Care in Leavenworth, Kansas. This husband and wife team are committed to providing top quality  and compassionate home care to all their clients, and now they have stepped up to help Loraine and I during her recovery. Today, their Operations Supervisor Carolyn Clayton delivered a hearty beef and vegetable stew along with two trays of lasagna which Geri had prepared for us at home in order that we would not have to worry about cooking meals for the next few days of Loraine’s recovery. These are very kind and caring people, if you ever need care for a loved one in or around Leavenworth, Kansas, this is the only home care business I would recommend for the care of your loved one.

Carolyn, we love and cherish your friendship.

God bless and much love to all,

David

(1) https://breastcancer.org

 

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No Hill For a Climber, Mastectomy Day

First and foremost, I want to thank God above for Dr. Butler and her surgical team who carried out Loraine’s mastectomy yesterday without any complications. I want to thank God also for giving my dear wife such a brave spirit while facing such a difficult diagnosis as breast cancer. Loraine is quite the trooper, but what else would you expect from a career military spouse. We all know that is the toughest job in the armed forces.

Next, I want to express our sincere gratitude to all the love and support both of us have received. There was plenty of family and friends who came to the hospital for her procedure yesterday, and too many prayers and well wishes by phone calls and social media to adequately address. We love you all!

It would be a humongous understatement if I were to say the last few days have been quite taxing on the nerves. Hell, the last couple months since Loraine’s breast cancer diagnosis have been full of soul eating stress, worrying about the known and unknown factors that come with cancer of any type.  This is her third time and third type of cancer that we have faced down. The stresses that come with a cancer diagnosis when you do not yet have a game plan of exactly how it will be treated is like being on a runaway roller coaster, where the fears can make it difficult to remain focused on what is coming around the next bend, or over the next hill that might very well plunge you head on into the ground below.

Thursday of last week, as a result of a miscommunication or some other factor, we had the fear Loraine’s life saving surgery might have to be postponed for an undetermined period of time. Loraine’s initial breast reconstruction procedure was going to begin as a part of her mastectomy. The plastic surgeon was going to place tissue expander’s under her skin after the removal of her breasts as this normally would be the time to do so, while she was already opened up.

During Loraine’s consultation, neither of us can recall much of a concern being expressed by the doctor about the effect  the tissue expander placements would have on her COPD. Maybe we just missed it, I do not know. Any how, when one has COPD there is a concern that the pressure of tissue expander’s can complicate your breathing, especially once they begin inflating them with saline solution.

The plastic surgeon had sent paperwork to our family doctor to be filled out to clear her for the procedure. Again, as a result of a miscommunication, we were lead to believe her personal physician just needed to sign off on the procedure. Thursday, Loraine found out there was a complication with getting this done. She was told by a staff member that they could not fax the paperwork back to the plastic surgeon’s office. I drove down to find out what the problem was to be informed that Dr. Christiano would need to see her in order to sign off on the procedure. I was told, that all that was needed was a simple blood draw for lab work and an EKG.

Simple enough, right?

I called Loraine and told her to come straight down to Dr. Christiano’s office. The receptionist had her paperwork and said all she had to do was to come in as a walk in and they could do her blood draw and a EKG, the results would be in on time for Loraine’s surgery on Monday morning. We were led to believe that they just needed to do these basic procedures, and she would be on her merry way.

Wrong answer!

Loraine and I arrived at the doctors office and I filled her in on what needed to be done. I sat with her until just before she was called back. I had to go  on the road that night, so I went home to get some much needed sleep. No worries, she would get these last minute requirements done and all would be good. But, that is not what happened at all.

A nurse called Loraine back and from the very beginning of the visit became quite rude with her. With a nastiness to her tone of voice, she informed Loraine that what was ordered on the form was that she needed to see a cardiologist and a pulmonologist to satisfy the plastic surgeons concerns over her COPD. Loraine said that she had no idea and was only doing what the receptionist had told her was required.

How would Loraine know if she had never seen the form and the doctor had not told her? This nurse called in another nurse who was also not the least bit compassionate with her. Loraine told her that she was only doing what the receptionist had told her needed done, and the nurse replied “listening to her was your first mistake”.

At this point Loraine was distraught as there would be no way of seeing these specialists before Monday and it seemed maybe the mastectomy would have to be postponed. She looked at the second nurse feeling dejected and said “I guess my surgery has to be canceled then”. This bitch of a nurse had the audacity to thrust her forms into her face and told her “I guess you will just have to then” and then she sent her on her way home with no blood draws, no EKG nor examination by a doctor. She was sent out the door feeling as if her life had no meaning to these two miserable human beings who disguise themselves as nurse’s. There is more to this story, but I will leave it at these two were mentally abusive to my sweet wife and I am filing a formal complaint to the Kansas Board of Nurses about their abusive behavior.

Friday morning Loraine and both made calls to her nurse navigator Melissa in regards to what had occurred the day before in Dr. Christiano’s office. Loraine and I had talked it over and decided that we wanted the surgery to proceed on Monday as scheduled and she would forego the reconstruction process until a later date. Melissa did her part as liaison between Dr Butler’s office and Dr. Martin. By the afternoon, the dust had settled and surgery was still on for Monday morning at 7:00 A.M. as scheduled.

After a night of restless sleep, we got out of bed at 4:00 A.M. and prepared to head out to the hospital by 5:00 A.M. in order to be on time to check in at 6:00 A.M. We drove to the hospital mostly in silence, but did engage in a little chit chat about life in general. Once we got there, we got her checked in through the admissions desk, and at a little before 7:00 A.M. she was taken back for surgery prep. Shortly thereafter my Dad, our daughter Jennifer and son in-law Terry with our 3 grand daughters arrived as did her brother Howard and her best friend Nicole. I was taken back into the prep room  where we had a private moment together before she was wheeled into surgery. Just before she went back, Jennifer got to come back for a brief visit before surgery.

At 7:30 A.M. Loraine was wheeled into surgery, Jennifer and I returned to the waiting area where our family had occupied one corner to ourselves. We did the usual thing everyone does while waiting on a loved on who is in surgery for something potentially bad. We made small talk, laughed some and essentially avoided the elephant in the room which was the worry each and everyone of us were feeling for our sweet Loraine. Then, at 11:30 A.M. Dr. Butler called my phone from the operating room to inform me the surgery was complete, Loraine had come through it well, but it turns out that postponing the beginning of reconstruction was a good thing after all. There were no surprises in the removal of the right breast which only had a couple of benign lumps. But the cancerous breast was a different story. As Dr. Butler was removing the breast tissue, it was actually falling apart, her breast tissue was disintegrating in the surgeons hands as she was removing it. And then upon examination of the lymph nodes, one was hardened which can only mean the cancer has spread into her lymph system. Hearing this was more than my mind could absorb in the moment. It took my breath away.

How do you comprehend your loving wife’s breast was falling apart during removal?

Hearing the cancer is in her lymph nodes was also one of the things we feared the most.

As Dr. Butler was telling me all of what she had found, I had to get up and leave where the family was sitting. I had to be alone for a moment, I had to regroup, refocus, get my shit together before going back to  tell the family. Once I had told them, the flood gates of my emotions opened and I had a good cry for a moment. I had to get that out of my system before I went back to see Loraine in the recovery room. Thankfully, I did have it out of my system as when I did go back to see her, she kept apologizing  for what she was doing to me. All I could do was reassure her that I still loved her. That because she is the only girl for me, that makes her perfect in my eyes. When you have spent over half your life with a loved one, it takes more than the loss of breasts to make you not still love them. My wife is a strong woman, a resilient woman, she is a trooper at heart As she was climbing further out of the effects of anesthesia, she was starting to cut up and joke as is her nature. Because her recovery stay was going to be in the hospital maternity ward, and children under 13 are not allowed there, the nurses bent the rules a little and we had our 7 year old grand daughter Brianna brought back to the recovery room so Loraine could see her.  This was the only time Brianna was able to see her during her hospital stay.

I had prepared myself for Loraine being in a mental funk after her mastectomy. It is a huge thing for a woman to lose her breasts, a part of of her identity as a woman. But as I have said, she is a very tough woman. They say, the job of being a military spouse is the toughest job in the armed forces. I believe I was fortunate, graced by God above to to be blessed with this strong woman who weathered my military career. This same strength of character was on full display for all to see yesterday as she was recovering overnight in the hospital. She interacted with her visitors all afternoon, while also taking numerous phone calls and answering text messages of well wishes from loved one, family and friends. Her high spirits made it hard to believe she had just underwent this major surgical procedure. Even with the discomfort of having her breasts removed, she still had an appetite and had been craving spaghetti all day. I ordered spaghetti with marinara with olives and mushrooms along with a side order of fried mozzarella cheese sticks from Minski’s Pizza. Minski’s is one of the best pizzeria’s in the Kansas City area. She loved this dinner and ate almost the entire meal with the exception of a few of the cheese sticks.

Last night was a rather sleepless night for both of us, but for different reasons. I slept on a uncomfortable couch in the room beside a window where you cold feel the winter cold emanating in from without. I just had a difficult time with comfort. Loraine on the other hand kept having to get up to urinate. She had been on a IV saline drip all day and was told that if she drank enough water and urinated enough, they could remove the IV. I’m pretty sure she did not need to double down on this challenge. The night nurse removed her IV and after that, it seemed she was getting up about every 30 to 45 minutes. And then, at about 2:30 A.M., she was on a video call with our youngest daughter Molly in Munich Germany. I just rolled back over and attempted to get back to sleep.

Loraine was discharged from the hospital today at about 1:00 P.M. Dr. Butler came in to visit us this morning, and to see how Loraine was doing. While there, she examined the incisions and drain tubes she had inserted and then proceeded to tell us both what she had found. There was nothing said, that she had not told me already, but she did have the time to answer our questions. The first was to affirm that now radiation and or chemotherapy treatments are on the table. We will know the course of action for sure once the pathology reports are complete next week. My other big question was in regards to the breast tissue falling apart. We will not know for sure if this is a result of the cancer, or simply because of her age and the fact she had been a smoker for several years up until 5 years ago. Never the less, we now have a better idea of what we are facing. There is something tangible that we can now begin planning our lives around now.  While none of this is good, it is now easier and less stressful than the last month or so has been where everything was still an unknown entity in the severity of the cancer. Now at least we have a better idea.

The nurse navigator came in a little afterwards and not only went over her discharge instructions, but she taught us both how to drain her four drainage tubes and went over what to do if they get clogged due to clotting blood. It is a pretty simple procedure, you have a squeeze tube where the blood and fluid collects which has to be periodically emptied and the contents must be measured and annotated on a log sheet with the date and time of the draining. It might be a good thing I am not squeamish.

Neither Loraine or myself had ever heard of having a nurse navigator for anything. Nurse Melissa is assigned to Loraine for the duration of her journey with breast cancer. Maybe this is something only provided by the St. Luke’s medical community, I do not know. It would be a beautiful thing if every woman who has had this diagnosis had a navigator to walk her through the long process to wellness. Melissa is an angel, she has been so helpful already, and today she not only  arrived with discharge instructions, she came with a small pillow and pretty bags for Loraine to carry her drainage reservoirs in along with a pretty hand knitted lap afghan her mother had made. Melissa told us that her mother is a breast cancer survivor and that she knits these little lap afghans for every patient that Melissa has under her care. This personal touch leaves us almost speechless. It is more than obvious Melissa is a nurse for all the right reasons. The compassion from this woman is far above and beyond her job requirements and we are most fortunate to have her in this difficult journey. She has answered all of our calls in a timely manner, and has kept to everything she has told us. This kind woman is a true godsend.

We have had a great deal of stress since Loraine’s diagnosis. We have had questions that cannot be answered yet, and we are keenly aware that there are going to be more trying times that we may have little to no control over. My good friend Robert had a talk with me the other night which helped me to regain my focus on what is important and that also made me refer back to a prayer that has carried me through most of my adult life. That prayer is the Serenity Prayer, you may have seen me refer to it on other articles I have authored. This prayer is as follows:

Lord, grant me the Serenity to accept that which I cannot change.

Give me the Courage to change that which I can.

Bless me with the Wisdom to know the difference.

Obesity in America

Finding balance in our lives.

It seems that in western society today, those of us who live healthy lives by eating nutritionally sound meals and who exercise on a regular basis are becoming a minority within our population. Everywhere you cast a glance, you will see full parking lots at restaurants, and long lines in fast food drive through’s. When we enter any type of store, whether it is our normal grocery store or a convenience store, we are bombarded by the sights of sugar and fat laden treats on every aisle or end cap. Our shopping experience has become a healthy and fit individuals nightmare while morphing into a fat person’s nirvana.

Being overweight nowadays has become the norm, rather than the exception. It is not uncommon to meet people who take great pride in their sedentary and gluttonous lifestyles. Yet, these same individuals will sing the sad song once their lifestyles have trashed their health and sense of well being. And then, there is the greatest of ironies where the individual with health problems as a result of laziness coupled with an unhealthy diet wants a doctor to just give them medicines to “fix” them while refusing to be compliant with the  doctors orders. I once knew someone who refused to quit smoking despite being on oxygen just because “no doctor was going to dictate how they live their life”. For a large percentage of obese people, cakes and cookies have the same effect in regards to this kind of convoluted thinking as the smoker on oxygen who refuses to quit.

If you are a thinking person, you really have to ask why the hell in America, with all of our prosperity, with all the amenities that life has to offer us here, why in the world has the health status in our population been declining over the last few decades. How in the world did we lose our collective minds when it comes to healthy living? Why have our public schools quit teaching health and biology? Why are so many of our population entirely ignorant of the value of consuming healthy diets? In the last forty years, rates for overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions, and now, in the richest country on the planet, we lead the world in the incidence of cardiovascular disease. According to data from the the most recent National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, nearly two thirds of adults in America are over weight with a BMI of 25 or over, and over 30% of adults are obese with a BMI of 30 or greater. The incidence of this epidemic has spanned all racial and ethnic groups, all genders and age groups.

I find it sad that all these fat adults are also raising fat children. (I do not care if that pisses you off) The prevalence of fat children is growing by leaps and bounds, the US military is now having trouble recruiting 18 year old’s because they are too damned fat for military standards to even ship off to basic training. These children and young people are also suffering from ailments that used to be reserved for older adults whose lifestyles have caught up with them. Now we have children under 13 who have developed type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, respiratory problems along with psychological disorders such as depression. (1)  Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that in 2011 the average American consumed nearly one ton of food. That’s 1,996 pounds of food a year, and at least 1 in 4 people eat some type of fast food every day.

What are we doing about the obesity problem?

Well, we are not doing enough, and we are not taking the correct approach to obesity among our adults or children. As a society it might appear we are doing a lot to try to make an impact on the obesity epidemic, especially when you see all the bogus weight loss ads on all forms of media where they tell you that with their program or procedure, you can lose 30 pounds a month.  You have weight loss programs such as WW (formerly Weight Watchers) where they tell you that you can eat anything you want so long as your track it.

What do these programs and procedures have in common?

Their research and development know that there will be some people who will have their needs met, while a great many, if not a majority, are just going to be strung along as a perpetual income stream. The people who struggle year after year will never find success with their weight loss endeavors until they come to know their true nutritional needs, and become willing to change their lifestyles.

Does anyone really believe you can still eat bon bon’s while sitting on the couch and still lose weight if only you track them? Do you believe that fit points you earn by washing dishes or running your vacuum cleaner will justify reaching for a couple cookies out of the jar?

I have a bridge if you are in the market for one.

What is the government and medical approach to obesity?

Government and the medical community have initiated three responses to the growing obesity epidemic in America. These are:

Diets, Medical Interventions, and Exercise

Diets and medical interventions are the most popular interventions by far. Once again, we are saturated by media sources that advertise fad diets and medical procedures every day of the week. Yet, most of the people (about 95%)  who go these routes fail to keep their weight off.  Even with all the fad diets;

  • About three-fourths of the population have an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils.
  • Most Americans exceed the recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.

Diets and medical interventions are not the correct choices in combating the obesity epidemic. Rather, the most effective interventions are what people ignore to their own peril. People will go on a diet, hoping to just get it over with in a hurry in order to return to what got them fat in the first place. Instead of a diet, these people would get the most benefit out of incorporating a new lifestyle that emphasizes healthy eating and exercise as a daily routine. Exercise coupled with nutritionally sound dietary habits is the best thing you can do to improve the overall quality of your health and life. Even a brisk walk for 30 minutes per day will yield great results for you.

Why are diets and medical interventions the more popular choice than exercise for controlling body fat? 

Simply put, because they do not interfere with your life as much as making time for exercise. It has become simpler to pop a damn pill and to put the burden on others for your weight gain than it is to take personal responsibility and the time to do something meaningful about it. When you follow a diet and or pop a pill, you are placing the burden on another individual to blame when you fail.

You can follow a diet and fail to lose weight or to keep it off.

How many of you have done this and then blamed the diet as not being good?

By doing this you are shifting blame from yourself and placing it onto whoever came up with the diet scheme. You did not fail, the diet failed you, right?

You can get a stomach procedure or a prescription to the newest dietary drug. You might lose weight, stall out and then regain what you lost if not more so. The failure is on you, not the procedure or drug, if you approached these interventions without taking full personal responsibility for yourself.

This over simplifies getting fit and healthy to a degree, but really, at the end of the day you must do the opposite of that which got you fat in the first place.

Develop permanent healthy nutritional habits that fulfill all of your needs.

Quit eating sugar and simple carbs other than fruits which have a fiber component that regulates how the sugar enters your blood stream.

Quit eating processed foods of convenience that contain not only added sugar’s, but also contain unhealthy fats, high sodium and chemical preservatives.

Keep your body well hydrated.

Begin an exercise program with your doctor’s approval.  Take and dedicate at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week for exercise. If you can sit in drive through lanes for 30 minutes, you can easily dedicate the same time to your physical fitness.

Set achievable long term goals, and then create several short term goals in order to more easily get you to that long term goal.

Believe in yourself, you are more capable than you believe.

 

(1) Chris Carmichael, Food for Fitness

Simple Truth Chorizo Review

I like chorizo, and I really wanted to like this product. In the package, it looked like it might be a delicious treat, but the reality once cooked, was this plant based chorizo was a terrible disappointment to me.

The first chorizo link I prepared with eggs for Huevos Rancheros, or chorizo and scrambled eggs. I cut the chorizo into small  bite size pieces, then lightly browned them in olive oil. Once browned I poured my chili lime seasoned eggs into the pan with the chorizo pieces and scrambled them together until the eggs were done. I topped my Huevos Rancheros with habanero hot sauce after I plated it and then sat down to enjoy a tasty Mexican breakfast.

Well, my scrambled eggs were good, but the chorizo I found to be too bland, just lacking in flavor like an unfinished product. The chorizo only kind of tasted like the actual meat product, but it had a less than desirable texture along with a blandness that could not excite the taste buds. Considering the first ingredients are Filtered Water, Vital Wheat Gluten, Expeller Pressed Safflower Oil, Wheat Protein Isolate, the weird bland texture and and taste should have only been expected.

How about this for a product website disclaimer:

Actual product packaging and materials may contain additional and/or different ingredient, nutritional, or proper usage information than the information displayed on our website. 

I tried a second link which I browned and consumed with only an Ole brand Extreme Wellness High Fiber Tortilla. This was a worse decision than the Huevos Rancheros. I actually do enjoy some plant based meat substitutes. Some are pretty damn good, but the simple truth with Simple Truth Chorizo is this product was a complete failure to me, you might like it though.

Ingredients
Filtered Water, Vital Wheat Gluten, Expeller Pressed Safflower Oil, Wheat Protein Isolate, Apple Cider Vinegar, Yeast Extract, Paprika, Spices, Cane Sugar, Onions, Cultured Sugar, Vinegar, Garlic, Garlic Powder, Paprika Extract, Spice Extract.

With the exception of the small amount of cane sugar, I find nothing inherently wrong with the ingredients, but for the fact, they did not come together well enough to create a product that actually tasted good.

At $3.99  for a package of 4 links, this product is nutritionally sound for an inexpensive meal. It is high in protein and low in carbs. However, for a little more money, next time I have chorizo, I am going to go ahead and have an actual real deal, meat product.

Cleveland Kraut, Curry Kraut Review

This is the second sauerkraut product produced by Cleveland Kraut I have tried, and I must say, I am quickly becoming a huge fan of their products. I thought their Gnar Gnar Kraut was pretty darn good, but this Curry Kraut raises the bar in delicious flavor. The guys at Cleveland Kraut state;

“At Cleveland Kraut, we take pride in producing the best tasting and crunchiest sauerkraut in the world.”

If you are going to make a bold claim to be the best tasting and crunchiest in the world, you had best be able to back it up with a superb product. Cleveland Kraut is doing so, in the products I have tried. They have knocked it clean out of the park with this one. Home Run!

The same as they accomplished with their Gnar Gnar product, this kraut is a perfect blend of spices and peppers where you can distinctly taste each savory ingredient without it overpowering another. Some might find the curry and jalapenos to be a bit warm for their palate, although I found it to be quite mild. My disclaimer: I consume an entire bottle of habanero hot sauce about every week and a half to two weeks. You might use caution when first trying this product as I have a high tolerance for hot foods.

As a bonus, this kraut is not only delicious, it is a healthy probiotic food which is important to good digestive health. Sauerkraut contains enzymes that help he body to break down food into smaller, and more easily digestible molecules which in turn helps the body to absorb more nutrients which help to keep your body working in an optimum condition.

I paired this Curry Kraut with a 4 ounce pork chop I had pan seared in a little bit of olive oil. This pairing was quite excellent, but it would be possibly better on a good brat. This satisfying meal only yielded 220 calories with 23 grams protein, 4 grams of complex carbs, and 18 grams of fat. 13.5 grams of this fat was from heart healthy olive oil.

Ingredients:

Cabbage, Jalapeno Peppers, Carrots, Kosher Salt, Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric, Cumin, Coriander, Mustard Seed

Nutrition:

 

 

No Hill For a Climber, Lymphedema Prevention

Today is the beginning of a new year and decade. There will be many triumphs and defeats we will encounter while traversing the twisted and crooked path of life. Some of our battles are entirely within our control, and some are not. It is how we deal with these struggles and hard won fights that define our character, not that they occurred in the first place. Every time we get knocked down by life, it is imperative that we jump back up onto our feet in order to continue our fight.

This has been an interesting week, and an emotionally trying week on many levels for my dear Loraine and I both.

Over the weekend, I connected with a cousin I have never known, despite the fact we both have a great grandmother in common. All of my life, it was common knowledge in the family that my great grandmother Mattie May Turner was part Native American of Cherokee descent. My grandmother believed her mother was part Cherokee all of her life too. Yet, my mother had a DNA test completed a couple years ago which showed zero Native American blood, but did show a percentage of African blood. We have surmised that Great Grandma Turner was actually part black despite her fair skin. Two of her little girls were pretty dark, as are many of her grand children and great grand children. We figure that having come from the south to Missouri, which had been a slave state, life was easier to claim being “Indian” over having even a trace of “black” blood in her. It made me sad to think this dear sweet great grandmother of mine, who passed when I was seventeen years old, had to hide who and what she was in order to fit in with her small community. I can guarantee, if it had ever come out that Mattie Turner was part black in her small town, she would have never even been made to feel welcome in her own church. I was happy to solve the mystery of her ethnicity, yet saddened to think of what life had to be like in order for her to be accepted into her community.

This year as in years past, I made no New Years resolutions. What I have done is to just affirm that I will continue to try to treat others with kindness and to continue with my own self care during this trying time in our lives with Loraine’s breast cancer and her brother Howard’s liver cancer. (Howard has been living with us for almost a year now since he became disabled from his cancer.)

Monday as I was preparing to head out to the Veterans Administration (VA) for my Post Traumatic Stress Therapy, I read an article that got me actually quite upset. I am a retired military man of Navy and Army service to my country. At the young age of nineteen, I was given the drug Mefloquine for the prevention of malaria. This course of drugs ran for eight weeks prior to our arrival in Mombasa Kenya, and then we had another eight week course of Mefloquine after we had left. After receiving this anti-malarial drug, we were not able to donate blood for ten years afterwards, that should say something about how bad it is. But here is what I learned about Mefloquine on Monday morning:

Military authors have noted that that “the significant overlap in symptoms associated with mefloquine toxicity and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) obscures the distinction between these diagnoses,” and that mefloquine use may “confound the diagnosis and management” of PTSD. Consistent with such confounding, a recent study finds that non-combat-deployed personnel with mefloquine exposure had a significant and nearly doubled risk of subsequent PTSD diagnosis, as compared to those who lacked such exposure.

As mefloquine exposure is correlated with deployment, and as mefloquine exposure provides a separate causal pathway for many outcome variables associated with sleep disorders, unmeasured mefloquine exposure may serve as a potentially critical confounder in studies of sleep disorders among deployed military personnel and veterans. Unmeasured mefloquine exposure has been previously identified as a significant concern in the interpretation of recent military studies of PTSD and emergence delirium. Owing to the potential for confounding, researchers conducting studies of sleep disorders among veterans should measure prior symptomatic exposure and control for its effects in future analysis. (1)

From Military Times:

Case reports of mefloquine side effects have been published before, but the authors of  “Prolonged Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in a Military Service Member Exposed to Mefloquine” say their example is unusual because it shows that symptoms can last years after a person stops taking the drug.

And since the symptoms are so similar to PTSD, the researchers add, they serve to “confound the diagnosis” of either condition.

“It demonstrates the difficulty in distinguishing from possible mefloquine-induced toxicity versus PTSD and raises some questions regarding possible linkages between the two diagnoses,” wrote Army Maj. Jeffrey Livezey, chief of clinical pharmacology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland. 

Once the U.S. military’s malaria prophylactic of choice, favored for its once-a-week dosage regimen, mefloquine was designated the drug of last resort in 2013 by the Defense Department after the Food and Drug Administration slapped a boxed warning on its label, noting it can cause permanent psychiatric and neurological side effects. (2)

The good news is this explains a lot for me. It gives a solid foundation to my PTSD, insomnia, anxiety and depression which can be overwhelming at times. After thirty plus years of suffering mostly in silence, I sought help in this. I am particularly disturbed that part of my suffering could very well be a direct result of brain damage caused by Mefloquine. I may never get completely over my issues, yet I have pledged to continue my lifestyle of healthy nutrition and physical fitness, as well, I will continue my Cognitive Therapy for PTSD as long as it takes to maybe rewire how my brain operates.

The important take away is that if I am to be able to care for my sweet wife and Howard during their struggles with cancer, I must continue with my own self care. As a care taker, it is imperative that one still takes care of themselves, or you will soon burnout and possibly become sick too.

Lymphedema Prevention

Now that I have lead you down a twisted path through a forest to show you a tree, I will get on with Loraine’s visit with her physical therapist on Thursday. I felt it necessary first to set the stage for what life is in my home.

Loraine had an appointment with her physical therapist for 7:00 am Thursday morning. Being as we both thought the sole purpose of this visit was to have her fitted for special sleeves to prevent lymphedema after her double mastectomy this coming Monday morning, the visit did not appear to be important enough for me to take the night off from the road in my semi to be there.

We were both wrong, I should have been there as she received a lot of information that I needed to hear too.

Did I ever say in any of these articles that the abundance of information regarding breast cancer treatment will make your head want to pop like a grape?

Many  family and friends with the best of intentions keep talking like this breast cancer and mastectomy are not that a big of deal since treatments have become so successful over the years in regards to breast cancer.

I get it. They are trying to be helpful and encouraging. I appreciate this.

However, this is a monumental ordeal for us in the moment. This upcoming mastectomy is a very intrusive and disfiguring surgery. This is not a simple matter of just removing two breast and then following up with a few treatments.

Try as we may to remain optimistic about what the future holds, right not we have the stress of not knowing just how bad this cancer might be. We will not know until after her surgery on Monday. This unknown factor leads to a huge stress. And then, as if the removal of two breasts and a few lymph nodes is not enough, there will be the lingering possibility of lymphedema occurring in one or both of Loraine’s arms for the rest of her life. And this is not even taking into consideration breast reconstruction procedures to follow.

Loraine was fitted for her compression sleeves yesterday, and then they went over exercises and other things she will need to do in order to prevent lymphedema from occurring. For any of you who are not familiar with lymphedema and the prevention of it here is the information the therapist sent home with Loraine:

What is Lymphedema, and how can I prevent it?

Lymphedema is a type of swelling that occurs because lymph vessels and lymph nodes are unable to drain fluid successfully. This causes a back up of fluid, old proteins, and old cell particles that can build up over time and make the skin and tissues below it harden and become unhealthy, The swelling can range from a mild case which is not noticeable to being severe, affecting how clothes fit or how a person moves and functions. There is no cure, but steps can be taken to reduce the risk of getting lymphedema or allowing it to get worse.

Lymphedema in the left arm

Although there is no strong scientific proof that these tips prevent swelling, an understanding of how the body is structured and its systems work can help people understand the risks, signs and  symptoms so they can get help sooner and have a better chance of controlling or even reversing lymphedema.

Besides noticing that a body part such as an arm or leg looks or feels bigger, or jewelry or clothing does not fit, early signs can be a feeling that the arm or leg is:

Heavy, Achy

Tired,Tingly

If you feel any of these symptoms:

Stop what you are doing and rest.  Lay down and/or prop up the arm or leg on a pillow. Drink water to help move the fluid.

If these symptoms do not go away or happen often, contact your doctor and ask to see a lymphedema therapist.

Steps you can take to avoid lymphedema or keep it from getting worse include:

  1. Good skin care-Avoid injury and situations that might cause an infection.
    • Keep skin clean and dry and check every day for any cuts, scrapes, or other injuries.
    • Wash injured skin with soap and water and apply antibiotic cream like Polysporin.
    • Watch for signs of infection:
      1. Skin that is red and blotchy.
      2. Skin that is hot to the touch.
      3. Fever, chills, nausea, vomiting or flu like symptoms.
      4. Pain
    • Keep nails trimmed but do not cut cuticles, bite nails, or allow hangnails.
    • Wear gloves, long sleeves, or long pants while doing activities that could break the skin like gardening, using chemicals, washing dishes, or working with tools.
    • Avoid needle sticks, IVs and shots in the arm or leg that is at risk.
    • Use sunscreen and insect repellent to prevent sunburn and bites.
    • Avoid animal scratches and bites.
    • Use soap or shaving gel when using a razor and do not cut the skin.
    • Avoid blunt trauma or bruising.
  2. Keep an active lifestyle without overdoing it.
    • Slowly build the level and length of any activity or exercise.
    • Keep in mind that regular everyday activities (such as raking, moving boxes, carrying heavy laundry) can be as stressful to the body as heavy exercise.
    • Take rest breaks often.
    • Wear your bandage or compression garment when exercising.
    • Pay attention to any changes in the shape, texture, heaviness, firmness, soreness, or size of the arm or leg.
    • Keep a healthy weight. Obesity is a major risk factor for lymphedema.
  3. Avoid temperatures that are too hot or cold.
    • Avoid extreme cold.
    • Stay out of the heat (limit to 15 minutes); do not use saunas or hot tubs.
    • Be careful with hot packs and heating pads which are hot enough to turn the skin red over the arm of leg which is at risk for lymphedema.
  4. Avoid anything that squeezes or causes pressure.
    • If possible, have your blood pressure taken from the arm that is not at risk.
    • Avoid wearing tight bra straps, watches, rings or waist bands.
    • Avoid carrying a heavy bag or purse over the at risk or swollen arm or shoulder.
  5. Compression garments.
    • It is important to have compression garments that fit properly and give the right amount of pressure. If the garment is not right for you, it can hurt more than it helps.
    • Your therapist may recommend wearing a compression garment on an at risk arm or leg to give support during certain situations such as:
      1. Demanding activities like weight lifting, yard work, certain household jobs, standing for long periods and running.
      2. Traveling in an airplane. 

This, to me, is a lot on top of everything else. Like pouring salt into a bloody wound. Hopefully the edema will never become an issue. Maybe at some point we might be able to also minimize some of the issues which come with breast cancer too. But for now, it makes our heads swim with emotion, anxiety and fears of the known and unknown factors that could come into play with this awful disease.

 

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6040794/

(2) https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2016/08/11/malaria-drug-causes-brain-damage-that-mimics-ptsd-case-study/

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and decade to all of our incredible readers around the globe. Brenda Sue and I greatly appreciate each and everyone of you!

In the last year, we have grown our website to include:

  • Calorie Counter Pro Menu   With this menu function, you can easily enter your personal information to have your daily caloric needs figured for you. This feature is entirely private. No one, not even Brenda Sue or myself, can ever see your private information which you enter. Your privacy is safe with us as we adhere to all U.S. HIPAA privacy laws to protect you.
  • You can estimate your body fat percentage with our new Body Fat Estimator which is a pictorial guide that displays what different body fat ranges appear on the male and female bodies. We always advise concentrating on achieving a healthy body fat percentage over trying to randomly lose weight to a specific number on the scale.
  • Our new Calorie / Macro-nutrient Chart can help you figure your caloric and macro-nutrient needs with about 600 common food items. This feature is a work in progress and will continue to expand.
  • Curious about how many calories different activities cause you to burn. You can find it all, from walking to lawn mowing, on our Activity Caloric Burn Chart.
  • We have broken down and segregated our articles into their own menu categories. We will be working at making this feature even easier to navigate in the future for you.

I began building David’s Way to Health and Fitness about one year and seven months ago. About two and a half months after I began this website, I asked Brenda Sue to write a few pieces for me to give a woman’s perspective to the topics we address in our articles. She jumped right in and has been a tremendous asset ever since. Together, we have built up this website, despite many personal challenges that have jumped into our path’s along the way. Brenda Sue had her house blown down around her by a tornado, and then she had a major career change a few months later. For me, I have been a care taker to a family member with liver cancer for almost the last year , and very recently my dear wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will be undergoing a double mastectomy on Monday, January 6th.

Despite our own personal challenges in life, along with working demanding full time jobs atop of our health, nutrition and fitness writing, Brenda Sue and I have authored almost 700 articles between us, and we will continue to keep chugging away at this labor of love. It is only the two of us who have created this website. Our work has now reached 92 countries around the world.

My pledge to our readers is the information in this website will always be free to our readers and subscribers. I will never charge you a penny to access and read our work. That being said;

I have toyed with beginning a shopping feature in order to help offset the cost of operating this website, and to help pay the ever piling medical bills that keep coming in for my wife’s breast cancer. This shopping feature, once incorporated will include nutritional supplements and other items that are health and fitness related.

Again, my pledge is to keep all the articles and other features of this website entirely free to our readers and subscribers. Our mission is to help as many people in achieving fit and healthy body’s as we can.

Subscription to David’s Way to Health and Fitness is free and easy. Each new article we publish can come straight to your email, and again, this is all free to you. Please, if you enjoy our work, have benefited from our articles, share our David’s Way to Health and Fitness with all of your family and friends.

May each and everyone of you have a wonderful new year ahead of you.

Know Your Nutrition! Your Health Depends On It.


How exactly do you personally execute important dietary decisions once you have wisely decided to lose all of those undesirable pounds of unhealthy body fat?

How well do you understand your nutritional needs?

Do you even consider what constitutes proper nutrition when you begin the latest, trendy diet plan that promises you illusory outcomes?

Can you with a straight face, convince anyone that you can achieve a 30 pound weight loss in a month without the worry of ill effects upon your health and well being?

We  all know we are looking at a new year and decade in less than a week. All around us we can appreciate people making a resolution to begin a new diet to create a new body. But, are they cognizant of how they will initiate any nutritional plan that will result in good health and successful weight loss?

I’m going to become a Vegan!

Today I start my Keto!

I’m going to reduce my cholesterol by eliminating eggs!

PLEASE STOP!

Before you begin any paid for diet plan, before you commence taking on any changes to your dietary habits, please educate yourself before you take a swan dive off  a diving board into the deep end of the nutrition pool. You might find yourself hitting your head on the bottom.

I accept Veganism as being a healthy diet. Many thousands of people around the world are perfectly healthy living this lifestyle. However, I would ask you why you believe that Veganism is for you.

I actually had this very conversation just a few days ago with a nice young, obese man I work with. His response?

“I’m giving this a try because my girlfriend is a Vegan”

Because your girlfriend, boyfriend or any other important person in your life has adopted this lifestyle is not enough to justify you adopting it. Unless, you have a solid base of nutritional knowledge beforehand.

Veganism

It is not enough to believe that you can just eat plant based foods in order to lose weight and be healthy. A few things you must first understand:

  • You must ensure that you are consuming protein that provides you with all your essential amino acids. Just consuming protein in itself is not enough. Soy, quinoa and buckwheat are plant-based foods that contain all nine essential amino acids, making them complete protein sources, all other plant based proteins are considered to be incomplete proteins as they lack one or more essential amino acids. (1)
  • The 9 essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleutine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. These amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form your own body’s proteins. Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life. When you consume proteins, they are digested and broken down. Amino acids are what is left. Your  body uses these amino acids to create proteins to help your body:
    1. Break down food
    2. Grow
    3. Repair body tissue
    4. Perform many other body functions
  • If you decide upon becoming a Vegan, you need to concern yourself with providing your body with all of its vitamin and mineral requirements. Many assert that a whole-food, plant-based diet easily meets all your daily nutrient requirements, but this is only a partial truth. You have to have a sound knowledge of nutrition to receive all that you require for good health. Otherwise, you would never see people quitting Veganism when the lifestyle begins making them unwell. Here are 6 nutrients that you may need to supplement with while on a vegan diet:

(4) health. clevelandclinic.org

 

 

New Years Health and Fitness Tips

Thanksgiving day in America has come and passed as well as Christmas, with Hannukah sliding into home base on December 30, and then New Years Eve comes the day afterwards. New Years Day is less than week away.

We will be moving into a new decade.

Will it be the Roaring Twenties all over again?

I do not have a crystal ball to predict what the future holds for any of us, but I would bet the bank that many of you are making resolutions that with a new year, new decade, there is going to be a new you. I can predict that despite all the personal resolutions to drop weight, to be thinner, fitter and healthier, a large percentage of you will have failed and returned to your old unhealthy habits by March. There will be some who will sputter along in their attempts at being a new person until May, and then by Memorial Day weekend here in America, these good folks will throw in the towel in order to enjoy all the summer festivities with family and friends.

Most people in America think of the holiday season of over indulgence as beginning in October with Halloween, but the reality is it actually begins with Memorial Day weekend, and in the spring with Iftar celebration meals during Ramadan for our Muslim readers. So, I would ask you, is there is even an actual end to special occasions of over indulgence for there to even be a beginning?

Face it, we have become a society where over indulgence and gluttony coupled with sedentary, lazy lifestyles has become the societal norm. We can see the evidence of this everywhere. In public, maybe even within the privacy of our own homes, every direction we might cast a glance, we will see one or many with a weight problem as a direct result of over indulgence and sedentary lifestyles with not a care in the world about how this kind of life is affecting their health and well being. That is, until their health begins  to cause them issues and hard earned money for medical treatments.

If you want to begin the new year on a track towards developing a healthy and fit body here are a few tips to consider:

EXERCISE

  • First thing, especially if you are not already in good physical condition is visit your doctor and get cleared before beginning any new physical fitness regimen.
    1. You want to ensure your heart is up to the task.
    2. You might need to have a few limitations to consider in the early weeks and months in order to avoid injury from weak muscles and connective tissues.
    3. You do not want to aggravate any existing conditions you might actually already know about. For instance, your knees may not be capable of withstanding a brisk 30 minute walk for three to four times per week. If this would be the case, you might find yourself better served by performing your exercises in a pool where there is very little to no impact on your joints.
    4. If you have COPD, make sure your doctor knows if you intend to perform exercises that raise your heart rate which will make breathing more difficult, possibly dangerous for you.
  • Pick an exercise you think you will actually enjoy. Or at least be open minded to see if you will enjoy an activity before becoming too invested into it.
    1. If you do not enjoy an exercise, it is not realistic to believe you will have any kind of longevity with it.
    2. Meaningful exercise that is truly beneficial to your body can turn into hard work, which means you need to like what you are doing even more so when the workout gets tough.
    3. Be open to trying new things, but do not invest in expensive memberships, fitness trackers or specialty clothing until you are sure that you will enjoy that which you are spending your hard earned money on. Every year, commercial gyms increase their memberships in January and those gyms which are super crowded through early March are usually ghost towns by early April. If you want to join a gym, see if you can find one with a month to month, or drop in fee instead of getting rooked into a one or two year contract that you will not be able to get out of once you have signed on the dotted line.
    4. Treadmills and other home fitness equipment can be great to have, and expensive as well. Before you invest $1000 into a  brand new treadmill or elliptical, see if you can find a used one online for less than half the cost of brand new. Many people will buy fitness equipment with the best of intentions in January, and by April, they will be using that new treadmill as a place to hang laundry over being something where they can walk, or jog or run even when the outside weather does not permit.
  • If you have never been one to exercise, you should consider finding an established program that will help you in becoming proficient at your endeavor of choice.
    1. If you are interested in running, you should check out the Couch to 5K app which will have you begin you with an easy walk and slowly build you up to a 5K (3 mile) jog or run. If you go at it hard with zero experience, you are likely to become sidelined from injury such as shin splints or foot problems, or you might just find yourself too burned out from pushing your body too hard before it is ready.
    2. If you have decided that you want to begin resistance training with weights, I will tell you that you will be doing yourself a disservice if you just jump into it with little to no knowledge. You do not know what it is that you do not know when it comes to strength training if you have never been involved. There is much more to strength training than just picking up weights and setting them down. You must know techniques and proper lifting forms to avoid injury. You must learn how to breath during a lift. You must learn how to valsalva in order to keep a tight core for most lifts. You need to get on an established training program that is tried and true if you want to find success. If you are a newbie to strength training, you do not know proper programming, I promise this. Proper programming is of extreme importance as it ensures that you do not end up with injuries  or a disproportional body from strength and muscle imbalances. A good program will include working the entire body. A good program will incorporate a pulling movement to mirror every pushing movement. I have written several articles here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness you can refer to in regards to strength training, including a couple programs.

NUTRITION

Everyone has their own unique reason to want to lose weight, and the first and foremost way to get to a healthy body fat percentage is through good nutritional habits. You cannot out exercise a poor diet. Even if you do manage to get away with it for a short time, you will soon find the bad nutrition catching up to you and the pounds will be quickly returning to your  body. Never forget the truth in that 6 pack abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.

  • Make a true commitment to yourself that you are going to clean up your nutritional habits, and then by god, stick to it no matter who or what circumstance in your life attempts to derail you.
    1. Your family and friends will attempt to derail you with all types of sweet treats and other poor food choices during special occasions. Most of these people are usually well meaning, but seriously, if you are carb addicted, you cannot give in and make exceptions. Every time you do, it becomes easier and easier until you find that you have regained all the weight you might have already lost. You have to be prepared to stick to your guns. One way you can do this is to bake one or two of our sugar free dessert recipes for a gathering of loved ones. This way you can still have a treat with them, and possibly get them on board with healthier eating too.
    2. Understand that if you are carb addicted, this addiction is no different than alcohol or drug addiction. It is something that you will carry with you the rest of your life. You can have the most will power in the world, but if you find yourself feeding the addiction, you are bound to find yourself going off the rails. Finding yourself with cravings for foods that are high in simple carbs and added sugar has nothing to do with will power, it is truly a chemical biological response in your body that you have little control over. The only control you have is the same as an alcoholic has over alcohol, you can not take that first drink or bite.
    3. Life can throw bad circumstances our way which can knock us clean off of our health initiative, but only “IF” we “ALLOW” it to. I have had people just assume that since I carry very little body fat, it must be easy for me. To lay this thought to rest, I have had a weight problem in the past. I know from personal experience what you are going through if you are overweight or obese. I have fought that demon and still do along with others each and every day of the week. I am retired from the military and suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), this alone can be enough to derail me, but only “IF” I “ALLOW” it. Today, I had to have my precious and loving Basset Hound, Abbie, euthanized at 14 years old. She was suffering from kidney failure. I cried before and afterwards and while a slice of sugary chocolate cake or cookies might have made me feel good in the moment, I did not give in to temptations as this would have left me with the same regret should I have given in to having an alcoholic drink. On top of this, I am a care taker for my life long friend, who is also my brother in law that is suffering from liver cancer, Hepatitis C and cirrhosis of the liver while also being morbidly obese. We have our tough moments in life, but never the less, it serves no one any good to deviate from healthy eating. Actually, Howard has lost well over 100 pounds since moving in with me and despite his illness, his quality of life has vastly improved with healthy eating and weight loss. Now, to add insult to injury, my dear wife of almost 34 years has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will be undergoing a double mastectomy on January 6th, just a little over a week away. Is my life easy or charmed? You decide what you might think, but no matter what life throws my way, I am fully committed to my own health initiative and will not deviate fro my healthy eating practices
  • Forget all the fad diets and gimmicks that promise quick weight loss. Forget programs that take your money and blow smoke up your rear while telling you that you can eat anything you want as long as your track it.
    1. Fads and gimmicks will help you to lose weight, but you will regain it just about as soon as you leave the program, and possibly as quickly as you lost it. Fads and gimmicks do not work.
    2. Programs that take your money while telling you that you can still eat anything you want will work for some people and greatly fail others, while still keeping them on as a perpetual income stream. They will make great promises as long as you keep paying your dues. Never underestimate how devious some of these corporations can be, no matter who the smiling face might be that represents them. One major weight loss program has an individual as the face of their plan who is still over weight or obese, that should tell you something about them. Remember these large business have people who work research and development for them and it would be very naive to think they do not know what they are doing when they present a plan that is vague enough to help some while keeping half of their membership struggling to lose or keep their weight off.
    3. At David’s Way to Health and Fitness, I have, and always will pledge to keep all of our articles and website free to our readers. I will never charge you a penny to access all of our almost 700 articles and recipes in order to help you to achieve a healthier and more fit body. Again, we will never charge you for access, we have other means of revenue and more in the works which will also never make it difficult to navigate our articles such as what you might find on other sites. Our mission is to help you, this is a labor of love to help our fellow human kind.
  • Commit yourself to following our plan at David’s Way to Health and Fitness. At David’s Way, we take a holistic, whole body approach to weight loss and management. David and Brenda are both AFPA certified Nutritional/Wellness Consultants who emphasize living a healthy, nutritionally sound and sustainable lifestyle. Since it’s a lifestyle and not a diet, there is no endpoint. We promote healthy eating and exercise for a healthy body and sound mind.David’s Way is a healthy nutrition and active lifestyle based on years of personal experience and scientific research. Our methodology involves the consumption of a high protein, low carbohydrate, nutritionally sound and diabetic friendly diet. Our numerous dessert recipes are all sugar free and can be enjoyed by anyone without having the concerns of blood sugar or insulin spikes. Nor will our desserts cause you any cravings such as you would get from treats made with sugar.At David’s Way we don’t tell you what to eat so much as we tell you what not to eat. This is no weight loss gimmick, this simple plan is how our mothers, grandmothers and generations past used to feed us. It is simply a matter of using portion control when consuming healthy, whole foods, while avoiding foods that are not nutritionally sound. In other words, do not consume anything that does not provide you a nutritional benefit.

The new year will be upon us in just a few more days. Make a true commitment to your well being and then stick to it through thick and thin, you will never regret skipping a slice of cake with family or friends, but you will regret every day of life when you find you have made enough exceptions to regain any or all of the weight you might have lost already. Stand strong, and have courage in your convictions. People have no respect for weak people, but they do respect strengths. This is just human nature. You can go weak and wobbly and never help yourself or others in being healthy and fit. Or you can stand strong in your resolve and actually influence and help others in achieving what you have. When life gets tough, as it will for all of us, refer to the Serenity Prayer. The principles of this prayer are a truth for anyone of any religion, and even for those without. I live my life by this principle which is:

Zero Evil Italian Sausage and Gnar Gnar Kraut Review

I have said before that I am a carnivore at heart, I am a true lover of meat and meat products. However, I also have a curiosity when it comes to all of the plant based meat substitutes, and love trying the new products as they begin appearing more frequently on my grocer’s shelves. The products are hit and miss, some are really good, some are just okay, while some are absolutely horrendous in my opinion. The Worthington X Burger reminded me of how awful the soy burgers were that my school district served us for lunch back in the sixties and seventies. Well, maybe not that bad, but pretty damn close…

The Stallion, Zero Evil’s Italian Sausage was a good choice for today’s review, and pairing it with Gnar Gnar Kraut made for a superb lunch too.

From Zero Evil’s website:

The Stallion delivers the knockout punch. No matter how you slice it, our signature blend of spices and whole ingredients comes out swinging. 

There is truth to their advertising. I thought the sausage was excellent, even though it was a tad dry. However, the flavor was good enough for me to get past the dryness which might have come partly from my own cooking of the product coupled with the fact there is only 1 gram of fat per link. I removed the casing per the instructions on the box and pan seared two links in a cast iron skillet on medium low heat with a bit of extra virgin olive oil. The sausages cooked fairly quickly as I also heated up the Gnar Gnar Kraut. Both were done in only a few minutes.  A cooking point to remember is these are entirely plant based, yet the fact they are so similar to actual meat sausages, you might find your self looking for the same cues of being done as you would meat. You need not over cook plant based meat substitutes.

In my opinion, I thought the Italian sausage tasted very similar to an actual meat based sausage with the biggest difference being in they are not fatty and the texture is not meaty, I already mentioned the dryness. But over all, the blend of seasonings was spot on perfect and I will definitely be buying more of these sausages in the future.

You might find Zero Evil Italian Sausages a tad expensive at $7.99 for a 12 ounce package of four links. Compared to cheap sausages, this is pricey. However, with the expense of a healthier diet, the cost of good nutritious foods can be offset by you not having to visit your doctor quite so often for ailments that can be traced entirely to unhealthy dietary habits.

These plant based sausages are indeed nutritionally sound.

Ingredients:

Vital Wheat Gluten, Filtered Water, Organic Red Kidney Beans, Organic Shoyu, Chickpea Flour, Nutritional Yeast, Sea Salt, Organic Smoked Paprika, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Chili Flakes, Organic Fennel Seed, Organic Thyme, Organic Rosemary, Organic Cayenne, Organic Black Pepper

My only concern in regards to the ingredients would be the Vital Wheat Gluten for those who are gluten intolerant.  Otherwise, all else is perfectly fine.

This is Cleveland’s answer to kimchi. This spicy & gnarly kraut will add a bold and delicious kick to any dish. Beware, you might get hooked!

Hands down, this has to be the best damn Kraut I have ever consumed. The blend of red bell pepper, jalapeno’s, onion, and siracha peppers is a perfect addition to sauerkraut. While each flavor profile was distinctive in the kraut, not a one over powered any of the others. I have to tip my hat to the folks at Cleveland Kraut for developing such an excellent recipe.

A point to consider though is this product is a little on the spicy side with heat. For me, I thought is was pretty mild, but I also go through a bottle of habanero hot sauce every two weeks. If you do not like heat, you might want to avoid this product, if you like heat and kraut, fill your plate, you will enjoy this! At $5.99 for a 16 ounce package, you cannot go wrong.

This probiotic food choice is low enough in calories, you could eat and entire bag every day with no worries about expanding your waist.

Ingredients:

Green Cabbage, Green Bell Peppers, Jalapenos, Kosher Salt, Leeks, Sriracha (Chili Peppers, Sugar, Vinegar, Salt, Garlic, Chili Extract, Beet Powder), Garlic, Red Chili