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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Read More!

THE #1 BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOURSELF.  We hear a lot about self-care.  It's important.  Gone are the days when Mom would bring chicken soup to your room and Dad would fix your bicycle tire.  We are (through no fault of our own) the Adults now and we must take care of ourselves.  I know, it can be quite alarming sometimes to realize we are the Adults and no one is going to take care of you -- but you.

Taking care of yourself sounds easy.  But do you schedule regular doctor and dentist appointments for yourself?  Do you stretch in the morning, take vitamins, and floss your teeth?  Pretty basic stuff, but when pressed for time, we tend to put everyone and everything before our own self-care.

Try building in some time for things YOU want to do.  It's not selfish, it's soothing.  Your parents would approve.

Going to the gym or exercising in your own way should be a top priority.  We talked about this last week.  Also, making time for friends is high on the importance list.

The number one thing you can do for yourself, in my opinion, is Read.  If you already love to read, then it's just a matter of finding a comfy chair and investing the time.  If you're not a reader, get thee to the Library and find books you like.  Or maybe try books on tape, I love to listen to audiobooks while driving.  The best ones, in my opinion, for the ones read by the author.  I read so much I would go broke if I purchased every book that I read. That's why I love the library. You can even download e-books onto your Kindle reader at the library.

I just love to read and it has been that way all my life.  I could spend entire days and nights reading books, if I had the time and the domestic staff of Downtown Abbey.  Instead, I carve out the time after work and on weekends.  I especially love adventure and mystery books that take me to new and exotic lands.  Or back to other periods in history.  A love of reading can protect your brain from Alzheimer’s disease, slash stress levels, encourage positive thinking, and fortify friendships, according to Reader's Digest.

And really, with all the "noise" out there in the world, isn't it wonderful to put it all on hold and retreat into the world of whatever book you're reading?

So to all my bookish friends out there, I say "Bookworms Unite!"  Here's to library bags filled with books, comfy chairs, hot tea and books so good the pages practically turn themselves.  I'm almost done with "Before the Fall," by Noah Hawley.  Got a great book recommendation?  I'd love to hear it!  💛📚 Mrs. Lo

Friday, February 3, 2017

"But You're So Skinny ..."

BUT YOU’RE SO SKINNY!  Here is a newsflash, being “skinny” does not mean that you are healthy.  I found this out the hard way.  All my life I have had higher than normal cholesterol.  Which my doctors all ignored because on the outside, I’m the picture of good health.  I have good readings when it comes to everything else (blood pressure, resting heart rate, blood sugar, triglycerides).  But I am getting up there in years (I am 51). I have a new female doctor who told me my cholesterol was too high, and that I needed to either get it down through diet and fitness or go on medicine.  I really did not want to go on medicine.

    February is American Heart Month.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.  Heart disease can lead to heart attack and stroke.  And the leading causes of heart disease are Smoking (including secondhand smoke), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and blood vessel inflammation (according to the pamphlet my doctor gave me).  Carrie Fisher and Mary Tyler Moore recently died of a heart attack; as did Alan Thicke.  The threat is real; and more prevalent than cancer.
    My cholesterol reading overall three months ago was 245.  My LDL or “bad cholesterol” was 171, which is what worried my doctor.  I really made it by life’s work to get that cholesterol down.  Ideally, she wanted my cholesterol under 200, my HDL or good cholesterol is supposed to be above 60.  And she wanted my Bad cholesterol under 115.
I switched up my diet.  Cholesterol comes from animals, so anything that comes from an animal, I either eliminated or really cut back on.  That meant no dairy at all (good bye half and half, I love you!!); only chicken and fish, lots of whole grains like brown rice, and lots and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.  No more pizza or lasagna!   For snacks, I ate only bananas, dried fruit and Kind bars. I eat 24 bananas a week.  And tons of water.  I started taking supplements and foods that were anti inflammatory (like Tumeric).
I already belonged to Gold’s Gym Newburgh but I joined the “Alloy” program there, which is additional classes with circuit training.  I committed to go to at least 2 classes a day at Gold’s, usually a CX (core training) or Alloy class, followed by a yoga class.  I started doing yoga and meditating every day, either at the gym or at home.  I convinced myself during meditation that I could lower my cholesterol.  Then, after coming home from work, I got on my indoor rowing maching and rowed at least 2 miles every day.
My family was not only supportive, they were like having Jillian Michaels living in the house (“Put down that cookie, Mom, do you want HEART DISEASE??!!).  The ladies in my boat were incredibly supportive, we have an ongoing group text that never stops, and they pushed my to work on my cholesterol.  They went to the gym and to yoga with me.  We did a virtual rowing challenge on our indoor rowing machines.   I told all the instructors at Gold’s what I was trying to do and they gave me diet and fitness advice and lots of support as well.
Soooo … after three months I had my cholesterol tested again (my doctor orders a blood test).  Yes, there was that deeply twisted part of me that was secretly hoping my cholesterol didn’t change, so I could stop working so hard and watch Netflix in my pajamas.  But that would mean taking medicine and I really didn’t want to do that.  The nurse called me with the results.  My cholesterol had gone down from 245 to 231.  My good cholesterol went up from 47 to 51.  And my bad cholesterol went down from 178 to 150.  “Whatever you’re doing, keep it up,” is what Dr. Park had told the nurse to tell me.  I was elated!  I’m not where I need to be yet but I know that if I keep at it, I will get there.  And I am one pig-headed human being, so I will not stop until my numbers are where they need to be.  
I hope everyone will get their cholesterol tested when you go for your annual physical.  And if your doctor recommends medicine then by all means take it.  In my case, I was borderline and my doctor gave me the opportunity to try to bring my cholesterol down myself.  And now this is my life.  I will never stop my fitness and healthy diet routine because I have lost too many people in my family to heart disease and stroke.  If it’s at all possible, I would like to be there for my kids’ graduations, and weddings, and all that good stuff.  And knowing I can get there tastes a lot better than pizza.
So get out there and get moving!  For more information on heart disease and prevention, visit:
For more information about Gold’s Gym and the Alloy program visit:
And for more information on how to join the rowing programs of the Newburgh Rowing Club, visit
Photo from Hudson Valley Winter Erg Sprints, 01/29/17