Category Archives: Health

5 Things You Should Know About Your Feet

Yes, I truly do just share about almost anything on this blog. 🙂 In today’s lesson, I want to talk about feet, your feet specifically but using my feet as an example. If you remember, a month ago I did both a post and video on lying about your health. Well, one of those things we tend to lie about is our feet.

Feet...
Gramody via Compfight

We need our feet if we hope to continue getting around. Sure, sometimes it’s our legs bothering us, but sometimes leg problems are caused by your feet; I’ll get into that one a bit more. So, let’s get started.

1. Always buy shoes at least 1/2 in bigger than what your foot is. For 35 years I’ve bought 11 1/2 because that’s my foot size. Turns out that it’s recommended to always go at least 1/2 foot size bigger to give your toes room to move. Usually it’s the outer toe where, if you’re going to start developing any issues, you’ll feel it. Even your big toe in some shoe sizes won’t be happy unless you give it more space.

2. As you age, you need more support in your arch area in your shoes. Regular shoes seem to be fine, but when it comes to sneakers many of today’s designs are built with more cushioning in them than support for the arch area, which can lead to issues, especially if you have flat feet or problems with your gait. Turns out I have both, as I’d forgotten I had flat feet and my right leg is 1/2 inch longer than my left. The picture of the sneaker you see above is a Brooks Adrenaline and it’s what he recommended, though I have to admit I’d never heard of Brooks before then. But the brand name isn’t as important as making sure your arch is supported.

3. Most cushioning you buy aside from what comes in the shoes isn’t helping you at all. Podiatrists seem to get most animated when they see you’ve popped down $20 bucks for shoe cushions. They say it’s a false crutch of comfort we’ve been conditioned to enjoy that doesn’t work for 99% of the people that buy them. I’ve always purchased extra cushion, even trying that “jelling” insole once, because I thought my feet needed it. What he recommended is that unless it’s a cheap shoe, which he said never to buy, use what comes in the shoe because it was specifically tested to offer both the maximum comfort and protection for your feet. It’s that thing about having your shoes be a little looser so blood flow can occur.

4. Treat your heels well.

Baby Toes
Katie Mollon via Compfight

Adding to #3, it seems that we all concentrate more on the front of our feet when we should be treating our heels better. When we start noticing that our heels might be getting more crusty and such, that’s when we have to worry about neuropathy, which is when you stop having feeling in certain parts of your body. Actually, it turns out it’s way more than that; you could be causing damage without numbness, and it can start affecting other parts of your body such as your legs, your back, even your neck.

They did an interesting test on my feet, a sensitivity test. It started out with one prong on different locations of both feet. I did very well on that one. Then you had to feel two prongs on different areas of the feet; that one I had a lot of trouble with. I was diagnosed as having minor neuropathy, especially in my heels, but luckily he said it wasn’t diabetes related based on the first part of the test and said it’s probably because of insufficient footwear over the years. So we’ll be monitoring it over the next few years, but at least now I know.

5. It’s imperative that you cut your toenails. I have a wife that’s always on me about cutting my nails and now she’s got physician support on it. Based on our footwear, longer nails can cause us discomfort, if not pain, and thus we inadvertently start curling our toes, which then alters how we walk. Once we artificially start changing how we normally walk, that’s when problems start to occur.

I’m adding one last thing, but not changing the number above because I’m superstitious on some things and I’m not crazy about some even numbers; something else new that you now know about me. lol Anyway, the last thing is to look at your feet at least once a month to see if anything looks odd. Most of the time you won’t notice anything different, but we did notice I have this “thing” near the right big toe that he’s not worried about, but it’s there, and that I injured my right big toe back in November, which I knew because I’d seen the blood blister, but have no idea how I did it. It’s slowly going away, but if there had been something like that elsewhere it could have meant something bad. Also, as a kid I used to sometimes develop holes in my feet, which turned out to be blisters that grew inward; freaky, but after finally noticing and bringing it to a doctor’s attention we made some changes that stopped that from happening.

There you are; nothing about social media or the internet today, but something I think is equally as important. Enjoy your Saturday!
 

Don’t Lie About Your Health

Some of you might remember that last week I helped my friend Beverly Mahone promote the free download of her book Don’t Ask & I Won’t Have To Lie. Since that day I started thinking about some things that I’d been keeping to myself, and then a brief encounter with my mother on Thursday got me thinking even more about my silence as it pertains to my health. I decided that I needed to finally come clean, and last night I decided to record the video below explaining myself while hoping that you listen to what I have to say and start thinking about your own health. First, the video:

There you are. By the way, I’m now down 14 pounds and with the doctor reducing the amount of insulin I inject twice a day, we’re both hoping it helps my weight loss goals. So, now that you’ve heard my tale, I hope you do the right thing for the right reason for yourself, your family, and of course your overall health.
 

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How I’ve Lost 11 Pounds

For the last couple of months I’ve been part of a test being run locally on diabetics. Since I’ve been diabetic since 1997, I know a heck of a lot of it but have learned a few things here and there. It’s been an interesting process, and there’s still a ways to go.

spinach stir fry

One of the things I’ve sort of been forced to do is look at foods I’ve been eating in a different light. I’ve had to track the meals I’ve been eating every day, along with the times. I was given a book to help me “diagnose” certain things in certain foods and come up with daily totals. One week I had to measure carbohydrates and try to stay under a certain number. Another week I had to measure fat, and another week I had to measure protein.

Some of the numbers were eye opening. I was told that I was supposed to be having less than 55 grams of fat a day. That meant that what I’d been eating for breakfast, a meal I normally skipped but was told that I needed to try to eat during this study, was putting me on the wrong road immediately. Turns out 2 English muffins with butter and peanut butter was 37 grams of fat; ouch. One day I went to a restaurant for lunch and had 6 grilled shrimp, 1/2 rack of ribs, a small baked potato with butter and broccoli; that meal came to 71 grams of fat. You don’t even want to know how many grams of fat one trip to one of my favorite restaurants was, where I had a burger, fries and ice cream.

I was also told that I’m supposed to eat around 4 – 5 carb groups a day. That’s between 60 and 75 grams of carbohydrates per meal, 4 meals a day; yes, I was supposed to eat 4 real meals a day. My English muffin breakfast was at 4 carb groups, so there it was a fine meal. But that second meal I mentioned above came in at 6 groups, and the third meal I mentioned came in at 9 groups; definitely not good.

Once you start thinking about how you eat, you’re ready to make some changes. That’s probably the goal of the program in the first place, getting us actually thinking about it instead of just knowing it. There was also an occasion to view a movie online that my wife sent me called Knives Over Forks that my wife sent me via email that I had no plans on fully watching, but I’m glad I did. There was a guy in the movie who described symptoms that I often feel, and except for the fact that he also had high blood pressure and a cholesterol level that blows mine away (as in way too high), his symptoms matched mine.

I decided to change up my eating habits for awhile, just to see what would happen. The movie talks about a “plant-based” diet, which of course means more of a vegetarian diet, and that was going to be an issue since I eat few vegetables. I had to think about what I would eat. I like spinach and I like beets, both of which stuns many people because I guess it’s not a favorite of anyone else.

I decided I had to change up how I ate spinach, because I would boil it to death then add lots of butter and salt. I decided I was going to saute it in olive oil along with a few other vegetables that I will eat, those being cabbage, onions and carrots.

I also knew I had to toss some kind of meat in there to help make me full because there was no way just eating vegetables would last me longer than maybe an hour. To that end I decided to go with chicken, shrimp and salmon. I have more of the vegetables than the meat, but it’s a nice mix. Along with some spices, I’ve been surprised by how much I like this meal, and my wife has even bought fresh baby spinach, which not only cooks really fast but brings a better taste than the frozen spinach I’ve always purchased.

Obviously I couldn’t only eat this though. So I bought salad stuffs and have that from time to time, and even though the fat content of the only dressing I eat might be a bit high, since it’s the only real fat I have it’s fine for an occasional meal. I also discovered lactose-free milk, being lactose intolerant, and the dietician recommended eating bran and corn flakes if I liked it, which I always have. Since I buy 2% milk it’s only around 5 – 10 fat grams per bowl. And when I eat out I’ve been eating Caesar salads with grilled chicken, grilled shrimp or both.

Oh yeah, y’all knew I just couldn’t totally leave my sweets. So I get to have one chocolate milk a day if I want and I get to break from Friday dinner time through Saturday midnight. However, I’ve found that when I break from the other meals that I can’t eat all that much, so I’ve brought foods home and thus not had to buy a second meal out unless my wife ate what I brought home.

The question is what changes have I noticed? I still don’t sleep all that well, but I’ve only had a couple of instances where, after eating, I’ve felt bad, and none of it was due to the new foods I’ve eaten, but due to eating something when I didn’t have a choice to eat healthy, such as at a couple of meetings, and in those cases my chest burned and one meal put me to sleep 30 minutes after I got home. Not feeling bad after many meals is a major step forward.

The big two, however, are that my glucose level overall has come down, and I lost 11 pounds in less than 3 weeks; whoa! I expected the first might happen, but never thought about the second at all. Frankly, the second one is having a bigger impact on my staying good than the first, because it’s been 6 years since I’ve been able to actually lose some weight, and right now I’m at my lowest weight since 2006; just amazing. I’m 10 pounds from the weight I was able to get down to back then, and if I can continue this I’ll get there.

Oh yeah, I have done some exercising as well, but I haven’t gone overboard. I’ve maybe exercised 2 or 3 times a week, mainly walking, and that has a big influence on my glucose, and the cardio probably doesn’t hurt with the weight loss either.

I don’t want to say my buddy Evelyn is right, but I guess I have to say she was on the right track. I’m not going to become a fanatic, and I know that at some point I’m going to have my ice cream and cake. But I think this is a meal plan I can stick with easy enough because it doesn’t cost as much as what I’d been doing, cooks fairly quickly, and I like it. Still, I might have to find something else I’ll eat besides spinach that I don’t feel I need to add a bunch of butter to.

So, what do you think? Is this something you could do for yourself?
 

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CPAP Followup

Back in August I wrote that I was getting ready to start using a CPAP, which stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. In general, it’s a machine that helps people sleep better so that they’re less tired. Or at least that’s what’s supposed to happen. I’m going to tell you the real deal and give you an update on what’s going on with me.


by Robert
Anthony Provost

I guess the most important thing for you to know is that I’m still using it. This must mean that something good is happening for me. Here’s the truth. I still feel tired at some point throughout the day, and still have those times when I just have to take a nap. Sometimes it’s within a couple of hours after waking up, even before I’ve eaten something, which tells me it’s not related to eating the wrong thing, although it’s still possible that it’s related to diabetes.

But here’s a truth. When I sleep with the CPAP, I wake up actually feeling better than I do if I don’t wear it. The proof once again came to me two weeks ago, when I was out of town for a couple of days on a consulting assignment. I decided to leave the CPAP at home, worried that I might not hear the alarm going off each morning. I won’t be making that mistake again.

The CPAP actually helps me sleep better during the night. What I think it does is keeps me from shaking or moving as much because I stop breathing. Not that I don’t move or even wake up, because that still happens. However, I wake up and I’m breathing, and fairly deep as well. And I’m not always in the same place I was when I fell asleep, which can sometimes be scary (my wife and I don’t keep the same hours; I think that pleases her some lol).

So I wake up and have energy. Often it’s enough energy that I can head to the gym without being tired and I’m alert. It’s a pretty good feeling, one I’ve not had in my life. However, it doesn’t always last a long time. As I said, sometimes within a couple of hours I feel like I need another nap, and often it’s before I’ve eaten anything, since I rarely eat within the first hour I’m up. If that’s the case then I’ll set myself up to take a nap, but I’ve learned to take naps with the CPAP as well. I think it must be a breathing thing because every once in awhile I just need the mask on for maybe 10 minutes and I’m fine. Other times I do fall asleep, but when I awaken I feel pretty good.

Now, there are some other issues as well. I didn’t talk about it last time but I had this issue for the longest time with air blowing in my eyes. I tried 4 different masks until I settled on the one I have now, which blew the least amount of air into my eyes. Then my wife got me a sleep mask, and that’s taken care of that problem. Yes, it’s weird waking up all the time in darkness until I take the mask off, but that’s easy to get used to.

Another issue is how one breathes. I have what’s called a full face mask, which means it covers both my mouth and nose, so I can breathe either way. However, if you breathe too much through your mouth your throat can get really dry.

My CPAP has a humidifier, and the settings on the humidifier can be interesting to figure out, especially if you can’t stop breathing through your mouth too much. Too much humidity and you’re coughing a lot. Too little and you might as well not even be using the humidifier. And then there’s the temperature in the room. If it’s hot, it negatively affects using the humidifier, no matter what it’s on. The humidifier actually heats up the air you’re breathing, so if it’s cool you breathe the best, but the rest of you might not be too happy.

And of course there’s the noise. Initially you hear almost nothing, which works okay because I run a fan to help me get to sleep anyway. Later, once the pressure gets to maximum, you have to hear noise because the machine is making sure there’s no build up of carbon dioxide; wouldn’t pay to have the machine kill you when it’s purpose is to help you live longer. If you’re breathing properly the noise is minimal; if not, it’s much louder, and if you don’t like the sound you’ll go nuts. I like the sound so I always fall back to sleep like a baby.

The two major signs of sleep apnea, which the CPAP addresses, are that you always wake up tired, or you snore really loudly when you sleep. I was the first one, although my wife said I had times when I did snore loudly; that is, if I slept at all. If you have either of those on a consistent basis, go see someone for it and at least get tested. So many people said they couldn’t imagine wearing a mask while trying to sleep. Well I said the same thing about that as I did about injecting myself. You’ll try whatever you can to feel better.

Yes, I’ve gotten used to it; and I’m never going back from it again.

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