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Sunday, October 7, 2018

And The Journey Continues -

No journey ever went off without a hitch and my adventure is no different. It is annoying but I'm just going to learn from it and move on. I had a long standing appointment with my primary care doctor last week, she wanted to go over some blood work I had done before I started going to Biometrix. It was a really hard week, I had a full weekend as we did our annual "Fall into the Holidays" and then an Octoberfest for some incredible clients. But the part that was the hardest was my little dog Sadie passed away. Dogs just have our hearts and it was sudden and quite awful. But I did my best to be Scarlett O'Hara and pulled it all together then soldiered on.

The doctor visit started badly as I saw the PA who didn't know me or my history. (There is nothing wrong with PA's I just wished she had read my chart before she came in the room) She asked very few questions, noted my blood pressure was high and it went downhill from there. She read from some paperwork listing the medications and vitamins I needed without taking a breath or asking me if I understood. So I got up,  told her I would think about it, and left.

I was depressed for the rest of the day...I want to get better, all better. But this PA made me feel old, infirmed and hopeless. I know I am improving, I feel better (well, except for the doctor visit) my clothes fit better, but I want to be all the way better.

Which brings me to last Friday morning When I took my blood pressure at home. It. Was. So.  High. Why? My cardiologist has cleared me to exercise but still reminds me "it could happen again" which does not engender any confidence. Before I started going to Biometrix I always wondered if I would leave the treadmill alive because the thought "it could happen again". When I arrived at Biometrix I told Anthony (the trainer) my blood pressure was pretty high that morning so he asked me to have my blood pressure checked again just to be on the safe side. What gym does that? I went to Brianna who took my blood pressure, she does all the blood work, EKG's, and other tests that have to be performed. She is medically trained and knows exactly what she is doing. After taking my blood pressure she cleared me but it was still high so she insisted I come back and have it taken again after I worked out.

My blood pressure didn't go down.....

So Brianna went back to her computer and scheduled more blood work along with a meeting with my Biometrix doctor who now knows me. It is confusing to have so many different opinions from so many doctors. A Primary doctor...a cardiologist and a heart surgeon...they all terrify me and non are on the same page. My page.....The cardiologist was upset because my surgeon ordered an angiogram, my cardiologist doesn't spend more than 3 minutes with me but during that 3 minutes was able to tell me not to listen to my surgeon about extra testing. He didn't check my blood pressure or look at my blood work. Some doctors just want to keep you alive, they are not interested in whether or not you are really living. I am relieved to have one doctor who sees me all the time and is available to me monthly if I need it.

I am thrilled that my wellness center (and that is what it is....it's not just a gym) has trained people to help me get better and not just revive me with a requisite defibrillator in case I pass out. They are there to prevent problems. I want someone to help me before something happens. Biometrix is a one stop shop, they will do the testing, the evaluating, and the healing. I am having more blood work done Tuesday and then the next Tuesday (not a season later) I can meet with the doctor who knows me, knows how hard I work out and knows what to do to actually help me.

A friend of mine told me that taking care of our health is job one. No one is going to do it for you, no one is going to work out for you, or take important tests, no one is going to stop you from overeating....this is a solo event. Don't think this blog is just for older people...good health starts early. If you aren't taking care of yourself now you will have to fix it when it is so much harder. Like me...I'm older and heavier and the whole thing is harder.

Learn from me and take care of yourself now.....if you don't feel well today find a way to get better.

Don't settle for less, you don't have to.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Donna and the Rotten,Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very Bad Day....





One thing I have learned from the experiences of my life is...people have a lot in common. We may differ in our interests, politics and religions but we all have the basic things in common. For instance, we all have days we don't want to do anything and it is especially unfortunate when that day coincides with a full schedule of things we really have to do. 

I am having just such a day which is why I am writing this. It's my effort to pull my can out of what appears to be a very "stuck" place.  

First what do surgeons do when they just want to look at puppy videos and eat fries, but they have to do open heart surgery? What do airline pilots do when they just don't "Feel like it today?" How about your dentist? For those of you who love coffee how important is your barista at Starbucks? And I can tell you first hand what happens when your dry cleaner has a bad day...you will get a wrinkled suit back and never see your white shirt again. 

How in the world do we turn around just such an awful day, especially when we still have to "Storm the Bastille"  (a reference to the french revolution I enjoy using because who doesn't enjoy the drama of a good revolution?) 

So I decided to tackle the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day



I hate the feeling that comes with hiding from life. I know better than anyone that there are no guarantees so we need to live each day to the best of our ability and it can be done. We do not have to give in to an average day of sloth. ( I am putting a codicil here that excludes major emergencies. I don't want you to whip out this blog to follow if you are being chased by a bear. Common sense screams for some obvious exceptions)  

1.) If you are facing tasks you just don't want to do, revisit the 5 second rule. I can tell you it does work. 

2.) A part of the 5 second rule is something you cannot avoid and that is you must trick your brain. Accept the fact your brain wants to protect you, so if you put out there "I do not want to do it" (It being whatever you fill in the gap for) your brain will find a million reasons you shouldn't do "it").  Make the decision first for whatever "it" is and then schedule a reward. I know this sounds hokey but it works. 


3.) Do it with Friends! Can I just tell you how important my trainers and friends have been with my fitness journey? You have to have friends...people who stand next to you and assure you it can be done. For me I assumed I was too old, too out of shape and it was too late. I think a lot of people my age and even younger assume the ship has sailed and focus on how to do aerobics from a chair.  I have literally shocked myself at what I can do in the gym. I am lifting more weight, I am doing the exercises faster and I am starting to actually enjoy it. The trainers at my gym will not let me feel as though I cannot do it. They believe in me and that is a great thing since I often do not. I know I used to be able to do the things they ask me to do, and I find myself trying to bargain my way out of those dang kettlebells, but they assure me I can do it. I know the constant squats have made my legs stronger, lifting weights has made my posture better, I'm not as tired as I was and nothing makes a person feel better than leaving the gym after a hard workout knowing you did it. Every person at Biometrix feels the same way but that common feeling motivates us to help each other. When you are having a bad day tell people! Let them share their energy...it works. I don't know my gym friends past the hour I am there but when they are working as hard as I am and tell me I can do it, or I am looking better, or just a pat on the back.....it helps!! And nothing has helped me as much as my trainer Anthony did last week when he got in my face and assured me I was not too old when my brain was telling me I was and I was not too out of shape and that I could indeed do it! Find people who support you and want you to succeed. Everyone has a day they just want to slide down to the ground next to the wagon and let the wolves eat them so find a friend and let them know you are having a rotten day and you need some encouragement. It will help!! And be there for them when they need it.



4.) Here is one I love....competition! That is one thing I will always respond to...so today I am join my buddies at the Biometrix gym on a "30 Day Meal Challenge". I am meeting with the Dietician later today (yes I tried to cancel that meeting but after writing this blog I decided to just do it) and I am going to compete with myself on the hardest part of fitness for me.....the food. Competing with people is fun, it brings energy and that is what I need to help me. 


Bad days are going to happen but we are in charge and we don't have to let things happen to us when we can make things happen for us. Writing this has helped give me a plan, and I am sure you have things in your life you can utilize by just looking around. Come and work out with me! I assure you it is the fountain of youth. It is hard but getting up from the couch used to be hard also. Take the 30 day challenge with me...nothing is harder for me than limiting my eating...but I am going to do it! And I will keep all of you up on great recipes I find and tricks I use to fool my brain.....










Sunday, September 16, 2018

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Years ago I met a couple in Texas who would be a long standing influence in my life. I was working in a major Tennis complex in Houston and they were daily players. We became very good friends and when I moved back to Las Vegas they would come to visit often as Mr. Miller had business here. They were both brilliant and caused positive change wherever they went. Mrs. Miller leaped off cliffs in her attempt to get people to understand her passion which was water conservation, Mr. Miller's passion was Mrs. Miller and he did all he could to support her. The first time I visited their home in Houston I saw the display of crystal turtles he had. There was Baccarat and Lalique, Steuben and Waterford just so many turtles. I had to know why and when I asked he said, "My motto is Slow and Steady wins the race so people started giving me turtles" Nothing elaborate but he went on to describe his take on life which is getting up everyday and working toward his goals. He told me progress comes in small increments, you may not even see it for days or weeks, but one day you will wake up and because you have worked steadily you will notice it's a bit easier, you are better at it...you aren't complaining as much...you might even be happy! I knew them a long time and they did not value anything that came too fast as it would not sustain. Real success only came after steadily chipping away at your goal. When my children graduated from high school I gave each of them a turtle with the motto....

Slow and steady wins the race.

Over the last few months I have been writing about fears, new exercise life, challenges, endurance, goals, and did I mention fear? I know I did but I mention it again because fear is my bugaboo. I have let my fears get in the way of almost everything. I almost didn't start Biometrix because of it. I have studied fear in an effort to overcome the crippling effects of something that is only helpful if you are being chased by bears. Fear will keep you from reaching your potential and what is more awful than that? I am learning to let things go, to concentrate on positive outcomes instead of negative ones. Using the motto Slow and Steady wins the race I have been patient with my progress and tried to relax as I steadily chip away at my fears.

And then this happened...

I made a clerical error at work.

When I first realized I had to face this head on I panicked and developed nausea immediately. Fear appeared immediately. And then I had a clear thought..."you have been practising for a chance to prove to yourself you can overcome fear, use what you have learned." I didn't calm down right away, but I didn't throw up either.

I am happy to say I have functioned this entire weekend knowing I have to face it first thing Monday morning....very unusual behavior for this fearful girl. My usual MO would be to slip into the fetal position and stay paralyzed without the courage to just face it, deal with it and move on.

I know the hard work I have done at Biometrix by working out three days a week lifting weights, doing wall sits (by the way they are awful...30 seconds has never felt so long) and squats and rowing and and and has allowed me to see I can do hard things. I didn't realize a commitment to working out that has made me physically stronger could also help me with emotional strength. When you improve one part of your life other parts cannot help but progress.

Change is not easy. Facing hard things is not easy as I am heavy into avoidance, but I can do it. I find a great deal of strength in my faith. The other day I listened to a talk about having faith the size of a mustard seed and how that is all you need to move mountains.

Do you know how much faith that is? Not very much.

Get started with this much faith by believing in yourself.






Tomorrow I am expecting a miracle, success, and a positive outcome. This attitude has not come quickly, but I believe in concentrating on the positive aspects of everything and not expecting things to change quickly. I have gained strength from the little successes I have experienced and I know tomorrow will be a large success because I am facing the problem and I will deal with the outcome. 

I have already won....and it feels so good!








Monday, September 10, 2018

Monday for the Win! The Journey Continues...




This is my wall ball....it weighs 10 pounds and has been incorporated into my life to strengthen my core. For the uninitiated it is cleverly named "Wall Ball" because you pick it up and throw it against the wall.

Not hard, right?

Right....

For me, all the exercises in the gym are hard, but this one is particularly so because I don't have a "core". It was iffy before my surgery, afterward I thought a strong core was a thing of the distant past. One of the first personal assessments I made in the hospital was the state of my body. After looking past the wires, tubes and needles I noticed a very, very long incision down the front of my back that seemed to end any thought of future physical activity.  Because everyone was so happy I was alive I didn't want to bring up the fact that perhaps my physical factory warranty had run out. I did ask my nurse if I would ever be normal again? Will I walk without fainting,? Will I lift things again? Will I ever do a pushup again? I do not mind telling you it seemed like an impossible possibility. My nurse looked me square in the eye and told me I could improve but it was up to me if I did a push up again, then I realized pushups were just a metaphor for my "new" life. It was going to be up to me.

Until going to Biometrix I didn't have a starting point, because there were so many ways to approach "wellness". (should I take you back to wall of diet and exercise books on my shelves?) They have a tried and true measure. For one hour I am taught how to do each exercise correctly, what part of the body that exercise will focus on and then they convince me I can do it.



But I still have to get started. I still have to find my shoes in the morning and get in the car to go there, and according to Mel Robbins this "Activation Energy" creates the initial spark to create change.

You need that spark to just get going....think Big Bang!

Getting started might be the hardest part but it is the catalyst to continued success.

I have been using this new technique - after experimenting with many ideas that might help continue my momentum and to spark a change in my eating habits which remain my nemesis - called the 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. It is designed to get us to take action when we don't want to and there is always something we don't want to do. We all struggle with something...feel better?
Here are two things she discovered:

  • Knowing what to do will never be enough.
  • Knowing why you need to do it will never be enough.

If you don't start doing the things you don't feel like doing, you will wake up one year from today and be in exactly the same place. 

This is truth...my life proves it




If you have an impulse to act on a goal or change, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea, because your brain is designed to protect you. 

Change requires you to do things that are:
  • Uncertain
  • scary
  • New
And your brain is designed to protect you from things that are:
  • Uncertain
  • Scary
  • New

As soon as you start to change there is a system in your head designed to stop you. But there is a solution and it works!! Regardless of what you need to change try the 5-Second Rule



Count backward....5,4,3,2,1 and do whatever you haven't wanted to do

Get out of bed
Don't take another drink
Tackle the project
Go to the gym
Don't overeat
Forgive someone
Forget someone
Speak up

Whatever it is in your life you avoid use this system to compel yourself to action...you must have action to get started. Count backward and see if it doesn't work. 


"Whatever your goals are, show the world, and yourself that you're serious by taking action, however insignificant that action may seem, RIGHT NOW. Because when you physically move, your brain starts to build new habits. When you do something you you're not used to doing, you are in the act of building new habits and erasing existing ones. "Mel Robbins

5,4,3,2,1.....



I do know how simplistic this sounds, but it works. My wellness journey at Biometrix has kicked my can all the way down the road. The exercise regime is hard but I do it. For one hour they watch everything I do, they spot me, cajole me and I do it. Some days it is harder than others, but I have continued to do it. They do great things within the confines of that gym but I have to follow through with the other 23 hours of the day.... something I have never done before.


Bottom line is I still have to honor my commitment to do it. I have always known what to do...and Mel Robbins is right, that has never been enough. 

I have been told it is too late to change, it isn't. I have been told I cannot lose weight, I can. One doctor told me I would be a couch potato for the rest of my life, I will not.

Just because I didn't do this earlier doesn't mean I cannot do it now. And that certainly isn't an excuse for not realizing a goal.

I intend to change my brain and put the high carbs away....I intend to eat high protein and lots of veggies. I will throw that wall ball against the wall as many times as they say I have to...I will do squats, I will lift weights, and I will flip this rope all day long.




I am still at the beginning of my journey, but it is a journey I intend to stay on. Last week at my cardiologists check up all the numbers are improving, for whatever reason God has given me another chance at life and I intend to use it wisely.

5,4,3,2,1 !!!!!!

Everyone explore this technique with me and let me know how it works for you...My friends at Biometrix have subsidized this wellness journey for my blogs.






Friday, September 7, 2018

Meet Ann Cannon...

One day at least 15 years ago my friend Ann McMullin told me I needed to read a column from a Salt Lake City Newspaper by a woman named Ann Cannon.(Yes Virginia we used to print out the internet every morning, roll it up with rubber bands and hand it to young children who peddled off on their bicycles and delivered it to folks in their homes to read) I loved her column. I laughed, cried and pondered her words as she wrote about her children and husband, her mother, TRQ - the rodeo queen, her dad the football coach, her dogs, baseball, her faith and life itself. Her funny and often poignant stories inspired me to write. The little bit I was writing had been silenced by the voices in my head that whispered to me I couldn't write. I allowed those words to keep me from writing for years. When blogging became a thing I stuck my toe in the world of words and wrote with total abandon not knowing where it would take me or caring if I was even good.

Then one day I wrote to her telling her how much I loved her writing and what an inspiration she was for me to write again.

And she wrote back!

So I wrote to her again

And she wrote back!

We wrote to each other for years with my family referring to Ann as my "cyber friend". I did what I do when I don't like what someone has said to me...I ignore them. Ann told me I could write and nothing meant more to me. When I would tell her it was too late in my life to write, she assured me it wasn't, so because of her I kept writing.

I cannot tell you how important Ann has been to me in other ways as we wrote to each other during some of the most difficult times of my life. I will never forget how kind she was as I grappled with depression, anxiety and fear. She rejoiced with me as I began to find the other side of it all and would  just keep encouraging me to write.

Just write.

Then she accepted my invitation to fly here and speak to my woman's group. When I picked her up from the airport I felt like we had known each other forever. We were not just cyber friends but had the best story to tell!

I am excited to tell you Ann will be the special guest at our 2nd annual "Fall Into the Holidays" so I asked her to write a little about herself.

I will turn it over to Ann so you can see for yourself how much fun we are going to have on the 29th of September!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi! My name is Ann Cannon and I am eager to meet you all on September 29th at Ray Ray's awesome "Fall Into the Holidays" event.

Oh.   Wait

Maybe I should introduce myself first. Donna suggested I share some interesting facts about myself, so here goes.

1.) I went to Charles and Diana's Wedding - if sitting in my living room while wearing a robe and an old lady hat counts as going to Charles and Diana's wedding.

2.)  I was present when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016 - if sitting in my living room while wearing a fake Cubs jersey counts as being present when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016.

3.) I've spent many, many New Year's Eves in Times Square with Dick Clark - if sitting in my living room while holding one of those noisemakers you buy at the Dollar Store counts as spending time in Time's Square with Dick Clark.

I know I am exactly like Forest Gump that way!

Meanwhile I've published a book called "I'll Tell You What" which is a collection of columns I've written over the years for the Salt Lake Tribune. There are also some original pieces about my father, LaVell Edwards, long-time head coach of BYU's football team.

Because I think it is so important to capture our life experiences in writing I'll be conducting a workshop that will give you an opportunity to write down a few holiday memories of your own.

I am looking forward to meeting you all and hearing your stories!

For more information about Ann, check our her website at www.aecannon.com



Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Journey Continues....3 Steps To Successfully Making A Change

It is personally humbling including everyone on my journey of change. I also enjoy it...It helps me stay accountable and offers an opportunity to introduce the amazing process I am using. My journey is "real time" and when you go along for the ride nothing happens suddenly. I don't have an "After" picture....just a whole lot of "right now" pictures. When you are along for the ride you experience the whole thing....running out of gas, great accelerations, the engine not starting and maybe not even reaching the destination you planned for.


The real story is change is hard with no guarantees or magic bullets.

OK, that sucks.

But I should know that since I have a shelf full of magic bullet diet books that didn't work and bottles of magic bullet diet aids that didn't work and wonderful workout clothes (in another size). I should have a clue that magic bullets don't work.



A longtime facebook friend recently posted that she lost 70 pounds. I was so happy for her, but wait, HOW? She is about my age so that dispels the notion women cannot lose weight "later" in life. I just wanted to know how so she told me her diet...

No sugar, lower carb intake, rarely eats dairy (except for homemade lactose free yogurt) lots of fresh vegetables and fruit and a little meat. 

Poof! 9 months of staying on that plan she lost 70 pounds. There's the magic....there is no magic.

OK, that sucks.

My problem is I want something that will do the work for me, as my fabulous grandmother Minnie always, always said to me, "Donna Lynn I'm not afraid of work, I can lay down right next to it and go to sleep!" I want to take a pill and not have an appetite. I want to put on new workout clothes and be a size 8. I want someone to clean out the refrigerator and restock it with only fresh vegetables, fruit and homemade yogurt and I want the protein portions controlled and ready when I am.

I want magic but so far it has been illusive.

But wait..isn't there magic?

One year ago my husband had a terrible heart event that most people don't know much about. When he was having a hard time breathing we took him to the emergency room. After an angiogram they discovered his heart was functioning at 15%, his blood pressure was very, very high and his sugar numbers were too high to repeat.

15% is the number we focused on. His heart was functioning at 15%...

When the doctor came out and told us we were terrified, I had survived a huge, scary emergency that traumatised my family and now we were facing a similar situation with Raymond. The doctor went on to tell us surgery wasn't possible because too much damage had occurred. He needed to change everything about his life. He needed to take the medicine he was ignoring, the diet he was careless with needed to improve and exercise that he wouldn't do, needed to start. It was a scary week at the hospital, but we left with hope. The doctor told us if he changed, his heart would rejuvenate, he could get better. He went on to explain that when a heart is given the opportunity to heal it will find a way to transport blood. He had two arteries that were no longer functional, but the heart would find another way. He just had to change and there would be an opportunity to heal, if not the doctor said he had about 2 years.

There is magic....because one year later his heart is functioning at 62%. His blood pressure is normal and his diabetes is under far better control.

My husband today with the whole family

We can change, we can get better. Don't let anyone tell you that you are too old or too young or too busy. We all have obstacles to overcome in order to achieve what is best for us. Living in a world filled with temptation is hard, we revolve around fast food and convenience stores. We are constantly falling down and we need to find the motivation to get up, move on and succeed at what we truly want.

There are ways to prevent defeat, I promise. These are the 3 new tools I am using. By the way this works for any change you want to make.

1.) Believe you can make the change. We often start a change journey half heartedly. We are filled with excuses why we cannot change, and the only reason for that is it is HARD to change. Accept that...it's hard and don't beat yourself up over that either.  We want a quick fix, but it simply does not exist. Analyze your life and write down the hard things you have already accomplished or overcome and realize you have the ability to do hard things. The life you have already lived is proof you can do hard things. Get a pen!  I know you have done many difficult things...write them down. Do you beat yourself up because you ate dessert and now you believe you don't have will power? Me! That's me!! I have plenty of will power and I have done very hard things in my life. I know I can do this, I know I am powerful and I can make this change because I will feel better. Because what I really want is to continue taking care of my family, I want to live life and I cannot do that without my health.

2.) Find a tribe. Find people willing to support you, educate you and cheer for you. For me it has been Biometrix because They are specifically trained for folks like me. You know, the ones who do not think they can lift a heavy weight 15 straight times, or pop that rope, or do so many squats you think you are now shaped like a question mark.  No one has ever been able to get me to believe in myself the way they have. You must find a tribe. I have lots of other tribes also by the way. I have a writing tribe, I have a church tribe, I have a best friend that never says she is too busy for me. I have a mommy tribe, a gardening tribe, a neighborhood tribe, a government tribe, a political tribe (I will never reveal their names we are a covert group!) a business tribe, a facebook/Instagram tribe, a food tribe, a decorating tribe and my ultimate tribe...my family. Lean on them and be there when they need you also.
Part Of My Biometrix Tribe


3.) Be specific in what you want and expect to do. Nothing was ever created without a thought first, followed by a plan.  You will not change without knowing what that change will look like. Your brain wants to help you, tell it what you want to do each day before you do anything else, and then continue throughout the day reaffirming those plans. Be specific in what you expect to do and then at the end of the day return and report. In your "report" write down what you did that worked and what didn't. Then - without any negative phrases at all - write down how you will avoid that set back the next day. Live an intentional life by using intentional words. Not If, when. Not could - Will. And focus on just one day....today.

My wellness goals are very simple and just an example, yours will be different.

  • 10,000 steps each day, be active...park far away, use the stairs, go for a walk, dance, sing and dance....be active!
  • Eat food that looks like the container it originally came in, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish (I have to throw in chicken but without the feathers)
  • Train 3 days a week at Biometrix
  • Write goals each morning and affirm throughout the day. Return and report at night and make necessary changes.
  • Celebrate every single win! Right now I consciously get up from a chair without touching anything. It's just a bad habit to help yourself up, so don't. Due to strength training (squats) it is becoming much, much easier. That could be a win I overlook but I won't. So we went to the movies.
  • Drink 8 bottles of water. I know its a lot of water but it is very important.
These 3 suggestions for change (any change) will work, I hope this is an agent of change for you as well.


See that heavy ball? I use that...I am kind of awesome

Tara....part of my tribe






My friend Cameron killing the box jumps - no I will not be doing this.




Notice there is never just one exercise? She is doing 2 things at once...my brain often just rebels, it is only used to walking...

Sometimes I think I have stumbled on Caligula's Lair









Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Few of My Favorite Things....

Word of mouth!! It is the best way to advertise, so when one of my best friends started a blog called In Fine Taste I wanted to share it. 
Dianna and her daughter Alyssa's lives have revolved around finding delicious food and trying new recipes. Dianna's background comes from years of travel and teaching culinary arts with her daughter Alyssa by her side. The recipes, tips and beautiful pictures are a delight and I have been inspired following their blog and instagram posts. 


This salad on Sunday was front and center at our home and it did not disappoint! 3 ingredients and taste you won't soon forget. 



Their recipes are easy to follow and the cooking tips are ones you will use over and over again! Instagram is @InFineTaste




In November of this year, my friend Elaine Ambrose will introduce a memoir that took twenty years to write. She is a bestselling author of humor but this book is a complete departure from her body of work. I have been moved by her personal stories of an intense but difficult father who had the forethought to build a trucking business after World War II when the concept of frozen food first began. He created an actual empire hauling food throughout the Northwest, but didn't count on his success to destroy his health and his family. Elaine writes about her life with a dysfunctional family in a way many of us can all relate to and learn from. "Frozen Dinners" culminates in a dramatic courtroom scene as a lawsuit for the estate's assets destroy the family and propel Elaine's mother into dementia. I am thrilled to announce Elaine will be at my home February 16th, 2019 for a book signing and writing workshop.


The last of my favorite things this week is a skin care routine. When I shared it with my life long friend Roxane last week she loved, loved, loved it so I thought I would put it out there for consideration. Disclaimer...I have sold Mary Kay for 8 years (without once ever signing anyone up - my claim to fame) but I have been using it for probably 20 years. I depend on a very streamlined regiment of facial wipes to clean my face, collagen cream eye cream and moisturizer. The firming eye cream got me through 8 years of very early mornings with very puffy eyes...and the night cream has retinol in it. I certainly don't have perfect skin but a dermatologist asked last year what collagen I was using because he could tell the difference in my "older skin".  It is a great affordable product and I have drop shipped it all over the country. I can tell you it has made a difference.....
PS the new mask is incredible!






Sharing our favorite things is the bases of some of the best lunches we have with friends, right? So let others know what works for you, what you like and where to find it.

Now go on out there and make someone happy!





Thursday, August 16, 2018

And The Journey Continues....Endure!!!



When I woke up from my surgery I knew pretty quickly challenges lay ahead. I didn't know how many, or to what extent, but I was alive and ready to take on all comers. 

I mean I lived, right? Wouldn't that qualify as the hard part? 

Oh the things we think...

My body changed its shape after the surgery -  it was part of the door prize.

Forget what four children or menopause did to me....

Or gravity...

Nothing like emergency open heart surgery to alter a body in ways you never thought was possible. I remember someone visiting me in the hospital and whispering in my ear, "I am so glad you are alive I bet you lose some weight from this." It's true I have been on a diet since 8th grade but even I winced at that one. I've tried Atkins, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem...none have really been effective so lets try open heart surgery! Yes!! That's the ticket! Why didn't I think of that before?

Oh, good grief....

The first few months after surgery I realized none of the muscles in the front of my body were working at all. There had been several tubes inserted there and of course the actual incision reached all the way down to there. I couldn’t suck in my stomach if I tried and then inexplicably I gained 25 pounds. How is this possible? Everyone else I read about said they had no appetite after surgery, however my appetite seemed to survive the trauma just fine. Like a cockroach after an atomic bomb. But I kept saying "I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive". I survived as a little round person wearing the exact same clothes everyday because nothing else fit. If I tipped over I would simply roll around like one of those funny little black bugs. And yet I still chanted, "I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive"

But now as you know I am exercising, pumping iron, slinging ropes, bouncing off large balls and jumping on ellipticals! Three days a week the good people at Biometrix put me through what can only be referred to as the absolute best way to get into shape. But it isn’t easy...

You know I give it my all, it’s just that I get to all a little faster than everyone else. Sometimes it's all I can do to just get to the gym. I look at them and wonder if they are kidding when they suggest I do something I haven't done in years. My evil angels are always looking out for me and whisper in my ear, "Are you crazy? Go back to bed, leave that stuff to the young people who have no real sense anyway. They watch the Bachelor for hell's sake!" And then I hear Anthony, Sarah and Josh tell me age means nothing unless I let it. They remind me I won't get hurt, be too sore to walk or give up." And that's all I need..someone to believe in me, because unfortunately I don't. So not only do I have to regroup the physical I have to regroup the psychological and stop listening to voices who tell me its too late and I am too out of shape. I am all that is in the way, and I am the only one who can get out of my way.

Those voices are lethal if you are trying to change. So I stop when I hear them and say the most simple thing imaginable.

STOP THOUGHT

No need to scream it, just say it. A voice comes into your head that is negative in any way. Stop what you are doing and say to yourself

STOP THOUGHT

Now you try...

STOP THOUGHT

Hopefully you didn't say it out loud, not everyone reads my blog, don't frighten people. But when those thoughts come and whisper you can't do it, you are too old or tired, you don't have time, people will laugh, no one thinks you can do it, you don't think you can do it, you will get hurt, you don't have anything to wear, and then the ultimate....it's just too late. None of that is true. You can get into better shape, you can lose weight if you want to. But no one can do it for you. You have to make the effort to change and you have to find the right voices to listen to. 

I admit the exercises I do sometimes feel like dating a Rubiks Cube, but that's because I haven't done anything but walk in a long, long time. Lifting weights isn't easy and getting stronger isn't happening fast, but I know it's getting better. This morning when I finished my circuits (we do 3 exercises to a circuit and there are either 3 or 4 circuits) I still had a will to live. I also know (because Anthony told me) that my recovery rate is getting better. They take our heart rates about 8 times during the workout and measure how quickly our heart rates go up and how fast they go back down. Who knew recovery time was a measure of fitness? 

Next time we start the discussion of food...which is everyone's challenge. But we are going to face it, challenge it and light it on fire!!








Sunday, August 5, 2018

Squats Will Keep Me Out Of The Nursing Home

I am convinced squats will keep me out of the nursing home, and staying out of the nursing home has suddenly become job one. After my surgery and recovery I didn’t realize but I lost the ability to do certain things. 

Some very simple things....

Like easily getting up from a chair, getting up off the floor and standing on one foot. 

See how you do....

Start with getting up from a chair without using the arm rests or even putting your hands on your knees. If you have some difficulty then you probably have issues with your legs and lower body strength....weak quads. What is the best exercise for underused quads? That’s right, squats...and being able to get up easily from a chair will keep us all from the nursing home. Develope a habit of not using anything but your legs to lift yourself out of a chair.

Now getting off the floor....Your goal is to sit on the floor without touching your knees, legs, hands or arms and then get back up....unaided.

Go ahead and try it.

I’ll wait here.

Did you do it?

If you didn't, strengthening your core will help tremendously. And keep at it until you can get up and down without help. Then do it every day. The ability to get up and down from the floor is a big test of agility and agility lengthens your lifespan.

Now one more....balance. Fold your arms and raise one knee for 30 seconds. Can you do it easily? You know the commercial, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” right? It’s imperative that we work on balance so we don’t fall. Balance is the key to staying upright and I cannot tell you how many people I know that attribute a simple fall to subsequent knee surgery, shoulder surgery or hip surgery. My dear friend Teri Daly, fitness instructor extraordinare, has her clients stand on one foot in the morning while they brush their teeth and the other one at night. Easy....nothing hard here. 

Speaking of getting up in the morning (and sometimes it is hard, right?) motivational speaker Mel Robbins gave an incredible talk about pretending NASA was in her bedroom. When the alarm goes off she counts down “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and then launches herself out of bed in order to fool her brain. After going through a really difficult period she needed to fool her brain into getting right up in the morning rather than hiding in bed.  I have incorporated getting up from a chair with her rocket blast launch. I feel kind of powerful as I jump up from my chair - arms raised like Superman. It really does fool your brain into thinking you are way more powerful than you really are.

If you fall short on these little tests don't worry, the great thing about our bodies is it's never too late. Last week we found out after my husband took his echocardiogram that his heart has gone from functioning at 15% to an amazing 62% in just 18 months. All from diet, exercise and some incredible medicine. It's true I have let my core go to slush, my quads are mush and my balance is sadly wanting but each day it gets better. The instructors at Biometrix have designed a program to strengthen my core which is foundational to a healthy functioning body. After the surgeon took out my chest tube and I saw that that incision I thought it was all hopeless and I was convinced I would never be the same. I won't be the same because I will be better. I am already standing straighter, my energy continues to grow and some of the exercises are getting easier. I know for a fact that only a habit can subdue another habit. My habit on fitness has been to give up when it got hard or my life got too busy. Now I understand I cannot do that any more and have the quality of life I want. You don't have to hobble after you get up from a chair, you don't have to have help getting up from the floor and you can have great balance which will give you the best opportunity to remain agile and upright. Get strong, it's not too late, and you will be so happy you did.


My new mantra really is....

"Squats will keep me out of the nursing home"



Biometrix is partly subsiding my journey to fitness! And the trainers there are carefully trained to get you strong without you getting hurt or even too sore. It has been a remarkable experience.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Wall Ball, the Kettle Bell, a Focus Group and Me

It's fun to have so many people following my wellness journey, the support and interest have been wonderful. I admit the road has been filled with challenges and changes, but I learn something new every day. Changing the way I think and speak about wellness has not been easy but I am determined to change.
What I do know is it doesn't matter how much I can do, it only matters that I keep doing what I can and the results will follow. This week was easier because I have seen improvement, and improvement  (no matter how small) gives me hope.
  • Last Sunday night I realized I wasn't as tired as usual. Tremendous fatigue has plagued me since my surgery so the extra energy is easy to feel.
  • My knee doesn't hurt as much as it did.
  • I move better and faster....I literally walk faster without thinking about it.
  • I inherently know I can do more and now when I have a full day ahead I don't dread it as much as I did.
Also I have something called morning hypertension. My blood pressure is higher in the morning than any other time and it must have contributed to my aortic event. For years I thought my blood pressure was fine because I only took it at the doctors office and not when I first wake up. I started taking my husbands blood pressure when we woke up and I just took mine out of curiosity. It was a shocking discovery, his was fine but mine was pretty high. This morning it was substantially lower, relief!

Another thing I learned about is we all have challenges with exercise and diet.  During the focus group for Biometrix the number one thing the other members stated is without the constant support from the trainers and other staff members they wouldn't be doing what they are doing. We all need accountability and support, and I thought it was just me....


This innocuous item is called a wall ball. my children talk about wall balls all the time, it's no big deal, right? But then I did it.

It's easy he said.

Just pick it up and throw it against the wall while you squat he said.

Piece of cake he said.

I took a deep breath and picked that sucker up and as I threw it against the wall my finger got caught in the little tab on the side causing it to go flying behind me the entire length of the gym. As I chased after it I kept thinking,"this isn't how he showed me, this isn't how he showed me, this isn't how he showed me".

You'll notice I did not put that on my bullet list of improvements.





I have been using the kettle bell this week and it makes me feel like I am spraying incense each time I swing it and each time I swing it I wonder the same thing..."whose idea was this?"

I spent time with the dietician earlier in the week where I mentioned I need more accountability.

"What does that look like to you?" he asked.

"A SEAL team with time on their hands and the ability to restrain me in an enclosed area. They will need guns equipped with night vision in case I attempt to eat what I shouldn't, but only when I'm awake."

"No really"

"Really"

Food is just a challenge, I eat when I'm hungry, when I'm mad or happy. I eat with friends, alone and with strangers. I eat because I'm bored or I want to avoid something. What can I say? It's a weakness, but weaknesses can become strengths...watch me!

Speaking of sharing and when don't I? What is your favorite healthy snack and best breakfast? Help me write this story...

Ready? Go!!


Monday, July 23, 2018

The Cooking Shows!!!



My husband watches cooking shows...most of them...I do not.

There is nothing wrong with cooking shows but in my convoluted mind food is to be hidden as we eat it, as in sneaking...as in "who ate the last piece of pie?" or sometimes..."who ate the pie?" But on the food channel they are eating all day, all the time, right there in front of everyone. There is a guy who regularly eats food prepared by people who look as though they cook for a carnival on a show called "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives". And the food is everywhere! Here is the down side, inevitably they will make something my husband will want the recipe for and that problem turns into a Fellini movie every time. He starts yelling at me to come to the den. I race in to find he can't get the TV to record so he can watch it several million times in order to make it. A huge fight ensues complete with hand gestures because of his very loud concern he will miss the entire segment and the recipe for fried whatever, or glopped whatever or sauce poured over something will be lost forever, and of course that would be my fault....

As far as cooking shows go he used to like Giada but then after making some of her food they broke up. (Not enough flavor)  He never liked the "Pioneer Woman" because, well, he is from the East Coast and until he met me had no idea what grits were or that a steak could actually be "chicken fried". He has great respect for the Barefoot Contessa. Her food language is compatible with his, basic delicious food with lots of color and flavor. And the fact she looks as though she enjoys her food is the last piece of perfect for him. With the exception of Bobby Flay he does not trust a skinny chef.

Then there are the PBS shows he tapes to watch when his insomnia takes over. Martha (and her staff of thousands) has a cooking school he loves. He is always trying to make his food better and bless her heart, Martha is a great teacher. Sometimes I wish someone would tell her to just calm down, but she is good at what she does. I don't think I will ever cook like her or garden like she does, I probably won't ever build anything, refinish anything or organize anything the way she does, but one day as the Universe is my witness....I will have a staff like she does.

I believe his favorite show personality is Lidia. She is a PBS girl and looks like his mother and her sisters. Her accent takes him right back to 6 year old Ray Ray listening to his grandmother speak Italian to his father and his father speak English back to his mother. Lidia's recipes are familiar to him and the instructions are filled with words and food he remembers as a little boy. Her food to him is eating at its best, delicious and comforting.

Lidia Bastianich

Food is not complicated at our home, it is the focal point of almost everything we do. It is how we socialize, bond, and how we make a living.

Ray Ray is an artist and his pots, pans and platters are the canvases.


Friday, July 20, 2018

The Journey Continues...Meeting a Challenge

 My dear friend told me after going to Biometrix for awhile that she learned a lot about herself. I kept that thought and wondered what I would learn about myself. 

Today was my first big challenge because I didn't want to go, I didn't want to work out.....I had so much to do, and I went back to my old tapes that told me work was first....

I used to listen to those tapes, but today I didn't and worked out anyway.  

After getting there I was very honest with my trainer. I told him I had forced myself to come because I had so much to do. How do I justify working out first? Isn't this hopeless anyway? Who am I kidding I can get into shape? He tells me it isn't a hard day, but a "challenging" day. He then shows me how to do today's exercises, but when I try to do them it takes several times  for my brain to formulate a plan. The first time through the circuit is usually filled with additional instruction so the process is humbling. And then I wonder how did I let myself get so far out of shape? However he never lets me speak badly of myself or give up. In the past those two things have been my go-to exercise mantras. 

It isn't easy to trust a new voice, is it?

Today this exercise reminded me of cirque du soleil performers and it kicked my trash. I thought I would fall right on my back and I did not want to do it...but....


I did it...

I am starting to believe in myself. And each time I finish a workout I feel such an accomplishment!

The other day I did the ropes which always makes me feel powerful! I conjure up JJWatts and go for it! 




This process has been challenging because I haven't done anything like it in years and it takes time to reeducate mind and body. There is a difference this time, in the past when exercise became challenging I just gave up. Now I understand what a mistake that was. 

This week I met with the doctor at Biometrix to go over my blood work. The panel is extensive and quite different from what my other doctors have asked for. My doctors have different concerns so my surgeon, cardiologist and primary care doctor ask for different panels, since they don't get together they don't all know what is going on with me. The panel this doctor requested was for everything.  As I sat across from her I was amazed, and heartened, at what she now knew about me. 

She told me my vitamin D was so low that she recommended injections to get it back up to where it should be as a hallmark of D deficiency is fatigue, and since vitamin D contributes to the absorption of calcium she said that was another reason to make sure I get that number up. But then on my own research I found Vitamin D, in addition to preventing brittle bones, breaks in the bones and development of osteoporosis, it does a lot more for overall health. The article I found suggested it helped reduce the risk of certain types of cancers (colon, breast and prostate) and also helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Vitamin D also helps to improve the function of lungs and mood. I found this online and I didn't see if their cancer research was footnoted, but honestly my doctor had me at "fatigue".

The rest of my numbers were ok....cholesterol was 20 points too high and my good cholesterol was a bit out of line but that can be easily managed with diet and exercise, so overall she was happy except for one number. And that number frightens me also. It is the CRP or C-reactive Protein. Not to put too fine a point on it but it is a marker for inflammation in the body. Numbers above 3 are alarming and designates a substantial risk for heart disease. With my history, getting that number down is imperative and it was 4.5.  Something to work on for sure. 

I have said before I feel my surgeon and cardiologist are keeping me alive and I am grateful for that, but I want something more. I know as I continue this program I will get where I want to be.

My fitness goals for the coming week:
Meeting with the dietician for a revamp of my diet and then following it. (We are working with several ideas to find what will be best for me.)
Working out 3 days 
Yoga 1 day
Walking 2.5 miles 2 days
Taking all my vitamins and minerals

Personal assessment of program so far:
Knee pain almost gone
Getting up from a sitting position has significant improvement 
Strength returning in my right arm from a nasty fall - at first I couldn't even lift from that side.

I am getting better, and I will continue to get better because my long term goal is not to get into my jeans again, but to live as vital a life as I can. I have begun looking at health as my most important job, because without health nothing else will matter very much. 

Biometrix is compensating a portion of the monthly fee for my participation in the program.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” 








Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Big Reveal!!

So the big reveal!

I have been given a wonderful opportunity to get into a better place physically and I am going to chronicle the entire journey.

My physical decline started when we began our business during the recession in 2011. I am sure you can relate to a life changing experience that enters your life causing everything else to reshuffle. Exercise was the first to go and eating was whatever and whenever. Our focus was our business.

Then I tore my meniscus. It took months for it to repair as I didn’t opt for surgery. I just couldn’t, my insurance was garbage and the doctors could not reach a consensus. It felt risky at best and foolish at worst. After about 6 months I was walking again and did what I did...ignored it.

Then the heart thing...

After a conversation about health with a dear friend last February I started a new line of thinking. She was leaving the country for 3 years and felt a strong impression to get stronger and healthier. We talked about it a lot but she did something about it while I kept talking.

She transformed her eating and exercise. When I tell you she simply looked incredible after a few months I am not exaggerating. And my definition of incredible is how strong and vital she became. And the enemy to all people, fatigue, was less, she simply felt so much better.

She told me about the place she was going to that brought about this change. It is called Biometrix. She explained to me that it was like a team of people completely invested in your well being.... truly a Wellness Center. People who worked together to get the most comprehensive and personalized plan you could have to help you feel better.

Part of my problem (aside from inertia) is every time I think about working out I wonder what I can do. The doctor keeps telling me my heart thing could happen again, so how far do I go? I had no idea and it was a perfect excuse for me to not do more than walk.

Everything my friend described to me sounded like what I needed, accountability, structured workouts and a nutritionist/dietician. What I was most concerned about was having people around me who knew what to do with my particular physical challenges. Before I even stepped foot inside the gym I had all my blood work done right on the premises with their specialists and their equipment. They did a full blood panel including thyroid, vitamin levels, metabolic panels, hormones and what she called preventive markers for inflammation. Want to know what inflammation looks like up close? My feet are swollen most of the time causing a resemblance to my Aunt Eunice.

Next they did an EKG, (test I am very familiar with) and then a full on dexascan which they said would not only show my bone density but BMI....body mass index or “the true reveal”. Turns out my number was pretty high, making me practically a solid. Each test was given by a patient trained specialist. I am a veteran at tests but up to this point I had not gotten any tests that were preventative. My focus is now on prevention. I had a Dexascan test last year as part of my take-every-test-there-could-possibly-be-year, but they only checked to see my bone density.

Next was my fitness test which I desperately wanted to run into the dark Nevada night to avoid. Everyone who worked there kept telling me this was my beginning. Who cares where you are right now except to have a starting point? I reluctantly agreed with them but it sadly didn’t stop me from seeing how far I was from the place I wanted to be physically. My fitness evaluation was a series of aerobic tests, with the infamous bike, heart monitor, weights, and timed tests. Suddenly I didn’t care how well I did with the tests, but concentrated on surviving the tests...which I happily did.



Now they had enough information for me to get started working out. In the gym I have someone who watches everything I do which gives me the confidence to work much harder than I ever would have. My trainer takes my heart rate several times during the workout which gives me another level of confidence and he never lets me do anything that could hurt me. They have evaluated what I can do and that is what I do. The workouts are different every time I go, incorporating aerobics with strength exercises. We have used a kettle bell, heavy ropes, weights, rowing machine, elliptical, treadmill, heavy ball, bands, that big body ball and I have only gone 5 times! One of the best parts is how quickly I am able to finish. From beginning to end it is never more than 55 minutes...often 45 minutes, three times a week. This is a huge plus for busy folks who have to carve out time for themselves.

I am only two weeks into this and what I have learned is why (I am so embarrassed to admit this) I have a difficult time getting up from a chair. My quads are so weak it is hard to hold my frame up without help. Sad? Actually scary. Also my core is so weak from the surgery I had I know it will eventually lead to back problems. And last but certainly not least...my balance. Balance is what keeps you from falling and mine is very tenuous. Another personal marker of fear for me.

And one more thing....a therapeutic massage is included each week. The masseuse has your workout sheet for the week and she knows everything you have done. So those are the muscles she works on. Was I sore the first week? Yes I was but it was a controlled sore and not a “hurt”. I have always looked at massages as a luxury, now I see them as part of the plan of getting well.

A wellness plan for Donna and I have only scratched the surface. Each week I will honestly share my journey, and there is a great deal more to this program but I am just starting. I see my health as a job now, a true responsibility.

Biometrix is subsidizing a portion of my monthly fee for an honest assessment of the program.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Chapter 1



The last 18 months have been wonderful and challenging. I say wonderful because we are blessed to have had a wedding and 2 grand babies and our business continues to expand. 
Challenging because the opportunity to expand the business comes right after a serious heart event for me and an equally difficult health experience for my husband. 

We were familiar with “survivor mode” and simply pushed through. After all, we lived and wasn’t that the most important thing? 

Yes and no. 

Using what was left of my energy for work left me too tired to exercise. Soon I began to notice the consequences of ignoring the physical side of life which was fatigue, difficulty lifting heavy things and unsteady balance. With any health situation ignored it becomes worse and that is what happened to me. I discovered the walking I was doing for exercise was not accomplishing any of my health goals and besides I wasn’t consistent. In order to make the needle move I needed something more, something far more structured to commit to. My whole life I have been doing the same thing in embracing a new regiment. “This time! This time I will listen to my better angels! This time I will eat correctly. This time I will exercise.” And then I would let anything get in the way. From a holiday, to a cold to a sudden need to eat stale bread. I found a way to give up. To put it off yet again. Even Oprah was an excuse I used. (sorry O) but I would say to myself “if Oprah with all her money can’t do it, what makes me think I can? And besides I have a defective aorta.”That was my big excuse....”It could happen again”. Something my surgeon told me every time I went in to his office.

My doctors were keeping me alive and I appreciate that, duh, but I wasn’t really living because I was always uncomfortable. The unsteady gate as I got up from a chair was depressing, my balance that was slowly (rapidly) disappearing frightened me. And the fatigue I felt was overwhelming. Until that moment I thought this was the way getting older was supposed to be. And then I thought.....no. 

NO! 

I can do better than this. I am better than this!I kept thinking there has to be an answer. Then a friend told me about a place she had been going to. She was getting ready to leave the country for several years and felt a need to get stronger. I congratulated her on how great she looked and then she began to explain the science and philosophy of her new regiment. One thing she said several times is how much she had learned about herself and after she learned those things she felt she could make real change in her life and keep the change. Change is hard. Make no mistake it is hard. If it had been easy I would have done it years ago. But then I began to mentally make excuses why this wouldn’t work for me. My cycle was still intact I was determined to stay stuck. 
Then I realized this quote was me...



The constant pains in my knee, my inability to easily get up from a chair, anxiety/depression and constant fatigue is not what I want, although it is certainly ‘what I got’.

Obviously what I have been doing is not working.

I have tried to find a new lifestyle path over the years I could live with, but all my diets have ended in a trash heap with resulting extra weight. Except for a time period between my second and third child, all exercise attempts have ended in failure also. 

I’m pretty confident you are feeling my pain because so many of us follow this same pattern...am I right?

Over the next three months I am taking you along on my personal journey of health, exercise and change. I admit it will not be easy, but nothing worthwhile comes easily. I intend to chronicle my successes and my set backs in an honest and sincere way. 

Monday is my beginning “chapter”. See you then.