2017-08-09 Isn’t it Ironic

Today I went to the Red Cross blood drive just down the street. I have a long history of attempting to donate blood which is really great for several different reasons.

First and most obviously, you are doing something good and helping people and that gives me a nice feeling. They say that every time you donate blood, you are potentially helping up to three people who need it. The Red Cross is always saying that supplies are low, but right now they are in dire need and my in-box is getting bombarded with requests. My selflessness ends there however.

It’s really also kind of a free health screening. They check your temp and blood pressure and hemoglobin. I think they test you blood for several icky things which would normally cost money at a clinic or lab.

The third reason would be a slight departure from my normal routine which is kind of nice. I used to schedule around lunchtime and it takes a little time so it was an extra few moments of something different to just sit back and relax. That sound strange, but that is how I feel about it. And nobody is ever going to question my long lunch if they know that is my intent. What kind of a person would harp on someone for doing something good like that? Not many.

So today I went to donate and was rejected, for the second time in one week. I was rejected due to my hemoglobin being low which is iron in the blood. You can’t donate if you are a female and your count is less than 12.5. Today mine was 12.1 so I was turned away. I think it was last Thursday or Friday when I tried at the library and it was 11.5. This is why I say I have a long history of “attempting” to donate. My iron is often low.

For several years I took a supplement every day. I first started doing that not because I was not able to donate, but because I had seen my PCP and my blood work showed like 9. something and he suggested it. That’s not low enough to be a serious concern but he stated it could be a contributing factor to why I was so fatigued all the time. So I started taking some every day. My levels came up but I don’t think the fatigue ever really went away. I think my body just naturally has low hemoglobin.

Durning those years, I was always right around the threshold. Sometimes I would make it and sometimes I would be turned away. My grandfather donated regularly and I wanted to follow in his footsteps in giving back in some way. I never did a ton of research into why my iron would be low or what I could do to boost it naturally, I just accepted that the pill was sort of working and that was good enough.

It did, however, yield another unpleasant side effect that I did not even realize until this year. I would have really heavy periods with lots of blood clots. I came to this conclusion because someone suggested I stop taking the iron and see what affect that had on my system. Magically, after about a month or so, my period returned to normal. So that was it, I was done with that supplement for sure. Except it meant that I also had to give up donating. Damn.

I began researching natural ways of increasing the iron in your diet in the hopes that eating foods rich in iron would have a positive impact on my numbers, yet keep those nasty once-a-month episodes from being too terrible. What I found is that some things I like to eat already are high on the list of foods rich in iron. Hamburger number one, spinach and leafy greens and broccoli, dark chocolate, molasses, whole wheat bread ,quinoa, apricots and strawberries and raisons are among the top. Beans too, but gross, I don’t eat beans.

So I made sure I have something every day. I love cheeseburgers so that’s like a top win. It might even be part of the reason I like red meat so much. My body is craving what it is lacking. People say it does that, and seeks out what it wants. Perhaps there is some truth to that. However, the science of increasing iron in your system does not stop there. One has to consider absorption. With my levels still being too low last week, I began looking into this as well.

I had done a quick search at one point and found out that calcium inhibits the uptake of iron into the system and that vitamin C actually increases it. So the easy take away from that is stay away from dairy when you are having an iron meal and also pair it with something like orange juice. When I was taking the supplements, I always took it with orange juice anyway, so now that I am making my own juice, that works out perfectly.

To make matters a little more complex, though, just eating spinach may not have been doing me any good. Apparently there is another thing in spinach, called an Oxilate which prohibits the intake of iron. So spinach becomes a net zero for trying to increase the iron. Same thing with the strawberries and whole wheat (though that is because of phytates and not oxalates – oh my).

I’ve been doing more and more digging into this and have several sites that confirm that absorption is just as important as what you are eating that contains iron. In fact, about a quarter of the things on the list of foods high in iron were also on the list of foods to avoid if you want to absorb more iron. How ironic (pun intended). Iron from animals such as beef and fish are more easily absorbed that that from plant sources.. but there is apparently no perfect pairing to maximize the benefit.

Anyway, after I was turned away today from donating, I was so angry. I don’t want to give up because I am not a quitter, nor am I willing to let go of the benefits I get from donating. I have a feeling that my body is the way it is naturally, and that my iron will always be slightly low and I intend to continue to try and sort this out. I just find it so ironic that this one tiny thing that I want to do is something I can’t do and it feels so outside of my control. Grrrr.

I’ve made another appointment to try again Sunday. So between now and then, I guess it’s all cheeseburgers and orange juice for me. I guess if there is a silver lining, that would be it. 😉

Isn’t it Ironic.. Don’t you think?
A little too Ironic..
Yeah I really do think.
~Miss SugarCookie

P.S. Thanks Alanis for the Complimentary Close

2017-06-30 Last Day of June

Today is the last day of June and the last day of the first half of the year. I’m historically into being retrospective and analyzing things in order to make adjustments and improvements but not sure I’m really in the mood for a deep dive into that right now. Perhaps just a slight toe-dip in the shallow end…

When I started this little adventure in January I was in desperate need of SOMETHING. I was in need of something but not sure what it was. I knew I was not in a good place with my life and that changes needed to be made, but I really had no idea what the real problems were and what I should be doing. My initial conclusions were to write about it and try to focus on my health. That is exactly what I did.

I’ve put more effort into exercise and making sure I get good physical activity more. I’ve realized this is not easy to do because of time constraints. It takes time to go out walking, or hit the Jazzercise classes, or the gym. As a person with lots of responsibilities and limited time, the struggle is not with improving my fitness, it’s with balancing my time.

I’ve put some effort into improving my diet. I went through the whole food tracker app analysis phase and determined the right app for me only to stop using it only a few weeks after that decision was made. The truth is, I’ve done a lot of research in the past about eating healthy and know what I should and should not be doing and more importantly, I know what works for me and I know what my weaknesses are.

I’m addicted to sugar (most Americans are). I’m often in a hurry (most Americans are) and opt for the quick easy meal, which is often a less healthy choice. And eating and drinking is a social thing, because there is not a lot of other things to do, so we tend to meet up over a meal or coffee or a few drinks. Given all of this, it stands to reason that when I’m home in my own space with time on my time, I have the ability to make better choices. I can spend a few minutes making a delicious salad or something else that’s not all sugar and fat. Again, the missing ingredient is time.

It is the same thing with sleep, which is the thing I have struggled with the most to try and course correct. I’ve definitely had some ups and downs. I can look at my FitBit history and see weeks I had 4 and 5 hours average sleep and some where I was almost at 7 hours. I’m off taking any meds now to aid sleep and going in the right direction with it, but still not making the best decisions when it comes to going to bed at a decent time. Because, well… time.

Since I am only dipping my toe into the thought puzzle game today, and am probably already ankle deep, I’m going to stop there. If I start talking about work and relationships and road trips and cheeseburgers, my head will be under water before you know it and frankly, I don’t have time for that right now. (How appropriate).

Perhaps there will be more of a retrospective later. For now, time to get up and get moving.

Happy Last Day of June!
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-03-12 Sayonara Caffeine

I’ll be the first to admit that this past week I’ve pretty much been off the wagon when it comes to most things, especially my eating habits. The last two days, I’ve very much indulged in just about everything I decided I wanted, from ice cream, to cookies, to cupcakes, to candy. You name a craving, and I put it in my mouth. Sugar is the devil, and that really has to go.

There is no way I can cut that cold turkey because that struggle is just too real. Times I have tried to do that before I’m strong and motivated and have things under control for a while, and then something happens and it all falls apart. I need to find a more sustainable way. I need to find a better methodology for dialing it back and I think the answer may be baby steps (or toddler steps).

As I like back over the calories I’ve tracked for the past two months (has it really been that long?) using the MyFitnessPal app, I can definitely see a glaring heavy hitter that’s bringing a lot of sugar home. That would be my Dunkin’ Donut habit. So the immediate answer is to just start by minimizing that. I know I still need something to satisfy the desire to have a hot and tasty beverage in the morning or the middle of the afternoon, so I think I’m gonna try non-caffeinated tea instead.

Why cut the caffeine too? Well, I have several people who are also trying to cut down on the caffeine and it really is easier to achieve a goal if 1) You have the support of others and 2) There is not social pressure to fall back into a bad habit. So if they are wanting to cut the coffee and caffeine, then I want to be a good friend and support that and if they are doing that, it will be easier for me to do it too. It’s a win-win.

The other thing about making a small positive change is that it will hopefully become easier to make other positive changes. I know I can do it, because I have before in my life. I just need to focus on feeling good about this and gain momentum to make better choices about other things. Like resisting the dozen chocolate cupcakes leftover from my daughters party last night (or the rice crispy treats or M&Ms or cookies). I just have to remember, everything in moderation and .. baby steps.

One Thing at a Time,
Miss SugarCookie

2017-02-12 Sunday Status Update

Sleep…
Last Night: 7 hours and 59 minutes.
Average for the past week: 6 hours 34 minutes.
Goal: 8 hours.

Exercise…
Today: Jazzercise – 1 hour. Walk – 2 hours. Trampoline Park – 1/2 hour.
21K+ steps.
Average steps for the week: 16,610
Goal: 12,000 per day. So I totally rocked it this week.

Diet…
Today Total Calories under daily goal: 378
Today Net Calories under daily goal: 1037
Total Calories over goal for the week: 1321
Net Calories under goal for the week: 3364
(Total is without factoring in exercise, net is with exercise)

Too much sugar and fat and not enough protein. I’m also deficient with potassium, calcium, and iron.
New Goal: Increase protein to 20% of my diet.

Drinking… Mid February now and I’m still off the sauce.

Relationship Status… Single and soooo looking forward to Valentines Day this week.