Intermittent fasting and keto after 60

powered by baconToday I want to share my experience with intermittent fasting (IF) and the ketogenic diet I’ve been doing for the last six months. My main goal in trying both of these was to lose weight, which I have done and continue to do.

The great thing about this way of eating is that there’s a lot of flexibility. So there’s no “right” way to do it. That’s good but also bad because it can be confusing when you’re just starting out. Hopefully my experiences will clear up some of the confusion.

I’m going to talk about how much I’ve lost, the foods I eat, how much exercise I’ve done, how I’ve felt, and the benefits besides weight loss that keep me motivated to continue. I will also list some resources at the end where you can go to get more extensive info on both IF and keto.

You may find this especially helpful if you’re a mature woman who’s having a hard time maintaining and/or losing weight.

Intermittent fasting

Let me start by saying I’m 62, post menopausal and living without a gallbladder. (That hasn’t been a problem for me on this high fat keto diet although it can be for some.) I’ve lost 18 pounds in the last six months and am still losing about half a pound per week.

Prior to that I had been dieting for a few months and had been on a plateau for about a month when I discovered IF.

I was really resistant to the idea at first because it sounded potentially unhealthy. But when I learned it’s a good way to keep insulin levels down, and therefore lose weight, I decided to give it a try.

Without going into too much detail, IF has been described as an eating window. You only eat during a certain period of the day which can be anything from 12 hours to four hours. Another way to look at it is skipping breakfast or not eating anything after dinner.

I do the 16:8 method which means I fast for 16 hours and eat during the other eight hours. I like to eat soon after getting up in the morning and then eight hours later I stop.

There are days I choose to fast longer or shorter. I’ve gone as long as 21 hours fasting or as little as 12 hours. I intentionally vary the schedule to keep my body guessing and to have a normal social life.

In the beginning I was confused. Do I eat three meals a day or just two? I started with three meals a day but felt too full so I cut back to two.

Then I was worried I wasn’t eating enough. And because some people claim you can eat any type of food you want, I started eating chips and cookies. Well that was a mistake and I put on a couple of pounds.

Around that time (about three weeks in) I discovered the keto diet.

keto after pic

Wearing size 6 jeans Xmas 2017

Keto and keeping it simple

The keto diet is a low carb high fat diet, or LCHF, generally defined as 60% fat, 35% protein, 5% carbs. This forces your body to use fat (ketones) for fuel rather than sugar (glucose) from a standard high carb diet.

Most people say you need to keep track of your macros and recommend recording your meals in MyFitnessPal.

I did this for maybe one day. I don’t like tracking macros, counting calories, adding up points, etc. I’d rather learn to eat intuitively.

The most important thing to remember is to keep net carbs at or below 20 grams. And if you’re trying to lose weight, eat a little less fat so your body will burn stored fat.

I keep a mental note of my carb count which is pretty easy because my meals are simple and repetitive. If I want a special treat, I work it into my daily carb allowance.

How do you know if you’re in ketosis

Ketosis is when your body has made the switch from burning sugar to burning fat. It can take a few weeks to adapt and it’s different for everyone.

A lot of people will test their ketones and blood sugar and generally obsess over whether or not they’re in ketosis. Once again, this is not for me. I just go by how I feel and since I’m losing weight, I know I’m on the right track.

I did have the “keto flu” for what seemed like forever. In real time it was three or four weeks. How did I know I had the keto flu? Well I just generally felt like crap. I was so lethargic and tired I could do almost nothing but lay around. And my symptoms were exacerbated by a summer heatwave.

Then I learned that keto flu could be remedied by taking electrolytes, specifically sodium. I started sipping on some homemade bone broth and began to feel better within about three days.

Eventually I became quite energetic as is typical on a keto diet. Increased energy and the fact that I can go long hours if need be without food tells me that I’m in ketosis. Another sign is keto breath which I do notice from time to time.

Foods I enjoy and what I eat on a typical day

I like buying high quality food and cooking most of my meals from scratch. I buy grass fed beef, organic free range chicken and organic eggs. This is not mandatory on a keto diet, it’s just my preference.

I try to stay away from artificial sweeteners but every now and then will have a Zevia diet soda.

I also have no interest in keto versions of high carb foods like pancakes, cakes and cookies. The only thing I make once in a while is coconut flour muffins. But it’s perfectly fine to eat keto treats occasionally if it helps keep you on the diet.

The foods I like to eat most often are eggs, bacon, beef, butter, cheese, half and half, peanut butter and sour cream. Sometimes I also eat avocados, almonds, chicken thighs and mayo.

My usual breakfast is one egg and two pieces of bacon. Lately my favorite concoction is what I’m calling a cheesy jalapeno egg with sour cream.

Cheesy jalapeno egg and bacon

Cheesy jalapeno egg and bacon

I don’t usually have lunch but if I’m hungry I may have a bite of peanut butter or pork rinds. And for a tasty treat, I mix half an avocado with a couple of tablespoons of sour cream, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. I either eat it with pork rinds or homemade cheese chips. Yum!

For dinner it’s often ground beef with vegetables. Sometimes I make my own version of “crack slaw” (without sweetener or sugar). Once in a while I’ll have steak or chicken with sauteed vegetables or my homemade sauerkraut. And last week I had taco salad with ground beef, cheese, lettuce, olives, salsa, tomatoes and sour cream.

Taco salad

Taco salad

For dessert I like to have exactly five chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joe’s. I work it into my macros. It keeps me from feeling deprived and doesn’t trigger any carb cravings. Now ice cream or chocolate chip cookies would be another story.

TJ's choc covered almonds

Daily treat: chocolate almonds

As for bulletproof coffee, it’s not for me and maybe not for you if you’re trying to lose weight. I make my own cold brewed coffee that I either drink black or with half and half and no sweetener.

To supplement or not to supplement

I’ve been taking a variety of supplements for the last few years and will keep taking them because I notice a difference. Some people believe you should get all your nutrients from food. That would be ideal but I’m not sure it’s really possible. However, I’ve been able to cut down with no ill effects which is saving me money.

Exercise

For the first four months I did the T-Tapp barefoot basic plus workout five days a week. Then I took a couple of months off and recently started doing T-Tapp three days a week, and a kettlebell express workout two days a week. I still lost weight when I was not exercising.

I keep a file of my exercise schedule with weekly measurements and monthly weigh-ins. It gives me encouragement and perspective on how far I’ve gone.

Strategies for living an IF and keto lifestyle

Everyone has to decide how strict to be with the diet. Are you going to cheat, carb up or bring your own foods to non keto gatherings.

My goal is to have a normal life that includes celebrating holidays, special occasions or going out on Saturday night.

After two months on keto I incorporated “cheating” into my lifestyle. It’s also part of my strategy to avoid a plateau. So far it’s working.

Saturday is my free day from keto and IF because I like going out on Saturday night. I reserve that day for eating things I might be wanting such as bread, pizza or dessert. And I almost always make organic popcorn.

That is not to say I go hog wild because I don’t. I try to keep the net carbs under 75 grams.

Sometimes I’ll switch my cheat day for a night out with friends or celebrating a holiday. I just got through Thanksgiving and Christmas this year by doing that.

For those holidays I ended up having one meal that day. I ate mostly meat and green veg with very small servings of everything else including dessert. I was really stuffed and fasted for 21 hours afterwards.

The key is to enjoy yourself for that one day and go right back to keto the next day. No guilt.

Benefits of IF and keto aside from weight loss

The very first thing I noticed on day two of IF was how much better my foot felt. For those of you who don’t know, two years ago I suffered a severe ankle injury, breaking all the bones in my left ankle. My goal is 100% recovery, currently around 98%.

Anyway, after making this observation I did more research to see if there’s a connection between IF and joint pain relief. Turns out it’s something called autophagy, a process the body uses to rid itself of cellular debris. Autophagy reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system. This alone makes me want to keep doing IF.

Watch this short video for more information:

Some of the other benefits have been curing a persistent toenail fungus, saving money on food and supplements, experiencing sustained energy throughout the day, and generally feeling strong.

Recommended resources for more information on IF and keto

Recipe ideas and general information on keto: Keto Connect on YouTube
A doctor’s perspective on keto and intermittent fasting: Dr Eric Berg on YouTube
IF and keto wonderfully explained in plain terms: Butter Bob Briggs on YouTube

Expect miracles? Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry review

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry oil and soap

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry oil and soap

We always hope for miracles from our beauty products but how awesome is it when you find a company that actually promises them.

I’m talking about Swell Skin, manufacturer of sea buckthorn berry oil and soap. And results are guaranteed or your money back.

You are not only guaranteed a miracle, you can expect one overnight. No need to wait weeks or months.

Fantastic, right? That’s what I thought so I decided to put their products to the test.

Promising airbrushed skin in 24 hours

Now what is it we’re supposed to see after just one application? The company claims that 90% of skin’s needs are met within the first 24 hours. As to what it’s really supposed to do, this is what they say:

“Sea buckthorn oil has a reputation for softening lines, plumping skin with moisture, healing skin inflammation including acne, rosacea and many more serious skin conditions.”

Founder Kelli Klus goes on to say, “Regardless of my skin’s occasional challenges, age, sun, infections, spots, acne, rashes, redness etc. the products work immediately to heal each and every one of these problems.”

They sum it up by promising airbrushed skin.

swell skin miraculous?

What will Swell Skin do for me? Putting it to the test

Now I’m fairly happy with my skin’s texture, hydration and elasticity. But I do have a few brown spots, hyperpigmentation and sebaceous hyperplasia (SH) bumps that I’d like to see go away. And occasionally I get keratosis pilaris (KP) on my face.

I took before and after photos (something that’s lacking on their website and on 99.9% of outside reviews).

I decided to test these products for either one night or one month. (One month if the overnight miracle did not occur.) And at the risk of becoming lopsided, I used them only on the right side of my face and neck.

Excitement was building as I prepared to use Swell Skin soap and oil for the first time. Would I really see overnight results?

I prayed to the god of skin miracles. Oh magic sea buckthorn berry, please take away my brown spots and bumps!

Using the sea buckthorn berry soap

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry soap

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry soap

The bar weighs 2.25 ounces. The ingredients are sodium palmate, sodium palm kernelate, water, glycerine, cocos nucifera oil (coconut oil), hippophae rhamnoides oil (sea buckthorn oil), aloe barbadensis leaf extract (aloe vera), astragalus membranaceus root extract, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), palmitic acid, sodium chloride, tetrasodium etidronate, tetrasodium EDTA.

The soap felt cool like mint and has minimal lather. It has a mild, pleasant smell.

Afterwards my skin felt very clean but not dried out. I was surprised to see it removed virtually all of my makeup. None of my other cleansers can do that.

Using the sea buckthorn berry oil

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry oil

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry oil

The bottle contains 100% pure sea buckthorn berry oil and is listed as .05 fluid ounces. That’s INCORRECT and I’m surprised nobody’s caught this big boo boo.

The actual measurement is .5 fluid ounces, or one-half ounce, which equals one tablespoon of oil.

And to prove that I poured my brand new bottle into a tablespoon. The picture is below.

Bottle contains 1T oil, or .5 fluid ounces, not .05

Bottle contains 1T oil, or .5 fluid ounces, not .05

Moving on from that.

The oil has a faint smell, like some type of grain. It looks a bit orange and it feels like…well, oil. Yes, it feels like oil, it looks like oil and it does not completely absorb into the skin. It did not, however, turn my skin orange.

Expecting an overnight miracle. Did I get one?

The next morning there was still a little bit of oil on my face and neck. And I had only used a small amount. But it was easily rubbed in to reveal the fact that my skin looked exactly the same as before.

No miracle for me. The experiment continued for 29 more days, only using the products on the right side.

My results after 30 days

So here’s what happened. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

There was no overnight miracle.

There was no miracle after 30 days.

I see no difference whatsoever. My brown spots and SH bumps remain.

During the course of the trial period I did get a couple of pimples and also a couple of KP spots on my cheek. The pimples did not go away any faster. There was, however, faster healing with the KP, drying up in about five days.

My before and after photos

Forehead before (L) and after (R)

Forehead before (L) and after (R)

Eye before (L) and after (R)

Eye before (L) and after (R)

Cheek before (L) and after (R)

Cheek before (L) and after (R)

Airbrushed skin? I think not. 

Conclusion and final evaluation

Sea buckthorn soap

The soap is very good at removing makeup, better than any other cleanser I’ve ever used. But it didn’t make my skin look or feel any better. I would recommend it for being a very gentle, effective cleanser.

The bar will last me for many months.

Sea buckthorn oil

The oil might be soothing if I had irritated skin which I don’t. It left my face a little oily in the morning. The only condition it seemed to help at all was the KP which I mostly get on my body. However, it’s too expensive for me to use on that and I would not repurchase.

After using it for a full month, I still had half a bottle left. If I had used it on my entire face it would have lasted one month.

So is this is a miracle product or hype? My verdict: Hype.

Buy the soap if you want a good cleanser but forget the oil.

If you want to see how well Swell Skin worked on someone with acne, please check out this video. It’s the only review that I could find that actually has before and after photos.

For more information about Swell Skin, visit their website.

Have you used Swell Skin sea buckthorn oil or soap? Please share your experiences below.

Broken ankle recovery: one year later

Unstoppable by Lynda Makara

Unstoppable by Lynda Makara

Exactly one year ago today my doctor told me I was allowed to walk again following trimalleolar surgery. Those were the words I had waited 67 days to hear after breaking my ankle last September. The surgeon had done his work and now it would be up to me to get back on my feet.

This last year has been the most difficult one of my life, physically and emotionally. But I’m happy to report I’m doing very well now. And I wanted to let everyone know that since there are so few success stories to be found out there.

Venturing into the unknown

When I started this “journey” I was given very little information about what was going to happen and how long it would take to recover. The physician’s assistant told me the best outcome would be that I would walk again. The way she said it was anything but encouraging. Yikes! I know they have to prepare you for the worst but at least they could also mention the possibility you could recover fully.

I was fortunate enough to get that reassurance from the wonderful nurses who were prepping me for surgery. One of them told me she had had trimalleolar surgery a few years ago and said she was just fine now. To demonstrate that she jumped up and down, skipped around and stood on her tiptoes. This is a woman who has to spend the whole day on her feet and she looked perfectly normal.

Thinking of her helps me get through the tough times.

persistence and determination

How I’m doing after rehabbing my broken ankle for one year

An update on the physical problems

The physical problems I’ve been dealing with this last year are pain, swelling, numbness and stiffness. Last June I reported being 95 percent recovered and able to do almost all of my normal activities. I think it’s more like 97 percent now. A couple of things I can do now that I wasn’t able to before are running and jumping jacks. I can even walk around in high heels for a very short period of time.

And here’s the breakdown by symptom.

Pain

I have little to no pain walking most of the time and I am limp-free. Sometimes there’s soreness when I relax my foot and discomfort (and random sharp pains) during dorsiflexion. Sometimes my shins hurt too. Standing on tiptoe with the left leg hurts less than it used to. I attribute these pains to tight tendons and ligaments so I’ve been doing some new things in the last month that have made a big difference. I’m really excited about the results and will probably do a separate post on that later.

Swelling

There’s still a bit of swelling depending on how much standing I do during the day. Swelling is limited to right around the ankle and not the rest of the foot as before. I’ve only felt the need to use the ice pack once in the last few months.

Numbness

The numbness is virtually gone. I used to feel it when I barely touched the top of my foot. Now the only time I feel anything like that is when I’m massaging my foot. And even then it’s very, very faint.

Stiffness

My ankle moves pretty normally in all directions except for dorsiflexion. But that has improved recently as a result of the new things I’ve been doing with my therapy. I’ll just keep plugging away at it until I get to 100 percent recovery. My toes also used to be quite stiff but now are normal.

Photos of my ankle one year later

The left ankle is the one that had surgery. They look the most alike in the morning when there’s no swelling. The left one will always be a little bigger now with all the hardware installed. I don’t plan to have it removed because it’s not causing me any problems and I really don’t want another surgery.

An update on the emotional problems

I didn’t talk about it much before but the emotional challenges are almost as difficult as the physical ones. I’ve experienced fear, depression, helplessness, flashbacks and frustration.

These feelings are very much intertwined with my physical condition. And as it improves, they also improve. I still have frustration with not being fully recovered. And I still occasionally have flashbacks. Overall I feel better now knowing I can take care of myself in any situation I could handle before.

There’s one more thing I’ve been dealing with. The accident changed my identity. I became the girl with the broken ankle and that thought has been with me every moment of every day. Technically it’s not broken anymore and hasn’t been for some time. But every pain, every limitation, even the lack of pain when I’m used to feeling pain, is a reminder that I’m the girl with the broken ankle. I’m not going to be that girl anymore.

From now on, I’m the girl who is UNSTOPPABLE.

Related posts

Broken ankle recovery: learning to walk again

Rehabbing my broken ankle

My magic shoes for broken ankle recovery

Rehabbing my broken ankle

walking up stepsWhen I broke my ankle two months before my 60th birthday in 2015, my number one priority was getting back on my feet as soon as possible. I was going to do everything in my power to make that happen. I believe healing is very much a proactive thing that involves the body, mind and spirit.

The details of my ankle rehabilitation continue below.

For the backstory, click here.

The medical evaluation

Following my trimalleolar fracture, I was told some dire things such as: the best outcome would be that I could walk again, it would take three to five months to be able to walk, I would be at risk for arthritis.

To all this I replied no, I’m going to get back on my feet fast, I’m going to get all my function back and I’m not going to get arthritis. And that left them speechless.

I did not, and still do not, accept any of that as my fate. This was merely information to use in designing my healing protocol.

Healing a broken ankle with nutrition

All good health begins with good nutrition (food and supplements) which is even more important when healing from an injury. The body is designed to heal itself but it needs the raw materials to do so.

My normal diet consists of whole food that I cook myself, but after my accident I made sure to keep it super clean, eliminating sugar and and alcohol because that inhibits healing. I mostly ate high-quality meat along with green vegetables, similar to a paleo diet.

I already take a well-rounded array of supplements, but some new ones were added immediately following the accident. These are all the supplements I feel were the most necessary for healing bones, joints, veins and nerves (purchased from ProCapsLabs.com): ultimate calcium intensive care, glucosamine 1500 and chondroitin 1200, vitamin K2, B-12, marine collagen peptides, circulation and vein support.

Six months after the accident I discovered NOW Foods hyaluronic acid which lubricates the joints (purchased from LuckyVitamin.com). This one made a noticeable difference in the pain and swelling. I wish I’d known about it from the beginning.

A note about vitamins: not all vitamins are created equal. I recommend staying away from tablets and the stuff you find at big box stores and drug stores.

Using the mind for healing

This is going to sound a little woo-woo, but what you believe you manifest. Your brain pays attention to what you tell it. So you don’t want to say to yourself, I’m never going to walk, even though it may feel that way. When those negative thoughts creep in, it’s important to kick them out immediately.

I repeated these affirmations throughout the day:

I’m healthy,
I’m strong,
I’m well-abled,
I’m restored

When I was still non weight bearing (NWB) and had to stand up using one leg, my leg got really tired from all the extra work. But when I would say “I’m strong,” it actually helped my leg to perform.

And when I was full weight bearing (FWB) but still dependent on the walker, saying to myself “I’m well-abled” was prophesying my full restoration. I would also visualize walking on my own. I believe that helped me to walk just 20 days after becoming FWB.

Another woo-woo thing to some is acupuncture. I decided to get five treatments when I was still struggling to walk, having had great success with it in the past.

Even though I know it works, the way it works is a bit of a mystery. My general understanding is that it helps energy (chi) flow properly through the body. My energy flow was blocked from surgery and the subsequent scar tissue and swelling. Following each treatment I noticed a reduction in pain.

Maintaining positive spirits during broken ankle recovery

It’s uplifting and a nice diversion during recovery to make plans for the future. These are some of the things I thought about:

• Going blonde

• Planning my 60th birthday party

• Giving back to the people who helped me

• Planning my triumphant return to the dance floor

Making myself more comfortable during recovery helped keep my spirits up (getting a knee scooter and a ramp).

Finally, noticing and celebrating the small improvements every day gave me hope.

walking on stairs

Broken ankle exercises

Exercise is an important part of rehabilitating a broken ankle and I think it’s a good idea to start exercising as soon as possible. Here’s a breakdown of what I did from NWB to FWB.

The first two weeks after surgery, I didn’t do anything other than wiggle my toes in the cast. When the cast came off, I noticed that my calf was starting to shrink so I decided to do some exercises on my own.

For the next six weeks I wore a boot and was still NWB. While wearing the boot, which weighed three pounds, I did leg lifts very slowly, 20 reps three times a day. I also did isometric exercises, tensing up the calf and thigh muscles a few times during the day. As a result, there was very little wasting of the calf when the boot came off. My leg still ended up getting weaker and I wish I had done more sessions throughout the day.

Two weeks before being released by the doctor, I started physical therapy. Being NWB I was only allowed to do a few things which I did with the boot removed.

Take advantage of physical therapy if it’s offered to you. I was allowed 21 sessions which I completed over the course of five months.

Ankle exercises for NWB

Ankle pumps: while lying down with the leg elevated, slowly and gently bend foot forward, then straighten it out, stretching as much as possible without causing too much pain (20 reps, 4 sets, 5 times per day).

Toe curls: while still lying down curl toes down then flex them upwards (20 reps, 4 sets, 5 times per day).

Toe flexion/extension: stabilize the heel with one hand, then with the other hand curl toes under and hold for 30 seconds. Then pull the toes up and hold for 30 seconds (2 reps, 1 set, twice per day).

Marble pickup: place a bag of marbles on top of a towel, pick them up with the toes and put them in a bowl or move them from one side to the other (2 to 3 minutes, twice a day).

Toe curls on towel: With a towel on the floor and the foot resting on top, curl the toes to gather up the towel (10 reps, 2 sets, twice per day).

Ankle alphabet: while sitting or lying down, trace the letters of the alphabet using the foot and ankle only (1 rep, 2 sets, twice per day).

Toe tapping: while sitting, tap foot gently on the floor (2 minutes, twice a day).

Foot rocking: while sitting, very gently rock the foot backwards and forwards—toes down, then heel down (2 minutes, twice a day).

Check out this video for a demonstration of some of these broken ankle exercises:

Ankle exercises for FWB

I continued with the NWB exercises plus the following exercises that were phased in as time went on:

Recumbent exercise bike (up to 10 minutes a day)

Weight shifting: while standing on foam mat, shift weight from side to side (2 minutes, once a day)

Calf stretches: stand about three feet away from a wall with the injured leg behind and the other leg in front, keeping heels on the floor, lean against the wall and hold (30 seconds, twice a day)

Standing dorsiflexion: with the injured foot on a step, lean forward until a stretch is felt (30 seconds, twice a day)

Standing dorsiflexion

Standing dorsiflexion

Single leg balance: while standing on a foam mat or just the floor, balance on the injured leg (30 seconds, twice a day)

Theraband stretches: while sitting with the leg straight, put the foot in the center of the band and hold onto the ends with both hands, bend the foot slowly upwards and downwards (20 reps, 2 sets, twice a day)

Theraband stretches

Theraband stretches

Ankle lifts: while lying on the side with the foot hanging off the edge of the couch or table, and with a 1 to 5 pound weight wrapped around the foot, slowly raise and lower injured foot. Roll over to the other side and repeat (10 reps, 2 sets, twice a day)

Ankle lifts

Ankle lifts

Heel raises: while standing and holding onto something, stand on toes and slowly lower yourself down (20 reps, once a day)

Walking (10 to 15 minutes, once a day)

My physical therapist told me it can take a year or longer to regain full range of motion. When I started going there, my dorsiflexion was -5 degrees. On my last session it was 13 degrees. There’s still a ways to go before the left foot catches up with the right one.

Rest

Too little value is given to the power of rest, which goes beyond getting enough sleep. Exercise needs to be balanced with rest because that’s when the body heals itself. Exercise tears down muscle and rest builds it back up again.

There have been times when I’ve pushed myself too hard with exercise and activity which only caused me injury, so now I’ve learned to pace myself. For example, I try not to be on my feet for more than an hour at a time which is then followed up with resting on the couch with my legs up for a while.

As the day goes on, if I find my foot starting to feel more pain to the point that I want to start limping, that’s my cue to stop for the rest of the day and take it easy.

Icing my ankle

Icing my ankle

Nobody can tell you how much you should or should not be doing. You’ll just have to figure that out by listening to your body.

I wish you all well with your healing journey. And remember this: 

You’re healthy,
You’re strong,
You’re well-abled,
You’re restored

Related posts

Broken ankle recovery: learning to walk again

My magic shoes for broken ankle recovery

Broken ankle recovery: one year later

Broken ankle recovery: learning to walk again

broken flowers and concreteSeptember 6, 2015 is the day I went from a healthy, strong, independent woman to an instant cripple. You see, while walking on the sidewalk in my platform wedge shoes, I stepped on a pebble and lost my balance. My left foot went sideways and my leg landed right on top of it.

Have you ever twisted a chicken wing to separate the joints? Well it was kind of like that. All the bones were broken in what’s called a trimalleolar fracture. Basically my foot was disconnected. It’s the worst fracture you can get and the worst case my surgeon had seen in many years.

And from that fateful day the only thing I wanted to know was when can I walk again. The short answer to that question is this: I was able to walk on my own 20 days after the doctor said I was allowed to walk.

But there’s a lot more to the story, a story I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell because I’d rather pretend this nightmare never happened. But reading other people’s stories helped me, so here goes.

Broken ankle: waiting for surgery

There was surprisingly little pain. My ankle was stabilized at the ER and I was sent home with instructions to stay off my left leg (non weight bearing or NWB) and keep it elevated while awaiting surgery. Oh, and I wasn’t allowed to shower either. (Try washing your hair in the kitchen sink while standing on one leg.)

Being NWB means I had to use crutches which is its own little nightmare.

Using your hands for crutches means you can’t carry anything, not even a cup of coffee. Luckily I had a small thermos and bottled water which I packed in a tote bag along with my phones and other items. I had to plan every excursion from the couch as if I were going on a long trip: what did I need to take with me, what did I need to bring back, how many stops did I have to make.

Sometimes I would take a break from crutches and roll around the kitchen in an office chair. That’s how I was able to prepare meals for me and the dog.

Drive Medical DV8 Aluminum Steerable Knee Walker Crutch Alternative

My borrowed knee scooter looked like this

The week after the accident my sister-in-law borrowed a knee scooter for me. This was life changing! I could get around faster and, with the tote bag hanging from the handlebars, was able to carry a dish in one hand and steer with the other.

Even with the scooter, the physical exertion of going from one place to the other left me extremely tired. I spent much of the time napping on the couch. I think my body was in shock. This exhaustion continued for several weeks.

Broken ankle surgery

That happened 11 days later on September 17. Right before going into the OR the nurses told me this was going to be a painful surgery. Such an inadequate word to describe the horror of the next 24 hours. The pain was excruciating. It felt like someone was sawing away at my ankle with a hacksaw. I counted the minutes until I could take the next pain pill, and this from someone who doesn’t even take headache medicine.

The next day the pain was about 50 percent less and each day it got better. By the fifth day I stopped taking pain pills. There was still pain but it was tolerable.

The surgeon installed a metal plate and six screws on the left side of my ankle, and one screw on the right side.

My foot was in a cast for two weeks and then I had a decision to make.

flowers on broken concrete

Removing stitches, and do you want a cast or a boot?

The cast came off and I didn’t want to look at my foot but got a glimpse of it anyway. My exact words were, “I look like Frankenstein.” My foot was laced with wounds: a five inch long one on the left side, one inch across the top of my foot, and three inches on the right side.

The stitches came out and there were lots of them. It didn’t hurt as bad as I expected, just mostly felt like someone snapping me with a rubber band.

Did I want another cast or a boot? A cast makes the foot more stable but you still can’t shower or exercise much with it. It’s also much lighter than a boot.

A boot costs extra, it’s heavy and bulky, but you can remove it to bathe. And this is what really sold me—I could start physical therapy two weeks earlier which meant I would be walking two weeks earlier. Done.

That being said, I hated every minute wearing that boot especially in bed where it was nearly impossible to get comfortable. Still, it was the right decision.

Then the doctor dropped a bomb on me. I would have to go another six weeks without being able to walk.

I was crushed thinking it was only going to be four weeks because bones take about six weeks to heal. I think he was being extra cautious due to the severity of the fracture.

The long road to recovery

dog laying on my pillow

My little doggy nurse testing out my pillow. Puppy approved!

The next six weeks were hard and I counted down the days until I would be allowed to walk again.

I rented a ramp for the back door so I could do a few things in the garden and dump my trash. Being able to finally get outside lifted my spirits somewhat.

I kept up with light housework, running the vacuum cleaner, keeping the bathrooms and kitchen clean, doing a little bit of cooking.

In the evenings while lounging on the couch I would take a break from the boot and let my foot out. By that time it really seemed like a very fragile foreign object attached to my body. I massaged it a little and did various exercises like curling my toes, bending my ankle and making little circles.

I noticed that the surgery had left me with slight numbness on the skin and a lump on the bottom of my foot.

I started physical therapy on October 23. I’ve done a separate post with more details about the exercises I did on my own as well as the ones that were prescribed to me.

Being released by the doctor, I can walk again…or can I?

Finally the day came on November 12 when the doctor told me my X-rays looked good and I could now walk! Well, I think what he meant was that I was allowed to walk, having previously stated it would take 3 to 5 months before I would be able to walk.

He told me I was allowed full weight bearing (FWB) with no restrictions except that he wanted me to wear the boot when I went outside, and after a few weeks I could throw it away.

Anyway, I was so excited leaving the office that I thought maybe I could just walk right out of there. But I didn’t, so I rode my scooter one last time to the car.

Then I put my left foot on the ground for the first time in over two months, and ow, OWWW, that really hurt! I picked it right back up again, dejected with the realization that I would still be dependent on the scooter for a while.

Learning to walk again after a broken ankle

When I got home I took out the crutches and practiced walking while putting some pressure on the left foot. I found it impossibly clunky to try and walk with the boot on so I ditched it immediately. My foot needed a lot of support which the boot did not provide. Not having anything suitable I ordered orthopedic shoes which helped me a lot.

my fuchsia vionic shoes

My fuchsia orthopedic shoes help me walk without limping

The next day I went to the physical therapist. They gave me a walker to use for as long as I needed. They told me to practice putting pressure on the foot, shifting from one side to the other.

And they also told me to practice walking around about 5 minutes a day. I ended up doing a lot more than that though, sometimes too much, resulting in a couple of setbacks.

One of the scariest things happened to me two days after being FWB. It was midnight and I was trying to see if I could vacuum using the walker. I used my left foot to release the vacuum cleaner, lost my balance and fell backwards, landing on my rear end.

I wasn’t hurt, just scared at what might have happened. The tension of being alone and feeling vulnerable for so long overflowed in that moment and I just sobbed my heart out.

The next day I kept at it, using the scooter to get around and practicing with the walker. I would tell myself, “You know how to walk, just walk!” But it was too painful and I couldn’t…yet. Each day I was able to tolerate more pressure on my foot.

And then one day I walked…on my own. Granted, I looked like a monster come to life but I was walking! Like Quasimodo without the hump. Twenty days after being FWB and 87 days after the accident, I could walk on my own at last!

Driving after a broken ankle

It’s illegal to drive with a cast or a boot on either foot. When I became FWB I was legally allowed to drive but couldn’t since my car has a manual transmission which requires the use of both feet. So I had to learn how to drive again.

A week after being FWB I started getting ready to drive. I practiced turning on the motor and shifting the gears with my right foot on the clutch. Then I turned the car off and practiced pressing the clutch with my left foot, using it as an exercise machine, pressing it 50 to 70 times. That was the first and second day.

On the third day I pressed the clutch 100 times, then drove up and down driveway a couple of times.

On the fourth day I drove around the block.

On the fifth day I drove to Trader Joe’s. And this was 11 days after being FWB. I was actually able to drive a stick shift before I was able to walk. Going to the store meant I had to take both the walker and scooter.

I needed the walker to get to the back seat where the scooter was. Then I took the scooter into the store where I was able to steer it with one hand and steer the shopping cart with the other. People stared at me but I didn’t care. I was finally on the road to freedom.

Walking without a limp

While I was able to walk on my own, limping was a problem. I began using one crutch (on the good side) for support most of the time while training myself to walk properly.

Believe it or not, it takes a lot of mental concentration to walk normally. It was frustrating as I told myself, “Why am I limping? I know how to walk.” My foot wasn’t strong enough to support my weight through each step. I would automatically throw my weight to the left and as I began falling to the right, my right leg took a step. Spending unequal time on each leg produces a limp.

To conquer that I actually had to practice walking while repeating “heel, toe” and trying to balance my weight in the center instead of throwing it out to the left, spending equal time on each step.

I also found it very helpful to do calf stretches followed by a 15 minute walk unaided.

I was finally able to ditch the crutch 53 days after being FWB.

flowers on concrete

Pain during and after a broken ankle

Pre surgery

For me there wasn’t a lot of pain when I first broke my ankle. I rated it as a 3 out of 10.

I was sent home from the ER with my foot wrapped in an ace bandage with splints which doesn’t provide a whole lot of support. I was happiest when my foot wasn’t flopping around too much. I used ice packs and occasional prescribed meds to combat the pain.

By the day of the surgery I had no pain at all.

Post surgery

I’ve already described the horrendous pain following the outpatient surgery. That was definitely a 10 out of 10. I did a lot of foot icing the first two days which was hard because the weight of the ice bag was too much for me to bear and I had to use very little ice.

I took my pain meds on schedule for the first two days, gradually increasing the time in between doses so that by the fifth day I stopped taking it altogether.

The pain greatly diminished with each passing day. Toward the end of the eight weeks while waiting to be released by the doctor, I was once again pain free.

Post FWB

The pain returned for the FWB phase. My foot hurt all the time but obviously the most when I was putting pressure on it. It felt like pins and needles combined with very sharp pain concentrated in the heel. I would rate it a 5 or 6 but I refused to take anything for it.

The one thing I did do was get acupuncture because it’s helped me a lot in the past. Right after I began driving I started the treatments, five in a three week period. I was using the walker at that time and desperate to walk on my own. The treatments did help but were not the miracle I’d been hoping for.

After I began to walk, I was still in constant pain and also began getting leg spasms in the left leg which kept me awake at night. My shins hurt too. And then my left knee started hurting as a result of limping.

Sometime in early January I noticed that there were some breaks in the pain, mostly when I wasn’t moving. It’s been gradually going away since then (but not entirely).

And I haven’t mentioned it before but there was a lot of swelling from the time I broke my ankle which continues to this day. The more swelling there is, the more pain I have.

Timeline from broken ankle to recovery

9/6/15 broke ankle, couldn’t walk, NWB

9/17/15 ankle surgery, in cast, not allowed to walk

10/1/15 cast removed, stitches removed, given walking boot but still NWB

10/23/15 started physical therapy, NWB exercises

11/12/15 released by doctor, allowed to walk, FWB

11/19/15 started “driving” practice

11/23/15 able to drive, made my first trip to the store

11/25/15 began acupuncture, five treatments

12/2/15 could walk a few steps unaided but used walker then one crutch part of the time

1/4/16 stopped using crutch, walking entirely on my own

1/23/16 walking without a limp, went dancing for the first time

My life today (March 3, 2016)

Very gradually my foot went from being something strange attached to me, a separate entity with its own needs, to once again being a functioning member of my body.

At the present time I usually only have pain when I walk or do my foot exercises. If I’m on my feet too long, it will hurt afterwards even when I’m resting. I mostly feel pain on the right side of the ankle and the top of the joint.

The numbness is almost gone but the lump on my arch remains.

I’m still going to physical therapy, with only two sessions left.

I can do almost everything I could do before. I can climb ladders, go up and down steps normally, and of course dance to about 90% of my former ability. The dancing does cause me to suffer for a day or two afterwards but hopefully that will improve soon.

I can’t wear high heels yet and had to buy some low-heeled booties to dance in.

my low-heeled shooties

These boots are made for walking…and dancing!

At night I sleep with my legs on top of a flat pillow. I’ve been doing that ever since the accident and it’s still too uncomfortable sleeping without it.

I recently resumed my kettlebell exercises.

I’m able to walk much faster now, almost up to my pre accident speed, although I’m very mindful of where I’m stepping.

To look at me now, nobody can tell anything happened. Things are looking up!

If you have any questions on things I may not have covered, please leave them in the comments below.

Update: June 14, 2016

It’s now seven months FWB and my ankle is feeling so much better. I’m able to stand for as long as I want doing my normal things like cooking, cleaning, shopping and working in the garden. In fact, I just completed a large garden project which involved a lot of digging.

I can dance for hours without suffering afterwards.

I don’t need to sleep with my legs on a pillow anymore.

There’s still some pain doing certain movements and some swelling, but not enough to make me want to ice my ankle. I haven’t used the ice pack in a couple of months.

Now I can even get out of bed in the morning and walk perfectly without having to stretch first.

I would say I’m 95 percent recovered.

I still can’t wear high heeled shoes but I don’t need to wear my magic pink shoes all the time.

Standing on tiptoe on just the left leg is difficult but getting easier every day.

I’m able to squat all the way down to the ground like I could before even though the dorsiflexion is not quite back to normal. I suspect that might be the last thing to come back.

Related posts

Rehabbing my broken ankle

My magic shoes for broken ankle recovery

Broken ankle recovery: one year later

Little known treatment for sebaceous hyperplasia

sebaceous hyperplasiaLong before I knew what it was called, I’ve been suffering with sebaceous hyperplasia. I didn’t know what those bumps were on my face. They weren’t pimples, they weren’t warts and they weren’t moles. It was only after seeing the dermatologist last year, and another failed treatment, I learned the condition is called sebaceous hyperplasia.

The good news is that it’s not dangerous in any way, but having a lot of bumps on your face is frustrating, annoying and often embarrassing. The frustration gets compounded when you seek medical treatment and what is proscribed is more suitable to acne, which this is not.

Sebaceous hyperplasia (SH) is inflammation and multiplication of cells inside the oil glands. The cause is unknown.

You can’t get rid of it by any conventional means—squeezing, freezing with liquid nitrogen, using electrocautery, Retin-A and other exfoliants. I’ve tried it all, except for the electric needle.

With squeezing, you can sometimes get something out but the bump soon returns to its original size.

With liquid nitrogen, it’s hit or miss, expensive and can cause scarring.

Retin-A simply doesn’t work and I believe it’s bad for the skin in the long term.

Then one day I found this interesting video for the Skin Classic machine. I knew this was the answer I’d been searching for.

Watch how Skin Classic gets rid of SH and more

How it works

Skin Classic uses high frequency to heat up the sebum which causes it to instantly come out of the pore. The needle doesn’t actually penetrate the skin. A series of light taps are used around the bump.

That being said, this is not a cure because there is no such thing for SH. You may still have new bumps appear, but the ones you are treated for will not return.

Other skin conditions improved by Skin Classic

Besides SH, these skin irregularities can be successfully treated:

  • keratosis pilaris
  • broken capillaries
  • blackheads
  • cherry angiomas
  • skin tags
  • milia
  • some hyperpigmentation

What it was like getting the treatment myself

To find a practitioner, I filled out a contact form on the RNfaces website.* They referred me to the OC Spa & Wellness Center in Huntington Beach, CA. There you can either get spot treatment or full face treatment down to the cleavage area. I went for the latter since I had quite a few spots.

*Until further notice, you need to call RNfaces directly for that information at 719.859.0707

Normally they clean the skin, then steam it, followed by microdermabrasion and last, the Skin Classic machine. I didn’t want microdermabrasion so my esthetician skipped that part.

During the treatment there’s a small amount of pain involved, but it’s nothing compared to getting liquid nitrogen. Every time she zapped a spot, I thought “ow, ow” and then it was over. It only lasted about one second. After that, there was no more pain or discomfort all the way through the healing process.

Besides getting rid of the SH, she also did a couple of skin tags, a cherry angioma and a dark hyperpigmented spot.

Right after treatment

Right after Skin Classic treatment for sebaceous hyperplasia

Right after Skin Classic treatment for sebaceous hyperplasia

Afterwards, my face was a little bit red and irritated looking. The next day scabs started to form and in the following days, they became more and more obvious. I felt like my face was covered with polka dots. I couldn’t really hide it with makeup so I opted to stay at home for the next week.

There was no picking of scabs allowed and I was very careful when I touched my face.

Followup visit

You’re supposed to return in 7 to 10 days to get any spots that might have been missed the first time. Some can get overlooked in places where the bumps are clustered together because the skin starts to get irritated and it’s hard to see what’s been done and what hasn’t.

I went back after seven days but I recommend waiting ten days. Waiting longer is better because at seven days there was still some irritation and a few spots were missed. I will have to go back again one of these days for another treatment.

Ten days after treatment

Ten days later most of the smaller scabs had fallen off. The larger ones took another month to heal.

Evaluating the results of Skin Classic

It took about four to six weeks for my face to completely heal, with the largest spots being the longest to heal. None of the bumps that were treated returned. One deep spot on my forehead left me with a slight indentation which took several months to fill in.

The skin tags and cherry angioma were also gone for good. The dark spot, however, lightened up considerably but did not completely disappear.

One year after my Skin Classic treatment

My skin looks much better than it did a year ago. I’m very happy with the results.

after skin classic treatment

One year after Skin Classic treatment for sebaceous hyperplasia

Conclusion: I highly recommend Skin Classic

Finding this solution was a dream come true. I thought I was going to have to live with those awful bumps for the rest of my life. I’m still amazed by how well it worked.

What I can’t understand is why dermatologists are not getting Skin Classic machines to treat SH. Perhaps they have another agenda than providing the best solution for their patients. Just a thought.

For more information visit RNfaces.com or call them at 719.859.0707 to find a provider in your area.

Please note: I have no affiliation with Skin Classic, RNfaces or OC Spa & Wellness. I’m just a customer who’s trying to get the word out to other people suffering with sebaceous hyperplasia.

I had a urinary tract infection and kidney stones

Pain by Lynda Makara

Pain by Lynda Makara

Some people seem to get UTIs all the time but I never do. So I was shocked when I began noticing these classic symptoms: Having to pee all the time, cloudy and foul smelling urine, discomfort when going to the bathroom. But at least I didn’t have any pain…until a few days later. Then I was hit with a gut-wrenching, unrelenting pain in my abdomen, back and side that left me nauseous and scared. Oh no, I think I have kidney stones too!

What follows is my personal story and how I chose to deal with a urinary tract infection and kidney stones. I’m the type of person who believes in trying natural remedies before resorting to things like antibiotics and prescription painkillers. And I was thrilled to find that Andrew Lessman’s Cranberry Benefts cured my UTI in a few short days.

I will start by summarizing my experience and then include a daily diary charting the pain and progress of dealing with a urinary tract infection and kidney stones. I’m going to update this periodically to report whether or not I remain free of UTIs and kidney stones.

I’m also sharing some other natural remedies for UTIs and tips that helped me manage pain without prescription drugs.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Please use your own good judgment in treating UTIs and kidney stones.

Cranberry Benefits cured my urinary tract infection

Within three days my UTI symptoms were gone

cranberry benefits for uti

Cranberry Benefits by ProCapsLabs

For the first five days I took two cranberry pills in the morning and two at night. Then I decreased the dose to two pills a day and will continue until all the pills are gone.

Andrew Lessman’s Cranberry Benefits is an all natural, standardized cranberry concentrate. There are no fillers, binders or artificial colors. Each capsule contains 400 mg of cranberry, 60 mg of vitamin C, 50 mg of calcium and 20 mg of magnesium.

The proanthocyanidins and anthocyanidins from the cranberry concentrate help regulate the pH of the urinary tract and balance the friendly flora in the bladder and kidneys.

Simply put, this supplement creates an environment that the bad bacteria just don’t like.

Cranberry Benefits capsule

Each capsule is filled with a microfine powder, making it easy to digest

cranberry benefits for uti2

Cranberry Benefits capsule

Discovering I had symptoms of a UTI and kidney stones

I started taking Cranberry Benefits 14 days after realizing I had a urinary tract infection. I only wish I had gotten them sooner, but I waited a few days before ordering.

I had been feeling like I had to go to the bathroom all the time and I noticed that my urine was cloudy and had a bad smell. There wasn’t any pain at first, it was more like a weird sensitivity while going to the bathroom. So I increased my intake of probiotics and spirulina, hoping that would help my body fight the infection.

About five days after realizing I had a UTI, I started having pain and noticed my abdomen was sore and bloated. Then the pain intensified. I had about three days of severe pain, mostly on my right side. It left me nauseous and with little appetite. I could barely stay out of the bathroom (constantly wanting to poop and pee) for those three days. That’s when I broke down and ordered these pills.

In the meantime the pain gradually disappeared on my right side. Then my left side started hurting, the day after starting with the cranberry pills. The pain only lasted for a day and has not returned.

Photo of the urinary system

Photo credit: urinary system by striatic, on Flickr

Photo credit: urinary system by striatic, on Flickr

How did I get a UTI and kidney stones

Stress, lack of sleep and not enough water contribute to UTIs/kidney stones

UTIs are caused when bad bacteria from your intestines/stools finds its way into your urinary tract. And kidney stones are caused by a concentration of minerals in the kidneys that stick together and form rocks of varying sizes. (For a more technical explanation of causes, symptoms and traditional remedies, please check out the links in this section, More information about urinary tract infections and kidney stones.)

I would also say that anyone suffering from UTIs has a compromised immune system, or not enough friendly flora in the gut. In my case I was going through a very stressful time as a caretaker to my dying mother. I was not getting enough sleep or drinking enough water. Further taxing to my immune system was being surrounded by other family members who were sick with a very nasty and long-lasting cold.

Home remedies for a UTI

At the first sign of a urinary tract infection, make sure to drink lots of water. This will dilute the bacteria and help flush it out of your system. Your kidneys will be happy too.

While I was researching and weighing my options, I came across these home remedies for curing a urinary tract infection. I did not try these as I opted to take Cranberry Benefits instead.

  1. Drink a glass of warm water with the juice from half a lemon. Make sure to immediately rinse your mouth out with plain water as the acid from the lemon juice will soften tooth enamel.
  2. A teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water is supposed to alkalinize the pH in the gut and make it less hospitable to bad bacteria

Drink lots of water when you have a UTI or kidney stones

Photo credit: Waterfalls by andyarthur, on Flickr

Photo credit: Waterfalls by andyarthur, on Flickr

Natural ways of dealing with the pain of UTI or kidney stones

I try to avoid prescription drugs and I keep my consumption of OTC painkillers to a minimum. Occasionally I took one Ibuprofen which did not always ease the pain. Here are my top four natural remedies for pain relief:

  1. The most effective natural way I found of relieving the pain from kidney stones was to take a shower. The pain would go away for up to several hours.
  2. In between showers I found that walking helped. My natural inclination was to curl up in a fetal position, but that only hurt more so I tried to keep moving.
  3. When I realized that curling myself into a ball made the pain worse, I decided to try doing the opposite. While standing up I would arch my back and stretch the other way. It seemed to help the muscles relax.
  4. I also found that rubbing my stomach would ease the pain. When I was laying down I gently massaged my poor bloated tummy.

My UTI/kidney stone diary

Day 1

I think I have a UTI. Feeling like I have to pee all the time, cloudy urine, no pain, loss of appetite. Increased my intake of probiotics and spirulina.

Day 2, 3, 4

No change in symptoms

Day 5

Slight pain, soreness and bloating, able to eat a little more

Day 7, 8, 9

Severe pain mostly on right side, bloating, constantly feeling like I have to poop and pee, slightly nauseous, no blood. Took two Ibuprofen per day, one in the morning and one at night.

Day 10

Ordered cranberry supplement. Constant pain, left me doubled over. Ibuprofen didn’t help. I tried to only take two per day. Taking a shower eased the pain, walking eased the pain, stretching out my muscles helped, rubbing my stomach eased the pain. Not much appetite. Was a little hungry but in too much pain to eat much.

Day 11

Slight pain, got worse as day wore on but not bad enough to take pain pill. Was able to exercise. By the late evening the pain was about 95% gone. Just a little soreness in back right, tenderness in stomach.

Day 12

No pain until afternoon. Took a shower and a pill and it felt better. Had to take my mom to the ER, my pain escalated and went to left side. Took two pain pills and went to bed.

Day 13

No pain at all. Still wanting to pee all the time, urine cloudy and bad smelling.

Day 14

No pain. Started cranberry pills, took two in morning, two in evening. No pain all day. Urine looks a little clearer by the end of day. Still a little bloated.

Day 15

Urine clear, no bad smell. Did not get enough sleep. Woke up with slight pain on left side. Progressively got worse by afternoon. Urine still clear. Feeling like I have to poop all day. Took two pain pills. Pain went away and didn’t come back. Took two cranberry pills in morning, two in evening.

Day 16

Got full night’s sleep. Woke up with no pain. Urine clear and no bad smell. Still taking four cranberry pills a day.

Day 17

No pain. Only six hours sleep. Worried about mom. Still taking four cranberry pills a day. Urine clear, no smell.

Day 18

No pain. Took four cranberry pills today. Stomach no longer swollen and bloated. Urine clear and no smell.

Day 19

No pain. Cut dosage of cranberry pills down to two pills. No smelly or cloudy urine.

Day 20

No pain. No more weird sensitivity. Took two cranberry pills.

Update: February 3, 2013

It’s been 18 days since my last diary entry. I continued to take two Cranberry Benefits each day and have remained symptom free. I’ve been very good about drinking lots of water every day, but stress management has been more difficult due to the death of my mother. I’m not sleeping enough and I’m still exposed to this lingering cold the people around me have. As a precaution I’ve decided to resume taking four cranberry pills a day until my stress levels and sleep patterns return to normal.

After my supply of cranberry pills runs out, I’ll see if I remain symptom free. I’ll do another update later.

Update: September 1, 2013

It’s been a few months since my last update. During that time I continued to take Cranberry Benefits on and off, hoping that I could just stop taking it at some point. Any time I went a few weeks without it, I began noticing the first signs of a possible UTI, such as feeling like I have to go all the time and having weird sensations in the urinary tract.

I don’t know if the reason for that is ongoing stress (the death of my mother followed by the illness and death of my dog) or if it’s just one of those fun little things that happens to you in your late 50s. Whatever the reason, as long as I take one pill a day I feel fine and have no symptoms at all.

Maybe there will come a time when I can stop taking them. I’m not feeling so stressed anymore and I have a new little doggy companion who’s brought a lot of joy into my life. But for now I have peace of mind knowing that I’m well stocked with Cranberry Benefits.

Update: February 2, 2014

It’s been over a year now since my painful experience. I’ve learned that lack of hormones from being postmenopausal increases the likelihood of getting a UTI. So at least makes sense as to why this happened when it never did before.

Since my last update in September 2013, things have been going well. I’ve maintained my urinary tract health by only taking three pills a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) which keeps the cost down. Of course I’ve been trying to stay hydrated and get enough sleep.

The stress of the past year has calmed down and I’m getting back into a normal rhythm with my new dog and my new life.

More information about urinary tract infections and kidney stones

Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye by Dr Ellie Phillips

Photo credit:  Big tooth by bfurlong, on Flickr

Photo credit: Big tooth by bfurlong, on Flickr

Brush. Floss. See your dentist twice a year. Most of us believe that’s all we need to do to take care of our teeth. And yet most of us still get cavities, have tooth sensitivity, plaque buildup, yellowing teeth and receding gums. These things are not the inevitable result of aging, poor genetics or just bad luck. These are signs of dental disease. The good news is they can be prevented and even reversed.

In the book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye you will find out what your dentist doesn’t tell you, or possibly doesn’t even know. You will learn what products to use and what products to avoid. Dr Ellie Phillips takes the mystery out of mouth care and gives you the knowledge to control your dental destiny.

I was amazed by the things I learned from this book. Later on, you’ll read about my experiences with Dr Ellie’s mouth care system.

About Dr Ellie Phillips

Dr Ellie is a dentist whose mission in life is to educate her patients on the prevention of dental disease. She has studied the cause of this disease and has developed a simple, inexpensive mouth care system using over-the-counter products. For 35 years her patients have been getting great results using her system. With Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye, Dr Ellie is reaching out to help people everywhere who find that flossing and cleaning are not keeping their mouths healthy.

The most surprising things I learned from Dr Ellie

Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye: A Do-It-Yourself Mouth Care System for Healthy, Clean Gums and Teeth

I learned so many things from this book, but these surprised me the most:

  • Dental disease is caused by certain type of bacteria that not only lives in your mouth, but also in your ears, nose, throat and sinuses. The bacteria stick to your teeth and produce acid. Acid in your mouth softens tooth enamel. Further damage is done to our teeth with bleaching products, whitening toothpaste, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and mouthwash with alcohol, just to name a few. These products scratch and weaken the teeth and create more acid in the mouth.
  • The key to having a healthy mouth is to keep it in an alkaline state. The bad bacteria will not be able to survive and your teeth will get stronger and whiter.
  • Flossing is not recommended. Dr Ellie believes that flossing damages the gums and leads to gum recession. Her mouth care system is like “liquid flossing” and does a better job of eliminating harmful bacteria.
  • Sugar free gum is bad for your teeth. Sugar free gum and mints contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol. The bad bacteria are able to use sorbitol as fuel and that makes sorbitol just as harmful as sugar.
  • Teeth can be remineralized. By keeping your mouth in an alkaline state, minerals in your saliva get deposited onto your teeth, making them stronger and whiter-looking.
  • Cavities can be reversed. This was the most amazing fact ever! It takes about six months but many cavities can heal just by keeping your mouth alkaline.

Dr Ellie’s complete mouth care system

Photo credit: Big teeth by CB and GK, on Flickr

Photo credit: Big teeth by CB and GK, on Flickr

In order to be effective, Dr Ellie’s mouth care system must be followed exactly with no product substitutions.

You will need:

  • A bottle of pH balanced, chlorine dioxide rinse (Closys)
  • A new or clean toothbrush (swish in ½ oz undiluted Listerine for 30 seconds)
  • A tube of Crest regular toothpaste
  • A bottle of antiseptic rinse (Listerine or generic, mint OK)
  • A bottle .05% sodium fluoride anticavity rinse (ACT anticavity)
  • A small cup for brush storage and toothbrush disinfection
  • One or more sources for 100% xylitol (not sorbitol). Mix and match mints, gum, wipes, spray, granules, etc. You must consume 8 to 10 grams per day (or about two teaspoons of the granules).
  • Optional pH testing paper

Proper brushing helps remove plaque

Do you know the right way to brush your teeth?

Most people don’t. Watch this short YouTube video to learn the proper technique.

Using Dr Ellie’s mouth care system

Photo credit:  Tooth-Brush by get directly down, on Flickr

Photo credit: Tooth-Brush by get directly down, on Flickr

Brush your teeth in the morning and right before bed as follows:

  • Rinse your mouth with a small amount of Closys for about a minute. While you’re doing that, disinfect your toothbrush by swishing in Listerine for about 30 seconds. The Closys prepares your mouth for brushing. It kills germs and puts your mouth in an alkaline state so that when you brush you are not brushing away tooth enamel.
  • Rinse off your toothbrush with water and put on a small amount of Crest toothpaste, smaller than pea-sized.
  • Brush your teeth, wash off your toothbrush with water and put it in a cup to dry.
  • Spit out the toothpaste but do not rinse your mouth with water. Put a small amount of Listerine (can be diluted with warm water) in your mouth and swish it vigorously for 60 seconds. This is considered “liquid flossing.” Listerine will kill 99% of the harmful bacteria, but it contains alcohol and cannot be left in your mouth for too long.
  • Spit out the Listerine and immediately put a small amount of ACT mouthwash in your mouth. The ACT mouthwash neutralizes the effect of the alcohol in the Listerine. It also protects your teeth with fluoride. Swish it around in your mouth for at least one minute, longer if you want. Spit it out and you’re done. Do not rinse your mouth out with water.

Between brushings:

Use xylitol every time you’re finished eating or drinking anything. It’s ideal to consume a small amount about five times a day using any combination of granules, gum or mints.

Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in birch trees, fruits and vegetables. (I recommend using birch xylitol made in the USA.) It has the same sweetening power as sugar but contains 40% fewer calories. Xylitol has a very low glycemic index. It’s metabolized without using insulin which makes it safe for diabetics.

Xylitol makes your mouth alkiline. It kills the bad bacteria, not only in your mouth but throughout your entire body. You should have xylitol on hand in every form, bulk, gum and mints. When you’re at home it’s easy to put a small amount of the crystals in your mouth and let them dissolve slowly. It’s so good—it tastes just like sugar! Xylitol gum and mints are convenient to have around. I keep some by my bed, in my purse and by my favorite chair. Another handy thing to do is to put a couple of teaspoons of xylitol crystals in a 16 oz bottle of water. Consume the water throughout the day, especially after eating or drinking.

Photo credit:  Teeth-Of-Glass by peasap, on Flickr

Photo credit: Teeth-Of-Glass by peasap, on Flickr

My experience with Dr Ellie’s mouth care system

I used to be one of those people who thought they were taking adequate care of their teeth by brushing, flossing and seeing the dentist regularly. I hadn’t had a cavity in years. Then one day that changed and I was faced with some problems. My dentist was unable to explain to me what might have gone wrong. I started doing my own research and eventually found Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye.

I started using Dr Ellie’s mouth care system in June 2011 after getting some dental work done. Within a couple of weeks my teeth were feeling slippery which means plaque isn’t sticking to them. Then after about a month my teeth started getting dark stains around the bottom. That means the bad plaque is dying. The stains come off when your teeth are cleaned and will not return as long as you’re using the mouth care system.

I recently went to my new dentist and everything is looking good. He even commented how “you can always tell when someone’s a flosser.” I just smiled.

Proof that teeth can be remineralized

Teeth can heal themselves if given the chance. Here are photos of a child whose cavity was reversed over the course of eight weeks.

Interviews with Dr Ellie Phillips on YouTube

Dr Ellie explains what’s wrong with dentistry and how you can protect your teeth.

More information about Dr Ellie

The lazy woman’s exercise: kettlebells

Photo credit: Girl Sunbathing by Petr Kratochvil

Photo credit: Girl Sunbathing by Petr Kratochvil

Let me tell you a little secret: I don’t like to exercise. In fact, I’m lazy, okay? I want to do the bare minimum. Does that sound like you too? So when I learned I could get a total body workout in only 15 to 20 minutes, I thought, this is something I can do and will do. And I’ve been doing it now for over two years.

I’m talking about kettlebells. Kettle what? Surprisingly, most people still don’t seem to know about them, even though they’ve been gaining in popularity in recent years.

This is a kettlebell

my 10 lb kettlebell by Iron Core

My 10 lb kettlebell by Iron Core

It’s a round weight with a handle attached. They’ve been popular with Russian bodybuilders for many years but were only introduced to America around the year 2000. Many celebrities have talked about using kettlebells.

The celebrity workout

Photo courtesy Photobucket.com user kain_020

Photo courtesy Photobucket.com user kain_020

These celebrities have been known to work out with kettlebells: Jennifer Lopez, Kim Cattrall, Penelope Cruz, Kim Basinger and Katherine Heigl.

In fact, it was seeing Katherine Heigl on TV talking about her kettlebell workouts that really piqued my interest: “It’s a mix of cardio and weight training but I only do it for 20 minutes twice a week and it’s changed my body shape.”

And that’s the key right there. It’s an efficient and effective workout because you train different body parts at the same time, and you really work up a sweat while doing it.

I’m not saying you’re going to look like Katherine Heigl or JLo (hey, it’s a kettlebell, not a magic wand), but you will be the best version of YOU that you can be.

What I like about using kettlebells

  • I like the simplicity of it: not having to drive to a gym, not having large pieces of exercise equipment cluttering up my house, and having just one small kettlebell I can tuck away in my closet.
  • I like feeling strong and having a body that’s flexible.
  • I like knowing that my bones are being strengthened as well.
  • I like having plenty of time to surf the web, talk to friends, watch TV and hang out with my dog

The basic move

The basic move in kettlebells is the swing. It looks deceptively easy but you’ll be working up a sweat in no time. To do the swing, stand with your feet about 12 inches apart. Hold the kettlebell with both hands and swing between your legs, aiming for your hips (swinging too low will cause injury).

As you’re swinging, bend your knees and push your hips back as if you were going to sit in a chair, then you pop your hips forward as you swing the kettlebell out in front of you while tightening your buns and abs.

The proper form is demonstrated in this video

There is only one right way to do the swing. Doing it wrong will put you at risk for injury. Watch this short video by Iron Core trainers to see the right and wrong ways demonstrated. The sound quality isn’t great, but it’s still worthwhile.

More about the benefits of kettlebell training by Sarah Lurie

Certified Russian Kettlebell Trainer and founder of Iron Core

An interview of Sarah Lurie by Vanessa Valiente on the benefits of kettlebell workouts and how popular they are with celebrities. You will also see some moves in action.

What you need for a kettlebell workout

I use and recommend GoFit kettlebells and workout DVDs.

Someone who has not been weight training should start out with a 10 pound weight. That’s the one I started with, then went to 15 pounds, and now I use a 20 pound weight.

When you buy a GoFit kettlebell, it comes with an instructional DVD that only shows you how to do the different moves. You’ll also need to get a separate workout DVD.

This four DVD set will take you from a beginner all the way to an advanced user.

Tips for sticking with your fitness program

You need more than willpower

Photo credit: motivation by Nono Fara, on Flickr

Photo credit: motivation by Nono Fara, on Flickr

These techniques have helped me stick to my fitness program for more than two years:

  • Find your motivation. Starting an exercise program is easy. Sticking with it is a lot harder. Think about what you want to accomplish and why. You should have both positive and negative motivations. For example, a negative motivation might be that you want to avoid getting osteoporosis like your mother. A positive motivation might be the good feeling you have wearing your skinny jeans.
  • Make an exercise schedule. Decide how many days per week you are going to exercise and what routine you will be doing.
  • Make a commitment to yourself. There will be times when you just don’t feel like exercising. We do lots of things we don’t feel like doing because they must be done. Not being in the mood is not a good enough reason to skip your exercise. When all else fails to motivate you, just do it because you promised yourself.
  • Record your accomplishments. When I’m done with my workout I mark it on the calendar. Seeing my accomplishments in writing makes me feel good.

My workout

I started off with three 15-minute workouts a week. Within a couple of weeks I was seeing great improvement and wanted to do more. That’s when I started working out with Sarah Lurie’s Iron Core kettlebell DVDs. I couldn’t even do all the reps at first but I would do as many as I could. Every day I was able to do more until it became quite easy and took less time. That’s when I would switch to a more advanced routine or get a heavier kettlebell.

As a middle-aged woman, I felt like I needed to do a little exercise six days a week. Three days a week I would do the longer “strength training” workout and the other three days I would do more aerobic-type workouts of kettlebell swings or an 8-minute Tae Bo workout. Now after reaching my goals, I maintain my results with six 10-minute workouts per week. I do the Kettlebell Express workout, with a 20-pound weight, on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday I do kettlebell swings or an 8-minute Tae Bo workout. Saturday I rest.

Update: I’m still exercising six days a week, but I’ve switched up my exercise routine a little bit. Now I only do one or two kettlebell workouts and the other days I do 12 minute PACE Express workouts.

My results

Photo © 2012 Lynda Makara

Photo © 2012 Lynda Makara

It took about nine months to get fit with kettlebell workouts and healthy eating. Yes, it was slow (that’s the tradeoff for being “lazy”) but consistent. This was the only thing that worked for me (a postmenopausal woman in my mid 50s), and it will work for you too.