Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Zoo

We went to the North Carolina Zoo today. What I learned at the zoo today: I'm glad we got the double stroller instead of the double Radio Flyer wagon (facing seats, more kid juice and snack holders, nifty accessories) because our double stroller has BRAKES. All of a sudden, there's no question which one is better because we use the brakes ALL the time.

I packed just right. We went in the zoo with two kids in the double stroller, camera, small insulated bag with two juice sippies and snack crackers, small diaper change kit (but next time, have more than one wipe!), one bottle of sunscreen, and a water bottle filled with extra ice. We left more snacks, juice, diapers, and toys in the car. A pair of binoculars would have been nice, though!

Since I'm fair-skinned, you can tell where I used SPF 30 by the touch of color, where I used SPF 15 by the pink, and where I needed to re-apply (or apply any) sunscreen by the red color. Yeah, that's what happens when I'm outside, even in partial shade, from 10 AM to 5 PM.

We went to Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World about two and a half years ago, and I have to say, the NC Zoo compares very favorably. It's not quite the same, but the production value of both is so high ... if you're there to see animals, not the rides, I'd say go to this zoo. It's that good. (Nothing beats a good day at the Magic Kingdom or at EPCOT, though,)

We walked everywhere (tired feet!), we all had a great time. The kids liked the play areas best, no surprise. Karston said he liked the zebra best of the animals, possibly because we saw it last. Soft serve ice cream after lunch was a terrific cool-down. I think we need to go back to the zoo! Fun day!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Use EXIF timestamp

I had just a few pictures exported from iPhoto (2 out of 100) that had a different datestamp than the photo, so I couldn't sort by date to see them in chronological order. Rats! So I looked for a way to fix it, found preserve photo timestamp when exporting from iPhoto at Mac OS X Hints, and discovered that it's just the jhead -ft command. No fancy tricks needed -- someone already noticed that annoyance and solved it! Sweet.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Saga, and some recovery

Earlier this year, I noticed I had gained 16 pounds in 8 months. I try to eat healthy food and not to worry about my weight, but obviously I was on a bad trajectory. Luckily I log my weight most mornings, so I could see that it was actually 3 weeks of gaining a pound a week, followed by a week of losing a pound. Travel and holidays tacked on extra weight, but the following week I worked to maintain. Not pretty. Of course the 3+1 pattern is obvious. Two children with bad tummies cause me enough sleepless nights! So oral contraceptives.

Then I thought about why, and I noticed that I had been ignoring nausea. Actually, it was a lot like morning sickness all over again, but milder. Day-long nausea that felt better while I was eating, with heartburn if I ate a full meal. Yeah, I'd rather not have morning sickness again, especially without a bundle of joy to make it worthwhile, and to know it will end. So I was eating too much to mask the nausea. Another confounding symptom was that exercise made me feel worn out, worn down, and just plain tired. Usually I expect exercise to wear me out, but with a side effect of feeling powerful and strong, just let me catch my breath.

Next I did my research to link nausea with ocp. Yes, it's a common side effect, so I made an appointment with my doctor and kept digging. I finally found an explanation that gave me an attack vector. Since nausea as a side effect is an androgenic effect, I could switch to an ocp with less androgenic activity (but also low estrogen since Cale still likes to nurse). Armed with what to reduce, I found what I needed to take to my doctor. As a side note, another reference pointed out that androgenic weight gain was caused by interference with carbohydrate metabolism. As someone with diabetes in the family, I don't want to take any medication that damages my carbohydrate metabolism!

That month (the ninth), I noticed that my biggest day-to-day weight gain was after a spaghetti dinner, a high carbohydrate meal. So I resisted carbs, but it was ever so tough!

First month on the new stuff ... first week or two! ... I noticed that resisting carbs was suddenly easy. The change was sudden and dramatic. I realized that I used to be able to resist temptation, but since I don't usually worry about my weight, I hadn't noticed. Realizing my own blindness made me empathize with people with addictive behaviors. It's hard to do what you know you should when there's that compulsion. I'm glad my bout was from an external cause I can control (once I noticed). Much less nausea, less heartburn, better control of what I ate, in one month. Compared to the previous month, when I knew but I had to fight the androgenic demon inside ... on the right track!

Last night's dinner was another example: I was still hungry after dinner of salad and meatloaf. On the previous regime, I would have been craving sweet carbs, probably chocolate too. A chocolate cake craving, in short. Instead, as I tried to figure out what I wanted to eat after dinner last night, I knew I didn't want sweets, and I wasn't in the mood for carbs or chocolate. I didn't want more meat(loaf). I was so sure I didn't want sweets that I didn't even want fruit! If it's not sweets or carbs, not fruits, and not proteins, that just leaves vegetables. Yes, I was in the mood for more veggies! I ate apple with the rest of my family instead of making another salad just for myself, but I would have been just as happy with a salad. There's a huge difference between the food craving that I used to have, and the milder food wanting I sometimes have now. I've been using the verb 'to crave' incorrectly most of my life. At least I'm more sympathetic to people who do have cravings now, because those are brutal.

The weight loss, not trying too hard, is about a pound a month. Exercise is no longer a chore, but back to being empowering and exhilarating. But the best part: I had spaghetti for dinner a couple nights ago, and it didn't spike my weight! So in 3 months, my damaged carbohydrate metabolism appears to be repaired! I was worried, what with my diabetic family history, that I might not be able to reverse the damage. But I could, I did, and I think I'm on the right track!

My main androgenic complaint (nausea) is gone, along with a host of other possibly-related problems like utter exhaustion from exercise, food cravings, and a damaged carbohydrate metabolism. Still unanswered is if my hair experienced androgenic alopecia or something else, but hair growth takes at least six months to see any changes, so it's too soon to tell. I'm unsure about the heartburn, since I think my heartburn correlates more to my weight (so it goes away as my weight drops back to healthy levels) than to any actual androgenic effect. On the flip side, I am experiencing more headaches, many at the migraine level. I need to be sure I'm well-hydrated (I haven't been as good about drinking lots of water lately for stupid reasons like 'busy') before I know if this is a new side effect. It's certainly easier to tolerate the occasional headache than continuous nausea, so I'm not complaining. I'm curious to know if my cholesterol and my blood pressure have also improved.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

First Jog

I just went for my first jog in ... well, I can't recall. This might be the first jog since I had kids (so over 5 years since I didn't jog while pregnant-large either)! I know these running shoes are B.C. (before children), and I don't keep running shoes for very many miles. I retire my running shoes to walking shoes quickly, and move on to the next new pair of running shoes. I never walk around in my running shoes, except for cool-down.

I'm in bad, bad shape. I didn't make it far, and (as usual) my lungs were the limiting factor. I made it farther than my minimum goal, but I turned around when I tasted blood (wimpy, wimpy lungs). At least it's really humid this afternoon, so that protected my lungs as much as the outdoor environment could. I liked that. After that, I lifted some weights.

I hope I make a habit of running (again). I'd feel good about that. That's why I just went for a run as soon as I got home, because that's the only way to start a habit. I started, and I'll keep doing it. Regularly would be best.

Here are the three things I look for in a running shoe. First, toe flexion. If I push inward, one hand on heel and one hand on toe, the shoe should bend easily at the toe where your foot bends easily. Second, a sturdy heel cup. If I squeeze mid-top heel, the shoe shouldn't budge. And third, torsion control. If I twist the heel one way and the toe the other way, the shoe shouldn't budge. On top of that, I look for the shoe that fits my running style (ask the Shoe Dog at Road Runner Sports): I need a motion control shoe, but with the most cushioning since I have a very heavy gait.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010