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Monthly Archives: June 2015

Can you go five days without sugar?

There are two kindds of people


This Monday I will be joining the Facebook community of Fit Men Cook for a five-day no sugar challenge. I am ready for the challenge and I believe I will do well. I started my anti-sugar journey by trying the Paleo diet. I did not lose any weight but found I no longer needed sugar. As a positive side effect, I also did not need my acid reflux pills. My memory improved and I no longer had uncontrollable cravings. The next step was the plan I found in  Jorge Cruise’s latest book about keeping sugar at or under 100. (Link on the right of the page) Again the weight loss is not there but the benefits outweigh the lack of progress.


Sugar is a powerful, addictive drug. It gives us a rush and then drops us when the insulin kicks in. Still we keep coming back for more, because it makes us feel better. Sugar  is no different from any other addictive drug. It is not an illicit drug but it’s addictive powers are equally impressive.  Sugar releases the calming hormone serotonin. It’s no wonder we reach for the ice cream when stressed out.  Often times addicts will have triggers which will set them right back into their addictive behavior. How many times have you attended a birthday party at work when you are on a diet.  How easy was it to walk away from the cake? Or did you?


Sugar will add inches to your waist, mess with your insulin and metabolism and impair your brain function. The last one is the scariest to me. Research is showing a strong link between diabetes and dementia. Research out of the UCLA, suggests that sugar forms free radicals in the brain’s membrane and compromises nerve cells’ ability to communicate. This causes issues with memory, ideas and moods. Brain fog is not normal and it is not a part of the again process.  I was amazed at how much sharper my brain was the further I got away from my sugar addiction.


We have to work really hard to cut the sugars out of our lives.  There are sugary products just about anywhere you look in a grocery store. Go to get a cup of coffee and you will see a plethora of pastries yours for the taking. If you dare to read labels, you will find sugar in almost every processed food. The next time you are in a grocery store, look at a can of tomatoes or even green beans. You will be hard pressed to find one without added sugars.


I am looking forward to strengthening my resolve to say good-bye to sugar once and for all.  If there are any of you out there that would care to join me I would love to hear how you week goes. More importantly I would love to hear how you feel and the effects your sugar-free week had on your mind and body.


Are you guilty of compartmentalizing your life?


What do you do when you are on overload? There are times when life pulls you in several different directions: a friend or a family member needs help, chores need attention, an emergency situation arises, the phone call keeps ringing. You still have to work and function as a member of society. No one wants to hear your excuses about why you can’t deal with the right this second.


We do what humans do, we compartmentalize. People focus on a crisis; deal with it, then move on to the next one. To the outside world we seem unaffected by these emergencies even if we have not processed the preceding emergency. Some of have become masters at this and the world is none the wiser.


Wikipedia defines compartmentalization as an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid the mental discomfort caused by a person’s conflicting values, thoughts, emotions or beliefs.   Compartmentalization allows these conflicting ideas to co-exist by inhibiting direct or explicit acknowledgement and interaction between separate compartmentalized states.


My job forces this compartmentalization process on me so I can continue to be productive. We deal with the crisis at hand, stuff it into its hole then move on to the next one never fully dealing with the effects of each crisis. What happens when the crises move into our personal lives? Now we have a crisis at work and a crisis at home. Crisis mode becomes our daily living style until all the compartments are full.


Compartmentalizing is in fact an excellent defense mechanism. It allows you to deal with a situation when you mind and body are telling you to just run away. The problem being the emotional backlash is waiting in the compartment we stuff our crisis into. The stress slowly builds until it cannot be ignored.   It will not go away on it’s own.


What is the answer? It varies for every individual but here are some thoughts.

  • Adapt: If you cannot change the stressors. Change yourself or the source of the stress
  • Accept: There are some things we just cannot change. It may be time to accept the stressors and move on.
  • Relax: Take time just for yourself. People will have to understand you absence or try to understand your rage when you finally explode.
  • Exercise and eat right: It’s easy to grab the ice cream or the alcohol when the day gets to be too long. Exercise releases endorphins helping us feel better and changes our perspective.
  • Sleep: Deep blissful sleep is my favorite remedy of all.


What ever it is that works for you, make sure you find some way to get rid of the stress. As for me, I am going to read a good book, scratch my dog’s ears and get on to that sleep. I hope you have a peaceful week ahead of you.


There Is Hope For The Future After All



Last weekend I had two seventeen year old boys come to my house to help me catch up with my spring yard cleaning. I have known the one boy, David, for several years. He has always been a quiet, polite, kind young man. David is a hard worker and pleasant to spend time with.


When David  said he would help me he asked if he could bring his friend. I told him I could only afford to pay one of them. I then told him I supposed they could split the money. David told me he wasn’t coming to help me for the money, just to help. He said he would give his friend most of the money and keep what was left. This kid has never asked me for money and he fights me every time I pay him when the job is done.


On the day they were to come help, the boys showed up early, eager to get to work. We were joined by my friend Sam who also came to help. We four worked side by side, laughing, joking and getting a lot done. The boys were polite and constantly asked what they could do next.


Sam brought food for the four of us and we made lunch while the boys talked and played on their phones. When it came time to eat David’s friend  stopped himself from grabbing food and told me to go first. I refused because in my house, guests eat first.  The chivalry was not lost on me.  I was deeply impressed by this polite, well-raised young man.


I paid both of the boys $50 each. They told me they did not want the money but graciously accepted.  The following day I went to check my mail and found $50 in my mailbox. David had finally outwitted me.


Yes indeed there is hope for our future in the fine young men.  I am sure there are many more out there like them.  Thank you to the parents that work hard to raise such gifts to our society.

Why Lying Is Not Always A Bad Thing

Everything you have ever wanted, is (1)


These past six months have been a whirlwind of learning, frustration and loss. I learned my mother has dementia and she has rapidly declined in her mental capacity. I decided I needed to educate myself on the disease since no one involved in her care is helping me understand this disease.


I picked up a book, “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir” written by Martha Stettinius. I hesitated to read it at first, wondering what nightmarish tales was within the covers. But, I read it and I read it quickly. I found myself identifying with Stettinius’s in so many ways. The book was educational and I finished the book feeling like I wasn’t as alone as I perceived.


This brings me to my most recent conversations with my mother. In two of the latest conversations I had with her she did not know who I was. She thought I was her cousin, even though I corrected her. She spoke to me only in Armenian both those times, since this is her native language. It was hard to take but I played along. I had lost my mother for the first time. I would loose her again at her death. The hardest part is not having anyone in my life I felt like I could share this with. Being vulnerable is the hardest trait for me to express.


What I learned from those conversations was my mother forgot my brother died three years ago. She also forgot my father died over a year ago. My mother said to ‘her cousin’ neither my brother nor me had been to visit. I saw no sense in opening old wounds so I offered the excuse, “Maybe they are busy.” She said we weren’t we were just away at school and did not have anyone to bring us to the rehab center. My brother and I had never gone away to school so I don’t know why she thought this. It made me wonder how old she thought I was.



This past weeks conversation was different. This time she called me by name and spoke English to me. It was a happy semi-lucid conversation. At one point she again forgot she was talking to me so I asked her how old I was. She said, “35”. Good for me! I lost 12 years in that conversation. I corrected her then asked how old she thought my brother was. She said he must be 40. I told her no her was 49. (The age he would have been in July) She was surprised then said, “Oh, I’m getting old!” We laughed. I had not heard my mother laugh in months. She then complained that the facility kept moving her from one place to another. They have not, but again, I didn’t see the need for a correction. I asked why they kept moving her. She said she did not know. I said to her, “Maybe you are in the witness protection program.” She asked me what that was. I told her they were trying to hide her because they thought she might be a spy. She laughed and said, “Well they are just stupid”. We both laughed. Yes, it was at their expense but she deserved some joy in these years of misery. She now waits for my Dad to come and tell her what is going on with her situation. It will be a long wait but I’m not going to tell her he’s not coming. I will continue to lie.


Some People Never Learn



Disclaimer: This post may not be for the squeamish. It is intended to be tongue in cheek and not mean to offend anyone. I love all animals, even the wild ones. But I understand some things we cannot change about the animal kingdom.


Last week, we in the Pacific Northwest had a stretch of beautiful spring weather. The sun was shining, the birds were nesting and the dogs were being dogs. They too were enjoying spring’s bounty of sights, sounds and most of all baby critters.


I had come home from a long day at work, played with the dogs then went to work out. This is our workweek routine. Then finally, I will feed the dogs before I feed myself. On this day, I was unaware an incident would soon set off a comedy of errors on my part. My dogs were going to teach me some important lessons.


I fed three of my dogs and had them shut in their individual rooms. I prepared meals for the other two but they were still frolicking outside. I was going to have to go get them.


I stepped outside and left the front door open. This was mistake number one. I called my dogs and soon spotted them on the grass in front of a tree line. I walked towards them since they were ignoring my calls. That was when I realized the reason I was being ignored. One of them had a lifeless wild rabbit in its mouth. This is the part where I ask you not to judge. I love all animals but I know dogs and cats hunt. It is a part of their instinct we humans have not bred out of them.


At this point I should have just walked away. But I didn’t. My dogs did though. One of them picked up the rabbit and started to trot towards the house. He was proud and he wanted to share the moment with his friends. It was then I realized my first error, leaving the front door open.


Panic was moving in as quickly as my dog picked up his pace. Then I made another mistake.   I chased him. And another mistake, I yelled at him while I ran. “Do not go in that house!” This must have seemed to be an extension of the game. Now a crazy, screaming, two-legged feeble runner was chasing the hunter. What fun that must have been for my dog. The thrill of the hunt was over and it was time to play the keep away game.


Yes, he made it all the way in the house. I had my roommate hurry home and get the bunny away from Moose. He was guarding it, panting from his exertion. He was proud of himself and I had to deal with it. He is after all a dog and I am a fool who maybe learned a lesson or two.