Getting Healthy Over Sixty

After I turned sixty, I began to feel old. It was an age when I knew I would have to make a real effort to get healthy.

My life was pretty depressing at that point. I’d had to sell my house in New Hampshire, where I loved living, and move back to Florida.

Life wasn’t what I wanted it to be, so I turned my focus onto myself. I couldn’t control my lack of income, or even the place I lived, although I had certainly tried, but I could control some things. I could choose the food I ate and the exercise I got. I could focus on me for the first time in my life.

My Mistaken Beliefs in What is Really Healthy

I have an open mind and I like to keep learning. That has certainly been a requirement while doing my online job.

Without a family to cook for, I could now eat however I pleased and I was determined to eat healthy. After a few years I discovered that many foods I thought were “healthy” were actually not helping me.

breakfast, fruit, meal, waffles, healthy
I used to eat like this! Looks good, right? (photo credit: Pixabay)

I was eating toast and eggs for breakfast, or yogurt with fruit and oatmeal with apples. I was drinking lots of unsweetened juice and making smoothies. Potatoes were a regular part of my diet. I had cut down on eating bread, but I wasn’t against having a sub now and then, and every burger I ate was in a bun.

There were no desserts, ice cream, cookies or cake in my diet. I’d given all of that up, yet I did not seem to be benefiting from a “no sweets” diet.

I told myself I was doing better than most people, but I felt horrible.

I didn’t go to MacDonalds, or eat out at all very much. Vegetables and fish were a big part of my diet too. What more could I do?

When I went to bed at night I would be kept awake with heartburn. I’d never had trouble with heartburn before. I couldn’t lose a pound, no matter how much I walked (which wasn’t much) or how little I ate. I kept gaining weight and going up in clothing size.

My blood pressure has been high for years because of my kidney disease, but I desperately wanted to be medicine free and fix that problem myself. It was a big fail as my BP stayed too high.

The Road to Making Good Changes

Everyone begins down the road to making good changes in their lifestyle in some way. Sometimes (maybe often) it’s a wake-up call health-wise. I was feeling really lousy all the time. I felt like my body was dying slowly.

This was my journey.

First, I watched two documentaries that opened my eyes to new health information. The first, “Fat Fiction” showed me that good fats are necessary. It also showed me that carbs are bad as they turn into sugar, which I knew, but I did not realize where all those carbs were hiding. The show focuses a lot on Type 2 diabetes, which I don’t have, but the overall changes to diet certainly can help everyone. Everybody should watch that show. It will open your eyes to how food has changed to the point that it is killing us slowly.

The other show I watched was about fasting and how it can (sometimes) cure diseases. I don’t recall the name of the documentary, but it put that idea in my head. Short fasts seemed quite possible.

Not long after I saw those shows, I read about a study being done in California by scientists who were working to cure the type of kidney disease I have, where cysts grow uncontrolled all throughout the kidneys. They’d had success with treating rats and cats by using a Keto (low carb) diet combined with intermittent fasting.

keto food eggs, avocado, tomatoes
Eating Keto (photo: Pixabay)

As I checked further into the Keto diet and IF (intermittent fasting) I was convinced it was a good idea to do this myself. I could possibly lose weight, and maybe even cure my incurable disease. This was hope!

No Slacking Off, Keep Making the Effort

I’ve written about my journey into switching to the Keto diet and the mistakes I made in the beginning. Fasting every morning until noon is working very well for me and my carb consumption is low. I try very hard to stick to that.

If you are feeling lousy even though it seems you are eating the “right” things, it might be time to re-think your diet. Tell yourself you CAN make changes. Take small steps, and keep making the effort until it becomes effortless.

The best change I have made is walking every day. When I visited New Hampshire this past Spring, I began to take regular walks. When I returned to Florida I kept that up and I’m so glad I did.

dog and woman at water
Walking the dog (photo credit: Pixabay)

Being over sixty means I lose abilities quickly. If I sit around for a week, it’s back to ground zero when I start moving again. There is no slacking off because my body simply loses all the good.

I know how hard it is to get moving when your back aches, or your knees hurt, but I encourage you to do something. I only walk about a mile to mile and a half and I do it first thing in the morning. I had to work up to this! At first, any walking was very uncomfortable.

Walking first thing in the morning is very important because I can talk myself out of it if I wait! Here in Florida it can get too hot if I wait to walk past 7:00am. This is a motivator. Sometimes I am out on the street walking and feel like I am only half awake… but I do it.

biking, woman, elderly, exercise
Try biking too (photo credit: Pixabay)

Exercise first thing in the morning sets me up for a good day. I feel good that I walked. It sends me into my day with health in mind, which carries over to the food I choose to eat. Believe me, I don’t love walking here in Florida! I have to make myself do it. A big motivator is remembering how lousy I used to feel.

No Excuses, Sometimes I Must Yell at Myself

I’ve had many excuses to tell myself which have kept me sitting and not moving. “If only I had someone to walk with”, “It’s too hot”, “Walking the beach would be nice, but I hate that drive”, “It might rain”, “I have a lot of work to get done”, and “The walk is boring and ugly”.

Mostly I am just feeling sorry for myself because I don’t like where I live. Then I must be tough on myself and say, “Stop being a wimp and take an umbrella if it looks cloudy. Yes it’s humid and gross, but you only walk for 20 – 30 minutes so suck it up! The AC is waiting at home. Forget the beach, just walk the neighborhood or get on the treadmill.” Gosh, I can be such a baby.

And while I’m walking I have to urge myself to go farther and faster, a little at a time. I tell myself, “Pam, you are already out here doing it, so do it right”.

morning sun clouds Florida neighborhood
A view from one of my morning walks in the neighborhood

Two Things

Only two things stand between your present state and a better state of health, in my opinion. The first is food choices. The second is to be sure and move every day.

Of course there is more to being a healthy person overall, but for me, these are the two biggies. I’ve seen improvement in myself by changing these two things.

older couple walking
Walking sticks can help with balance (photo: Pixabay)

Fending Off Dementia

Here is a story and something I think about often.

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers in her mid-sixties. She was just about the age I am now.

Last year my sister, who is younger than I am, was diagnosed with dementia and she has gone downhill fast.

There is no other history of any type of dementia in my family for as far back as I can see. All my grandparents, and great-grandparents, lived into their nineties, except one grandmother.

When I think about both my mother and my sister some similarities come to mind when it comes to their lifestyle choices. Neither one ever made dietary changes for the better during the course of their lives. My mother was a big sweets eater. She didn’t like to do new things either and was a home-body who read books, played the piano and saved her money. She was definitely not active and I would say a very sedentary person. In all fairness, she was not exposed to this diet and lifestyle information either.

My sister liked to try new recipes but they were not necessarily healthy meals. She drank cheap beer and lots of it. She did very little moving and considered walking in her back yard, while her dog ran around, exercise. I took a walk with her once and she walked very slowly. Even though I always tried to get her to open her mind to new things, she was very stuck in her ways. Even though she worked a lot and made lots of money, she never used it to have fun, travel, or visit her sister, nephews and niece. She liked to sit around at home.

I do not want to be like either of them and I don’t think I am. If a low-carb diet and moderate exercise can keep me from having dementia, I will definitely make the effort.

The benefits I see to eating low-carb and exercising are all good enough to keep me on track. Unless, or until, I learn something new, this is my life.

Many thanks to the photographers at Pixabay for the use of the photos on this page.

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Delicious Keto Pumpkin Muffins With Cream Cheese

My sweet tooth remains even though I have been on a Keto diet for nearly a year. So when I find a dessert recipe that is delicious and low carb, I get excited.

The Keto Pumpkin Muffins with cream cheese is a keeper. (Link to recipe page below). With the addition of pumpkin, you will be getting a huge dose of Vitamin A. Mix in some nuts and seeds to boost the goodness.

This recipe is messy. I don’t do much baking these days, and I had one huge mess in my kitchen after making these muffins. I kept thinking, “I hope they are worth it”. And they were!

Anyone would eat these muffins – serve them to your non-keto friends and family

keto pumpkin cream cheese muffins
Baked and cooling

The recipe says to swirl the cream cheese topping with a toothpick, but I put one more spoonful of batter over the cream cheese instead.

keto pumpkin cream cheese muffins
I added seeds and nuts

The recipe I followed (and changed a little) is on the Gimme Delicious website. Choose the “Jump to Recipe” link at the top to miss some of the many ads and popups on the page. Print the recipe out to read and you won’t be distracted by all the stuff going on on the page. I really hate that about cooking sites.

Most of the muffins from my batch were wrapped up and stored in the freezer. I only eat 1/2 muffin at a time so they will last a while.

Recipe Changes I Made

To sweeten the batter, the recipe calls for Swerve granular sugar. I only have Swerve confectioners sugar, so I used it. The muffins turned out fine.

I chopped some sunflower and pumpkin seeds along with walnuts to mix with the batter.

After plopping the cream cheese mixture on top of the muffins, I added one more small scoop of batter to cover it. I did not swirl the cream cheese in.

To-Do Next Time

Take out butter and cream cheese ahead of time to soften.

Mix ingredients together first before adding to the bowl. Example: mix the eggs, pumpkin and vanilla THEN add to the mixing bowl. Do the same with the dry ingredients.

I would use the entire eight ounce package of cream cheese next time just so I don’t waste that last little bit. The muffins could handle it.

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Back to Life, My Florida Hydrangea Looks Good

Over winter here in Florida my hydrangea shrub became a bunch of sticks. The stems lost nearly all their leaves.

Hydrangea winter Florida January
January

After all danger of frost – around the end of February – I cut the stems back removing the old leaves. There were new leaf bud growths already forming along the stems.

hydrangea February garden Florida stems
February, after cutting back

Attempting to Propagate a New Plant

In the photos above and below I have placed a rock over a low hanging stem. I’m hoping that roots will form so I can cut this part off and plant it creating a new hydrangea plant!

Florida hydrangea garden perennial Spring
Rooting a stem

This hydrangea is growing in a nice shady location beneath a larger shrub. It seems to be happy and now I’ll just wait for the flowers.

All I’ve used for fertilizer is some bone meal and fish emulsion.

  • Florida hydrangea garden perennial Spring
  • Florida hydrangea garden perennial Spring
  • Florida hydrangea garden perennial Spring

Low Carb Meals, Simple and Healthy

After nine months on the Keto diet, my low carb meals have evolved to become simple and healthy.

Meals don’t have to be difficult and I rarely follow a recipe. Vegetables are at the top of my list when I shop, and they make up the bulk of the food I eat. Often I eat vegetables, with an egg, for my “breakfast”, which I eat at noon.

Keto breakfast food eggs, mushrooms, bacon, kale and biscuit
Egg, kale with bacon, mushrooms, and keto muffin

Many Meals Begin With Homemade Broth, or Stock

One thing I do quite often is make my own broth, or stock. The beef broth is made with bones I buy from the butcher. I bake the bones first to brown them, then add to water in my LeCrueset along with the bones, and fat that leaks out of the bones while they bake. Don’t skim off the fat! This is the good fat we need in our diets!

Chicken stock is made from the carcass of a baked chicken. Vegetable broth is of course made from only using vegetables.

Vegetables such as onion, celery, carrots, peppers, and herbs such as parsley and basil can be included. The vegetables don’t have to be perfect – use up older veggies this way. I usually add bay leaves too. The vegetables I add depends on what is around the house. Nothing has to be added, but the veggies add nutrients and flavor.

Make beef or chicken broth

Simple Scallops and Green Beans Meal

Seafood is a favorite of mine and this simple meal consists of fresh scallops which cook up quickly in a frying pan. The frozen green beans were boiled in water then topped with butter. That’s it! Serve with a salad if you like.

keto scallops green beans meal
Simple scallops and green beans meal

Ground Turkey, Asparagus and Shallots

Cook ground turkey (or chicken) in a pan. Remove the meat. Add butter and / or oil with pieces of fresh asparagus and sauce until nearly tender, then add sliced onions and return ground turkey to the pan.

Tamari or soy sauce can be added at this point, unless sodium is a problem.

keto meal turkey asparagus shallots
Ground turkey dinner

Beef and Cabbage Keto Meal

In a large pot brown ground beef. Add spices and herbs as you like. Remove the beef once it’s cooked and use the same pot to cook the cabbage. Slice a head of cabbage into “noodles” and boil them until tender. Either use water with (sodium free) bullion, or use homemade beef stock if you have it. I cook the cabbage in a small amount of liquid and don’t drain it.

Add the beef back to the pot, and some tomato sauce, or chopped tomatoes. Cook a bit longer (10-15 minutes) for flavors to combine.

Beef and cabbage Keto meal
Beef and cabbage

Cheeseburger Using Lettuce as “Bun”

Buy lettuce with big leaves and wrap a juicy bacon-cheeseburger inside. I honestly don’t eat much bacon, but this burger was delicious with onions, pickles, cheese and bacon.

Keto burger, no bun
Bun-less bacon burger