Thursday, April 17, 2014

Do You Tweet?

Are you familiar with Twitter? I know, it is one of the social media darlings that might be overlooked for the benefits that you can gain from it. 

What? You can gain something from Twitter? 

Yes, I think you can. 

A tweet is a 140 character message. So, let’s say that you are watching a hockey game and you want to express your excitement or disappointment about what is happening in the game. Now, you could go to Facebook and post about the game. Let me be the first to tell you that your friends don’t really appreciate this. I hate to hurt your feelings but Facebook is not really the ideal place for this. 


Yes, Twitter with the 140 characters is just great for you to make shout outs to your favorite team. One of the things about Twitter is that when you tweet about your team, you can add a hashtag (another word for the # sign) and that will classify your tweet by subject. Then anyone interested in the subject “#gohawks” can see your tweet. It is like watching the game with people all over the country.  The best part?  Those people want to hear your cheers during the game.

What does this have to do with diabetes?

Well, just as there is a “#gohawks” subject, there are “#diabetes” subjects. You can use twitter to see about current articles and research on diabetes. You can find out what the diabetes online community (DOC) is talking about currently. Since most companies and writers these days will tweet when there is news. People will tweet when  they see something they think should be shared. 

The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 year age group.

Twitter can be a great tool to help you find out information or find others that have the same interests as you. When you see a tweet by someone who you find interesting, you can “follow” that person. When you “follow” them, then when they post something to Twitter, it will come up on your feed. If you decide that you are not interested in them anymore then you can simply “unfollow” them. 

But how to start?

I could go through and explain it step by step but I found that it has been done by others and I am going to refer you to one of those guides. Please click here to get instructions on “How to Use Twitter.” This guide will start you off and you can investigate the world of twitter. 

I am sure that you know already that not everything that you read on the internet is factual. If you are considering making any changes based on something you read, ask yourself two questions. 

        1. Does this make sense?
  2. Does this sound too good to be true?

If it does not make sense to you or it sounds too good to be true, then don’t do it. Ask your doctor. Really, ask your doctor. Diabetes is a serious disease and you don’t want to go off on someone else’s flights of fancy with your health.
Always regard everything you read on the internet with a certain amount of cynicism. (Except, of course what I write…) 

If you are really interested in Twitter, there is a new book by one of the founders.  The title is Things a Little Bird Told Me and the author is Biz Stone. (If you want to read a review that I wrote, you can find it here.

I suggest that you take a look at Twitter if you haven’t already. You may find it to be more fun and interesting than you would have expected. 

You are welcome to follow me @9inchplate.  

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Go Take a Walk

Post 5K walk - they are smiling!

Have you noticed the explosion of articles on walking? I don’t think that is a magazine these days that isn’t talking about what a great exercise it is for your health.

What is the best part about walking as an exercise? It is great for everyone. Even if you have been sitting on the couch for the last 20 years, you can start slowly and build your endurance. Short bursts of waking during the day seem to have a cumulative effect. You can go for an hour or you can walk around for 10 minutes every hour for 6 hours and it can have the same affect. 

Walking is practically free also. I say practically because I would urge you to buy a good pair of shoes that fit well and are comfortable to wear while you are walking.  Going to a store that sells running shoes and has knowledgeable salespeople will really help you get the right fit. Other than that, you can wear whatever you would like and just walk out the door. 

Fit Bit band

There are, of course, things you can spend money on to enhance your walking. Fit Bit is a product that seems to have become very popular. (Fit Bit on-line store) I have several friends who wear a fit bit band and monitor their steps each day. There is also a community (or competitive) element as you can have “friends” on the fit bit site and you can motivate each other with the number of steps per day. 

I like to use the site Map My Walk to see how far I have walked. I really wanted to check this when I was getting ready for 5K walks. I wanted to make sure I could walk the 5K so I would track my progress. It was easy and fun.  Silent Sam uses Map MyRun to track his running progress. He uses the app on his phone to keep track while he is running.  I also noticed on line that you can see the paths that others like to walk in your area. It might bring an area to mind that you had not thought about. 

I like to walk without holding anything. I have an iPod that has a case that clips on my shirt and I will pin my keys in either the waist band of my pants or in the pocket. The one thing I often wished that I had carried with me was a camera. Sometimes you see wonderful things on your walks and it would be nice to catch a picture. For example, there was a fox that lived down by the lake in my town. I would see him sometimes on my morning walks. It would have been fun to take a picture of him. 

A serious walker

In the current issue of Weight Watchers magazine, they talk about how “moderate aerobic activity or exertion that raises your heart rate but allows you to carry on a conversation won’t hurt your joints. And it will help you maintain weight loss without increasing the risk for Osteoarthritis of the knee, according to a new study of 1,522 adults ages 45 and older published in Arthritis care and research.  (page 48, May/June issue) So there is another reason to go out for a walk. 

Now that the weather is finally beginning to get better, it is time to join the legions and hit the sidewalks.  Maybe the local school track is just the place for you or you might prefer to walk around the block. Whatever path you choose (and you might want to vary it from time to time), I hope you enjoy it. 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Contest?? What?!

Yes, it is a contest but before you get excited, please know that the prize will be pride and appreciation!  Hey those are good things! 

The Set Up –

I made a new recipe last night. It was from Taste of Home magazine. I have talked about this group of magazines before. I used to have a subscription to Taste of Home Healthy Cooking but I don't think that magazine is around anymore.   

Here is the recipe –

Chicken Pesto with Pasta
Serves 8
1 pkg (16oz.) cellentani or spiral pasta
2 cups cubed rotisserie chicken
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 container (7 oz.) prepared pesto
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

In a Dutch oven, cook pasta according to package direction; drain and return to the pan.  Stir in chicken, tomatoes and pesto; heat through and toss to combine. Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Per serving: 433 calories
18g. fat (5 g. sat. fat) 40 mg cholesterol, 239 mg. sodium, 45 carb, 3 g. fiber, 24 g protein.

So, if you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you know that I always adjust the recipe. Here are the adjustments that I made –

½ package of (about 7 oz.) whole grain spiral noodles
4 Market Day chicken steaks
1 medium tomato chopped (okay, that was a mistake – I thought it only called for one)
1 cup of fresh spinach
1 container of prepared pesto

I cooked the chicken steaks on the stove top in a frying pan sprayed with Pam. At the same time, I cooked the pasta; drained the pasta and put it back in the pot. I then added the cut up chicken, the chopped tomato, the pesto and the spinach to the pot and stirred while it heated. 

It was DELICIOUS! I mean really good. 

The first mistake I made was that I thought that the recipe served 6. At this point you might be wondering if I need new glasses. I don’t think I was paying enough attention. So, when I halved the pasta, I was thinking that we were down to a recipe for three. Of course it would have made sense to cut the pesto in half but I didn’t.  (No wonder it was so good.)

Where does the lame contest come in to play here?

Here it is – how do you make a pesto that is really delicious but not all the calories that are in most pesto recipes? 

I want to make this recipe again but I just can’t afford the calories in the pesto. (Yea, it will be so many less when I cut the pesto in half…) 

So load me up with your proven ideas for a lower calorie delicious pesto. 

It isn't really this exciting...
The winner will get his or her name and recipe in a post and will have my gratitude for finding a way to make this recipe one that won’t make me feel guilty. 

You can put your recipes in the comments or you can email me at .

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Diabetes and the Dentist

With all the appointments that Silent Sam was told to make when he was diagnosed with diabetes, somehow I missed that he was supposed to make sure that the dentist was on the list. We do go to the dentist faithfully every six months. It could be said that appointment with the dentist is the only doctor’s appointment that I faithfully keep…

Anyway, I read something lately about diabetes and the need to go to the dentist regularly and I was surprised.  I understand the other specialists that are important to diabetics but I had not seen anything before about the dentist. I wondered why the dentist was important. 

How diabetes can affect your mouth

It seems that when a person’s blood sugar levels are not under control, there are several things that can happen in your mouth. The first problem is dry mouth. Dry mouth can happen due to the salivary glands being affected by the diabetes or from medicine. While dry mouth by itself can be uncomfortable, it can lead to sores being formed in the mouth. The sores can be hard to heal due to poor blood sugar control. Then if there is not saliva in the mouth to rinse off the teeth, gingivitis can form and advance to periodontal disease (gum disease.) Once again, the healing can be slowed because of the diabetes. 

Also, the antibiotics that are taken to cure the diabetic from infections can then cause thrush to form in the mouth. Thrush is a fungal infection the can be started by the antibiotics but can thrive on the high concentration of sugar in the saliva.

How discouraging! 

5 dental practices you should start now

1.        As with all things diabetes, controlling your blood sugar is the most important. It is truly the key to keeping your health. 

2.       Brush your teeth at least twice a day. It would be even better if you brushed after every meal.

3.       Use floss daily to keep your gums healthy.

4.       Go to the dentist twice a year. When you go, make sure the dentist is aware that you are diabetic.  Keep the dentist up on your current medications. Make sure that the dentist knows the name and phone number for your primary care physician.  

5.       Check your gums regularly. Make sure they are not red and swollen. Tell the dentist if you have dry mouth, mouth pain, or bleeding gums. 

As with anything relating to diabetes, if you smoke, please stop. I know it is hard but take advantage of the many things that can help you stop. 

Thanks for reading!

As you know, I am not a doctor.  If you have any questions, please see your doctor or dentist and talk to them.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Diabetes and Low Blood Sugar Issues

Perhaps you or your loved one with diabetes is a little better about this than Silent Sam but Silent Sam is not interested in wearing a medical alert bracelet. Perhaps it is the word bracelet that throws him off but he just is not interested. 

But we know this is really important and he should wear one. 

This was brought to the forefront of my mind when I received a copy of the "Diabetes Docket" in my inbox.  Okay, as usual, I am not sure how I got this newsletter but I was interested to read it. I think you might find it worth your time to check it out. (Click here for the link) You can also subscribe to it easily (there is a big read button on the page) if you would like to continue to receive it.

I read with interest the article on the front page entitled “Educating Police and First Responders on Diabetes”. The article really made me think about how important it is for not only police and others know the signs of hypoglycemia but for them to be able to know that you are diabetic.  I know that I have heard of incidents where the police have thought a motorist was intoxicated when the driver was really in diabetic shock.  (Here is a link to one such story

To help, the American Diabetes Association has some pages that you can download to keep in your wallet and vehicle to help in case there is a problem.  You want the first responder to be able to get you medical help as soon as possible and not confuse your symptoms with intoxication.  You can look and print the pages here.

The American Diabetes Association is trying to reach out to each and every agency but it is a monumental task.  If you would like to reach out to your local law enforcement, the American Diabetes Association would appreciate your help. You can email and they will work with you and help to provide information.  The time you take to help to do this could be a great benefit to you and others in your community. 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Belly Dancing? Yes, Belly Dancing!

Okay, we talk about exercise with diabetes all the time. It can be really hard to motivate yourself to get out there and get moving.  I think that the winter that we have had in the Midwest has made it more difficult. I don’t think we have been without snow on the ground for three months! It seems that it is either snowing or it is incredibly cold. Not exactly inspiration to get out and get moving. 

So let’s think outside the box a bit. Why not try something new. Maybe something that might be outside your comfort zone. 

I have had a fascination with belly dancing. Yes, belly dancing. I don’t know why. I am the most uncoordinated person on earth but there is something about it that is appealing to me. I also think it might do something with my mid-section, which, truth be told, could use some serious help. 

I was fortunate to meet Malik Turley, the owner of Hip Circle Studio in Evanston, IL.  She teaches belly dancing classes in her studio.  She has agreed to answer question about the classes. I think sometimes it is hard to walk in to try something new – a (in this case) silly fear of the unknown. 

(Okay, who wants to walk into a class and find that everyone is young, beautiful, and great at the activity? It would just be discouraging. Maybe I am alone but I would prefer to know what the class is really like before I decide to try it. Yea, just call me chicken. I am sure it doesn’t apply to you!)

If you have ever wondered about taking a belly dance class, here is your chance to get an idea of what it might be like. Even if you don’t live in this area, it might embolden you to ask these questions at your local studio to see if you would feel comfortable. 

Malik Turley

Interview with Malik Turley

Q1 – I have always had a fascination with belly dancing and I see that your studio, Hip Circle Studio offers classes. Is belly dancing easy to start and learn at any age or weight?

YES! The movements are very organic, it is a zero-low impact activity, and it’s just plain fun! I've had students as young as 4 and as old as 85 start belly dancing with me. I was 100 pounds over the “recommended” weight for my frame when I started dancing and felt like it was the first thing I tried where my curves were an asset rather than something to be worked around or past.

Q2 – Is it just for fun or is it good exercise? What body benefits will one see from starting belly dancing?

Oh, it’s exercise! We do a lot of strengthening of the muscles in your back, arms, core, and legs all through dance postures and movements. I've developed a CardioBelly class that gets you sweaty (and burns calories in the process), but our technique classes are more about strength and tone. 

Q3 – Do you need to wear any special clothes? 

Not really. I prefer to see students in pants so I can see their knees /leg placement. A top that stops at the navel or hip line is ideal for being able to see and adjust the upper body techniques. We have hip scarves for women to borrow when they come to class - that’s really the only “special” piece of clothing. If you imagine what you might wear to yoga or Pilates class, that’s what most students wear. Now, I've also had women in the studio who are not yet comfortable with form-fitting clothes who choose to wear big t-shirts over skirts. If that’s what you need to do to start dancing, or if the clothing I described above makes you uncomfortable, wear whatever you want! I can work around it and help you find comfort in your own skin.

Q4 – What is the typical age range in your beginning class?

We have a few middle-school aged girls who come to class, but mostly we have adults in the 20 - 65 year old range at any given class. I really love that the ages are so varied and think it brings a depth to the class that goes well beyond the dancing. There’s something just right about sitting in a circle of women of all ages, sharing conversation about our day while we do a glute-squeeze exercise. We’re all learning from each other in that circle.

Q5 – How long do students stay in the basic class? Do some never leave? 

I have some women who've been in my BaseFusion class for years! I have others who jumped over to intermediate after only a couple of months. It’s really up to the individual and her comfort level. Goals play a part, too. If you want to perform and dig into choreography then you’ll be drawn to the intermediate class. If you just want to move your body in a fun way, BaseFusion (and CardioBelly) can be all you need.

Q6 – What happens in the intermediate class?

We get into choreography and performance topics in intermediate. This class is where Zahara Fusion, our performance troupe, is developed. Performance is never mandatory but putting together complete dances and learning them in a polished, performance-ready way is our focus in Intermediate.

Q7 – Is the class just open or are there sessions. If there are sessions, how many classes to a session? How long is each class?

All of our belly dance classes are open to drop-ins. I do have a 12-week curriculum for BaseFusion, but you can jump in and out at any point since I’ve developed each individual lesson as a stand-alone experience. All of our belly dance classes are 60 minutes, with the exception of Mother/Daughter Belly dance which is 45 minutes.

Q8 – How is the attitude in the class? Is it fun or does it differ from class to class? Is there talking during the class? It is a “go in as strangers, come out as friends” class? 

Is “go in as strangers, come out as friends” a thing? If it is, that’s what we've got going at all of our classes at the studio. Fun, community, support - that’s what happens. We talk about all sorts of things while we dance. We laugh. We have a really good time. When new folks arrive for their first class it is not uncommon for the other students to start the welcome wagon before I even get a word out! 

Q9 – Am I going to feel like an idiot because I am clumsy and full figured? Are there all shapes and sizes in the class? 

We have it all - no worries! We have women who are sporty and athletic. We have women who are living with MS and Fibromyalgia. We have women with hip and knee replacements. We have women who are lifelong dancers. We have women who don’t always know their left from their right. We have women who are carrying hundreds of pounds. We have it all. And at the front of the room we have me - I’ve had back surgery twice. I have danced at my heaviest and my lightest weights (and in-between). I appreciate women, whatever their size, shape, coordination, and have created a place of welcoming and acceptance. I know people hesitate to try things and feel like weight and such get in the way. That’s why I opened Hip Circle Studio - so ALL women could feel good moving their bodies and getting started on a path to health and wellness. Oh, and belly dance is SO WELCOMING to women of all shapes and sizes.  Curves are celebrated in this art form. Shimmies look delicious when you have something to move. Undulations are beautiful on full-figured women. I’m rambling - come, try a class, I promise it won’t matter if you go left when I go right, and I promise you won’t be judged based on size, shape, or coordination.

Q10 – Can you tell me about your background and training in belly dance? 

I started dancing 10+ years ago here in Evanston. I had a beautiful teacher, Linnea Jewitt, who taught with care and love and created a space where my 30s, had-3-babies, never-danced-before body was welcomed alongside beautiful 16 year old girls.  In the community she created I found a way to love and respect my body that I didn't know was possible. I've studied with other instructors here and there over the years but the other common-thread teacher was and is Rachel Brice. I am currently working my way through her newly developed/still developing 8 Elements program. I've been teaching for about 7 years, directing Zahara Fusion for about 5 years. I love bringing women together through belly dance and really credit Linnea getting me off to such a strong start.

Would you like more information about Hip Circle Studio? 

Please check out their web site at  They have a great variety of classes and meetups. 

Well, there you have it! Hopefully all your belly dance questions are answered. Yes, I will go to a class and then let you know how it went. I will be your guide into the world of belly dance…

If you have any other fitness activities that you might be interested in but are hesitating because you don’t know what it would be like, I would be happy to check it out for you. Just let me know what interests you and what questions you have and I will see what I can do. 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Peripheral Neuropathy

We have a friend with diabetes. (This is not a euphemism, we really do.) He does not take care of himself. We think that it is a case, which we can completely understand, where he feels okay so he can’t really be sick. But, of course, he is. 

I had heard that he had been having problems with leg cramps at night – very painful leg cramps that drive him from his bed to try and find relief. The night time cramps were becoming more and more frequent. Last week, he mentioned the problem to his doctor. He was told that the cramps were from peripheral neuropathy. I had no idea that leg cramps could be a sign of peripheral neuropathy. I have done a little research that I am sharing with you. 

What is peripheral neuropathy?

There are four kinds of diabetic neuropathy. There is peripheral neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, proximal neuropathy, and focal neuropathy.

 Peripheral neuropathy is the term for damage to the nerves in the arms and legs. One of the problems is that the damage can start before the symptoms occur. A doctor may be able to see damage before the patient can tell there is a problem. On each visit with your doctors, you should have them check out your legs and feet. The symptoms that a patient will notice can be as follows:

·         Not feeling pain or temperature changes
·         A burning or tingling sensation
·         Sharp pains or cramps
·         Sensitivity to touch – even a light touch
·         Becoming unbalanced/ having coordination problems

The symptoms are often worse at night.

Because peripheral neuropathy can weaken the muscles in the legs and ankles, it can alter the way a person walks. 

What causes peripheral neuropathy?

The main cause of peripheral neuropathy is lack of control over blood sugar levels. Also, the length of time that a person has diabetes will also increase the chances of developing peripheral neuropathy. People who have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels, as well as those with high levels of blood fat and blood pressure and those who are overweight appear to be the most common people who suffer from peripheral neuropathy. 

What is the treatment?

The first step is to get the blood glucose levels under control. This will be the most important part of the treatment. The patient has to work closely with their diabetes team (internist, endocrinologist, dietician, family) to keep their levels in the correct range to try and prevent more damage. It can happen that in the process of getting the levels lowered that the symptoms can get worse but then they will improve. There is no cure at this time but there can be some relief and getting levels in the right range will help prevent further damage. 

Our friend is currently really working on getting his levels in the correct range. 

Thanks for reading!

NOTE:  I am not a doctor.  If you have questions about what you have read, please check with your doctor.