Wednesday, July 19, 2017

There is no good day to quit drining

John-for-Life (The alcohol-free version)

I did not come up with the idea to quit drinking for 60 days to detox my body on my own. I do not own the patent on the 60-day alcohol-free program. However, I also understand there is no patent on plot either. 

I'm told that you can read the Harry Potter books, and then rewrite them completely and that's totally legal, so long as you put it into your own words. The idea here is it's impossible for you to write the same thing that came out of some other person's mind. You cannot plagiarize if you are writing verbatim, off the cuff, extemporaneously, off the top of your head. 

So I'm completely within my legal limits to quit drinking for 60 days. I kind of say that facetiously. But I just wanted you to know this is not my idea. There was a blogger I was reading one day. It was a lady. She had a nice blog. I don't remember her name. I don't remember her blog name. I wish I could remember because I'd like to go back and read it.

She had a lot of good ideas. She talked about her alcohol-free experiences, the good and the bad of giving it up for 60 days. She spotlighted something every day of her journey, similar to what I'm doing. I didn't read the whole thing, just enough to know I wanted to try the same thing. 

The problem with starting something like this is... well, there are a lot of problems. The timing is probably #1. To be honest, there is no good time to quit drinking. You want to find a time when you have no foreseeable obstacles. But, as you probably well know, there are always obstacles that come up. And that's why you have to plan ahead. Planning ahead is what I talked about yesterday. 

Today is my first obstacle that I knew was coming. My dad invited me and my kids to the cabin. I have decided to take my kids and NOT stay the night. I know if I stay the night I will have to have a drink with my dad. If I go, if I say I have a reason to go home, then there will be no issue there. Dad's not the kind of person who will pressure me. There's just the joy of sitting around the campfire, listening to dad's stories, or listening to the crackling of the fire or watching the kids play while sipping on an ice cold brew.

Today that part isn't going to happen. 

I probably should skip the fire too, as those aren't good for asthma. But if you skip the fire, that wouldn't be fun for the kids. I certainly wouldn't want to have the kids miss out on the joy of a fire. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How To Quit Drinking: Have A Plan

Day #3: John-for Life (alcohol free version)

Today I work. These are usually the best diet days. The goal of this 60 day John-for-Life (the alcohol-free version) is to learn how to diet on days when I don't work. But I usually have my best diet days when I'm working. But, on the days I get off work and don't have to work the next day, and usually, due to burnout, I like to have a couple drinks. Not a big deal if you aren't trying to lose weight. 

But, as my goal is to drop another 20 pounds, and because I have hit this plateau that I have been at for the better part of a year, I believe I have to quit drinking to shed these extra pounds. I don't want to do it. My friends and family don't want to do it. But, I do. I want to quit for 60 days. It's a body purification program I'm doing to myself. 

So, I go home on these days and I have a few drinks. Tonight, I'm not going to do that. Tonight, I'm going to go for a run. 

You know, when you want to make a change in your life, you have to plan ahead. And that's what I did. I think of those times when I used to eat hamburgers, and I no longer eat burgers, so I have this so called gap in my life. You have to fill that gap with something. That's why I keep healthy foods in the refrigerator. I have baked chicken in the refrigerator, for instance. When you crave a burger with bacon and six pieces of cheese, you eat the grilled chicken with barbecue sauce. 

Now, some people say barbecue sauce isn't good for you. But, I say, a little sauce is better than a lot of drinks and then the binge eating the usually follows it. So I fill in those gaps with something like that. 

But what about the gap that is left open due to no alcohol. 

Look, when do I drink? When do you drink? I don't go to pubs. I don't go to bars. I drink in my own home. I'm safe when I drink. I have no risk of drinking and driving because I'm sitting in my garage with the garage door open at 4 pm enjoying a Miller Lite. So, I have to plan ahead. During those moments where I would normally have a drink, I must consider those moments gaps. I must have a plan for what I'm going to do during those gaps to fill them in. 

I mean, there really aren't gaps, but I can't think of another way to explain them. The most frequent time I drink is from 7 pm. until about 11 pm when I go to bed. So, what else can I do when I get home from work as opposed to drinking. My plan is to do one of three things: 1, watch a movie with my wife or kids, 2, go for a run, or three, just go to bed. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

9 Reasons To Quit Drinking

Day #2 John-for-Life (Alcohol-Free Version)

Okay! Today is day #2. It feels pretty good. Today I need to discuss why I am quitting drinking. I don't think it's appropriate to discuss the advantages and disadvantages at this point. I think what I need to do is list the top nine reasons I want to quit drinking. I think we will keep this list reasons why I want to quit. Ready? Here we go!
  1. The hangovers. The hangovers aren't so bad, but I feel fatigued and don't want to exercise or eat healthy. Actually, what I crave is a juicy hamburger with bacon and swiss cheese. This does not bode well for losing weight. 
  2.  I want to lose weight. I have lost 35 pounds since June 15, 2015. This is a great accomplishment. However, I believe that, after adding in one or two nights of drinking a few glasses of whiskey and coke, I believe I am consuming about 1900 calories a day on average, which is why I weight 191 pounds and have hit a plateau. So, I proved you can lose weight without quitting doing all the things you enjoy, but there comes a point if you want to accomplish your goal, where you have to take the next step.
  3. It hits you harder when your stomach is empty. See, you come home from work after dieting all day, and you are starving. You eat a light snack fitting of your diet, and then you have two drinks. They hit you harder because you are dieting. Not good. Either you need to not drink or you need to eat a full meal before drinking. To accomplish my goal I must quit drinking. 
  4. I don't like getting tipsy in front of my family. This kind of goes along with #3, as I drink after I get home from work, and I drink my usual two drinks, and it hits me harder than it normally does because my stomach is empty. So, what happens? I find that my son and wife come home and I'm slurring my words. Yeah! I don't like that. It makes me feel stupid. So, as with #3, I have two choices: eat more or quit drinking. 
  5. I don't remember going to bed, let alone what I did last night. This is something I was proud to say never happened to me before I started dieting. You drink on an empty stomach, you get drunk, and you get up in the morning not remembering. If you do that, then what's the point of drinking? You might as well just not do it all if you aren't even able to enjoy the buzz. So, again, there are two alternatives (well, three, but I don't' want to consider the third option). You can eat more before you drink, or you can quit. 
  6. Oxidative stress. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to quit drinking. Every time you drink, the alcohol pounds on our cells of your bladder, liver, and brain over and over and over and over. This causes an imbalance of oxidizers and antioxidants. It causes an increase of free radicals that damage cells. This is how you get diseases. This is how you get unhealthy. This is how you age. This is how your immune system gets damaged. Oxidative stress causes gene mutations that result in all sorts of bad things, including asthma and COPD. So, I think this is an opportunity to clean out my system so I can get overall healthier. 
  7. The guilt. I should have stuck to my diet. I should have made better use of my time. I should have just gone to bed. I made it two weeks without drinking, so why did you have that Miller Lite? It's not like drinking is this bad, evil thing that progressives make it out to be. I don't think any of that. In fact, if someone made me quit I wouldn't do it. I am doing this because I want to. And, the fact that I want to quit to get healthy (for 60 days), and the fact I made it two weeks, makes me feel guilty that I drank. So, I am going to quit. 
  8. I want to. There's no better reason that just the fact you want to. Again, if someone said I had to quit I wouln't do it. But, since no one wants me to quit, I will. Actually, my wife and brothers and dad and friends don't want me to quit. So, that's the first obstacle I will have to face. Based on the experts, I had best stay away for the first couple of weeks. 
  9. Binge Eating. When you drink you lose your ability to resist eating the foods you would normally avoid. You have a tendency to binge eat. You also have an increased appetite the next day and crave things like burgers and fries, also foods you shouln't eat. So, for just this reason alone I think a 60 day alcohol free John-for-Life would benefit me. I imagine I would lose weight just by default, even if I didn't diet. But, I'm going to diet too, so I bet I will lose weight fast. 
By the way. Today I weight 191 pounds. That's my weight in. Okay, so that's nine reasons to quit drinking. This is my list, not yours. I made up a similar list, it would probably be different than mine. But these are the eight reasons I want to quit drinking for 60 days. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Day #1 of John-for-Life (The Alcohol Free Version)

Well, on November 22, 2016, I reported on this blog that I was down to 195.6 pounds. Today I weight 191 pounds. So, over the past eight months, I only lost four pounds. That's not overly impressive. The ultimate goal is to get down to 170 pounds. How are we going to get there?

Here is the plan. Number one, I am going to quit drinking. That is the only path, as far as I can tell, to get to 170 pounds. I managed to lose 34 pounds without drinking, but even drinking just one day a week, I think, makes it so that I probably consume about 1,900 calories a day on average, and that's what you need to consume to maintain a 190-pound frame.

So, the only way to accomplish my goal is to quit drinking. So, consider this day #1 of my new life. I'm not just going to stick to my John-for-Life regimen, I am also going to quit drinking.

A couple things of note here. When I decided on June 14, 2017, to lose weight, I decided that I wanted to do it without sacrificing everything I enjoy doing. One of the things I enjoy doing is having a few drinks while I'm sitting outside on a nice summer afternoon. I enjoy this.

I was able to drop 35 pounds while not quitting. I have to laugh because I did this despite all the so called experts saying it couldn't be done. My friends said I couldn't do it, my wife even said I couldn't do it. But I did. I lost 35 pounds without quitting drinking.

I'm not an alcoholic, by any means. I think all that is is a label that isn't worth anything. I like to drink occasionally to take the edge off. I like to drink for fun. I just like a little buzz to help me enjoy my day. And it's not like I do this every day either. I do it for fun. I do it to relax. I do it... for whatever reason people drink. It's like once or twice a week.

But, I have decided that needs to come to an end, at least for a while. And, yes! this has every thing to do with asthma, so it's fitting that I write about it here. If I can fix my body, if I can get in shape and lose weight, if I can get detox my body, it surely will make my asthma better. In the coming days, I will delve a little deeper into how detoxing your body, getting in shape, and quitting drinking, can improve your asthma control.

First, however, I am going to delve into the alcohol thing. Why do I want to quit drinking? What are the advantages? How is alcohol bad for your body? Why is it bad for asthma? These are all things I hope to discuss in the coming days.

In the meantime, this is day #1 of my new alcohol-free life.  I am going to do this for 60 days, and I will report in every day to let you know how it's going. And in the process, I will offer some wisdom, and perhaps even some advice in case you are interested in detoxing your body.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

1898: A description of hay fever

The affliction Hay Fever was described in a letter to the editor by Dr. J. J. S.Doherty of New Haven Connecticut in the 1898 edition of "The Medical World." (1, page 391):
Editor Medical World:—The season for hay fever is at hand, and as but few who are susceptible to the complaint know how to avoid, much less to cure it, a few words relative to the nature and treatment of the ailment would perhaps not be amiss. 

Hay fever is a nervous affection analagous to asthma in its manifestations, usually most prevalent during the spring and early summer. The poorer classes, and more especially those living in populous towns, rarely, if ever, suffer with it. It occurs principally among the educated classes, whose nervous systems are highly developed. Tho not in any sense a dangerous ailment, it is at all times very troublesome and irritating.

The inhalation of atoms of hay or blooming grass, the pollen of flowers, the particles producing the odor of fruit, dust or exposure to draught will excite an attack in persons subject to the complaint, but rain or damp weather invariably brings relief. 

At one time it was generally supposed that the odor of hay when being mowed or carted could induce an attack, but recent observation shows that it may occur entirely independent of the existence of hay fields and is really a nervous derangement. A visit to the seaside, a trip to the mountains, or residence in a populous town, will, however, remove the asthmatic tendency. To effect a cure the treatment should begin from six to eight weeks before the attack is expected.

A good prescription to use is: 
  • Fowler's solution .... dr. iij
  • Tr. belladonna; dr. ix
  • M. Sig.—Twelve to sixteen drops for a dose.
This should be continued daily until the period of the attack has passed, and repeated again the following year at the same season. Each successive year the attack will become lighter and susceptibility may cease in two years, altho four years is the average time required for a cure. This line of treatment was taught us back in the '70s, by Prof. William H. Thomson, of the New York University

J. S. Doherty, M.D.
New Haven, Conn.

References:
  1. Taylor, C.F., editor, "The Medical World," volume 16, 1898, Philadelphia, 

Monday, April 24, 2017

What it's like spring cleaning with asthma

I have attempted to explain to my readers what it's like to have asthma. My contention that having asthma is more than just being short of breath, mainly because you're not short of breath most of the time. Still, even on good asthma days -- which most days are these days -- I still have to work to avoid asthma triggers. And I have another good example I wanted to share. Although, with this one, I might be walking on a fine line. I will try not to cross it.

I have said that asthma is all about explaining to those around you why you do things the way you do. For instance, I have learned that, if I want to clean my house, I have to do it in short spurts. I have to do a little bit at a time Technically speaking, I usually follow two unwritten rules.
  1. Clean for a half hour and take a break to re-assess how you feel. If you sense any of your early warning signs of asthma, it's time to quit.
  2. Clean until you observe your early warning signs of asthma, and then quit. 
I find that both of these rules are violated somewhat every time I clean. I don't intentionally violate them, but it's just that when you get into a cleaning funk, you get on a roll, you want to finish. It's not like you feel like cleaning every day. It's not like you have time to do it every day. It's not like you're motivated every day. So, when you are on a roll, you want to go with it. 

When we were kids, my brothers and I would observe this in our mother, and we referred to it as "cleaning tangent." Mom is on a "cleaning tangent. Watch out!" When we saw this, it was our cue to get out of her way, or we would be plowed over. By that, I mean she would say something like, "John, why don't you pick up those blocks behind the couch." See, she'd suck you up, maybe even make you feel guilty for sitting around watching TV while she was on a cleaning tangent. 

Anyway, there isn't a lot of time around my house to clean. I work three twelve hour shifts a week, and much of my free time is spent right here working on my little Chrome book writing about asthma, COPD, respiratory therapy, or creating newsletters for the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus. This is my home job; my part time job; my side job. Any free time is spent with my wife and kids, and they are a priority when they are home. This job gets moved down the priority list. 

So, yesterday I decided to clean. And, keep in mind here that I have four kids. And if you have kids, you know darn well that it gets hard to keep your house clean when you have kids. So, that said, just think of worse case scenario, and that's what my house looks like. I actually have a small house, so the piles of stuff look a lot worse in my house as compared to, say, a capacious house. 

So, I decided I wanted the mess to end, so I started digging under couches and chairs and tables and pulling out all the junk that collected in those places. There were books scattered all over the room, and Lego's, and magazines, and homework brought home from school. You would be amazed at how many papers were scattered around my living room alone. It was a mess. 

So I took (and I realize I just started three paragraphs in a row with so, but we'll just ignore that for now) all this stuff and I made a big pile in the middle of the living room. I started cleaning behind the TV and behind the desk, but I realized those places were replete with dust and cobwebs, and probably contained millions or trillions of dust mites. So, (and there it is again) I decided to skip those areas for now. I would focus on the mess in the middle of the room. 

I have to clean this way. Okay? I have to clean this way because of my allergies. I know that once I start cleaning I don't have much time. I cannot pick up a toy, take it to where it belongs, and put it away. I have found in the past that all this does is result in me being exposed to even more dust mites. It makes it so I get very little done. So, I make the pile in the middle of the room. Then I sort through the stuff one at a time. 

Trust me when I say that my wife has gotten mad at me more than once because I have left the pile in the middle of the room. Why do I just leave it? Well, according to her it's because I'm lazy. She sometimes gets mad at me. And I find myself having to explain all over again to her what it's like to have asthma. I explain that I have to do it this way. 

But, anyway, yesterday she didn't get irritated with me. So, a part of me wants to think that she finally understands. In fact, not only did she not get irritated, she actually finished the job. I did not explain to her why I quit. I did not tell her that I was feeling the sniffles, and head congestion that often start up as soon as I'm exposed to dust mites. And, sad to say, they are even in our living room. They are under the couches and chairs. They are on the carpet. 

My house does not look dirty, it's just messy. Dirty means the furniture looks trashy. That's not the case at all. However, messy means there's stuff scattered about in a sloppy fashion. Messy means you have kids, for example. Okay? So, by telling you there's dust mites everywhere in my home I don't want you to think I'm white trash or something like that. I'm not. At least I don't think so. 

Anyway, yesterday I did not have to explain why I quit. My wife didn't get irritated with me. My daughters didn't complain because I piled all their shoes in a bin. Well, until this morning anyway. This morning my teenage daughter got upset that she couldn't find her shoes. Then she and my wife, in a hurry to get off to school, were openly irritated with me. 

My son is home from college. When the women were gone, I said to him, "They get mad at me when the house is messy, and then they get mad at me when I clean." He laughed. But it's true.

Keep in mind this is not a criticism of my wife and daughter. It's natural to get frustrated when you can't find something, and it's natural to blame the person who cleaned, or the person who got half way through the job and quit. That's just natural. But, because they don't have asthma, they can't fathom what it's like. So they forget. Or, in the case of my daughter, I probably never told her. 

So, as I get older and wiser, I find myself not explaining myself as much. Yesterday I didn't explain what it's like to have asthma. I didn't say why I quit cleaning, even though there is much to be done. And that is my job when I get done with this: to spend another half hour or so cleaning. 

I want to finish with the living room today, and perhaps move into the kids room. And, you would be amazed at how many dust mites I will get exposed to in there. My Laney, my special Laney, when I said yesterday that she should clean her room, she did. She is a pleaser. I was so happy she did that. So, this should make it that much easier on the asthmatic dad on a cleaning rampage.

The fact that I didn't have to explain myself yesterday brought joy to my heart, in a way. Finally I didn't have to explain why I left the job half undone. It was so nice to get help from her and from my daughter. And I think this is even more so true when you have an invisible chronic illness and your mission in life is to avoid those invisible asthma triggers. So, thanks, family. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Why do we set goals anyway?

So, I have been talking about goals. Why do we set goals? Some people don't. Some people don't know any better. Some people are satisfied with where they are at. That's fine. I'm not. I'm never satisfied. And I don't think that's bad. 

I have this idea imbedded in my head that if I lose weight I will feel better. Actually, even if I don't accomplish my ultimate goal of weighing 170 pounds, it feels good trying. So, that in and of itself is the big picture isn't it? To be feel good. To be happy. 

So many of my friends keep saying, or implying, "I'm satisfied with myself." That's fine. But to me, I think they get happy confused with being satisfied. Are you really satisfied living in your body the way it is? Or are you just saying that so you feel better. 

I mean, I'm not judging others. I'm obese myself. Really. I am. If you look at the body fat chart, I'm a guy and my body fat is about 30%. This puts me in the above average section. Now, for those of you living in the political correct world, I'm just going to tell you that above average is a really nice way of saying that I am obese. I am overweight. I am fat. I mean, if you are going to tackle a problem, you ought to identify it for what it is. 

This brings me to another point. I do not try to lose weight to look good. I am married. I am in my 40s. I don't care what I look like anymore. No. That's not why I work out. I do it so I feel better. I do it because when you work out your body releases more endorphins into your bloodstream, and these are natural morphine-like proteins that make you feel better. I do it to feel good. I do it because I want to be happy. That, to me, is the big picture: to be happy.