Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Daily or Weekly Weigh Ins?

Photo by Kiss My Buttercream.
After about a two months hiatus, I stepped on the scale today.  Yikes!  I've gained five pounds since Labor Day.

Now, this may not sound like a lot of weight, but I am less than five feet tall (about 141 cm).

Also, the timing is a bit shocking.  I'm going into the holiday season with a little Santa's bowl full of jelly.

I am too cheap to buy new clothes, so I need to trim down, or I won't fit into my clothes by the end of the winter.

I should probably start with a food journal so that I can be more honest about what I'm really eating.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chocolate & Flavanols

Photo by Olga Valisjeva.
Since Nature Neuroscience published an article Sunday, October 26th (online) about the positive effects of cocoa on memory, I've seen dozens of news stories heralding this finding.

Before people start consuming truckloads of chocolate bars, let's take a closer look at elements of their research.

First, the study wasn't aimed at finding the health benefits of chocolate as much as it was aimed at isolating the role of one region of the brain in memory and one type of memory--episodic.

Specifically, the authors were looking at the dentate gyrus, a region of the hyppocampus that allows neurogenesis or the growth of new brain cells.

In their abstract, their conclusion was focused on the brain region and not the role of the cocoa drink:

"Our findings establish that DG dysfunction is a driver of age-related cognitive decline."

Studies of this part of the brain and their function in memory and new brain cell grown are still very young--measured in years and not even decades.

Monday, October 27, 2014

3 Karens on the Track

Photo by Heikki Siltala.
Another trip to the YMCA where I'm measuring my pace against Father Time.  After an injury last fall followed by an illness in the winter, I got lazy about getting to the gym.  In 2013, I had been spending about 10 hours a week at the gym doing a combination of cardio, yoga and strength training.  I was moving so fast that I figured Father Time would consider me "outta sight, outta mind."  

Not so fast. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chast's Graphic Novel: A Book Review

Published 6 May 2014.
Growing old has some great benefits. Frailty is not one of them.

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast focuses her talents on describing her parents' journey into late adulthood--their 90s.  And it's not pretty.

The title of her book actually defers potential readers: Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (2014).

So why read a graphic novel about the challenges of supporting frail parents?  

Even if you aren't going to support parents or a spouse through this process, you will have friends going through some of the things that Chast draws and narrates.

But you won't have the exact same journey. Chast is the only child of parents who lived for decades in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Leaving Tinkertown: Book Review

Published August 15, 2013.
Even very focused memoirs end up tackling a variety of topics. This is true of Tanya Ward Goodman's 2013 memoir, Leaving Tinkertown.

I chose to read it because it fits in with a category of books that I have labeled "dementia memoirs."  I value reading about the challenges and opportunities of hanging onto a relationship affected by Alzheimer's or another form of dementia.

Goodman focuses her memoir around the six years that her father, Ross Ward, lived with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Her account discusses the symptoms, diagnosis, and progression through the major stages of the disease.  It serves as a valuable road map for caregivers.

Even though there are some similarities from one dementia memoir to another, each account shows how the journey is unique to each person and their loved ones.

In the pages of her memoir, Goodman introduces us to her nonconformist father who is driven to create. He has spent decades drawing, painting and sculpting.  He spent some time on the road, painting for carnivals.  However, his major work took form as a miniature town dubbed "Tinkertown."  Ward carved the inhabitants and set up a roadside museum that is still in operation in New Mexico, just north of Albuquerque.

I received a copy of Leaving Tinkertown from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.