Adventures of Gus and Kim: Dunedin, Florida and Olde Bay Cafe

I love the Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser from La Roche-Posay!

5 Tips for Beauty and Travel
The Age - Health - Weight Connection: What to Do When Exercise Seems Impossible

The Age - Health - Weight Connection: What to Do When Exercise Seems Impossible

We all know that exercise plays an important role in maintaining our health. But what do you do when it's health issues that are preventing you from exercising? What if you have chronic pain? I can relate to both of those questions and in the third installment of the Age-Health-Weight Connection series, I'd like to share how I incorporate exercise into my life.

Age-Health-Weight Connection: What To Do When Exercise Seems Impossible

(Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended as medical advice. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should seek a professional opinion from a medical doctor. If you have medical conditions, you should consult your doctor before beginning any new diet/exercise program.)

(This post may contain affiliate links which were added to make it easier for you to find the items. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). You are free to use the links or not - if you do, I thank you!)

If you've read my post, The Aging-Health-Weight Connection (and how to deal with it!), then you know my story. I'm 57 and I have had several health issues over the past eight years. Some have left me with chronic pain, while others have temporarily made it impossible for me to exercise.

If you can relate to what I've said so far, I see you. Those of you with arthritis, chronic back pain, insulin resistance, and all of those other health issues that sometimes make just getting out of bed a major accomplishment. I know what it feels like to just want to lie in bed because that's where your pain is at the lowest level. I know what it feels like to gingerly get out of that bed and tiptoe your way through your morning routine of washing your face and brushing your teeth - all the while hoping that you don't move in a way that will worsen the pain or cause new pain. I acknowledge your pain. And I acknowledge the strength it takes to keep going.

I also see those of you who struggle to lose weight, counting calories only to see the scale move ever so slowly downward - or sometimes to see it even go up. I know what it feels like to be discouraged and think that something must be wrong with you if you can't lose weight like everyone else.

But I'm here to tell you that when you're ready, you can make a change in your lifestyle. It may take some experimenting to discover exactly what works best for you - but you can do it!

One of the most important things that I've discovered since being diagnosed with insulin resistance is that while restricting carbs will help me lose weight and make my lab values better, adding in some exercise makes an even bigger difference. When I bring exercise into the equation, I lose weight much more quickly and more importantly, I feel better. But sometimes exercising can also cause or increase my pain. Sometimes just the thought of exercising is more than I can bear. Have you ever felt that way?

First, I would say: Do NOT compare yourself or your progress to anyone else. It's not a contest. It's about you being the best you possible. Your friend is going to the gym and doing major workouts six days/week and you're "only" walking a mile three days/week? If that's your limit, then Good. For. You. Some days will include exercising and some days won't. No guilt. No regrets. Do you remember my mantra? Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time.

So what do I do when I'm having pain, but would like to exercise? It depends upon the pain. I have to listen to my body.

Evaluate your pain prior to exercise

Before exercising, I ask myself a series of questions. Where does it hurt? Does my knee hurt today? Then I need to wear my knee brace and ice my knee afterwards. Is my patellar tendon aching? Better wear my patellar tendon strap. Does my back hurt? Then I need to apply heat and do a careful warm-up as well as apply ice and maybe the TENS unit when I'm finished. Do I have a headache? I'll do some slow walking and reevaluate during the exercise. Sometimes walking makes it feel better. If I'm having pain in multiple areas, I wait for a better day. That happens to me when we have a lot of rain - it hurts to change positions, walk, sit, stand - so I just skip exercising until I feel better. No guilt, no regrets.

Continue to monitor during the exercise

Once I start the exercise, I continue to monitor my body. Is swinging my arms making my shoulder and neck hurt? Then I'll put my hand in my pocket to rest my arm. Does my hip hurt? Or maybe my ankle? Then I need to slow my pace until it feels better (or stop if it doesn't). Another important thing for me is wearing the right shoes. I wear a 1/4" lift in my left shoe and my shoes need to have decent support. Nike Tanjuns are my favorite shoe for everyday wear around the house, but they let my feet slide around too much to be comfortable when I'm walking for exercise. My favorite walking shoes are the Ryka Sky. I have a pair of KEEN Koven Mid hiking boots that I wear if I'm walking on uneven ground because they offer better ankle support - and they're also amazingly comfortable. I wore them last week when we hiked around the woods in Gatlinburg and also when we made the climb to Clingmans Dome.

Choose the exercise that works best for you

My favorite form of exercise is walking. I can pretty much do it anywhere, it doesn't cost anything, and it usually doesn't make me feel worse. I prefer to walk outside, but if it's too hot or my allergies are bad, I have a treadmill. My doctors have suggested swimming since it's easier on joints. Unfortunately, I don't swim, but that's a great option and may work for you. I'm able to use a recumbent bicycle, but I don't have one at home and I rarely go to the gym with Gus (gyms aren't my thing). I'm considering purchasing one if I can figure out where to put it. But the important thing isn't which form of exercise you're doing, it's that you're moving more than usual!

Focus on the positive

Only you know where you hurt and what makes it better/worse. You'll need to monitor your body as you try different exercises to see what works best for you. Maybe you can only do exercises while sitting in a chair - that's okay. Maybe you'll feel better tomorrow and then you can do more. I know that even when I'm feeling my best, I can't walk any faster than 3.2 mph. If I do, it makes my left hip hurt (I have scoliosis, and my left leg is 1/4" shorter than the right, so even with a lift in my shoe, walking too fast can throw my stride off). I don't compare myself to people who can run 10 miles or spend two hours at the gym. I just think back to the day(s) when I couldn't do anything and give thanks that today I was able to walk two miles. Focus on the positive.

But how much exercise do you need?

The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week and moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least two days/week. Moderate-intensity includes activities such as walking at least 2.5 mph, water aerobics, biking (slower than 10 mph), dancing, and even gardening. You should be able to talk without getting out of breath. For a lot of people, all of that sounds perfectly reasonable. But for those with chronic pain or other health issues, it can sound next to impossible! And don't even get me started on the "get your 10,000 steps/day" craze.

It's a rare day when I can do 10,000 steps - and when I do, I will have more pain. I have my Fitbit step goal as 8,000/day which is much more attainable for me. And isn't that what your tracking device should do for you - give you positive reinforcement for meeting your goal? Don't set an unattainable goal and get discouraged. Studies have shown that simply increasing your current daily steps by 2,000 will help lower your body mass index and boost your insulin sensitivity. So even small increases can make a difference!

Barring any injuries, my body usually cooperates with 20-30 minutes 4-5 days/week. At my best, I can do 30-40 minutes 5-6 days/week. But there are times when I can only do 20 minutes 3 days/week. That's okay. I'm doing as much as I'm able to do. And you know what? Sometimes I can't do anything at all. And that's okay, too. The trick is to know when your body will tolerate a little more and when you need to let it rest. No guilt. No regrets. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time.

Don't forget: Exercise can be modified for your specific situation. Maybe you need to sit while you do some upper body stretches or bicep curls. That's okay! Shaun T - has several videos on Facebook where he demonstrates modifications to exercise. You can also search on YouTube for exercises for your specific challenge (back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, etc.). Don't give up!

And don't forget to grab my free printables for tracking your progress!

I'd love to hear from you! Tell me about your situation - where you struggle, how you've made positive changes - or ask me any questions. You can leave a comment here or find me on social media! 
Adventures of Gus and Kim: World of Beer Bar & Kitchen - Tampa, Florida

Adventures of Gus and Kim: World of Beer Bar & Kitchen - Tampa, Florida

World of Beer Bar & Kitchen (WOB) - featuring over 500 bottled beers and 50 on draft. Sounds like a fun place, right? Well, there's a good chance that there is one near you (or at least near your vacation spot) because they have more than 60 locations in the U.S. alone.

outside of World of Beer showing signage and entrance

When Gus and I were in Tampa this past February, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Westshore (HGI) near the Tampa International Airport. (BTW - if you're looking for a place to stay near the airport, we recommend this HGI. We've stayed there three times and it's always been great.) After spending one morning at ZooTampa, we decided to eat lunch close to the hotel, making it easy to hop over to our room for a rest before dinner. It just so happens that there is a WOB. Right. There. So we decided to stop in.

It was awesome! One of my favorite things about WOB is that they feature local craft beer. We were there on "Taco Tuesday" (and you know how much I love tacos), so it was perfect.

Taco menu at World of Beer

Gus had the Mahi Mahi tacos with tater tots.

fish tacos with a side of tater tots
mahi-mahi tacos with tater tots

I opted for the Beer-Battered Shrimp and Crispy Beer-Brined Chicken tacos. They were both delicious, but I liked the shrimp taco best. The sriracha lime aioli was to die for!

shrimp taco and crispy chicken taco
tacos: left - shrimp, right - crispy chicken

For beverages, Gus went for one of his old stand-bys - Blue Moon (which you can see in the background of the photo below). I was a little more adventurous and had a flight:

  • Riot Juice (Hidden Springs Ale Works) - Berliner Weisse with blackberry, lime, vanilla, and lactose) 5.5% ABV
  • Blueberry Lemon (Florida Avenue Brewing Co.) - Berliner Weisse 4% ABV
  • BURST Passionfruit Lychee (Wicked Weed Brewing) - Session Sour 4.5% ABV
  • Funky Buddha Floridian Hefeweizen - 5.2% ABV, 12 IBU

My favorite of the four was the Riot Juice - very tasty and went well with the tacos!

four small snifters of different fruit beer
left to right: Blueberry Lemon, Floridian Hefe, Passionfruit Lychee, Riot Juice

I took some photos of the interior, but I have to apologize for the quality. They were taken with my phone and the angle of the sun caused some glare.

covered patio with tables and chairs
covered patio that faces the airport

bar with a chalkboard menu behind it
part of the WOB bar

inside a restaurant with tables and chairs
high-top tables and bench seating lining the wall

Gus and I have been to two WOB locations - the one in Destin, Florida, and this one in Tampa. I think it was in summer 2017 that we went to the one in Destin. The beer selection was awesome, but we were less than impressed with the food. We did go back to with Buddy later in 2017, but we stuck to beer only.

During our visit to the Tampa location, we mentioned to our lovely waitress how we really enjoyed our meal and that we almost hadn't eaten here because of our experience at the Destin location. She told us that corporate eats at the Tampa location quite frequently. That may explain the difference. But to be fair, we haven't been to the one in Destin for a couple of years and it could have easily changed for the better since we were there.

We will definitely eat at the Tampa WOB again. We liked the food/vibe and it's so convenient to the HGI.

World of Beer Bar & Kitchen
5311 Avion Park Dr
Tampa, FL, 33607-1416

Monday - Tuesday 11am-12am
Wednesday - Thursday 11am-1am
Friday - Saturday 11am-2am
Sunday 11am-12am

infographic of the interior of a restaurant and a flight of beer with

Do you have a favorite brewery? Tell me about it - we're always looking for new ones to try! If you're interested in following along on our food/drinking adventures, be sure to find me on Instagram and Snapchat - I share a lot there that doesn't make it on the blog.

*A note about our beer preferences:
Me: Berliner Weisse, Gose, blonde ale, white ale, Scotch ale, milk stouts, Kentucky common ale, ginger beer, witbier, Hefeweizen, fruit beer, and some saisons
Gus: witbier, Hefeweizen, blonde ale, red ale, Belgian tripel, Kentucky common ale
Buddy: IPA, fruit beer, Berliner Weisse, Gose, blonde ale, red ale, stouts (especially coffee-flavored), porter, Belgian tripel, Belgian quad, saison
The Age - Health - Weight Connection: My Favorite Tools for Weight Management (+ free printables!)

The Age - Health - Weight Connection: My Favorite Tools for Weight Management (+ free printables!)

A couple of weeks ago, I opened up about my struggle with the rollercoaster of weight gain/loss complicated by the effects of aging and health issues. It seems like it resonated with a lot of you and I hope it helped you know you're not alone! Today I want to talk about my favorite tools for tracking my progress and keeping me motivated. Some of them may surprise you!

Infographic that says "Age-Health-Weight Connection: My Favorite Tools for Weight Management"

(Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended as medical advice. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should seek a professional opinion from a medical doctor. If you have medical conditions, you should consult your doctor before beginning any new diet/exercise program.)

(This post may contain affiliate links which were added to make it easier for you to find the items. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). You are free to use the links or not - if you do, I thank you!)

iphone showing health apps like My Fitness Pal

1) My Fitness Pal app

I've used the My Fitness Pal app off and on for many years, and it's the "off" times that I've strayed from healthy eating. I believe it's extremely important to record your food intake - especially when you're just starting out. I find it easier to stay on track when I'm recording my food. It's a little nudge - a reminder - and it keeps me honest. And let's face it, if you're not recording your food, it's sometimes easy to forget something we ate. While that may not be a big deal that day, if it happens every day it can sabotage your progress. If you're not into My Fitness Pal, there are many other similar apps available. The important thing is that you record what you eat.

TIP: I use the free version and ignore the ads. You can record recipes, specific foods/meals, scan bar codes, and search the food database. You can record your goals, daily weight, and even measurements. It does everything I need it to do, so I don't feel I need the paid version (which is $9.99/month or $49.99/year).

Renpho digital scale and app

2) Daily weights - but with a weekly weight average

Scales are a controversial topic. Some people say don't weigh yourself. I say it's another tool in your healthy lifestyle arsenal and you just need to know how to use it correctly. If you're someone with insulin resistance like me, then you know how easy it is for your weight to fluctuate on a daily basis. I've actually gained as much as five pounds overnight! Consider this: If you weigh yourself every Friday and that happens to be a day when your weight has fluctuated to the "+" side, you're disappointed, discouraged, and can't figure out where you went wrong.

So here's what I do: I weigh myself daily, write it down, and then I let it go. Then at the end of the week, I add all seven weights together and divide by seven to get my average weight for that week. Once I have that number, I can subtract it from the average weight from the previous week (assuming I have lost weight), to get the number of pounds I've lost in the current week.

For example:
If my weights for the week are 155, 155, 156, 154.5, 154, 155, 154, I would add them together to get 1083.5. Then I divide 1083.5 by 7 to get 154.8 (rounding up). Next, I look at my average weight from the previous week, which is 156.1, and subtract this week's average weight (154.8) to get my weight loss for this week: 1.3 lbs. I use a minus (-) sign in front of the number when I record it on my chart to indicate a weight loss and a plus (+) sign to indicate weight gain.

If I miss weighing myself a day or two, it's no biggie. Say I only weighed myself on five days - I just add those days and divide by five for my average weight for that week.

Would you like to use my weight chart? Free printable copies of my weight chart AND my measurement chart are available in the members-only area - click here to get yours! 

TIP: You don't need a fancy scale (although you can certainly use one if you like). I think I paid about $20 for my digital scale - and I've had it for 10 years! The important thing is that you use the same scale every time so that you're getting an accurate comparison of weights. Some I like: Etekcity Digital Body Weight Bathroom ScaleInnotech® Digital Bathroom Scale, and if you want something fancier, here's one that has a rechargable battery: RENPHO Bluetooth Body Fat Smart Digital USB Rechargeable Scale (and it syncs with the FitBit app as well as Apple Fit and Google Fit). I'm actually liking the look of that last scale - it's on my "to buy" list!

yellow cloth measuring tape

3) Measuring tape

Even though I just listed the scale as one of my favorite weight management tools, weight alone isn't always the best indicator of progress. But a measuring tape (and the fit of your clothing) never lies. Do yourself a favor and grab your measurements every 2-4 weeks. If you're sticking to a healthy diet and exercise program, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at those numbers even if the numbers on the scale are so-so. At the end of my third week/beginning of my fourth week, I've lost a total of 3.5 lbs. as well as 6.75 inches.

TIP: Keep a chart so you can see your results at a glance! (I'm sharing my easy-to-use chart further down in the post!)

iphone with the FitBit app open

4) Activity tracker + app

I've had a FitBit for several years. I use it to monitor my heart rate during exercise, my steps for the day, and my sleep patterns. I have it paired with the My Fitness Pal app and my Walgreens Balance Rewards account* (which I will talk about in a minute). I started out with the FitBit Flex, then switched to the Alta HR a few years ago. I'm liking the looks of the new Inspire HR (I think it's replacing the Alta?) so I might put that on my wish list. The main reason I like these particular styles is that they're slim. I really only track my heart rate, steps, and sleep, so I don't need a fancy-schmancy one.

And yes, sleep is important, too! I have had insomnia for about a year now (thanks, menopause!), and there are occasionally nights when I can't sleep at all. I have noticed that if I have several days where I get less than seven hours of sleep, my weight loss will stall and sometimes I will even gain. So tracking my sleep gives me another indication of what might be going on with my weight. I tried NatureMade melatonin tablets but they upset my stomach. Then I took this melatonin supplement nightly (this is another one I like - it has a little less melatonin in it) and it helped tremendously. I just switched to these time-released tablets because the chewables contain carbs. So far, it's working well and I've only had to take one 1mg tablet per night.

TIP: When you pair the FitBit with My Fitness Pal, it doesn't always accurately track exercise - especially if you're using a treadmill as opposed to walking outside. It tends to track outdoor activity better because you're actually moving to a different location. When you're on the treadmill, you're walking in place, so it doesn't always think you're exercising (even though it will record your steps). So when I walk outside, I open the FitBit app on my phone, and tap on "track exercise". When I walk on the treadmill, I jot down my start time, and when I'm finished the treadmill will give me the distance and calories burned, so I open the My Fitness Pal app and tap on "exercise", then "cardio", then add my workout manually.

*Walgreens Balance® Rewards: Like many stores, Walgreens (and Duane Reade) has a reward program where you earn points for purchases (there are some exclusions). These points can be redeemed for different cash amounts off purchases (there are some exclusions). There is a section on the app that is called "Balance Rewards for healthy choices®" where you can earn more points by making healthy choices. I have my FitBit connected so it gives me points for steps/walking. You can also earn points for recording your weight, blood glucose levels, and more. For instance, I always get the max number of exercise points allowed per month (1,000), and 1,000 points is equal to $1 in rewards. We get all of our prescriptions at Walgreens, so we accumulate a good number of points. If you shop at Walgreens, this might be something you want to consider!

The Metabolism Miracle book, a notepad, weight chart, and measurement chart lying on a wooden table

5) Lists, blogs, books, and charts

Yes, this is more than one thing, but they kinda go together. I believe that one of the most important things you can do when you're implementing a healthy lifestyle is plan, plan, plan. Plan ahead for meals. Plan ahead for snacks. Plan your exercise. Make back-up plans, too! Another important thing to do is read. Read other people's stories, recipes, blogs, books - knowledge really is power!

Lists: Since Gus and I only have to meal-plan for the two of us, it's pretty easy. We usually eat the same main protein and vegetable, and then he will also have a starch (potatoes, rice, or pasta). So we sit down and make a grocery list and then shop together. I like to use a magnetic shopping pad on my fridge so we can jot down items as we think of them and then we always know where to find the list when it's time to shop. I usually pick up several when I'm at IKEA, and I've also seen them at Michael's and on Amazon.

Blogs: I like to read other blogs and several of my favorites are about low-carb, keto, or paleo recipes. I subscribe to my absolute favorites so that I don't miss anything, and then I add others to my Feedly app so they're all in one place. In the app, I can save the post, email it, or even open it in my browser if I want to print something. Some of my favorite blogs: Peace, Love and Low Carb, Joy Filled Eats, All Day I Dream About Food.

Books: I love "real" books. But we're trying to "downsize" in preparation for retirement, and I have promised to only buy books that I truly love. That means I am always taking advantage of the huge selection of digital books available from our local library. I use Libby for digital library books and Kindle for iPad for other e-books. I also have a Kindle but it's just easier to use the Kindle app on my iPad.

Most of my healthy lifestyle reading is done from that local digital library. The books are free to borrow for 3 weeks, and then if I decide I want to own a print copy, I can go to Amazon and order it. Some of my favorite books: The Metabolism Miracle, The Metabolism Miracle Cookbook, Craveable Keto. I'm thinking about purchasing Southern Keto - the recipes sound amazing!

Charts: I used to just use a notebook to record my weight and measurements, but I wanted something more specific. So I made a couple of simple Excel charts to record my daily weights and weekly averages as well as my monthly measurements. I could fill them out on my laptop, but I prefer to print them out. I do my weights and measurements in the master bathroom, so I keep the sheets up there where I can easily write the numbers on them - and I can keep them handy for motivation.

Click here to join the "Viewers" and get (free) access to the members-only free printables! I just added the charts I use to track my weekly average weight and measurements because I want you to be able to easily track your progress, too! 

pinnable image for The Age-Health-Weight Connection & My Favorite Tools for Weight Management

Adventures of Gus and Kim: ZooTampa at Lowry Park - Tampa, Florida

Adventures of Gus and Kim: ZooTampa at Lowry Park - Tampa, Florida

If you're planning a trip to the Tampa area anytime soon, you don't want to miss ZooTampa at Lowry Park! Gus and I have wanted to see ZooTampa for a couple of years now, so when we were in Florida a couple of months ago, we were finally able to make it happen. And can I just say that being able to wear shorts to visit a zoo in February is the best?!

entrance of Zoo Tampa

Let me start by telling you about our favorite animals - the Bornean orangutans!!

mother and baby orangutan

We have a couple at the Cincinnati Zoo, but ZooTampa has a whole group (which is called a congress - something I didn't know). The male is named Goyang, but Gus and I refer to him as "Big Daddy". He is fabulous!

large male orangutan

We just happened to arrive as a zookeeper was tossing food to the orangutans so a professional photographer could get photos. The orangutans were very engaged and it was just so much fun to watch them.

large male orangutan sitting on some logs

close-up of large male orangutan

Side note: Did any of you watch The Strain on FX (2014-2017)? If you did, do you remember those creepy kids that walked like spiders and looked a bit like monkeys?? I got a shot of one of the orangutan babies that gave me chills because it looks so much like one of these creatures! I think it's the expression that makes it so creepy! Those eyes!

baby orangutan holding onto a rope in front of a waterfall

Next up - koala!! We haven't had one at our zoo for quite some time, so I was excited to see one again. They look so cute and cuddly. Minus the huge pointy nails.

koala sitting in a tree

And stingrays!! If you've read my post about the Jacksonville Zoo, then you know Gus loves to feed the stingrays. At first, he said he wasn't going to feed them because he had done it before - but then he ended up feeding them twice!

stingray taking food out of a man's hand

We found the zoo easy to navigate. We were able to see everything without doing a ton of backtracking. The manatee exhibit was closed, so visitors were unable to walk through and had to turn around to get out of that loop - not a big deal. Something else we appreciated was that there were plenty of opportunities to find shade, sit down, and grab some refreshments.

Here are some of the other animals we saw - enjoy!


colobus monkey
Colobus monkey

coopertail monkeys
Red-tailed guenon (Coopertail monkey)

ring-tailed lemur
Ring-tailed lemur

bald eagle
Bald eagle

Caribbean flamingo
Caribbean flamingo

scarlet macaw
Scarlet macaw



Aldabra tortoise
Aldabra tortoise

red wolf
Red wolf

They took several photos of us when we arrived, asking us to pose in different ways. This was a little different than what we've experienced at other zoos - just one or two standard poses and you're done. We don't usually buy photos but we decided to stop and look at them simply because we were curious about the poses. We were so amused that Gus bought all of them on a flash drive!

I'll only post one, but the others showed us surrounded by a few animals, watching an elephant spraying water, looking scared as a tiger was gearing up for attack, me holding the baby pygmy hippo, and Gus holding a macaw on his arm. Yep, they were cheesy and we loved them!! FYI: It was $60 for a flash drive with all of the photos, print release, an 8X10 of our choice, and 9 professional animal photos with the ZooTampa logo (there are other packages as well).

man and woman "running" from a rhino

Other things to do at ZooTampa:

  • Roaring Springs Splashdown
  • Rides in Wallaroo Station
  • Jungle Carousel
  • Expedition Africa

ZooTampa is located in an urban area, like a lot of zoos. We didn't have any problems finding it, and parking was easy and free. It is on the list of reciprocal zoos for Cincinnati, so we were able to get half-price admission with our Cincinnati Zoo membership. Definitely on the to-do list for Tampa!

infographic of Zoo Tampa's entrance and a mother and baby orangutan

ZooTampa at Lowry Park
1101 W. Sligh Ave.
Tampa, FL  33604

(813) 935-8552

Hours: Open daily 9:30am - 5:00pm (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)
The Zoo has extended hours for Seasonal Events and closing hours vary for Creatures of the Night and Christmas in the Wild.

Admission: $36.95
($3 off if you purchase in advance online - or pay full price for one day and you get free admission the rest of the year)

Do you have a favorite zoo? Let me know in the comments or connect with me on Instagram or Snapchat - I'd love to get some ideas of where to go next!
The Age - Health - Weight Connection (and how to deal with it!)

The Age - Health - Weight Connection (and how to deal with it!)

I'm going to take a guess and say that, like me, as you've gotten older, you've noticed a gradual weight gain. And that it takes less food to cause that gain. And that health issues play a part, not only in the gain, but also in not being able to exercise as much or in the same way. Can you relate?

Infographic that says "Age-Health-Weight Connection (and how to deal with it)"

(Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended as medical advice. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should seek a professional opinion from a medical doctor. If you have medical conditions, you should consult your doctor before beginning any new diet/exercise program.)

(This post may contain affiliate links which were added to make it easier for you to find the items. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). You are free to use the links or not - if you do, I thank you!)

At the age of 57, I want to know all I can about all aspects of aging. Why is it so difficult to lose weight? How much exercise should I get - and what do I do when health issues prevent me from exercising? I've said it before, and it's still true - I'm not trying to look 20 years younger, I just want to be the best me at my current age.

I don't have all the answers, and I'm not offering any medical advice, but I am going to share "my story": some of the issues that I have encountered and the ways in which I have dealt (or am dealing) with them. This is what works for me. I know there are others out there (both under and over age 50) who are experiencing the same issues, so my hope is that I can offer inspiration and support!

photos of woman's face before and after 20 lb. weight loss
What a difference 20 pounds and the right diet can make! I was 53 in the photo on the left - overweight and dealing with health issues. In the photo on the right, I was 56 - looking and feeling much better!

In general, as we age, it becomes extremely easy to gain and more difficult to lose weight. Our metabolism slows a bit, but what might be even more important is that we tend to become less active. Sometimes, this is due to health issues that we didn't have when we were younger. Menopause? Don't even get me started! Before we know it, a five pound weight gain has turned into ten, and a couple of years later the scale is registering 20 pounds heavier. We're left standing in front of the mirror wondering what the heck happened!

Health issues can also play in big part in weight gain. These issues can also make it impossible/more difficult to exercise. This can be due to pain or something like insulin resistance. Maybe you are physically unable to exercise or you have to find a different type of exercise to accommodate the changes in your body.

Like many of you, I have several health issues that affect my ability to exercise and maintain my weight.
  • insulin resistance
  • degenerative disc disease (5 surgeries)
  • osteoarthritis
  • migraines
I also have familial hypercholesterolemia and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol and high triglycerides). Since it's genetic, a simple change in diet doesn't fix it. My liver makes too much cholesterol. Diet is still very important, as is medication, but no matter what I do, it's likely that my numbers will never be normal. Exercise is also very important.

Today, I'm going to focus on the conditions I mentioned above (yes, I have even more!) - those that have affected my ability to exercise and maintain my weight: insulin resistance, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and migraines. Can I get an amen? I know a lot of you are dealing with these, too!

Let's start in 2011, the year I turned 50. I lost 20 pounds in three weeks due to complications during my third back surgery. While this was NOT the way to lose, this actually put me at a good weight. I'm 5'3" tall and I was at 150 lbs. For those of you wondering how that fits into sizing - when I'm at that weight, I wear sizes 6-8. Charts may say that I should weigh 107-140, but my body likes 150-155 better. I feel good, my labwork is stable, and I can maintain it without feeling deprived. I tried to find a photo, but apparently I felt so bad that year that I didn't take any.

Here I am in 2012 with my great-grandmother. You can see by the shape of my face that I've started to gain weight. I was still having significant pain from the surgery (even though it had been 11 months), and I was also getting steroid injections. At this point the insulin resistance hadn't been diagnosed.

photo of two women standing in a park
September 2012

Between 2012-2013, I slowly gained back those 20 pounds. You might be thinking "Oh, it's because she had back problems". You would be wrong. I was keeping my calories at 1200/day and exercising 30-45 minutes 5-6 days/week. I started noticing that after I would eat dinner, I couldn't keep my eyes open. And I never nap. I knew something was wrong, and to make a long story short, I was eventually diagnosed with insulin resistance. (You can read more about that journey in my post No One Knows You Better Than You.)

In 2013, I started on the low carb diet recommended by my endocrinologist, and over the next 5 months, I lost 15 pounds. I was so happy! I was feeling better, had more energy, and I had a good diet and exercise routine. I thought, "I got this", but then life said, "Um, wait a minute..."

photo of woman with blonde hair and blue eyes
June 2014, after the 15 lb. weigh loss

Starting in spring of 2014, I developed pain in my left ankle. No injury, it just started hurting as I was walking up the stairs one day. After many months of being in a boot (and unable to exercise) I had surgery in October 2014, during which they discovered a torn tendon in my ankle. During the 8+ week non-weight-bearing period, I couldn’t exercise. My carb intake increased a bit and so did my weight.

Here I am in November of 2014, just a few weeks after my ankle surgery. You can see the extent of my weight gain just by looking at my face and chin(s). I was also on a good bit of medication at this time.

photo of woman with blond hair and blue eyes wearing a black knit scarf
November 2014

Before I could complete physical therapy (PT) following that surgery, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and torn articular cartilage in my right knee. In September 2015 I had surgery for that, putting me on crutches for several weeks and back in PT. At this point, I was becoming pretty frustrated.

Between the stress of these “injuries” and the lack of exercise over the previous year, I gained the 15 pounds back. But even worse was that my cholesterol and triglyceride levels were up more than usual. As I mentioned, with familial hypercholesterolemia, even when I eat clean my numbers are still high. But as long as I'm able to exercise it seems to keep them in a steady, though higher than normal, range.

This is when I started the Metabolism Miracle diet. I lost 13 pounds in the first two months during Step 1 of the program. (You can read more about that in my posts Could You Have Metabolism B? and Metabolism Miracle: What Happens During Step 1.)

woman with blonde hair and sunglasses - looking very happy
July 2015

I continued with a relatively low carb diet and exercised 30-45 minutes 5-6 days/week over the next 3 years, got back down to 150-155 and maintained it. And then just when I started to think, "I've really got this now", my back started giving me issues again.

blonde woman holding a baby at a party
June 2016

family - mother, father, and daughter
February 2017

blonde woman with blue eyes
April 2017

In July 2018 I had to have another back (thoracic) surgery. Just as I felt like I might be ready to start exercising again, I started having neck and arm pain. That was a herniated disc and bone spurs in my cervical spine. By October 2018, I had gained about five pounds. You can see in the photo below that my face is a little fuller.

mother and daughter standing in front of a restaurant
October 2018

In December 2018, I opted for a foraminotomy (making the space for the nerve larger so it’s no longer pinched) rather than fusion. (I'm already fused from C4-C7 and T5-T9 so I didn't want to lose more movement unless absolutely necessary.) After the surgery, some of my symptoms were gone, but I began having neck pain on the other side, along with debilitating daily headaches.

Dry needling has provided some relief, but I still have some neck and back pain as well as headaches. Once again, I haven’t seriously exercised for almost a year, I’ve eaten more carbs than I should, and you guessed it - I’ve gained 10 pounds total. Sigh.

blond woman and dark-haired man with graybeard at a park
February 2019

I've given a lot of thought to the last eight years and all of the ups and downs. There have been times when I was in too much pain to even think about my diet and I certainly did not exercise. There have been times when I felt guilty about not being able to be more active - and sometimes I fed that guilt with unwise food choices. Have you been there?

My spine isn't going to miraculously get better - it's a degenerative disease. So is arthritis. My cholesterol at best can be "managed" and will never be normal due to my genetics. Migraines? What's the weather? But just because I have periods where I am unable to exercise doesn't mean I shouldn't get right back into it as soon as I'm able. It also doesn't mean I should feel guilty when I'm unable to exercise.

The Serenity Prayer really fits my situation - and it may fit yours as well:

infographic featuring the Serenity Prayer

I accept that aging and health conditions are things that I cannot change. The health problems are going to flare up from time to time and they're not going away. I will let my body heal and then get back on track as soon as possible. I will be more committed to a low carb lifestyle because not only is it best for my body, but it also makes me feel better. If I stray, I will only look forward and step back on the path as soon as possible. No guilt, no regrets. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time.

Last week, I went back to a serious low carb lifestyle and began using the treadmill for 20 minutes 3 days/week. The low carb is going well, I'm tolerating the treadmill with minimal pain in my neck, and I lost 2.5 lbs.

My current plan is to continue this for 2 weeks. If that works out, I’ll slowly increase my exercise. But - and this is important! - even if all I can ever do is 20 minutes 3-4 days/week, then that's what I'll do. If that's all my body will tolerate, then so be it. You have to work within your limitations - but it's still important to work. Acceptance, but never surrender.

I'm going to be talking more about my journey: tools I use to help me stay on track, favorite foods, and more. If you're interested in aging, health, weight, or if you relate to one of my health issues - be sure to check back for additional info. You can also subscribe to the newsletter, and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. I like to use Snapchat and Insta-stories to show what I'm eating (along with the amusing show that is my daily life!). I'd love to connect with you and hear your story!

**Don't miss the second post in the series: My Favorite Tools for Weight Management (+ free printables!)**