Happy New Year

By Lisa Baker

I hope everyone had a very happy start to their New Year.  My husband and I did not do any special celebrating.  I had to work New Year’s Eve while he was off, and he had to work New Year’s Day while I was off, so the New Year slipped in while we both slept.

img950009We got Mom moved into her new facility.  It is an assisted living facility in Batesburg.  She looks happy in the picture.  She still thinks that she has to check on Dad every day, so we have to tell her that he is fine, and that the staff at his facility are taking care of him.  We remind her that we will take her to visit him every so often so she can see for herself that he is fine.

My sister-in-law, Stefanie, went by to see her a couple of days after she moved in.  She made a point to peek in the window to see what she was doing before entering.  Mom was sitting with a group of ladies, and they were all talking and laughing and looked like they were having a good time together.  It feels good to see her happy.  Yet if you ask her, she will still say she doesn’t like it there.  Sometimes you just have to laugh.  Especially when you can tell by watching that she is indeed enjoying herself.

Dad is doing OK.  He has gone downhill, and you can tell by trying to talk with him.  He will just look at you when you talk with him as if he can’t really understand what you are saying.  He still seems to know us and will call us by name which is a blessing.  He has become a little steadier in his balance and walking.


I’m not sure if he is missing Mom a lot or not.  I guess only time will tell.  The doctor is changing his medication a bit and will keep a check on him to see if this helps.

Our lives continue to change.  It seems like not much settles down for a while before something else happens, so we are really hoping with the New Year that things will settle down some.

Right now, we each try to see Mom and Dad as often as we can.  For me, this past week has been very busy at work, so I haven’t gone by as much as I would have liked.  Therefore, I’ve made a few phone calls to check on them both.


In other family news, my son, Justin, and his beautiful wife, Rachel, are expecting their first baby in May. At their last doctor appointment, they found it’s going to be a boy.


They are very excited, and so am I.  Out of all our grandchildren, this one will be local to us, so let the loving and spoiling begin.  I can’t wait!

So, I’ll leave you all for now.  I’m sure I’ll have lots more to tell you in my next blog post.

Remember to make memories while you can and enjoy each day!


Four Reviews

By Rachel Sircy

When I last wrote, I was beginning a series of New Year’s resolutions- the first of which was to actually keep a symptom/food journal. So, I thought that this time I would go over my progress so far. If I’m being honest, it’s been pretty hit and miss. I thought I’d share a few of the methods I’ve tried for anyone out there who may need some fresh ideas on how to track their own food consumption and symptoms. I am still experimenting and have yet to come to a perfect solution, but here’s what I’ve tried so far:

Food/Symptom Tracking Apps (I have an iPhone. I’m not sure if/how all of these apps will work on other kinds of phones. I’m not really good with technology myself, but this advice should help you if you’re an Apple user.)

1. Lose It! – this is technically a weight-loss app, but to me, this is the easiest food tracking app out there. Most of its important functions come with the free version of the app. I’ve never really seen any need to purchase a subscription, although if you are really interested in tracking how much water you drink and getting weight-loss suggestions, then purchasing the full version of the app might be a good idea. The thing that I like about this app is that you can tell that a LOT of people already use it and pretty much any food that you can think of (including most items from major brands and restaurant menus) has already been logged by someone. I am incredibly lazy and not very technologically savvy, and I hate looking up the calories on a food I’m eating. Most foods I put in there already have been put in the app, and someone else has already done the research for me. Also, this app has a scanner which recognizes almost all the food items that I scan. You can also track the exercises that you do in a day and for a big rush of endorphins, save that for last and watch your calorie count drop. That always makes me feel good.

Keep in mind that it’s not a perfect app for celiac because it doesn’t have a place to track your symptoms (again, it’s made for weight-loss), but the ease of use can help you at least take down the foods that you’ve eaten even on really busy days. For that, it’s worth having on your phone.

2. Cara – This app is very intensely detailed, allowing you to take pictures of the foods you’ve eaten and allows you to (as far as I can tell) group certain foods together as “ingredients” to create “dishes.” The advantage of this is that if you make the same meal often, you can just choose the dish, but you still have a list of every single thing in that dish. This app also allows you to track your symptoms, bowel movements (yeah, I thought the BM tracker made me feel a little uncomfortable, but if you have intense gut issues – like most celiac/gluten intolerant people do – then it is undeniably useful), medications, moods, menstrual cycles, exercises, and sleep. The app also has a feature that allows you to export your data into PDF, CSV, and web files so that you can potentially share this information with your doctor. This is important in my book, and it’s what makes this app worth having.

I frankly couldn’t keep up with this app. I don’t necessarily mind tracking all of that stuff, but being the Luddite that I am, I prefer not to do it on my phone. I somehow find it more difficult to track things on the computer or on my phone than in a notebook, but I think I’m sort of the odd duck out in that respect. I think most people these days usually prefer to track stuff electronically, and if you’re into detail, then this app is for you. This app is also free, which is a huge plus.

3. Symple – This app seems well worth your while if you are experiencing continuing symptoms even after going on a gluten free diet. The trial version of this app allows you to track up to five symptoms and factors (that is, anything that could be causing your symptoms) daily. The app then compiles this data into graphs and even has a feature that allows you to send the information to a laptop or desktop computer where you can print out reports for your doctor. That fact alone makes me think that this is probably the best app for anyone who has a food allergy or intolerance and for anyone who thinks they may have an allergy/intolerance. I truly believe that sharing with your doctor is important, and I would urge everyone out there not to be a lone wolf about any illness. You can and should get help. The trial version of this app is pretty basic, but for $6.99 you can get the full version. Really, for this kind of technology, I think $6.99 is a pretty reasonable price.

The drawback to this app is that it is not a food tracking app, although you can list gluten free food as one of your factors, you can’t list other foods- just “gluten free food.” If you choose to upgrade, however, there is a journal feature, and you can take and store up to 10 photos per day, so you could potentially keep your food log in that way. The “doctor’s report” feature on this app allows you to include journal entries that you have tagged, which would allow you to include your food journal with the graph of your symptoms.

Again, I’m not someone who is good with technology, so I didn’t pay for the upgrade of this app because I really didn’t feel that I would use it. This is what I bought instead:

Health Journals

4. Health Journal: Discover Food Intolerances and Allergies                 

Yeah, most people my age (that is early to mid-thirties) are probably shaking their heads in shame at me, but I really prefer the old-fashioned method of writing stuff down on paper. I purchased this journal, just called Health Journal: Discover Food Intolerances and Allergies, from Amazon for $12.99. It seems to be made by a small company, and it is geared specifically to tracking food allergy and intolerance symptoms. These are the sample pages from the journal (You didn’t really think I was going to shame myself by taking pics of my personal food logs, did you?):

I like the fact that this journal not only allows you to track what you’ve eaten and your symptoms, but also other factors which might be causing the symptoms, like the weather or other common irritants like household cleaners. When your immune system is haywire, it can be hard to track down what is really triggering an immune response, and I thought that these features were really helpful. There are also places to track your blood pressure, blood sugar, water intake, weight, and exercise, so this can work for your overall health and also can help you if you’re trying to lose weight. In the back of the book, there is a Health Information section which includes the subsections: Medical Tests, Medical History, Notes and Questions, and a Symptoms Glossary.

One drawback to this book is that the binding is pretty stiff, and it makes it difficult to write in. One fellow Amazon purchaser showed a picture of where he had taken the book to a copy shop and had it spiral bound for a few bucks, which might not be a bad idea if you, like me, really prefer pen and paper to all this technology. The other downside to this book is that while you have paper reports in front of you, you’ll have to find a way to copy these for your doctor. Perhaps your doctor will recruit some poor nurse or office associate to do the copying for your while you’re in talking to the doc, but it’s an added difficulty.

Well, I hope these little reviews will help some of you out there looking for ways to improve your health in the coming year. Good luck!



New Year…New You…No Dieting!

By Marianna Boyce

I hope everyone had a great start to the new year!  Hopefully, if you made any resolutions, you will keep them much longer than I ever did.  If you read my last LMC post, “D-I-E-T…That Dirty Four Letter Word,” you already know I swore fad diets off forever.  I chose the whole lifestyle change instead.

I simply started by cutting my calorie intake.  I continued eating the food I was normally eating, just much less of it.  What a novel idea!  When I lost five pounds in a few weeks, I was surprised and excited all at the same time!  This pushed me to go a step further.

I had to make myself accountable in some way so I downloaded a calorie counting app on my device.  I measured everything for a couple of weeks just until I was confident in the portion sizes I should be eating.  On days I exceeded my calorie allowance, I logged everything anyway!  Seeing the overage in calories ALWAYS encouraged me to make better choices the following day.

Helpful hints…

  • Download any free calorie counting app of your choice. I personally like the “Lose It” app.
  • When entering your personal information, set your goal weight 10 lbs lower than your actual weight. Losing 10 lbs is obtainable for anyone.  Set new goals as you reach each one.  “Inch by inch, anything’s a cinch.”
  • Log all food and drinks…even one itty bitty Hershey Kiss. (22 calories by the way)
  • Eat only enough to keep from being hungry. Fueling your body throughout the day makes for a good experience which is how it’s supposed to be.  You should never be hungry, but you should also never be “stuffed”.
  • Drink plenty of water! It has zero calories!
  • Don’t go back for seconds.salad
  • If you love salad, load up on lettuce, carrots, cucumbers etc. Eliminate or go easy on cheese, bacon bits and croutons.  Choose wisely on dressing.  Don’t go overboard if you choose the creamy ones.
  • If you love bread and dessert, don’t cut them out completely, just cut the portion at least by half.
  • If you somehow find yourself at Rush’s or McDonalds, choose a smaller burger and skip the fries.burger
  • Always have healthy snacks available at home and work. One ingredient snacks such as grapes, bananas, apples, almonds, pistachios, or boiled eggs are good.  Any of these, plus a glass of water should be enough to satisfy.  (Unless you have a food allergy to them.)
  • Eat or drink protein if possible. Protein makes you feel full.
  • If you like chips, buy the individual small bags of baked chips. They are more expensive but they are pre-measured and only average 150 calories per bag.  Limit yourself to one.  You’re at least getting to eat chips!  How cool is that?
  • If you walk or exercise, log that in also. This will credit more calories to your account for the day.
  • Your goal is staying below your calorie allowance. This is when weight loss will occur.
  • Weigh once a week in the morning before you eat or drink anything. Don’t be afraid to step on that horrible scale!  If you are serious about this method, it won’t be long you’ll be happy to step on that wonderful scale.  (Yes, I just said that!)
  • Don’t beat yourself up over a bad day. Log it all in, get over it, and move on to the next day.  Don’t EVER wait until the following week.  Your progress is worth more than tossing it out the window for one bad day.  It’s going to happen, but this should never derail your plan.

 If your goal is to lose weight and keep it off, stop “dieting”.  It’s easy getting started.  Simply cut down on what you’re currently eating.  If you are under the care of a physician and on a specialized diet, stick with your doctor’s plan.

Take a week or two to familiarize yourself with your new app.  Logging will get quicker.  This app will begin to remember your favorites so be patient.  If you don’t like logging, do it for three months.  Once you know your limits, you can discontinue logging but keep eating wisely.  I’m the type of person that needs to keep track.

I have lost 10 lbs since October.  This time span includes 2 family reunions, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  My clothes are fitting much better already.  One photo is me this past summer at 155 lbs.  The other is me at 145 lbs which is where I am currently.  My goal is 135 lbs.  This is where my body is at its optimum.

Some may need to lose more and some less.  Regardless of gender and if given a fair shake, this can potentially create a HAPPY NEW YOU for all of 2019, and even beyond.  This is what works for me.  I would love to hear what works best for you.



The New Year, a New Start

By Rhonda Woods

Hello everyone!

I hope you, your family and friends have had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was hectic, as usual, but odd at the same time.  We all knew something was missing, yet went through all the motions for our family, especially the children who did not notice our loss of happiness. I have tried to recall last Christmas, but it is pretty much is a blur.

By the time this is posted, we will have reached one year since the passing of my sweet husband on January 4. So much has happened in a year.  Through the good and bad times, trials and blessings, the one thing that remains unwavering is God.  He has never left me.  He has let me pour my heart out to Him on innumerable days and nights.  He has answered my prayers, allowed me rest and calmed my anxiety. I know the emptiness and uncertainty I have felt almost daily will part slowly like dark clouds that reveal the beauty of bright days ahead. God has a plan for my life and I am looking forward to opening my eyes and heart to His will. My faith and hope is for many changes, a new start, a new chapter and happiness.

Food brings happiness to many.  Sometimes it is a particular food that comforts us.  I like to think of the feeling you get from eating a comfort food as your “Ratatouille” moment.  If you’ve seen the movie, it’s the moment the food critic take a bite of the dish, Ratatouille, commonly know as a peasant dish made of root vegetables, was served.  One bite and he reminisced of his childhood and a version of this favorite dish made by his mother to comfort him. One of my comfort foods is Pound Cake, Chocolate Pound Cake, to be exact.  My great-grandmother “Doodle” made the best pound cake.  my grandsonThe texture was smooth and dense.  Lemon, AKA “Wemen” Pound Cake, as my grandson would say as a young child, (one of my favorite pictures of him).  It is still is his favorite.  We will celebrate his birthday in January with a family meal, most likely Nana’s Big Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread and, of course Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Icing Drizzle.

I have used several pound cake recipes using all butter, half butter and half Butter Flavored Crisco, and all Butter Flavored Crisco.  When I baked wedding cakes, pound cake was used for sturdy stacking of the decorated tiers. All butter will result in a shorter cake due to the amount of water in butter, while more height can be achieved with all Butter Flavored Crisco.  Pound Cake was named due to the ingredients being weighed by the pound.  The three pound cake recipes I have made the most are South American Pound Cake that uses all Butter Flavored Crisco, Lemon, Orange and Vanilla Extracts, Chocolate Pound Cake, and most recently, Million Dollar Pound Cake. Now don’t think I left out an ingredient when you read this recipe.  I thought so, myself the first time I made it.  It uses no chemical leavener; baking powder or baking soda.  The leaving comes from the half dozen eggs, a natural leavener.  The amount of milk is not a misprint either..  Go ahead and try this one and you’ll add it to your favorite recipes, also.

As your start the new year and resolve to lose weight by dieting, just remember, “It’s not what you eat, but how much of what your eat!”.

May God bless you and your family as he continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods


Million Dollar Pound Cake

1-10″ Tube Pan


4 c.plain flour

3 c. sugar

1 lb. butter, room temperature

2 t. Lemon Extract (or your favorite flavor)

6 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 c. milk, room temperature


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.,

Prepare the tube pan by greasing, flouring and lining the bottom with parchment or waxed paper (I call this” insurance”, as it insures the cake will come out of the pan!”

Sift flour and set aside.

Cream sugar, butter and extract until light and fluffy.  This will take 3-5 minutes and when a small amount is rubbed between your fingers, does not feel grainy because the sugar has been dissolved in the fat (butter).

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until smooth after each one.

Add sifted flour and milk, alternately, and then mix on medium speed for 1 minute.

Spoon and spread he cake batter evenly into the prepared tube pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until the cake tests done.

Remove from oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes before removing from the pan.

Store the completely cooled cake at room temperature in an airtight container or the cake may be wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.




Detecting Abnormal Heartbeats with Your Apple Watch

Patients have a new tool to help identify a type of abnormal heart rhythm. The newly released Apple Watch Series 4 enables users to take an electrocardiogram (EKG) from their wrist to check for atrial fibrillation (A-Fib). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared the device for this purpose late last year. Since then, we’ve heard a lot of questions from patients about it. Christopher P. Rowley, MD, electrophysiologist with Lexington Cardiology, had some answers.

Photo Courtesy: Apple

Q: What is atrial fibrillation?
A: Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm in which the top part of the heart quivers instead of beating effectively. The danger is that blood there could become stagnant and clot, then leave the heart and cause a life-threatening stroke or embolism.

Q: How does the new Apple Watch detect atrial fibrillation?
A: The Apple Watch uses a unique method where sensors will allow users to record a heart rhythm. The watch can send them a notification if it detects an irregular rhythm that appears to be atrial fibrillation. Previous versions of the Apple Watch have detected for heart rate, too.

Dr. Christopher Rowley

Q: What does this new technology mean for patient?
A: The idea of having patients monitor heart rhythms at home is not new. We often give patients monitors attached to their chest with stickers or a patch to wear at home. They record their heart rhythm when they’re having symptoms. Then, we correlate the symptoms with the results from the monitor.

The watch aims to do the same thing. It will be worn most of the day. It may even detect an abnormal heart rhythm the patient doesn’t know about. It means we’re empowering consumers to present data to their doctor rather than just starting to figure out a diagnosis during a visit.

Q: What should you do if your watch detects an abnormal rhythm?
A: Call your doctor. It’s also important to point out that the tool is not intended for people who have already been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, or as a substitute for seeing your doctor on a regular basis.

Q: Will it detect all abnormal heart rhythms?
A: No. The watch only checks for atrial fibrillation.

Q: How do you treat atrial fibrillation?
A: The treatment is different for each patient. It ranges from simple to complex medications, to an ablation where we go into the heart to identify the bad electrical signals and make them go away.

New Years’ Day is every day

By Janet Prince

Each year as one year comes to an end and the next begins we all set goals for ourselves…lose weight, exercise more, etc.  Then about a week into the new year, the goals are starting to fall by the wayside and we say we will try again next year.

Well, with each dawning morning comes the start of a new year whether its January 1st or April 30th.   Each day brings us new opportunities to be better and to do better with our lives.  Don’t look at your goals as a failure, look at them as another opportunity to try again to succeed.

This year I have decided to set goals for myself that are more inward focused instead outward for the world to see.  I have always enjoyed journaling and plan to return to that in 2019.  When my mother passed away in 2010, I journaled every night for three years.  Each night was a letter to her sharing about my day, asking for advice and letting her know how much I missed and needed her, as well as letting my tear drops fall freely.  Journaling provided me a way to heal my broken heart and it worked.  2018 was a very hard year for me emotionally and physically.  The physical will heal over time, but the emotional hurt I experienced will live with me forever.  Returning to journaling and writing a letter each night to my mother will help me heal in both.  The act of putting pen to paper and words that will live on far beyond me is sharing a roadmap of my life for my girls.  Although they have walked with me through the good and the bad times, they will be able to read how I truly felt inside about events that happened to me and to them.  If you have never journaled, I encourage you to try it.  You can journal everyday or once a week or even once a month.  Journaling is a place to share the hard times, but also the very happy times in your life.

booksAnother goal I am setting is to read more books.  Many enjoy reading on a Kindle or an I-pad or even their phone, but I’m old fashioned and love to hold a book in my hand and feel the pages.  I have a stack of books on my nightstand that I thought I would read while I was healing from my back surgery this past summer, but because it was so painful, I couldn’t concentrate.  Now that I’m six months into my 18-month recovery, reading brings me joy again!

As always, volunteering is a huge part of my life.  My club, the Woman’s Club of the Midlands, just made and donated a bookshelf filled with books and magazines to Lexington Medical Center Oncology.  The books and magazines are for the patients, as well as their caregivers, when they are receiving their treatments.  The books are there for them to borrow and will be added to each month.  This is a project that was so very simple but will bring such joy to so many.  I encourage you to find a place where you can volunteer so you can feel the joy that giving brings to your life.

2019 is beginning on a very happy note for our family as our oldest daughter is getting married on the 4th!  Fireworks will not only be fired off on New Year’s Eve, but also as we send her off to her happily ever after!

I wish you all a very happy 2019 and encourage you to set goals that make you happy and that are just for you!

Transitioning Through Life

By Tina Michelle Cameron

If you follow my blog, you know that I am an advocate for paying it forward and for doing volunteer work. And, just like many people who want to volunteer with their families at Thanksgiving and Christmas time, such as serving meals to the homeless or at a shelter—I have always wanted to do that on those mornings. Unfortunately, with my work schedule and other demands in life, it never worked out or the shelters had no openings for volunteers. I know that is not a good excuse, as there are 363 other days that these shelters need help.

transitions-facilityI am a nurse and have always wanted to help people and to care for them, it is just my nature. Well, I signed up a few weeks ago to volunteer at a shelter in Columbia called Transitions. It is in downtown Columbia at the site of a hotel that was torn down. It is a beautiful brick building that blends in with the rest of the buildings downtown. If you did not know what it is, you probably would not ever guess that it is a place for homeless people as well as others who are of various ages and stages in their life. Many have lost their jobs resulting in losing their homes, and some are people that live on the streets every day. Others have some income and a job, but need a place to stay for a few months to truly get back on their feet and in permanent housing.

I completed my orientation and walk-thru with the director last Wednesday, December 19th and served my first breakfast the next morning. We had 6 volunteers that morning and a nutritious breakfast to 100 people in 15 minutes. By the time I drove home an hour later, I knew this was what I wanted to do as a small way of helping people who are down on their luck.

Every single person that I served that morning, thanked every single one of us and told us how appreciative they were to have us get up on a cold, rainy morning and drive there to serve them breakfast. They wished us Merry Christmas, and all told us God bless you. Some were young, some were old, but they all were so thankful to have a hot meal and a place for a few hours or overnight to get out of the cold and wet weather.

According to their website and the amazing Community Outreach/ Event Coordinator, Cathy, Transitions was founded in 2011 and have been able to help 2,179 people find jobs and permanent housing. They have 240 beds- they have a day center that serves meals, they have a 30-day unit for men and women to stay short-term and then they have a much larger building to house people for several months to help them get back on their feet. They have numerous classes held daily to help with job skills, AA meetings and empowerment classes for women. They also have a raised vegetable garden that was created by a Boy Scout for his Eagle Scout project. Transitions is a non-profit organization and is the largest homeless center in Columbia, serving numerous counties in the state.

transitions-logoPlease consider volunteering at Transitions. It is easy to sign up as a volunteer on their website. I am already excited to return. I am blessed to have a wonderful job, a beautiful family and home, but, many of us could be in the same boat and be 1-2 paychecks away from losing everything. Life is what you make it, mine is not perfect by any means, but I want to know I made a difference.