Tuesday Miscellany: Paris Protests And More

Paris St. Germain Cafe de Flore decorated for Christmas. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

For those who have expressed concern about visiting Paris with the ongoing “gilet jaune” protests, I’ve been keeping a close watch on the situation. I’ve also had recent contact with people I know who live and work in the city. I don’t mean to downplay the severity, but (according to my contacts), in Paris itself the protests have been limited to certain days and areas, and can be avoided. The destruction and vandalism are always disturbing of course. I’m hopeful that the situation will have de-escalated by the time I’m scheduled to travel.

While the tenor was quite different, in 2014 we were in Hong Kong during the height of the student protests. We watched a tense standoff from the lobby of a hotel next to ours as the police confronted protestors and dismantled the barricades the students had set up.

Staying Healthy At 60 Plus: It’s Always Something…

I had my annual physical last week. I was a bit shocked when my doctor reported my test results now put me (barely) into the “pre-diabetic” range. All of my other results are “within normal ranges.” There’s no history of Type II diabetes in my family, I’m at a healthy weight, and I don’t eat much sugar or processed foods. I do eat a lot of whole, fresh foods. My doctor suggested I increase my daily exercise and have a consultation with a dietician, which I have scheduled for later this week. I’ll let you know what she suggests.

It seems there’s just so much contradictory information out there right now regarding “best practices” for healthy eating. I feel best on a low(er)-carb diet, but cut back on animal products and started including more foods like oatmeal and beans/legumes a few months back to try to lower my cholesterol. That’s why I’m hoping a dietician can help sort it out.


using a popsocket to hold smartphone securely. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I took the plunge yesterday and finally upgraded my years-old iPhone to the XR. Which meant a new case and a new Pop Socket. Best little gadget ever for a smartphone! I upgraded specifically to get the better camera, and the Pop Socket allows me to hold the phone steady and take pictures with one hand. I LOVE the “portrait” feature on the XR camera, BTW. I’m hoping to share some videos from Paris, which I’ll post on my Instagram and Facebook.

A Belated Happy Hanukkah to those who are celebrating!

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  1. I’m currently here in Paris – staying over in the Saint Germain area. While Saturday’s riots meant that areas on the other side of the river were no-go areas on that day, it has been fine since. I feel safe, no sign of any disturbances, etc in the areas where I’ve been. Weatherwise – it has been bit warmer than I’d anticipated, although wet. Too warm for winter woollens under a puffer jacket during the day, although I’ve seen a lot of people rugged up like that (and no doubt sweating). Layers will be your friend, as always. Enjoy your upcoming travels – Paris is always a delight, even in the rain!!

  2. My son and his girlfriend were in Paris 2 weekends ago and ended up on the fringe of the riots because they didn’t know what areas to avoid. Their eyes burnt from tear gas but they were ok. I know you will be more vigilant than a 21 year old about what areas to avoid! On a very different note, I got a pop-socket last year and love it. I can’t imagine how I ever held my phone before.

  3. I’ll be interested to hear what your dietician has to say. I would like to see one, as well, just for a kind of tune-up/reality check.
    Bon voyage. The yellow vests are mostly active on Saturdays, so have a plan that puts you in a calm neighborhood away from the action.

  4. I totally get what you say about dietary confusion. Between my husband’s doctor visits and mine we should be on a low sugar, low fat, low carb, low sodium, low protein diet. I’m not sure what is left to eat! Lol! But it has sure killed my desire to cook a meal.

  5. Good morning Susan,
    My husband and I are leaving for Paris this afternoon, departing on the weekend. We have been keeping up with the news, of course. Unfortunately, the protesters are in the area were we are staying, but hopefully will move on.
    Happy Hanukkah to you too!

  6. I would never be upset about a single test result. Was it fasting? Maybe run several to make sure it was not a fluke reading. See if it is consistent. The main thong is you are going to a dietician. Good move. I finally consulted a nutritionist (licensed, registered, etc) and was set straight. There is so much mis-information online and so many wacked out ideas.
    Go ahead and go to France. It is safer than here sad to say…………

  7. I’ll be interested to see what the dietician has to say also! At my checkup in 2017 I was told my numbers were just barely under the pre-diabetic range while everything else was within normal. I made just two changes to my diet, started eating (way) more vegetables and reduced added sugar and at my next checkup, I had dropped to well within normal range. My doctor said just keep doing what you’re doing, it’s working! I’m due for a recheck in Spring. I’ve always enjoyed excellent health but it was a wake up call that with age (I’ll be 64 next month) more attention and effort is necessary. Trying to figure out the right way to eat seems next to impossible these days!

  8. I have the cholesterol problem. I must say, it’s definitely taken a lot of joy out of cooking and eating. No cheese. No steak. No carnitas. NO BUTTER:(.


    I hope your pre-diabetic diagnosis is easily addressed! And have fun in Paris. A riot with a schedule is a very civilized riot;).

    1. No cheese would be the worst for me. I don’t eat a lot of it, but enjoy it when I do. Did the dietary changes help?

  9. Two years ago I too got the diagnosis of prediabetic . I am now 65. Like you my weight is good and I was already eating healthy . I too have cut down on animal protein and upped my vegetables although I have to say I was eating a lot of vegetables anyway. And I increased my exercise which I need to do even more . I still have not brought down my sugar levels however my cholesterol has come down a little bit and my doctor assures me that the two are interrelated .
    Please let us know Susan what progress you make!

  10. Thank you for all your styling advice, so helpful!

    Last year my cholesterol went up slightly and I requested an appointment with the dietitian at my doctor’s office. Luckily I had been keeping a food diary which I was able to share, and the dietitian went through every day with me, made some tweaks, but confirmed that I was doing a good job and the cholesterol level was probably not a result of diet and nothing to worry about. I think I will go back to keeping a food diary as it’s helpful to keep on track.

    Have a wonderful trip!

  11. Not that anyone should take medical advice from their blog followers, but last year I had the same pre-diabetic diagnosis. I now make sure the first bite at every meal is protein, and give my body at minimum a 12 hour fast after dinner (I aim for 15, but not always possible with work schedule.) My numbers dropped from 6.1 to 5.6. I really think the intermittent fasting is what did it, and I’m interested to read more about that as so many Americans are in the pre-diabetic range now.

  12. Susan. I’ve been in Paris since last Wednesday. Stayed away from protesting area and all seems fine. Staying at same hotel as you in Saint Germain, shopping up a storm. Enjoy your trip

  13. More than anything, exercise helps my pre-diabetes. Walking 1-2 miles a day and yoga 2-3 times a week. If I don’t have the dog on my walk, I listen to podcasts to make the time go by.

  14. Susan,
    I’ve been pre-diabetic for 10 years. My numbers haven’t changed. I wonder if being older often ups one’s numbers and staying the course with a healthy diet is the best thing to do. My Doctor isn’t worried that I’ll become diabetic anytime soon. In my 70’s now. So don’t think this is the start of the slippery slide

  15. The NY Times ran an article about a year ago stating that atorvastatin (cholesterol lowering meds) can elevate your sugar level a little. I suspended the drug for three months without any other tweaks to my diet and my sugar levels fell from 5.8 to 5.4. Unfortunately, my cholesterol level increased so I’m back on the meds.

    Haag sameach!

  16. It was reported this morning that President Macron has canceled the tax increase on fuel, so the protests should be over. You are going to have a fabulous trip to Paris, no matter the weather. We’re leaving next Wednesday for the Netherlands & I’m just so excited! We already have our Anne Frank House tickets & will be buying our Van Gough tickets today. I’m so blessed that my parents instilled in me the importance of travel, I learn so much!! Safe travels!

  17. Sugar levels. Id have another test. When mine went up I was tested for the way I absorbed sugar. Turns out I was fine. One test may not really tell the story. Regarding exercise. I just received an Apple Watch for my birthday. It has an activity monitor that watches how much exercise, activity and standing you do. Suddenly I’m walking upend down stairs. Parking blocks away so I can get more walking in. The monitor has these circles that you want to join together. That means you’ve completed your exercises for the day. My son also monitors what I do. Thus I know have gotten more exercise in than I have in years!!! Love it. I’ll be your exercise monitor if you’d like.
    Love your clothes choices for winter travel.

  18. I’m about to upgrade to the XR: really want that XS but am not willing to spend more! I’ve had the 7+ for two years and just love it. The larger size, also, is a big draw for me. And thank you for the vote for the Pop Socket: I’ve wondered just how useful it would really be and now I know!

  19. I would say that in the past year many of my friend went for their annual and all were told they were pre-diabetic. Personally this seems rather strange. As long as you eat healthy and get some type of exercise in, I think the pre-diabetic deal is a bunch of hooey. At our age let’s enjoy the better things in life!

  20. Amazing how many people have the same diagnosis. I am 70 and have been ok, my husband has been borderline. Over the last few yyears we have been eating two vegetables with a protein for dinner most nights. Lots of soups and salads , I love to experiment with different beans, and we often have vegetarian meals. Many things I learned at a spa I love, Rancho La Puerta, which only servers vegetarian meals or meals with fish. So healthy and so yummy, I always come home with great ideas for cooking meals. Never miss meat. Also we would often spend extended time in Hawaii, I never eat any protein other than fish. I need fish several times a week now. Just make some subtle changes and you will be fine. I think they have lowered the level that is considered the borderline level too. Try some vegetarian or fish places more often to get ideas. Or try Rancho La Puerta, it will Chang your life. Changed mine! Look it up, they have a cooking school too.

  21. So I had to weigh into the diabetic/pre diabetic discussion because …it’s what I do for a living. The gold standard for testing for diabetes (or pre diabetes) is a little test called a HbA1c. When hemoglobin and glucose bond it forms a coat of sugar on the hemoglobin and the coat gets thicker when there is more sugar in the blood. The A1c tests how thick the coat has been over the past three months (which is the life span of a red blood cell) The end result is that folks who have diabetes or pre diabetes have more sugar bound to hemoglobin (glycohemoglobin) than normal. This differs from a blood glucose test like a gluco scan that you might use at home which measures the amount of sugar in the blood at that moment. BTW certain medications can raise glucose levels in the blood too so review, if you take those, with your pharmacist. Prednisone is the usual suspect but there are other meds out there that can artificially increase blood glucose levels. I say artificially because once you are off them the blood glucose goes back to normal.
    For HbA1C results normal is 6.5%
    Yes you can do EVERYTHING right and still have diabetes, it happens. Like you can do everything right and still get high cholesterol or high blood pressure. So much is embedded in our DNA and in our cells that we can’t predict .For instance you can have it and no one else in your family, we really are individuals!
    A word about intermittent fasting DO NOT DO IT if you have any medical issues related to blood sugars or hypertension. There is some literature out there suggesting that it can do more harm than good to “les femmes d’un certain âge’. If you do have diabetes, keeping balanced blood sugars is your goal and fasting can interfere with that. There are SO many women in this age group developing disordered eating patterns it boggles the mind…but then there are so many charlatans pushing weird diets. (Sorry, the RD in me…)
    Good luck Susan, good to catch it early and to be proactive.

        1. Right you are American girl. American Diabetes Association sets 5.7 as the low range for pre diabetics. In Canada it is 6.0. Why that is I am not sure. It could be with the prevalence of diabetes in the U.S. Although it’s increasing here as well. Maybe it’s an attempt at being proactive with an increasingly at risk population? Americans overall are in poorer health so catching folks at 5.7 and making the lifestyle changes early might help the prevention of full blown diabetes.
          I’m 5.7 and have been for three years ( first time I had the blood test) believe me I monitor but don’t restrict my diet. Watch the beans they’re good for you but carry a higher carb load.. Protein is key as we grow older. If you are considering vegetarian eating stick with pescatarian ( fish).

  22. Getting a glutometer (they’re over the counter, inexpensive and easy to use) was a game changer for me. You can experiment with eating different foods, and learn exactly how YOUR blood sugar is effected. I firmly believe we’re all biologically different and need to find what works for us, vs a blanket recommendation.

  23. Wowza – these comments are very educational! I have printed and will go to my next check-up well-versed! I just finished “peri-menopause” and felt I was good to go, now that I turned 55! As Roseanne Roseannadanna said, “it’s always something!”

  24. Earlier in the year, my husband was also diagnosed with pre-diabetes. He’s always been very active, extremely fit and has never been many pounds overweight. But he’s slowed down the past few years due to heart disease. The resulting lack of activity plus diet heavy on carbs and dairy pushed him over that line. His doctor told us no red meat, no animal fat, whole grains only and no sugar. It hasn’t been easy, especially for someone with a sweet tooth, but after six months his labs came back in the normal range. We’re still trying to mostly adhering to those dietary guidelines. After all, no one wants to backslide on this one!

  25. I was given the pre-diabetic diagnosis almost 5 years ago at age 61. So far, through careful eating, my blood sugar levels have remained stable just above the normal range. One of the best bits of advice I was given was don’t drink your sugar. For me, that meant cutting out my morning orange juice. Even unsweetened juices are very high in sugar. I look forward to hearing what else your dietician advises you.

  26. Can’t wait to see the new iPhone. It sounds fantastic. Luckily the riots in Paris have died down. The French do love to protest it is a national pastime. My husband lives with type 2 Diabetes and manages it well with diet and exercise.

  27. I think that the criteria for “pre-diabetic” have changed in the last few years, as have the criteria for pre-hypertension blood pressure readings. One annual check-up to the next can bring about changes in your status. It’s confusing and alarming, and as one respondent said above, it sure takes the pleasure out of cooking or eating.

  28. The comments that Susan’s post about her blood sugar inspired have been fascinating. Add me to what is now a long list of active women who eat healthily and are nonetheless receiving some bad “numbers.” My sugar is a little high, too, but more concern is bp. I have been resentful that I have been doing everything right (I think!) but still see rising numbers. The comments from so many of you that show how much just the normal aging process must have to do with all this and that I am not alone have been reassuring and I appreciate this very much. And thanks to Ainsivalavie for pointing out the role of genetics, too. I will keep trying to eat well and exercise regularly, but not be so resentful that I can’t change everything!
    Meanwhile, I’m so happy that some of you are in Paris and Susan B is on her way. I haven’t been in several years – need to fix that 🙂

  29. The truth(s) about correct dietary choices are confounding and almost seem “unknowable” sometimes. I’ve concluded there must be an aspect of personal DNA, and other individual biochemical factors that play a role in which foods and combinations are optimal for each person. My doctor did a DNA test on me recently for purposes of identifying how my body processes different types of antidepressants and other related drugs. That was eye opening. It solved the mystery for me re why certain medications never worked. It now allows precision in prescribing meds that work well – no longer a guessing game/trial and error. Also detected a defective gene that affects my processing of certain vitamins and minerals which certainly has an impact on effective food & supplement choices for me. Have to say the results have been amazing with the new prescription and also bloodwork that shows increased levels of vit B, etc. Who knew……

  30. In regards to diabetes, I tested pre-diabetic about 2 years ago and I was not overweight. I have changed my diet somewhat (low carbs, but definitely watching my sugar intake), increased my exercise (weight training and HIIT, and I practice intermittent fasting. I have been out of the range since making these changes and am back to my normal weight that I held through my teens and into my early 40s. It’s a lifetime commitment for sure, but I still allow for the occasional indulgence

  31. The NYT mentions that the state department has a STEP program where you can get tweets. You can google, “WHAT TRAVELERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TRAVEL TO FRANCE” Sorry, I can’t copy the link in. ).

    The biggest plus would seem to be that the tweets are in English, which might be helpful since who knows what 140 character French really means.

    Whether you want to register with the U.S. government that you’ll be in France is up to you 🙂
    It could be useful, but it’s a personal choice.