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Life is good…lots of dancing and getting healthy…and VERY BUSY!


I really need to do a dozen different posts…

…but this quick update is all I have time for!

This blog, for those who need the reminder is about ME!  Moí! And the stuff going on as I continue on my journey, dancing my way to Health and Fitness.

The short version is that finally after several awful years, things seem to be turning around, finally coming together for me.  Yay!

Not to create any false impressions…I’ve got a long way to go on many fronts: fitness, health, dancing, and financial, but for now things are progressing in the right direction.

So, in a completely random order here are some brief updates on what’s going on in Tony-Land:

I updated my event calendar:

There is LOTS of info about Moí embedded in the calendar as I yack about the events, classes, and workshops that I’m planning on attending or working so check it out:

https://txcowboydancer.com/event-calendar/

Next big event: IGRA Dance Round Up 2017

I am one of the invited instructors.   Yay! —> click the poster to the right to embiggen so you can read it and get more info about the event.  Here is the link to the full schedule of workshops and the registration form.

Here are the workshops that I will be teaching:

FRIDAY, June 8th
— 2:15 – 3:15 pm at the Roundup Saloon – Couples – “West Coast Swing”
4:45 – 5:45 pm at the Roundup Saloon – My Brand New Line Dance:
Dirty New Boots” 32 count, 4 wall, Improver Level
danced to “Dirt on my Boots / by Jon Pardi”

SATURDAY, June 9th
— 9:15 – 10:15 am at the Roundup Saloon – Couples – “Cha-Cha”
— 2:45 – 3:45 pm at Sue Ellens – Line dance – “Sunday Finest / choreographed by Jose’ Miguel Belloque Vane and Roy Verdonk” 32 count, 4 wall, Low Intermediate
danced to “Sunday Finest / by Sir Rosevelt
— 4:00 – 5:00 pm at Sue Ellens – Couples – “Night Club 2-Step”

Now accepting new ProAm Students!!!!

2011 UCWDC Country Dance World Championships XIXIf you have ever wanted to compete in dance, then give me a shout.

I have over 20 years of experience in Country Western and Line Dance competitions. Ballroom is also a possibility.

My rates are VERY reasonable and you can save money by buying packages of 5 or 10 lessons.

New Competitor Special

I offer a “new competitor” special — $70 for two private lessons (including floor fees).  You get an introduction to your choice of  eight county competition dances, six ballroom competition dances, and/or line dance competition info.

At the end of the second lesson you’ll have the information you need to make a sound decision about whether competition is right for you or if you just want to continue at the social dance level.  What are you waiting for?  Sign up now!

I hate to put in the disclaimer stuff, but if I don’t do it then people get upset…my special offer is not open to current DanceMakers students; I am a staff instructor there, so if you are already a student at DanceMakers, the normal DanceMaker rates apply. On the bright side, you are already part of an AWESOME studio family!!!!

On the Fitness Front:

My current weight is [drum roll please] 270.9 lbs !!!!

Total lost to date: 64.10 lbs, approximate left to loose: 75.9 lbs.

The exact amount left depends on my final body fat percentage.  My target range is 7% – 17% which, according to the information from the American Council on Exercise, at 7% would put me in the middle of the “Athletes” range for men on the low end.

On the high end of that target range, at 17%, I would be at the top of the “Fitness” level which is below the “acceptable level.”

Other progress indicators:

                    What 18 months of progress looks like

Yes, the weight loss is great but the MAIN indicator of my increasing fitness and health is my ability to move my body.  At my worst climbing a flight of stairs was a painful ordeal requiring a 20 minute nap to recover.  Yes, I’m prone to drama, but that is a cold hard fact with no exaggeration.

Now, I am dancing…a lot!

In Jan 2016, when I first became a “full pro” a single hour of dance class or a lesson was a HUGE achievement.  And one that required that I pretty much rest most of the next day.  Now, I can do 5-6 hours of dancing.  My feet hurt and I’m beat at the end of it, but after a full night’s sleep, I can do the same the following day.

I still have a way to go to be where I want to be, but I am sure I will get there.  This coming week will be a true test of my current fitness level.  very single day this week I have lessons with students, rehearsals, and then this coming weekend, I have the IGRA Dance Round Up.  My lightest day is 4 hours of dancing.  My heaviest day will be 6 hours (as of now), but when you toss in the commuting time…eeeeeeeeekkkk!

Other stuff in a random off the top of my head order…

  • I am now an Award Winning Choreographer!!!  Woot!  I competed in Choreography for the first time at the Texas Classic a couple weeks ago.  I entered my very first line dance that I’ve ever choreographed:  Dirty New Boots” — The judges gave me very high marks and I took 1st place!  Yay! A big shout out to my “back up dancers” friends who learned my dance and danced it with me at the competition.  THANK YOU!  Check out the photo to the right — click to “embiggen”
  • I danced for the first time in the Superstar Division at the Texas Hoedown in March — It is the highest level of competition.  Yay!
  • I danced for the first time as a “Professional” dancing with two of my students who competed in Newcomer ProAm at the Texas Hoedown in March.
  • I am on track to compete in Line Dance at UCWDC Worlds in San Francisco and ACDA Nationals here in Dallas.  Lots of rehearsing left to do and still have create my “Showcase” dances.  Eeeeeeekkkkk… But I’m on track.
  • The number of students I have is steadily increasing.  Which is way cool.
  • I am continuing to learn more dance steps, more technique, more Ballroom, more Country, more Line, more Swing…. Whew!  Bottom line: I am becoming a better dancer every single day.
  • My Diabetes is under control.  My doc says that I should be able to start reducing the meds early next year.  Eventually I will NOT be a diabetic.  Yay!
  • My physical therapy is complete and I now have 99% functionality in my left shoulder which was injured a couple years ago.
  • The treatments to manage the tingling in my left arm have mostly succeeded.  This will be an ongoing issue for me but at least I know there is a treatment.  I have no idea what’s gonna happen with my health insurance…  Grrrrrrrrr…. but for now, and as long as I have coverage, I can do the 3 treatments a year and manage the condition.
  • Finally almost done with fixing some dental issues that cropped up during the period when “my life exploded” and I had no health insurance.
  • Financially…well because I am teaching more students, all bills are being covered and I am eating better foods because I have more money for food.BUT I am still not making enough money to pay rent.  If not for the kindness of my best friend, I would be on the street.  He is letting me stay rent free in his spare bedroom.  Anyone want to make a donation
    Seriously…
    There is a back log of “things that had to wait til money got better that I’m working through.  Nothing that can’t wait a bit longer but it would be nice to have them now rather than later.  Check out my full list of “Things to help Tony on his Journey to Health and Fitness” at Amazon.com if you are feeling generous.
  • My truck is now paid off!  Yay!  That helped a lot on the financial front…but just when I was contemplating my influx new found wealth [tongue firmly placed in cheek]…my health insurance premiums for 2017 went up. Arrrrgggghhh Which pretty much wiped out the the “gain” I got from no car payments.  *SIGH*  Don’t get me wrong…I am happy to have insurance and it has saved my life, but this cycle of ever increasing health care costs is not sustainable.

Well I think that is the highlights…and the clock is ticking…I have to start getting ready for bed.  Tomorrow morning kicks off a non-stop whirlwind of activity for the next SIX DAYS!

I tell ya now…if I don’t drop a full percentage point of body fat and do not drop AT LEAST 5 lbs this week there is no justice in this world. Jus’ sayin’

See ya on the dance floor!

Insurance Lessons Learned


…In the School of Hard Knocks

david vs goliath corpBecause right now I’m doing a lot of insurance related things I thought I’d share some “tips” drawn from my own experiences.

Disclaimer:  EVERYBODY is different. I believe these tips to apply to most people but you need to double check when applying them to your own situation.

None of this stuff is new, there are tons of sites out on the Interwebz that can tell you this stuff…

HOWEVER…  whatcha get here is proof that those “tips” — well these “tips” actually do produce results.  I’ve “been there” and “done that” and have the battle scars to prove it.

So, hopefully my experience can help you minimize the pain of dealing with insurance companies whose primary goal is to make money.

You gotta know the rules

My personal experience has shown me that “Insurance companies are NOT your friends“.  Insurance companies are not there to make you healthy or to get you healthy.

They are there to make money. They are a BUSINESS and the less that you use your insurance, the MORE money they make.

Which seems counter productive from the view point of us folks who NEED the medical services.  The insurance company will say “NO” unless they are required by law or by contract to say “yes”.

Don’t misunderstand me — I am not advocating that you try to stick it to the insurance companies and rack up unneeded medical costs.  That is called “fraud” and will get you in trouble.  But what I am saying is that if you and your doctor think you need it then make the insurance company do EVERYTHING it is obligated to do.

Insurance companies are restricted by laws and by the contract to which you agree when you buy the policy.  But they are counting on your ignorance to not utilize all of your benefits.

And they do NOT make it easy to figure out exactly what you can get.  sigh

To protect yourself, you will need two VERY IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS:

  1. Your Policy Handbook — This is your contract with your insurance company. It has TONS of information about your benefits under the policy and sometimes has forms and/or procedural information.  Often, near the front is a “summary chart” that gives you the basics of your policy including Out of Pocket Maximums, Copay information for doctors and drugs
  2. Your Drug Formulary — This is a list of the drugs which are covered or not covered under your policy and the level at which they are covered.  Prices and coverage vary from plan to plan even within the same company.  (see the above disclaimer)

Often these are available online either as a webpage or as a PDF file.  The Drug Formulary is often available as a searchable interface online.

Save EVERYTHING!!!!

Save a copy of every email sent and received.  EVERYTHING!!!!

Why?

Read the rest of this entry

My shortest post ever… “I’m on a Positive Feedback Loop”


In completely random order…

really_yay_lolcatsOK, folks this is going to look more like a “Facebook” or “Twitter” post than one of my usual blog posts…

BUT…  Sqqqqeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!   I am feeling AWESOME at the moment and I just had to share

The past couple / three weeks have seen some NOTICEABLE improvements in my health and fitness.  A few months ago I felt as if I had hit the very bottom; I just didn’t see how it could get any worse.

Now, a few months further along, I think I was right.  That was the “bottom” — why?  I’m glad you asked.  Because since then things have been getting better, a little at a time.  A TEENY tiny LITTLE itty bitty bit at a time, but better.

So, in no particular order, these are the things that I’m happy about this morning:

  • My weight on the scale this morning was 300.6 lbs.  OMG!!! OMG!!! OMG!!!!!  Sooooooooooooooooo close to being under 300lbs!  I can almost TASTE it!
  • I went shopping at Kroger this week.  Which is a HUGE step.  I’ve been shopping at this tiny grocery mart called “Braums” for the bulk of my food.  Because frankly I didn’t have the strength or stamina to go shopping at a large grocery store — the distance I had to cover to do my shopping was more than I had the strength to do.  Literally.  No exageration.  But this week I shopped at Kroger, AND I was able to carry ALL of the groceries up the stairs without having to ask my room mate for help!  Yay!
  • I did a two loads of laundry on Saturday.  And it wasn’t until I was done that I realized that it wasn’t an ordeal.  Which is FRIGGIN’ AMAZING!
  • I have met my Out of Pocket Maximum with my insurance for the year, which means that for the rest of the year everything is covered at 100%  Yay!  Even doctor’s visits copays and Rx copays are all zero!  Yay!
  • Did I mention that my weight was 300.6 lbs?
  • I sold my bed!  Yay!  That means that I no longer have to pay $29 a month for a storage unit.  Yay!
  • And the money from the bed ($150) covered the gap between my monthly pension and the amount I need to pay bills.  Now all I need to earn is money for food for the 2nd half of the month.  Yay!
  • I did a chart for my doctor — I have an appointment tomorrow morning (Tue Oct 6).  My blood glucose numbers are on a downward trajectory which means that the diabetes medication is doing its job.  I think it will do an even better job once I start taking it on a completely regular schedule. I sometimes forget to take the night-time dose.  (My bad.)  My doctor is going to give me a “Mom Look” tomorrow when I see her.  But she’ll give me a hug for loosing more weight!  😀
    • Avg for Last two weeks: 125
    • Avg for Last four weeks: 126
    • Avg for Last Last eight weeks: 127
    • Avg for Last twelve weeks: 130
    • Avg for Sept: 126
    • Avg for Aug: 128
    • Avg for July: 137
  • And finally.  This is the week.  Come hell or high water, I am going to get to the dance studio three times this week!  Well, technically, I’m not going to a “dance studio” — For me my “dance studio” is actually 24 Hour Fitness aerobics room, butcha know what I mean..  🙂

See ya on the dance floor!

What’s up Doc? Quick Medical Report…


This really will be short… and to the point.. and with minimal drama..

Promise!   Yes, oh dear readers, I can do a no-drama post, I just prefer not to do so…  LOL

I am pretty sure I’ve blogged about not having any health insurance and not being able to afford health care…

Well thanks to the Affordable Care Act, what most folks call Obamacare (hisssssss a name I really hate), I now have insurance.

Bravo to the Obama Administration and to all the folks who worked on getting this in place.

Boooooo!  Hisssssss to Blue Cross Blue Shield for taking so long to get my account set up so that I could actually USE the insurance!

Well, Monday was my first visit to the doctor in a long time.  I had quite the laundry list. Here is the brief version.

  • I have a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder.   I injured it over a year ago, but had no idea what was going on in there. The doc gave me exercises to do.  I’ll start doing them this weekend.  I need to read up online about the injury and what to do about it, now that I know what it is.

    This is a HUGE thing.  I had no idea what was the cause of the injury and when it first occurred, it was a major factor in why I stopped dancing and going to the studio to practice.  I couldn’t dance with the arm not functional.  No matter how I tried to “baby” the arm, any dance moment caused associated movement in the shoulder and arm and caused excruciating pain.  Now that I know the cause I can work on making it better through self applied physical therapy and exercises.  If the exercises don’t work then I can ask my doctor for a referral to a Physical Therapist or to have a MRI done.

    I now have options.  I can move forward.  This is a HUGE deal!  Woot!  Happy Dance in progress!
    ..

  • My blood pressure  medication prescription has been renewed.  I just picked up the Rx so I can now start taking it again.  My blood pressure was a little high but now that I’m back on the meds, that should improve.  It should improve better as my body starts to get used to the idea that I’m going to be exercising on a regular basis.
    ..
  • I got my depression medication prescription renewed and I just picked it up.  I’ve been out of the drug for about 5 weeks now.  I’ll start taking it again which should help things.  And my doctor is setting me up a referral to visit a specialist to be evaluated to see if the medication needs to be adjusted.  My unprofessional layman’s opinion is that it does.   To me it seems that it is not as effective now as it was when I first started taking it over 2 years ago, in late 2011.
    ..
  • I got a renewal for my allergy medication which is a BIG deal.  I am allergic to dust and dust mites.

    I know this because I had the allergy panel done about 3 years ago and that was the result.  Having the medication is very important because, for some reason the neighborhood that I live in seems to be the most dusty place I’ve ever lived!  During the day things are not so bad but at night, my entire sinus / nasal passages become clogged up.

    The tissues swell and there is icky stuff clogging the remaining space.   Add in the complications presented by being a person of some size…  *sigh* and you have a very unpleasant situation.

    Without the medication,  I wake up several times a night gasping and coughing and unable to breathe.

    With the medication, I’m able to breathe MUCH easier and I’m able to get a more restful sleep.  A more restful sleep means more energy (both mental and physical) in the day and more energy in the day means I’m more likely to exercise which means a positive feedback loop is established! Yay! Woot! Doing a happy dance!
    ..

  • A couple of prescription creams and ointments for minor skin stuff like rashes, athletes feet, blemishes, etc got refilled;  The pharmacy was out of them and they are on order, so I’ll pick them up tomorrow.  I had switched to over the counter medications for these things but the prescription strength stuff is WAY more effective.

    I realize that in the grand scheme of things, these are minor issues.  However, they are important in the sense that I’ll feel better having these issues taken care of, and treated, which will make me feel better about myself which will improve my overall quality of life which feeds into the whole positive energy feedback loop thingie which contributes to moving me out of the abyss and toward health and fitness.

So there you have it.  A moderately brief update on how the doctor’s appointment went.

Yay!  Yippeee!  Happy Dance!  Can we say “forward progress!?”  Yeppers!  We can!

See ya on the dance floor (eventually)

If it sounds too good to be true…


Watch out for this and read the fine print…

rx-cardHey I’m very happy that as of Jan 1st I now have health insurance.  [Read more about that on my blog post: [ Where Tony’s been hiding and Thank Heaven for the Affordable Care Act ]

So when this “Rx Savings Card” showed up in my mail, I thought, at first, that it might be something associated with my new policy.

But even before I opened it I was a wee bit suspicious because it came to my apartment.  I never get anything at my apartment except my voter’s registration card.  Everything else goes to my PO Box.

After opening it and reading my suspicions were raised even further because it didn’t mention my new health insurance company’s name at all.  My thoughts as I looked at them and read the attached letter was “I didn’t ask for them, never applied for them, so where the heck did they come from… ?”

So I did a quick Internet search and found this article in the LA Times. (further below)

My set of cards are being shredded as soon as I finish typing this.

BUT… I wanted to make sure that I share the info because a lot of people are getting new insurance cards right now (like me! Woo Hoo!) and they might confuse these “discount cards” with some legitimate part of their insurance package.  Read the article and make your own decision.

Cheers! And, yes I’m feeling all good and warm-fuzzy about myself right now because this blog post counts as a “good deed for the day”  Woot!

Use a card, lose your privacy?

A prescription drug discount company insists that one of its parent firms, a marketing company, won’t sell your personal info if you use its drugstore card. But its legal language suggests otherwise. Read the rest of this entry

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