Choices Along the Way

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In a publication of Web MD (Nov/Dec 2017), a review of facts indicates that healthy choices made during our regular daily routine help us to remain more vigorous and tend to assist us in aging more gracefully.

Your odds of living longer are increased by 50% if you have a strong social network.  Volunteering decreases your blood pressure by 40%.  Students who spend more than 5 hours a day using their smartphones have symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.  Swapping saturated fats for healthy fat will lower your risk for heart disease.  People who experience chronic back pain find relief by performing regular yoga exercises.  Cooking your food at home helps you eat fewer “empty” calories and helps to save at least $100 a month. 1-7 young people ages 12 to 20 binge on alcohol.  That’s four drinks in 2 hours for females and 5 for males.  DRONES can deliver an AED to a person in need faster than an ambulance.  People who eat fried potatoes (chips, hash browns, tater tots, fries) 2 – 3 times a week are 11% more likely to die than those who eat them one once a month or less.  Men now account for 40% of the 40 million Americans who are caregivers. Men tend to be reluctant to seek out support for themselves in the caregiving process.  If you get a good night’s sleep you feel better.   Frequent exercise can slow the aging process by 9 years.  It does this by lengthening the telomeres – the protein caps on the ends of our chromosomes.  Healthy eating lowers the risk for obesity.

These are all choices we can make along the way.

 

 

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Circadian

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circadian rhythm

The cycle flows just like the Colorado.  A google search (12-2017) of the term circadian reveals a definition of: a cycle 24 hours long with fluctuations in biological and psychological processes.  This cycle systematically varies over the course of each day.

Research by Frank A.J.L. Scheer, PhD, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Medical Chronobiology Program at Brigham & Woman’s Hospital in Boston suggests that metabolism is based on this cycle.

The process of revolving “light” and “dark” throughout the day influences rhythms regulating the function of certain organs within the body.  This is obvious during a 20-week study in Spain that examined when people eat their largest meal of the day.  Evidence from this study shows that some people may lose weight easier if they eat a smaller meal at night.  It seems that it’s not only important what we eat but when we eat.

It may be that when we eat a large meal in the morning our metabolism increases.  However, eating more calories in the evening may store the extra calories as fat.  This idea is suggested in an article “Mealtime Matters” – Arthritis Today – February, 2018. p.20.

Listening to your circadian keeps you healthy.  Just like a healthy river nourishes the land.

Back Story

20171203_135958Walking through the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas is a wonderland this holiday season.  The botanical garden offers a stunning array of holiday designs to fill both your eyes and heart with imagination.  Playful childhood memories flow easily and swirl around the festive chamber evoking feelings of joy and happiness.

Passing through the garden I fine myself breathing easily and walking slowly – I am relaxed.  The visual scene that awaits me is unexpected.  Ceilings are not something that I normally view when walking into a room.  So, entering the registration lobby of the hotel offers an opportunity for a new visual view point.  Looking up my eyes, first glance at and then, intimately examine an unexpected visual buffet.  Viewing the ornate glass art work covering the ceiling immediately stimulates my brain – flowers and colors everywhere.

The obvious “draw” is the elaborate holiday display in the botanical garden of decorated trees and festive pixies celebrating the season which I have initially enjoyed.  What I didn’t expect is the additional kicker of viewing the invigorating aloft design – it has always been there, I didn’t really see it.  I have previously walked through the hotel lobby and viewed the design but this time I’m engulfed in the artwork.

Obviously, viewing the holiday display put me at ease.  When I’m in a relaxed state I’m open to new possibilities.  Situations that I previously encountered now offer new plausible ideas.  The back story is that I’m more effective when I interact in a flexible state of being.

Comfort with Life

20171005_123354This cartoon appears in a recent 2017 edition of Reader’s Digest.  Obviously, it offers a relaxed slat on life.  This  viewpoint is reinforced in a recent interview with Art Garfunkel (11/4/2017) when he states that he has reached a period in his life when he is “comfortable with life.”

Certainly, this is a broad term cultivated after weathering life’s many trials and challenges.  Often we wonder: “why am I enduring this horrible situation?” There seems no rhyme or reason for a negative or bad experience to enter our otherwise normal or calm life.  I am not a “bad” person.  I have not intentionally hurt someone.  Yet,  there it is – a great big challenge sitting smack dab in front of you.

So, you gather all of the positive coping strategies that you used in the past to overcome the challenge.  This approach works.  You know it works because it has worked in the past.  You develop a strategy, the strategy works and provides harmony in your life.  This is a path to feeling comfortable in your life.

As you work through issues in your life, instead of ignoring them, you realize that only by addressing barriers that challenge your comfort level will you develop a strategy.  This attitude becomes comfortable.  Being comfortable, feels comfortable. You like the feeling and want to repeat it.  You develop strategies to keep experiencing the feeling.

Before long you too are comfortable with life… Continue reading

Energy Boost

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Fatigue is not part of this flower.  It takes work, energy, timing, systemic nutrition, scheduled strategies, clean gardening devices and focused problem solving to bring this rose from its’ basic root system to a full, healthy, vibrant bloom.  Its’ blood red color and sturdy stems are supported by a responsive root system that draws nutrition from a fertile soil enriched with vital nutrients.

We are like the vibrant flower.  There are tools and strategies which we use to maintain and boost our energy level.  The first step is to identify our peak energy so that we can  understand when we fall behind or below our best.  This strategy requires a variety of sources: nutrition, sleep, relaxation, stimulation, education and socialization.  Using these sources to our advantage is key.

“Tweaking the dose” may be the answer.  This term sometimes refers to medication but is also relevant to the topic of energy.  Exercise in the right amount can release endorphins – hormones that make up feel good – and take our minds off of fatigue.  The May 2016 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, the Psychiatric University Clinics Basel and Iran published an article on this issue.  The results found that the group that did exercise three times a week had less depression and fatigue (University of Basel in Switzerland).  Jack Burks, MD, FAAN, chief medical consultant of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America in Cherry Hill, NJ., (The Waiting Room – Neurology Now, Oct.-Nov. 2017) recommends, as well as other health professionals, that everyone check with their doctor before starting any exercise routine.

When we are not functioning at our peak, we may need to consider help to regain our best operating level.  A variety of medical professionals are a valuable tool.  Just as with the vibrant rose, sometimes outside help is needed.  Maybe we over-exercise or strain a muscle on a hiking trip or fall when riding our bike – it happens.  A professional can quickly get us back into peak performance.

The rose can’t control the weather: sunlight, rain, wind, dust.  However, we can control some of our resources: sleep, nutrition, socialization.  This is our moment to shine – as though we are our own ball of blazing sun.  Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising to tolerance on a regular basis, maintaining a scheduled sleep cycle and reaching out to an eclectic network of friends to enhance our neurologic health is within our control.  It shines a bright light on our well-being.  Just like the red rose, we can help to ensure that fatigue has no part of our flowering.

Blood/Blood Clots

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A basic definition of the blood system is a red liquid that circulates in the heart, veins and arteries of man and animals.  It’s also a portal system that stabilizes our body functions – nutrition, hydration, elimination, circulation.  Each of these systems functions in a balanced manner.  When this balance is disrupted the system breaks down.

Healthy blood coagulates, or clots.  In a recent article (published by Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada) this process is explained as a normal process to stop bleeding after an injury is sustained.  The article goes on explain that platelets and plasma proteins inside the blood allow this to happen by forming a solid mass over the broken blood vessel.  Normally, this clot will dissolve – it’s a natural process.

This is a good example of our body “healing itself.”  Our marvelous body can generally do this if it is given the correct tools to do its work.  We are in charge of giving our body the tools.  Our tool belt should contain adequate hydration, nutritious food, restorative rest, enjoyable relaxation, supportive social networks and a stimulating career path.

We may not always be able to keep our tool box filled with the needed equipment but at least attempting to keep it stocked with most of the tools that we use on a daily basis may get us through the hard times.  When we are in danger of “throwing a clot” we want to have right tools at our disposal to handle the emergency.

Is It Obvious?

20150131_135823This festive door is decorated for a Mardi Gras celebration.  The wreath is a collection of bright colors and varied textures.  Visitors would immediately know that the people in this home are in a festive mood and ready for a holiday party.

When people walk by you on a public street can they immediately sense what is going on inside?  Are you healthy?  Do you exercise on a regular basis? Have you taken time to reflect on your personal needs?  Have you chosen your favorite form of exercise and designed a routine that fits your lifestyle?

We all are faced each day with a variety of choices.  How we make those choices determines how we spend our time.  Hopefully, when we are walking down the street, doing our grocery shopping, going to the library or attending a social event the general public can visually see how we are spending our time.  It should be obvious that we are making the correct choices if we are standing tall, walking straight with shoulders back and feeling healthy and well-rested.

Next time you are in the position to make a quick observation, it should be obvious.

 

 

Summer Routines

20170528_124438We all have routines that we practice when the warm weather engulfs us. Beach visits, holidays at the theme park, playing at the community park, checking out books on the library summer reading list, enjoying outdoor sports, spending time with our family pets, enjoying more time in the sun and just relaxing in the lazy days of summer  – all of these activities offer enjoyment.

Some people pick a more sedentary list such as bird watching, gardening or feeding multi-colored humming birds.  On a recent trip to a arboretum I observed the consummate bird watcher.  This person was equipped with every facet of his routine.  Hat, shoes, clothing, glasses, change of clothes (in case of an emergency), binoculars, camera, tripod, cooler with appropriate snack (so as not to miss that perfect view), and small folding chair.

He had arrived early so that the perfect spot could be located and dedicated to his endeavor. Each item was carefully placed in its’ designated place (i.e., camera on top of the tripod ) before he attempted to make himself comfortable.  It was obvious watching this bird watcher that the items of his summer routine were as important to him as the routine itself.  He made sure that each item was in the correct place so that it could do its’ job.

This observation made me reflect that we all have summer routines.  When we go to the beach, we take our towels, sunscreen, swimming suits, hats, drinks, coolers and ice.  These items and the part they play in our summer routines are important and each is a “place holder.”  If we forget to bring the ice, no one gets a cold drink, if we forget the sunscreen, we get a sunburn, if we don’t have a beach towel things get really sandy real quick…

So, as the days of summer are heading for their final days, let’s give a final nod to our routines and decide whether they are good or bad.  Do we want to “shake” them up a bit or do we want to continue on with our “tried and true” routines because they work for us in our enjoyment of summer?

Little Children & Young Animals

20130627_110722Children and animals seem to innately understand that exercise and moving their bodies are automatic – part of life.  If they want to get from one place to another, they simply move their legs and feet in that direction and go.  When they see something good and happy they join the activity.  Their brain tells them to use their bodies to go to the happy thing.

Medscape (June09,2017) states that “senior citizens who enjoy dog ownership increase their physical activity in a meaningful and healthy way.”  This means that as people match their movements with our animal friends both enjoy the benefits.

I wonder why we as humans forget the idea that movement helps us?  A University of Lincoln study in England found that dog owners walked 23 minutes more a day than older adults who did not own a dog – enough to meet U.S. and international exercise recommendations for substantial health benefits.

If you take some time to watch small children in a play ground, you will find that they share a trait – spontaneous joy in movement.  So, if we as a young children receive a positive feeling when we move, why do we forget about that feeling when we get older?  Could it be that we get too busy?  Is it too many intrusions from electronic devices?  Do we create too many excuses?  Are we too tired?  Have we forgotten how good that spontaneous feeling of joy actually feels?  Have we let our aging bodies rule our mind?

Well, it could be a collection of reasons.  In reality, we don’t move in our adults years as often as we did in our childhood.  So, if movement is good for happy little children and feisty young animals, it might just be good for us.  Just a thought…

Summer Time

20170528_130156.jpg” Summer time and the livin’ is easy…the frogs are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.” Well, as we all know, the lyrics from this song in “Porgy and Bess” is introducing the audience to not only a new way of life but a change in the seasons. The axis has turned and we are in the throws of summer time.

It’s time to consider that during this time of year, we are all prone to the health issues that come with this season – sun burns, dehydration, insect bites and stings, falls, sprains, broken bones, traffic accidents, boating mishaps and camping casualties.  People are just more active when the weather is warmer – it’s a fact of life, at least in this area.  Not only that but we tend to “let our guard down” when we are enjoying ourselves.  Which means that we are less vigilant with our safety issues and health maintenance rules.  We drink more alcohol and less water.  We eat more carbohydrates and less protein.  We get less refreshed sleep and stay up later watching more sports activities.  We move around more and aggravate our muscles more than we are used to.  Let’s face it, there are a lot more “week-end warrior” out there on the playing field in the summer time.

So, let’s all be more vigilant.  Make that extra effort to drink more water.  Before deciding to be part of that week-end football or soccer game, you may want to spend some time in the gym and tone-up a few “under-used” muscles, first.  When taking that beautiful boat out into the pristine lake, stop and think – did I pack the sunscreen, insect repellent,  life vests and extra batteries?  Your friends will ask you to go hiking and you will say, “Sure, and I’ll wear my good hiking boots and bring a current map of the trails – don’t want to get lost.”

It’s really very simple – be prepared and stay aware!  Have a great summer.