A foreboding observation

One of my relatives has had the misfortune of breaking a hip, which is not a fun thing to do. Since I have been the principal chauffeur for her many doctor and rehab visits, I have made an unfortunate, but telling observation that is foreboding for us all.  Based on my observations in the waiting room, the dominant majority of patients over the age of 30 in an orthopedic office are obese.

I recognize fully this is not an unbiased statistical sampling. Yet, I kept thinking of what a nurse friend told me about our bodies. Our bone structures are not designed to carry so much extra weight. They will break down. I believe I was seeing first hand evidence of such. This is a foreboding lesson for us all.

Over the past five years, through brief morning stretching routines, walking and smaller portions of meals and snacks, I have lost forty pounds. My goal is to walk on my own for the rest of my life. A geriatric doctor said there are two inflection points on the demise of an elderly person. The first is the inability to drive. The lost freedom is impactful both physically and mentally. The second is the inability to walk unassisted. When this occurs, all sorts of challenges evolve for the patient.

Through my work as a benefit consultant and manager, I became aware of a key data point. The United States is the most obese nation in the world. We are all train wrecks waiting to happen. When we add all of this together, the lesson to be learned is we must do something about our weight. Even a little bit helps. While I have lost forty pounds, I could use about five to ten more less. Or, at least I would like to come in closer proximity to one or two pack abs. Six pack abs would be a pipe dream.

The stretching I do is a combination of Pilates, Yoga, Isometrics and mild weightlifting. They last fifteen minutes and are so limited in exertion that I do them after my shower. The key is they vary daily and are sustainable, which is vital. One day it is stand-up stretching, the next day is floor stretching and the third day is light weightlifting. Then, I start again. The fact I vary them keep me engaged. If I did the same thing everyday, I would get bored.

The above is balanced out with walking and swimming. Plus, the yard and pool boy is the one typing this post. As for the eating, it has taken time, but I eat smaller meals and snacks. Portion control is key, but another contributor is little bread. My wife is on a low-carb diet and that makes a huge difference. We love bread, pasta, potatoes and rice, but we now eat much less of them.

Folks, we must get a better handle on our weight. I am not saying we must look like the after pictures advertised on TV, but we could benefit from exercise and eating better. The alternatives are not pretty if we don’t. Higher blood pressure and risk of falling become more pronounced. So, let’s get moving and eating better.

Yoga is not anti-Christian

It may surprise people that a 59 year old man took a Yoga class with his wife for thirteen sessions. It may also surprise you that I do a short daily routine of exercises after my shower that includes some Yoga stretches and breathing techniques. I mention this next fact as it is germane – I grew up a Southern Baptist and remain a Christian to this day, but must confess I am not a regular church goer.

I have tried on several occasions to encourage my sister to exercise more. On at least three occasions, I have suggested some relative easy Yoga poses and noted the breathing techniques will be of benefit. She noted her breathing has gotten heavier with some unwanted weight gain. But, when I use the phrase Yoga, she shuts me down. Why?

Unlike me, my sister became even more evangelical in her worship as a Southern Baptist. For those not in tune, the Southern Baptists believe strongly that their manner of worship is the only way to find heaven. I know some other religions feel the same, but this is my perspective having grown up with it. People may disagree and that is fine.

She has been taught that Yoga is more about being a mystical religion than it is about improving your body and mind. She has been taught that it is at odds with Christianity. I shared that many Christians do Yoga and if you check out TV commercials about almost any product, you will witness people doing Yoga in the background or forefront. I can count at least 30 commercials that fit this bill.

Yoga is more about being at peace with your breathing, meditation and stretching. Becoming and remaining flexible will serve us all well as we age. But, the breathing is essential as well. It helps oxygenate the muscles as they are used and helps the lung power. People who sing can breathe better because they have to control their breathing between notes. Measured and deep breathing is helpful.

As for the meditation, not everyone does this part. But, it is your brain. You can meditate over any thoughts you want. My wife shared with me a post that spoke of woman starting and building a women’s exercise group at her church. The minister was supportive and appreciated the growing church attendance until he walked in on a class meditating. It was irrelevant that they were meditating over an offered bible verse. The next sermon was on the evils of Yoga and church service declined as a result of his shortsightedness. A link to this post is below.

In my latest suggestion to my sister, that fell on deaf ears, I said let’s don’t call it Yoga, let’s call it George. She laughed but left the Yoga with me. The next time, I will just show her a few different stretches without naming them. My thrust is I want to be able to self-ambulate (walk on my own) until I die. The inability to walk without help is one of the milestones where a person’s demise hastens. Her added weight is causing her concern on this matter, hence her brother’s interest.

I am a Christian. I believe in the overarching theme that we should treat others like we wanted to be treated. Yoga was not mentioned in the bible. So, in my way of thinking, if I am making a suggestion to do Yoga as it helps me, I am following the Golden Rule. I am treating another the way I want to be treated. Yoga is not anti-Christian and don’t let anyone tell it is not.

Note: Here is a link to the post:

https://gulliblestravelsdma.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/southern-baptist-yoga/

Sustainability

Sustainability is an underappreciated word. It is essential to most aspects of life, such as exercise, relationships, saving, or business or governmental decisions.

Beginning with exercise as an example, you need to start out like you can put out. Think what you are trying to accomplish and do sustainable exercises. I used to jog often, but my efforts would wane and I would need to start again.

Now, I exercise daily after I shower for about fifteen minutes altering the routines each day. They are a series of Yoga, Pilates, isometrics and light weightlifting. I balance that with 2 to 3 mile walks or hikes and yard work. My goal at age 59 is to be flexible and toned able to get around on my own for the rest of my life.

The same holds true with financial decisions. A word of advice is pay over time what your budget can support. Save with each paycheck to create a dollar averaging effect that is not hinged on stock market rises and falls. Be wary of buying on ego – buy on sustainability (master bedroom downstairs will become a must at some point and most cars and SUVs look similar no matter the price).

Our government could learn this as well. We are borrowing from our future to make a long running pretty good economy a better one. We are on an unsustainable path toward debt and we have exhausted a few measures that would let us recover from the inevitable fall.

We are reversing a trend of treating our environment better by removing some needed regulations and allowing polluters to pollute more. We are peeing in our own swimming pool. At some point, there is a financial and health reckoning with these environmental degradations.

Sustainability is the key. It may be a boring word, but it is an essential one. Start out like you can put out.

Walking, Water and Weighing

Since we are the most obese country in the world per the World Health Organization, I was seeking some alliteration to serve as a reminder of three things we each could do. Walking, Water and Weighing. Each of these things would not be difficult to do, but could make a difference.

Walking to better health has been discussed for years. As a former jogger with an up and down history of such, I have resorted to walking and hiking. It is far easier on the joints and can accomplish  many of the same benefits – weight loss, cardio-vascular work, better digestion and improved psyche by being outdoors. And, when you miss walking for a few days, it is much easier to pick back up than jogging.

Drinking more water is the one of the best diet techniques around. I am not advocating drinking water all the time, but try to drink at least a couple of glasses a day. In addition to zero calories, drinking water helps flush out your kidneys and lessens the risk of kidney stones. Plus, staying hydrated is beneficial to good health. Lastly, if you are on a budget, drinking water in restaurants and fast food places is a big saver.

Finally, know your numbers, a key one of which is weight. Weighing once a week is good to know your progress and will encourage you to get that extra walk in or avoid more fried food, bread or desserts the next week. Yet, weighing is a metaphor for knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol counts. These are two examples that can be treated with prescription drugs and better regimen.

I recognize these three things are not earth shattering revelations. But, they are three habits that can easily be implemented and will provide some benefit. Please check with your doctor, if you feel you must, and start slow with the walking.

 

 

 

 

Old bodies remind you did your chores

At the age of 57, my body is no longer one that can survive doing various chores without telling me about it. Between helping my sister with my mother’s house and doing work around my house, aches and pains are par for the course.

The last few weeks have ranged from being up on ladders to cleaning out and repairing rain gutters to crawling beneath my house and deck to figure out where water has been getting in and trying to remedy the problem. Coupling these tasks with replacing and adding a few downspout corrugated drains, has meant I have used arms, shoulders, hands, legs, back, stomach, and fanny to maneuver and do the work.

On the upside, working your fanny off actually helps to work your fanny off. I have lost a few pounds along the way, mainly from climbing up and down ladders and toting a wet-dry vacuum to and from the garage to beneath my house. On the downside, it hurts to even type this. I am getting pains and spasms from all over, in places where I did not know I still had muscles. And, that departing fanny will hurt as well as it goes.

Truth be told, I enjoy doing work like this every so often. I enjoy the smell of freshly mowed grass, which I can smell better now with an electric mower. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment, even though with water problems it may or may not accomplish the task at hand. Sitting down to watch a football game is more satisfying after you have toiled some around the house. You feel entitled to watch a game to relax.

Now, calling myself a handyman is a far, far stretch. In fact, my wife likes to do things, as well, and it is harder to stop her than just ask her what do you need. In fact, when I would go out of town while working, it would not be unusual for me to return home to something she changed while I was gone. Sometimes, she would change something and then change it back and I would only know when I saw a debit and credit from Lowes or Home Depot on our bank account. Honey, what is this from Lowes?

But, back to the old body pains. The key to relieving some of these pains is warming up and warming down. Sometimes I forget the warming down part, as I am happy to get ladders and stuff put away. Then there is my friend Advil. I usually take a preventive Advil beforehand and some later. Yet, at age 57, there sometimes is not enough to do the job. So, enjoy working around the house. Let me know what you do to make yourself less sore. What kinds of work do you enjoy?

I just felt like running


In my younger days, I could do my best Forrest Gump impression and go for run. Unlike Forrest, there would not be older men looking out the window saying “That boy sure is a runnin’ fool.” And, I would not be running across country so much that interviewers would ask me why I ran. I would spare them the Forrest answer of “I just felt like running.”

My running post college was around a desire to get a collection of T-shirts, preferably long-sleeved ones, from the various 5K, 8K, 10K and 15K races. I was not into longer races and I was no threat to run a marathon. The road races came in handy as milestones to make me run to practice. “Well I better run a few weeks before, so I do not kill myself in the next race,” was the thought process. Nowadays, I am a walker and hiker. Running causes too much stress on the body, if you don’t have a regular routine, so the slower pace better suits the old bones.

Please note, the walking pace is not that much slower than the jogging pace had become. For some reason, I was a fast boy, but I think the bigger I got, the slow motion knob seemed to be turned on more. A few funny stories that my friends and I encountered illustrate the lack of speed this big, tall guy had even on his best day.

  • A good friend was jogging in a race on this woody 5K trail near where we live. He was one of the few people that was slower than me, only because I was younger. He could probably dust me today. He heard two women come up behind him nearing the end as they said “I think we can catch him.” My friend practically killed himself making sure he finished ahead of these two women.
  • In another race (a 10K), he and I had a small bet that I could finish ahead of him. He had actually goaded me into the race as he knew I was adding too many pounds. After some training, the race day came. I was ahead of him as we neared the last 1K when I heard this “Keith, I am going to catch you!” So, like he did with the two women, I practically killed myself to beat him. What I did not know he was spent when he yelled out, but he did not want me to know, so he hollered out his challenge.
  • Yet, to illustrate how slow I had become, I was running in an 8K race. The crowds got a little thicker as we neared the end. With about 1K to go, I apparently was wearing my suffering on my face, as I saw a little boy point me out to his father and say “Dad, look at him.” From the mouth of babes…..
  • In my younger days, I ran cross-country in high school. But, before you get too impressed, note I was a basketball player whose coach was also the cross-country coach, so I was obligated to be on the team. I have two memories, one funny and one painful. The painful one was running intervals (or gassers), which is running a series of sprints that went something like 2 x 800m, 4 x 400m, 8 x 200m. Living in Florida, in the middle of the night I would cramp up from the dehydration. Ouch.
  • The funny memory is about a fellow basketball player named Gary who had a unique style. He broke the 5K cross-country run into a series of sprints with walking intervals. So, I would pass Gary, then Gary would pass me. This would go on for the whole race until he tired, which usually meant I carried the day due to attrition. Yet, note we both were well back in the pack. So, my speed was indeed relative.

I actually have fond memories of the running. It is exhilarating to expand your lungs and do something. The pleasure of nearing the finish and completing the race is a great moment, even for the slowest of runners. Your only race is to finish and maybe beat a personal best time. I did run a Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta where the number of people is astounding. When the gun shoots to start the race, you stand there for about fifteen minutes until the crowd starts to move.  Just do not fall.

I also ran a 15K race where the namesake created a trust fund after he died to help keep the race going. It was called the Charlie Post Classic. I had the pleasure of finishing third from last in that race which was at Sullivan’s Island near Charleston, SC. Seaside, you learn quickly the difference between running down wind and up wind. On the latter, I was definitely in slo-mo mode. But, yes I did finish and not every one did.

So, if you see this walking fool on the trails, know he is running in his heart. Not much faster, but indeed running. Me and Forrest, Forrest Gump.

 

 

I am the new Yogi Bear

My wife has been after me for many months to go with her to a Yoga class, as she wanted a workout buddy. So, for her birthday, the kids and I bought her two mats and two trial memberships (ten trips) to a local Yoga salon. Now, I try to stretch every morning, but was not even close to being prepared for the new muscles I found through stretching at Yoga. Indeed, it is quite the workout. Did I say my body is sore?

We have now done two classes, one heated and one not. The heated one brought on an undesired level of perspiration, so we will probably continue on sans the extra heat. My wife said it was harder to breathe with the heat, but they may have been due to the extra pollen we seem to be getting with climate change. Our city was already a top ten pollen city with all of our trees, but it seems much worse the last six years.

So, at 6’5″ and 250 pounds, I am the big old Yogi Bear in the back of the Yoga class. There is truly no place to hide at my size. The poundage is the target of my class attendance. We work out toward the back, as balancing on one foot for a length of time has been problematic. Rather than be a falling Sequoia, I use the wall to put my hand on to stop the teetering. We do not want any of our fellow stretchers to think or shout timber which would be followed by a crash.

I do tip my hat to the instructors. They have been patient and helpful, as have been our fellow Yoga classmates. They already know from their own experience that we are doing our best to ape their moves during the seventy-five minute class. That is another reason we sit in the back, to watch our classmates. So, the second class was easier than the first, and we hope the third class will be easier than the second. Being workout buddies, we will do our best to Yoga it up twice a week, with the stretching in-between.

So, wish this Yogi Bear well. My wife said please do not call her Boo Boo. She just might hit you with one of her sore arms. Old Yogi would have a hard time lifting his as well. Did I tell you I was sore?