Tag Archives: health

52WoLP #20: Opening Day!!!

For lots of swimmers in West Seattle and beyond, today is the first day of Swimming Season at the Colman Pool.  The Colman Pool, a saltwater outdoor pool, first opened in 1941, replacing a man-made tide filled swimming hole that  had been popular since the 20s. The Colman Pool, made possible by a very generous donation by the Colman family, has long been a favorite spot for swimmers, sunbathers and families all summer long. Here are a couple of snaps, then and now.

Enjoy!  52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year long observation of the many aspects of Lincoln Park, the gem of West Seattle.

Better Off: one year, two people, zero watts

I just finished reading Better Off by Eric Brende who, a decade ago as part of a graduate project, went from MIT to OTG (off-the-grid) for 18 months with his wife, and amidst it all, new baby.

The book is based on his journals from that 18 month period and has a ton of really interesting anecdotes and observations.  Bottom line: he really never came back to the machine-and-technology world.  He didn’t stay in the zero-watt Mennonite community he joined for the project, but he and his family learned they quite liked a life with very little technology and have over the years built a lifestyle that suits them really well.

The end of the book has an epilogue that is markedly different in tone from the rest of the book in that it takes a sober look at his conclusions–no folksy tales about how and who and why and when in the country. A very stripped down appraisal of the True Cost of how we live–and the True Cost is high, make no mistake.

Interestingly, he gives a nod to the internet he uses at the library and how it allows him to reach a larger audience for trades, barters and such.

It’s worth the read.

Running past 50: Getting better all the time…

I’ve been in a running slump for most of the past three months, partly because I had a couple of bouts (or one long bout) of the flu which really kicked my butt, but also because the winter doldrums seemed extra hard this year, and I just lost steam.

Today, I noticed that I had some mojo back, enjoyed my run a little bit more, cranked my playlist up a little higher, felt generally a little better. I made a decision this morning to do mano-a-mano battle with the lethargy that has taken up residence in my body-mind….I’ll run 5, and if possible, 6 times a week, come hell or high water. No more discussion in my head–this deal is signed.

I’ve also had some unexpected aches and pains that I’m contending with, but I chalk it up to reduced time stretching. So more attention to stretching, especially hamstrings, glutes.  I want to get back into hills, and they seem to bother my glutes.

Finally, a reader wrote me a month or so ago, but I neglected to respond (more lethargy.  Did I mention long, dark winter?)

I am very interested in how anybody my age manages to keep running.  I love to run fast, but I have to do a lot of slow jogging to warm up.  I don’t just let ‘er rip, because if I did I really wound rip up a tendon.  This has happened to me before, and you don’t want a torn tendon.  Especially in your knee.
Exercise is fun.  Dieting (and I mean all the time) is not.  When I was 45, I had to admit that I needed to lose 30 pounds, and I went on a diet, which was basically, eat a lot less food.  I managed to lose about a pound a week for about six months or so, and then it took another six months or so to get my digestion back to normal.  After I did that, keeping the weight off was not too bad.  It was just a matter of refusing to get sucked into eating too much, as I had all my life before I went on a diet.
Most articles on running will tell you you won’t lose weight running, but I don’t think that’s true.  It’s not the fastest route to losing weight–just eating less is, as Ian notes. But as your body gets older, and life runs the risk of becoming more sedentary, running can help in a big way towards keeping some semblance of good metabolism going.  Especially longer runs.  They don’t have to be fast, but long slow runs are a great way to maintain overall health, mental and otherwise.

End-of-year round up: yeehah!

Some updates on two themes for the year, Living Green and Running.  I’ll save Running for another day before 2010 descends.

Living Green

One big change I’ve really enjoyed is switching to home-made toothpaste.  “Enjoyed” is an overstatement, in fact it was a pretty big adjustment. What most of us are used to wrt to toothpaste is pretty sweet gel stuff, easy to use and tasty like good chewing gum.  Home-made toothpaste isn’t like that so it was an adjustment.

What led to making my own:

  • Estimating the annual landfill caused by non-recyclable tubes emanating from our house, our neighborhood, our city (literally millions of tubes)
  • Investigating toothpaste recipes and history and realizing there were real health benefits to a simple recipe of baking soda, mint mouthwash, glycerin and flavoring
  • Trying it out and learning it takes about 5 minutes to make a jar of it that will last a month.  5 minutes = 1 month.

Some downsides:

  • My partner didn’t like the taste and refused to use it, thus my goal of reducing our personal landfill quotient was cut in half for a while.
  • It doesn’t leave your mouth “zingingly” clean-feeling, so I continue to rinse with mouthwash, but that container IS recyclable  and it added nothing new to my existing habits.
  • You have to stir it up sometimes, but that was good enough for Bob Marley so it’s good enough for me.

An update to the first bullet/”downsides”: I had my first dental check-up about 6 months after I started using homemade toothpaste and was given the most glowing report I’ve ever had from a dentist.  In fact the technician said, in that geeky dental technician way: “I have total gingi-envy of your teeth.”  Homemade toothpaste cuts bacteria way better than traditional toothpastes on the market, it turns out.  My partner started using the homemade version about a month after that report.

Another change we’ve put in place regards plastic bags. Even though we’re fortunate in Seattle to have a plastic bag recycling program, still, once you become aware of how many plastic bags you’re putting into the system, just picking up more and more becomes slightly irritating and disturbing. When you factor in the issue of plastic bags making their way into the oceans and waterways of the world, well, my head sort of explodes, ok?

We began tracking the amount of bags we have in a week: bags from produce, packaging bags for everything from rice to frozen berries, bags from the grocery store.  We made a decision to simply clean and dry all we could and reuse them at the store.  This was a clumsy new process and took time before the magic started to happen: after a while, we simply weren’t bringing IN as many bags.  AND! we now had fridge storage plastic and stopped needing to use so much plastic wrap.  All in all, after about a month, it was a no-brainer.

Upsides:

  • Once we figured out a path to get clean, dry bags into our shopping bags for weekend market/grocery shopping, the system worked.
  • Fridge storage is a lot easier–this was unexpected.  There’s always an easy to use bag in the drawer waiting for you.
  • We’ve reduced our recycling load, again–not by a ton, but by some measure for sure.
  • A bag is a bag is a bag–at first I was self-conscious about using bags with marketing on them, but now I don’t care.  A bag is a bag, it’s a container, that’s all.  Relief.

Downsides:

  • Making a process, and building a habit around the process takes about 3 months
  • When reusing the packaging bags, like from frozen berries, the store has problems with the existing bar code on the bag; we just turn then inside out now so the bar code doesn’t trigger.
  • Sometimes we have a few too many bags in the clean/dry process and it gets a wee bit unwieldy.  Just sometimes.

Those are the two GREEN initiatives that have taken root in our home.  Change is slow.  We’ve done lots of other things over the last few years but I wanted to highlight these two because they indicate a different level of commitment to change than other things we’ve done (drying our clothes on lines when possible, driving less, composting more).  Happy New Year! Let’s make it a good one!

Good Health: the missing ingredient in the Health Care Debate

Here’s a short article worth reading, and another one here, about what’s missing in the health care debate: Health. Drs. Andrew Weil and Ornish are both trying to raise the issue of preventive care and health…er…CARE as part of the medical industry’s core responsibilities.

As it stands, Ornish reasons, is we’re funding an industry that seeks out, treats, and only sees Disease. No prevention, no common sense about balanced diet, good food and exercise, the two easiest ways to maintain good health. Disease and its myriad high priced and questionable treatments.

Several years ago I decided to pretty much swear off doctors and the medical industry because it had so completely duped me about my own health. I wasn’t exercising nearly enough, I had put on weight and didn’t feel so good, and I had anxiety about a lot of things. The doctors I saw over the course of a couple of years increased the number and kinds of pills I would “have to be on” for the rest of my life. No one, not one doctor or nurse, suggested I ramp up my exercise, seek out forms of mind therapy like yoga or meditation, and that I cut out the pretty hefty amount of sugar I was ingesting.

Not one.

I decided for myself that I didn’t want to be taking pills so I started down a path of my own discovery. It required a lot of me. A lot of changes, a lot of refusal to give up. And an enormous amount of going against the grain. I’m not at all smugly suggesting that everyone should do what I do, but I am suggesting that people should view the medical industry as AN INDUSTRY. Much like car companies, cereal makers, record labels, and shoe manufacturers, the Medical Industry wants you to take pills and get treatment. It’s their business, after all.

Hence my deep appreciation for Ornish’s article this morning:

If we just cover bypass surgery, angioplasty, stents, and other interventions that are dangerous, invasive, expensive, and largely ineffective on 48 million more people, then costs are likely to increase significantly at a time when resources are limited. As a result, painful choices are being discussed — rationing, raising taxes, and/or increasing the deficit — and these are threatening the public acceptance and thus the viability of health reform.

what’s missing, tragically, is a diagnosis of the real, far more fundamental problem, which is that what’s even worse than its stratospheric cost is the fact that American health care doesn’t fulfill its prime directive — it does not help people become or stay healthy. It’s not a health care system at all; it’s a disease management system, and making the current system cheaper and more accessible will just spread the dysfunction more broadly…

I say an overhaul should be just that: an overhaul. A huge, eye-opening discussion of just what the heck “health care” has become in our corporate culture. In the meantime, eat right, exercise and find a little joy today. It works wonders.

What’s not to love about this?

What would you give to have a more positive outlook in your day?  Or feel stronger, more confident in your body? How about sleeping better, getting sick less often, having better self-esteem?

Most of us, living in this the-answer-is-out-there-and-probably-comes-in-pill-form society of ours, will think, yeah–what are you selling?

Nada.  Nothing you can’t do yourself. We’ve collectively come to this place where fresh veggies and fruit taste “funny” and processed food tastes normal. Our energy isn’t great, our brains are functioning on less real nutrients, and then we wonder why we don’t feel so good.

Obama is gathering his forces to help make America healthier, and this effort, perhaps more than his other unbelievable number of efforts, has me swooning.  This article on CNN discusses his ideas, and of course finds a way to make the effort controversial (that’s what sells, after all), but the point of Obama’s agenda is this:

A healthy population is a happier, less expensive, stronger, more motivated population.  Period.

Happier: endorphins from exercise help modulate mood, we’re made this way. It’s the way our mechanisms work. Further, even if you don’t go out an run 3 miles, just stretching and walking helps your mood by connecting you with your body.  It’s natural, it’s how our bodies work.  Connection lost: balance lost.

Less expensive: as the article points out, chronic diseases such as adult onset diabetes account for 2 trillion bucks in health care.  That’s Two. Trillion. Bucks. Medical studies have long ago proven that better nutrition based of fresh veggies, fruit, fish, etc combined with moderate exercise can help manage a ton of chronic complaints.  Imagine tossing those pills you’re stuck on–it could happen.

Stronger, more motivated: you know the old saying, if you want something done, ask a busy person.  Once your body is accustomed to moving, whether that means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, doing yoga stretches in your cubicle, going for a walk at lunch instead of sitting around, or even getting up off the sofa to change the channel rather than using the remote, your old bod gets used to it and craves it.  Pretty soon you’re finding ways to keep moving no matter what, and guess what: your body works better that way.  It doesn’t work so very well if you’re always stationary.

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now, but I just had to say, Mr. Obama, you are a dreamboat.

Running after 50: I feel good (mostly)

I was reading last night about a guy who did a meditative chant to James Brown’s “I feel good” riff during his run.  That seemed to be an excellent mantra for a long run, good rhythm, good rhyme.

Last Saturday I ran 8.25 miles.  I managed to maintain a 10:30 mile all the way thru, which probably means my first miles were a lot better than my later miles–either that or my music selection has a 10:30 mile rhythm built in.  Could be.

I’ve been thinking–in an admittedly self-critical way–that lots of people would consider a 10:30 mile slow as molasses.  I’ve heard that from runners I’ve spoken to, and read it here and there.  One shouldn’t be satisfied with a 10:30 mile.  And yet I am.

Last summer, my best 5K was a 9.30 mile pace and I was pleased with that.  But I recognized that was a 5K.  Since January, I’ve been upping my miles so that a 5K is a quick-run day now, and I’m usually shooting for over 4, and on the weekends, over 6 or 7.  Ultimately, by the end of the month, I hope to be at 10 miles…though I’ll accept 9, and be doggone happy with 9.5.

Throughout this ramp up, my focus has not been speed.  It’s really not even been distance.  It’s been physical well-being.  See, I want to run for a very long time, if I’m lucky.  And the good news/bad news is I’m starting later in life.  Good news: I don’t have previous injuries to plague me.  Bad news: this isn’t exactly the peak physical condition I’ve known at other, younger, times in my life.  And straight-up news: you have to do things differently after 50.  You  just do.

You can’t get by without a stretching regimen.  Well, maybe you can, but you won’t be running for long–just my opinion.  You can’t get by on a cup of coffee and zoom out the door for a swift 8 miles.  And speed just isn’t going to be the top line concern.

So what is the top line concern?  Pure joy.  The satisfaction of giving your body the gift of health and good care.  The tending that pays off on those excellent days when you really feel it’s all coming together (today wasn’t one of those, by the way, but hey.).  What else is there, really?

It’s truly a meditative state, this care and feeding and stretching and reaching for something new.  It’s all mine–can’t buy it, can’t fake it–it’s utterly real and alive and in the moment.  Even if that moment is slower than molasses–it’s all mine.