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Your Community and Social Networks are Vital to Your Life and Health

Saturday, July 23, 2011

As a Vintage 1946 Baby Boomer I'm approaching a turning point in my life as I reach 65 years old. Like many of my generation, my identity and friends have mostly been made through my work. It is one of the characteristics of our age. Everything seems to be work and time related. When we retire, we are sometimes removed from this community and retirement sometimes means a loss of health and even a death sentence to some, but a time to thrive to others.

One of the key differences between a healthy and an unhealthy retirement is your social network. The type of network or community that you belong to is not as important as having one. There are many ways to approach this: some people have a rich social life with their church, others with sports, some volunteer and work for causes that appeal to them with people of like minds.

Like many of my generation, most of my friends were through work and some of my best friends to this day are from jobs that I held years ago. As I've moved to follow my changing careers from art gallery owner, to furniture designer, furniture manufacturing executive, Waldorf school teacher, non-profit charity executive, life insurance sales, etc. I've worked with large communities to small communities, in public and behind the scenes. Once I had accepted that I had retired, it is my turn to decide how to survive or thrive.

A friend who belongs to a strong supportive community in Los Angeles introduced me to the writings of Eckhart Tolle and this led me to start to slow down and pay attention what was happening in the Present instead of living in the past or future, where many of us spend most of our time. I started with my garden, an uncultivated collection of trees, wild grasses, with drought resistant ground covers and my wife's potted herbs. I listened to the birds, paid attention to the plantings and became interested and aware, for the first time of my whole home environment, instead of driving up the drive and virtually ignoring the fruit trees the watering needs of each, etc.

After several weeks of reading Tolle and contemplating my wild garden, I noticed a class to become a Master Composter through the Solana Center of Environmental Innovation. I had done some Biodynamic inspired composting in the past when I was teaching at the Waldorf School of San Diego, but I had become busy with my work and had abandoned it. I thought that this was familiar subject where I could learn more. One of the requirements of this class was to volunteer 30 hours for the Solana Center and I thought that this was an additional benefit that would help me to connect with a new community,which it did. The class was very informative and inspirational and I've been making compost since the class and using it in my brand new garden.

How did I get a brand new garden? One of the unexpected benefits of the class was to learn about a new series of classes created by Victory Gardens of San Diego. The first class was Gardening 101. I had never had a successful garden before and I learned enough to feel empowered to create my own after the class. Victory Gardens also gave me an opportunity to volunteer for Garden Builds where a group of volunteers meet at a individuals home and work together to help them create a garden in half a day from start to finish, with seeds and seedling planted and transplanted before we go. After a volunteering on a couple of successful, supervised Garden Builds, I was finally ready to apply what I had learned to my own garden.

Of course, by this time I had started by second class with the Solana Center in Encinitas and this was Community Gardening 201, about developing and managing a community garden. It was because of this class that I started volunteering with Judith Jacoby, the Community Garden Coordinator for the City of La Mesa. Today, I received and email that the City of La Mesa is closer to having its first joint use Community Garden with Helix Charter High School as it was the recipient of the Joint Use Garden Pilot Project Planning Grant. When this is fully realized as a community garden, there will be many opportunities to volunteer and associate with a community of adult gardener of all ages and students and faculty at the high school.

The value of community gardens goes beyond the ability to have one's own garden space to grow fresh vegetables and the exercise, fresh air, and sunshine that go with it. The value is in the coming together of a community of people who can meet and enjoy the support and friendship of each other. According to Younger Next Year, an excellent book by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. there are three important aspects to a long and healthy life: stop eating crap (and you know what that is), exercise vigorously every day (at least 6 days a week), and form and maintain strong, positive social connections through memberships in organizations, volunteering, etc.

In The Longevity Project, authors Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin reviewed studies of 1500 individuals that was started in 1921 and found out that the strongest predictor of health and long life was their continued strong social connections throughout their life whether in church or secular memberships. It is the belonging and participating in a positive community of your choosing that will give you the edge and help you to "live long and prosper."

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUNEPA 7/23/2012 10:59AM

    Great ideas and implementation as well !!

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CHANETC 7/23/2012 2:42AM

    I see that this blog needs a little update! A year has passed and now I am an officially certified University of California Master Gardener. I was lucky to be accepted into a class of 56 people, the size of the classroom's maximum capacity. I'm on the School Garden Committee, the Community Garden Committee, and the Certified Earth Friendly Garden Committee. I've just been appointed to the Sustainability Commission of the City of La Mesa and my Permaculture Design Course project is to propose a Permaculture design for the La Mesa Community Garden with a team from my class which will be presented on July 29. When the studying is all done, I've got to make a Permaculture Site Analysis of my garden and start making the changes that I need to make to make it more earth friendly, more sustainable, and a beautiful place to spend time. emoticon

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Q8PRINCESS 7/23/2012 2:28AM


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JANRTEACH 9/15/2011 10:20AM

    Wow Chanetc -- you've always got something interesting going on. :)

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ZESTYLADY 7/30/2011 12:41PM

    Totally amazing! I am involved in social capital projects and have become so much more aware of the need for all kinds of relationships in our lives. My circle includes a number of feisty elders whose common denominator for health and well being is 1) being needed and 2) giving back. I suspect your chosen path for retirement will have you thriving for sure!

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CHANETC 7/25/2011 5:53PM

    I'm applying in the fall for our San Diego Master Gardener Program. They have a series of training classes and I hope that I am accepted so that I can participate.

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SILLYHP1953 7/25/2011 3:59PM

    Wow...what a great way to keep being involved! I tried to be accepted in our county Master Gardener program, but 50 some people wanted to join and they could only pick 20, and the retired people who had the time to devote were chosen. They really had more to offer, too. But I'll try again in four years when hopefully I'll retire. I love being out in my yard and my goal is to one day have no grass, just different garden beds and paths. Master gardeners would be cool people to hang out with.

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Flood Your Body With This "Fitness Hormone" in Just 20 Minutes!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I've made another adjustment to my exercise routine. After studying Dr. Mercola's Peak 8 Exercise Video on his site and listening to Phil Campbell, who wrote Ready Set Go, explain the reasons behind it, I decided to just do Peak 8 on the erg two times a week for a total of 20 minutes on Monday and Thursday and do alternating strength training exercises on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for 20-30 minutes depending upon the length of the A or B routine. Apparently, long distance aerobic exercise causes the super fast twitch muscles to atrophy and short interval, super intense (30 seconds) causes the super fast twitch to grow and for your body to produce the "Fitness Hormone", Human Growth Hormone (HGH). So the results of this should be a loss of body fat, an increase in muscle strength and endurance, and faster times in the 2000 meter sprints. I look forward to seeing if this change works for me and the results should be showing up on my weight graph soon. Yesterday was my first day of just doing Peak 8 erging only for 20 minutes (3 minute warm-up, 30 seconds of as fast as I can row, 90 seconds of slow rowing repeated for a total of 8 intense periods of 30 seconds, and ending with a 2 1/2 minutes cool down row and followed by stretching.)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUNEPA 4/26/2011 1:07AM

    I like this. Dr Mirkin also says you must exercise as hard as you can to muscle soreness, then repeat in 2-3 days when the soreness is gone if you want to get faster. I devised my own speed training when I was getting ready for my erg competition in February. I had to work up to be getting faster and be able to last the whole 2k. I like the structure of these workouts, they are shorter intervals, but if I do them steadily in these months, I can improve my speed for next year's competition at a very manageable rate now. I have been erging in patches lately but do want to get more consistent in my workouts. Love your treasure trove of information

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

When I decided to set restoring my health as my primary goal almost 5 years ago, by using Brian Tracy's book, Goals, I investigated many approaches. I have been interested in health and nutrition for many years and had started and stopped many diets. My problem and the problem with many approaches is that it and they are not holistic. Our health is a combination of food, exercise, psychology, and spiritual approaches, bundled into a what we call a total lifestyle change, not a temporary change. Making short term changes and going back to what has always failed us before is the reason that many of us have health problems that are based on making poor lifestyle choices.

The resources that I have found to be the most helpful are:

Brian Clement, the Co-Director of the Hippocrates Health Institute has written many good books. The Hippocrates Health Institute is located in West Palm Beach, Fl and offers a program of medical testing, psychological evaluation, and a short term residential program to educate people about their health, show them how to prepare great raw food, and exercise. They also do follow ups on all of their clients as part of an ongoing research into the optimum health approach.

Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, a endocrinologist in Santa Barbara who now devotes her time to teaching other medical practitioners and writing books; The Schwarzbein Principle series, cookbooks, and CD's on exercise.

Dr. Joe Mercola, he has been in the forefront of doing research on alternative approaches to restoring our health and maximizing the quality of our lives. When you join his free site, he makes available a large number of downloadable free reports that are very informative. He is not a 100% Live Organic Vegan, but promotes eating 80% of our diet from Live Organic Vegan food, has a great program for maximizing the benefits of exercise, why some so called health foods are really not that healthy, etc.

Dr. Gabriel Cousins, a psychiatrist who is a 100% Live Organic Vegan who teaches and does research on the benefits of this dietary approach. I have not read his books, but I have watched a lot of his talks on YouTube.

Paul Nison, he is a Live Organic Vegan who writes and lectures on optimum health. He has a unique scriptural based approach to healthy living in addition to interviewing and writing about many approaches to healthy living. He has an online show called The Raw Life Health Show

Kevin Gianni who has an online site called The Renegade Health Show. He interviews many guest who present different view points on health and nutrition.

Mike Adams has a newsletter called NaturalNews in which he presents articles on health and nutrition. I successfully followed his recommendations in his e-book called How to Halt Diabetes in 25 Days. He has very strong opinions and is passionate about presenting them.

Most of these sites sell some products and I believe that all of them are ethical and they believe in what they sell and it is a way to pay for the expense of having great informational sites. I don't buy from them or have any affiliate connection to any of them, but I have learned a lot from their various presentation.

Most of these experts have lecture on YouTube, some in a series of 10-12 10 minute segments that are very informative.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRAILTRIPPER 8/13/2011 9:17AM

    Thanks. I will ck out a couple of your suggestions. Especially the Renegade Health Show. I appreciate varying opinions to help reach my own.

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BEYONDLIMITS 6/28/2011 7:42AM

    A wealth of information here. Thanks so much.

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SILLYHP1953 3/28/2011 4:22PM


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TRAVELNISTA 3/27/2011 2:53PM

    I find you to be such an inspiration and a wealth of knowledge. Thanks for all you share with us.

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DANCINGBRAVE 3/27/2011 1:37PM

    Thank you very much for this; I am going to investigate some of these sources.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dr. Gabe Mirkin and his wife Diana on their tandem racing bike.

Gabe Mirkin, M.D.

If you want to become fit and use exercise to help prevent a heart attack, first check with your doctor to make sure that you do not have anything wrong with your heart or blood vessels. Intense exercise can increase your risk for a heart attack if you already have a damaged heart.

Pick any sport or activity that uses continuous motion (such as running, cycling, swimming, skating, rowing, dancing) that you think you might enjoy. Start out at a relaxed pace until your muscles feel heavy and then stop. For the first several days or weeks you may be able to exercise only for a few minutes. If your muscles feel sore the next day, take the day off. Increase the amount of time gradually until you can exercise 30 minutes a day at a relaxed pace and not feel sore. Then you are ready to begin your training for fitness. Try to increase the intensity of your exercise once a week. Do your jogging, cycling or whatever you have chosen as your sport at a slow pace to warm up. Then gradually increase the pace until you start to feel short of breath and your muscles start to feel sore, and then slow down. Then when you recover, pick up the pace again. Repeat these surges until your muscles start to stiffen and then quit for the day. Take the next day off and go easy the rest of the week. Then once a week, keep on making your one-day-a-week hard workout harder and harder. You will be continuously increasing your level of fitness.

The only way to strengthen any muscle is to contract the muscle against increasingly greater resistance. Your heart is a muscle, so the only way to make your heart stronger is to contract it against greater resistance. When you exercise, you alternately contract and relax your skeletal muscles. This alternate contraction and relaxation squeezes the veins near the muscles to pump blood toward the heart. Your heart is muscular balloon. The increased flow of blood returning to your heart goes inside the heart to stretch the balloon and the heart has to contract with greater force to pump the blood from inside the heart toward the body. The increased amount of blood inside the heart stretches the heart muscle to make it stronger.

The harder you contract your skeletal muscles, the more blood you pump toward your heart, the greater the stretch on the heart to make it stronger. So fitness is determined more by how hard you exercise than by how much you exercise because the harder you exercise, the stronger your heart muscle becomes. Going out and running 100 miles a week slowly does not make you very fit because you are not strengthening your heart very much with a little increase in circulation of blood, no matter how long you do it. Compare lifting a very light weight a thousand times in a row to lifting a very heavy weight 10 times in a row. The person lifting the heavy weight 10 times will become stronger than the person lifting a light weight a thousand times.

Checked 5/9/10 emoticon


The Live, Organic, Vegan, Energy Lifestyle

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Making changes in our lifestyle is a holistic activity. It is never just about diet and exercise, it also has to be about the way we look at the world and what our priorities are. If we have health challenges, we have to become the expert in those symptoms and make the changes necessary to restore our health. No one will ever be as interested in our health as we are, so it is our responsibility to take charge of our health. We can solicit the help of doctors, nutritionist, and personal trainers, but we have to retain the final decision making authority, but this requires us to educate ourselves to be the most qualified member of our health care team.

Why do we want to change is very important. If our why is big enough, then we will make the changes, it is is not them we may not make the effort required.

Instead of thinking short terms as in a "diet" we need to think in terms of a lifetime commitment to change. We don't have to change overnight, we can do it incrementally, so that the changes are lasting and we have enough time to adjust to each change and then set new incremental goals

I believe that the Live, Organic, Vegan, Energy Lifestyle is the optimum path to health and longevity. If you are in the middle of a health crisis then, you may wish to make immediate changes to recover from the crisis and then you can adjust your program to a less pure approach, if you decide to. It depends upon how serious your health crisis is and what your goals are.

For example, I was diagnosed with Diabetes 2 and I needed to make immediate changes because what I was doing did not prevent my progression from Pre-diabetes to Diabetes. I researched what the alternatives were to the medication, Metformin, that my doctor prescribed and eventually found the approach of the Hippocrates Health Institute which was the most effective in improving my blood sugar and bringing it down to a normal range. Dr. Gabriel Cousins uses a similar approach and has great success with his Diabetic patients. It is the same low carb Live, Organic, Vegan, Energy dietary approach that is most natural and optimum for most humans to eat.

This optimum diet consist of, in order of importance and quantity: Green Vegetables, Sprouts, Sea Vegetables, Seeded Vegetables, Nuts, Seeds, Root vegetables, and Fruits. The reason that fruits are low on the list is that the modern fruits have too much sugar. They are about 30-40 times sweeter today that our pre-agricultural ancestors ate, due to hybridization. Sea Vegetables are high on the list because they supply minerals that our modern depleted soils no longer have in abundance. We need to supplement with vegan sources of Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D3. In the summer, at lower latitudes we can get plenty of Vitamin D3 from sun exposure, but in the winter, unless we live in the tropics, we need Vitamin D3 supplementation to keep our immune system strong.

Enjoy your journey in the world of live food and may you live long and thrive.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHANETC 5/26/2011 7:06PM

    My favorite sea vegetable is Nori. The Japanese roll rice, seafood, and/or vegetable in it or make hand rolls. I fold Nori into quarter size sheets and roll my salads or individual vegetable in it. I sliced an avocado yesterday, sprinkled cayenne pepper and and herb mixture on it and rolled it up with a sliced raw zucchini, bell pepper slice, an a sliver of onion. I love rolling vegetable in Nori. I also use Dulse that is ground into flakes as a seasoning. You can buy dried seaweed from Japanese markets and soak it and slice it into salads. I've seen and bought raw seaweed salad, which is delicious. Korean markets sell packaged seaweed in their coolers, but it is often packed in salt and needs to be soaked thoroughly before use. I don't buy much of this because it is such a bother. I also like Hijiki, a fine, black sea vegetable, that is soaked and often served with finely sliced carrots and Gobo root. Unfortunately, due to modern farming practice with chemically bases fertilizers, our farm soils are depleted of many minerals and we need to supplement them.

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CIERAHUTSON 5/26/2011 4:58PM

    What are the best sea vegetables and how do you prepare them?

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    @SillyHP, My dh is not following me whole hearted, but you would be surprised at what we both like now that was not tempting in the beginning. We always loved beets but fresh was only when I grew them. Now I purchase all year long with green tops for my smoothies. He loves the bulb. Raw salads were carrot with raisins, now we do all kinds of raw with vinegar's

It is hard to believe people use to think I ate healthy. And compaired to their diets I did. But now I'm off my rocker..except some are following me into this side as they see how well I am getting.

Weight loss is still a issue. Keep that in prayer for me as I guess I can still find the calories.

@ Chantc...good information.

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ERIN1957 3/26/2011 7:36AM

    I am looking, you have my attention!
God knows I need the help.

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CHANETC 3/22/2011 12:10PM


The list is the optimum list of foods and includes the entire plant world. The best way to prepare and eat them is as close to nature as possible, but if you choose to cook them, then light cooking is best, such as steaming and stir fry, like the Chinese do with a minimum of oil and use mono-saturated or saturated oils for cooking such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Coconut Oil. Both of these cooking methods preserve the vitamins in the food and the fresh taste. If one chooses to eat bread, then simple is better than complex; whole grain is better than unbleached white flour; fewer ingredient are better than an alphabet soup of chemicals, sugars, enriched and bleached, with preservatives. Whole grains such as brown rice is better than white rice.

If you prefer to eat beyond vegan, than smaller fish, that are wild caught are better than larger fish or farm raised fish. Larger fish concentrate mercury by eating many smaller fish and farm raised fish have far fewer omega-3 oils than their wild counter parts and often have PCBs and other environmental pollutants.

Poultry is a healthier choice than mammals for one's health. Organic, Free Range Chickens and Eggs are a better choice than factory farmed poultry. If one chooses to eat mammals and their by products, the conditions that the animals live in, will determine their health and how much antibiotics and hormones are given to them to keep them alive and to bulk them up. Again, one can make choices here: Organic Free Range, Grass Fed is the best quality and the safest to eat.

I am still moving towards the optimum Live, Organic, Vegan, Energy Lifestyle myself and I started with incremental changes that I and my wife could live with. The important thing is to add more of the items from the healthier items when we shop and make conscious choices when we shop, prepare, and eat our food. One can be healthy with a variety of dietary choices and one can vary one's choices depending upon the seasons, our personal needs and preferences, and for resolving any health challenges that we are facing. Being diagnosed as Diabetic forced me to make more radical changes that I would like, but considering the alternatives, for me it was a better choice. I had been making incremental changes in this general healthier directions, but it was my diagnosis that encouraged me to educate myself and move to an even healthier lifestyle.

What we eat is very personal and related to how we were raised, our parent's preferences, our cultural choices, and where we live. It is almost like we are hardwired to eat one way or another, but within whatever dietary preferences that we have, we can make optimum and incremental choices to help us to become healthier and enjoy a longer and better quality of life.

The Live, Organic, Vegan, Energy Lifestyle may not be for everyone at this time, but it is a nutritional North Star that can help us navigate more safely the dangerous waters of the Standard American Diet type that is the cause of so much of the chronic suffering that the whole world is beginning to experience as it is exported through advertising and agricultural practices. Ultimately, it is what we don't eat that is more important: Avoid all highly processed foods, avoid most packaged convenience foods, avoid foods with preservatives, avoid foods with added sugars, and added chemicals such as MSG under its many disguises. If we truly ate like our great-grand parents, we would enjoy a better and longer quality of life, because most of the modern foods and agricultural practices that make us sick today were not around at that time, every dietary lifestyle was far healthier and we were all more physically active. too If we want to respect our cultural and ethnic origins, we should turn back the clock and truly find out what they really were and respect them and not the pale, packaged substitutes that are promoted to us today.

We can honor our family traditions and also make informed choices that will keep us and our family healthy and still allow us to eat the kinds of foods we enjoy.


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SILLYHP1953 3/22/2011 8:34AM

    That list of foods was interesting, and I'm not surprised that our fruits are sweeter these days. I think I could eat like that if I lived alone, but fixing and planning more than one meal at a time is not what I want to do.

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