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."
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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