Category: Our good health (page 1 of 10)

New Bodies for Boomers

I went to a large hardware/home maintenance store that has lots of aisles and products and stuff…yet now if you want keys made, you walk up to a machine.  Really.  You push buttons and choose designs and get your keys.

Okay.  Kind of sad somehow, but okay.

I got to thinking…after having a weekend of being busy in the yard and other places and wondering why it’s become so hard to get up of the ground and what in the world is going on with my knees….what if we baby boomers could walk up to a vending machine and order new body parts? 

How cool would that be?

Knees creaking?  Hit button 2.  Arms wearing out?  Button 3.  Eyes going?  Hit buttons 4 and 5 (don’t worry, they’re in large print.)  Why would I want to do this?  Well let’s see.

Let’s take a look at the baby boomer’s guide to our bodies.

  • Feet. If you’ve reached 60 and you actually (a) still wear open-toed shoes, (b) do not have to get up in the morning and immediately tape your toes or heels, or (c) can wear high heels or cowboy boots for more than 3 hours without beginning to have pain-induced hallucinations, you are lucky.  Good on you.  For the rest of us, we’d be choosing new feet with no plantar fasciitis or planter plate failure or bad toes or high arches or any other joys of aging.

Imagine…wearing those cute shoes again.  Dancing again.  Sandals.  Sigh.

  • Arms if you raise your arms, do you feel like you have two ornamental flags flying? The joys of aging.  Michelle Obama has the arms we want.  What we generally have falls a bit short, though my personal goal is to go sleeveless and not care.  Not there yet.  But if a machine would let me get them, I’d be all over it.
  • Eyes. Can you read this without sitting across the room?  Have you had cataracts yet?  Do you have a pair of glasses in every room of the house?  Congratulations, you are a boomer.  And you get bonus points if you have ever looked for your glasses for more than 2 hours and they were on your head the whole time.
  • Ears. Want me to speak up? Television loud enough?  Please.  For the sake of those around you, see a physician.  Really, it’s okay.
  • Joints. When did it get so hard to get up out of a chair…and off the floor? It could be added to the Olympics.  It’s not fair.  But it is what it is.   I recently bathed my dog…it was an Olympic event.  Some of you know what I am talking about.
  • Brain. Please put this machine in the nearest gas station as soon as possible. Let’s see, why would we need a new brain?   where are the keys.  Where is the car.  What day is it.  Where did I put that.  Have I paid that bill.  What did she just say?  Did I RSVP for that.  I used to know the words to that.  How old am I…wait, I’ll check….

Okay, it’s too much to hope for.  Meanwhile, we will just keep going with what we have.  And new machines will keep being added to what used to be the old-fashioned hardware store.

Maybe one day.

You never know.

 

“There are no gains without pains.”

      Benjamin Franklin

 

 

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Being Where We Are.

Are you here?

Right now, are you here…or are you somewhere else?

 Maybe you are really back in school, wishing you had made a different choice in what you studied, wondering what career you would have now. 

 Or maybe you see yourself sitting in a car with a boyfriend who has just asked you a very big question.  What if you had answered differently?

 You could be at the beach, at that great vacation you took so many years ago, watching your wife and smallest child romp in the waves, so sure that life held so much promise for you and your family, not knowing the sadness that lie ahead.   

 If you are somewhere else in your mind, you are not here.  It sounds obvious.  Yet we can spend so much of our lives in this mental limbo, which is unfortunate as our lives go quickly enough.

Studies show we spend more than one-half of our waking hours, and one-third of our lives, daydreaming. It can make us more creative.  But it can also churn up a lot of anxiety and regret.

Why did I move there?  Why did I not go on that trip?  What would have happened had I gone to the doctor earlier?  Can I not hit a reset button and take back those awful things I said?

We daydream less as we get older.  This is primarily thought to be because so many daydreams are about what we want to do in the future, and there is simply less of that.  (The flip side is in many cases we have done those things, or at least now have the ability to do them.)

Stress can increase daydreaming.  Sometimes our subconscious uses this to give us solutions to problems that are vexing us.

In itself, daydreaming is not inherently bad for us. But constantly second-guessing ourselves and fretting about whether we made a wrong turn can make us feel lost, scattering our thoughts until we feel like we are unraveling.

 Professor, Director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center, and On Being columnist Omid Safi offers this:

“So much of our lives are spent in a fractured state of heart. We are, too often, scattered. We speak about being scatterbrained. The truth of the matter is that the scatteredness is much more systematic. We are scattered at every level: body, soul, mind, spirit.

We do this to ourselves. We throw ourselves to the past, often clinging to a past pain and trauma. Or, we hurl ourselves towards the future, attaching ourselves to a hope for the future, or fear of losing something. We are in the past, or in the future, everywhere but here.

 To pray with the heart, to have presence in the heart, is a remedy. It is a healing, an un-scattering. Presence is simply to have our heart be where our feet are.”

So much energy spent on things we cannot control.  Things that have already occurred.  Or things that will go the way they should, regardless of what we do.

Wherever we are, it is good because it is where we are.  We have to find some peace with it.

Breathe.

Quiet the mind.

Feel the earth beneath us.

Let the heart rest.

Then, perhaps a new way will open that will take us where we want to go.

Or a door to the past will close that will let us heal.

But it all starts with now.  Right here.

Safi also says:

The inner and the outer are reflected in each other.

When we are internally divided, we will be externally divided.

If we wish to be united as a human community, we have to strive for unity and healing at the heart level.

 We need the prayer of the heart.

By whatever form we pray, we need to become whole.

May it begin one breath at a time.

May it begin with me.

“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment, fully alive, fully aware.”

   Thich Nhat Hanh

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How’s your tread?

So I’m sitting in a tire and car repair place, having come in for an oil change and being told I need new tires.  Not a big surprise; the ride has been very rough lately.  But disappointing nonetheless as these current tires were supposed to last many thousands of miles longer than they have.  Hmm.  Won’t even go there.

Anyway, they’re just tires.  So even though it’s a cost I did not anticipate, it’s not a disease.  Or death.  Or something else that can’t be “fixed”.  But tires are important.  Without them, I can’t get anywhere (at least not in the society I live in).   And I need to be able to depend upon them.

But think about it.  How many things do we depend on to be there….people, jobs, health, friends…and one day, they suddenly aren’t?   Has it really been that long since we paid attention to them and examined them for any problems?  Has the road been that rough, that we were wearing them down for years without even knowing it?

Or maybe we just get used to the bumps, potholes and other challenges of covering ground day after day, week after week, year after year.  So we don’t notice when it really does get too slippery.  When we need to slow down and take stock of things.

When you’re young, you just assume everything is going to last.  Then you get older and look back and it’s sobering how many people have drifted away.  How your tastes have changed.  How you no longer consider staying up past midnight a thrill (or even a possibility).   Then there’s your body.  Wow.  Who knew you were actually going to age.  I mean, there should be an owner’s manual that helps with the maintenance of a body after 50.

Pain relievers.  Orthotics.  Reading glasses.  Knee wraps.  The tread gets a little thin.   Can’t take those corners quite as fast.  Little harder to see at night.  Maybe walking will burn as many calories as running.

And like a set of tires, we need balancing ever so many miles.  It’s so easy to get so caught up in day planners, meetings, calls, obligations, commitments, you name it.  I think back to pioneers who had breakfast, worked in the fields all day, had dinner, went to bed.  Granted, they didn’t live past 35.  But they also weren’t worrying about the text, the email, the instant message, the social media post or whether their cable provider is going to raise their rates.  Balance wasn’t an issue for them.

I think it is for us, and I think that getting older gives us the right to achieve balance any way we can.   And maybe, ironically, that means more time and space for us to just be…and less time worrying about all the other jazz.

I’ll leave here with a new set of tires, and the ride home will be much smoother.  Maybe I need to look at a few other areas of my life…check under the hood…and get things on a smoother road.  Cause I want to keep going for a long, long time.

 

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

             Thomas Merton

 

 

 

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Age smart: build your bones.

Okay, January’s over. So are all the resolutions.

But you can still make a profound impact on your strength and health in 2017. One that might be the difference in the quality of life you want no matter your age.

DSCN4415I’m talking about building stronger bones and muscle mass. (Stop that eye rolling and sighing. Consider a few things and then decide.)

Them bones.

Our bones are important, and we want them as strong as they can be. Hip and spine density can have a major influence on the risk for falls. The stronger your bone, the better your balance. The better your balance, the more likely you can walk with confidence, negotiate unsteady surfaces, and even stand more comfortably in the kitchen, at a museum, or while watching your grandson play soccer.

A woman’s bone density peaks at age 35, then decreases slowly (1 to 2%) after menopause. A Tufts University study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of fractures among women aged 50 to 70.

Strength training decreases the risk for osteoporosis. (And gentlemen, 20% of patients with osteoporosis are men.) Regular weight training can actually have a positive effect on this. This is major if your doctor has told you that you are losing bone density, or you are already on medication.  I sure prefer a little huffing and puffing to taking pills.

Them muscles.

According to the Mayo Clinic, muscle burns 5 times more calories than fat does. Studies show that after working out with weights, you can rev up your metabolism for up to 38 hours after a workout. Great news.

file0001915885273But building muscle mass is about more than burning fat.

It’s about being able to lift 5 pounds of sugar, 20 pounds of potatoes, or 30 pounds of dog food. It’s about being able to get up out of a chair unassisted. Holding a grandchild. Swimming a few laps in the pool and then getting out safely.  Carrying golf clubs.  Hiking a trail.

That’s why weight training for everyone 50 and over (that includes 60, 70, 80, 90….) is so powerful. It builds both bone mass and muscle mass. If you’re working your muscles, you’re working your bones. And vice versa.

While there of course are variations between men and women, studies suggest that sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss) begins at age 45. Strength then decreases by approximately 15% per decade in our 60s and 70s, and about 30% after that.

To me, that’s scary.

I have no plans to become Wonder Woman, but I would like to know that I will be able to carry my groceries, pick up a toddler, or open a bag of Chili Cheese Fritos when I’m older. (We all have our priorities.)

 So what do you do? And how often do you do it?

It’s up to each individual of course, but the experts say that some type of weight lifting regimen done two to three times a week can make a big difference no matter your age.

Even a 90-year-old who has never picked up a weight can build muscle mass.  Remember Jack LaLanne?  He never stopped working out, living to the strong age of 96.

I went to a real-live fitness expert for her thoughts. Anne is a certified ACE instructor, certified to teach seniors, certified to teach spinning, has competed in and finished triathlons and Ironmans. She also is certified to teach Body Pump.

Anne wants everyone to know that “Change is always possible; never think you are hopeless. The biggest factor truly is the quality of our lives. Will we be able to do what we want as we age? Not working muscles and bones can really affect quality of life and whether we can live at home independently.

 “The great news is you are never too old to improve your muscle mass. If you’ve been inactive a long time, the key is just to start slow and pace yourself. And even if you are wheelchair-bound, it’s possible to do simple weight training and get results.”

She says what we hear so often, because it’s true. “Make it a way of life, not a two-week fix. What we want are small changes that we can live with over time…this can result in a big change.”

 20150125And for those who dread the idea of getting up early, or going to a class, or trying something new?

“Even when you don’t want to go, chances are once you get there and do the activity, you will feel better. I’ve never been sorry later that I made myself get up early and go. Plus it’s more than exercise. If you go to a gym or participate in a group class, you make wonderful relationships, which is even more important as we get older. It’s a support system, which is very good for us as well. As an instructor, I have been profoundly affected by how I become involved in people’s lives, and the opportunity to see the progress they make.”

Anne says everyone plays a part.

An instructor can change a life, but so can another person in a class. Maybe your friend doesn’t want to go, but sees you going and how well you are doing and decides that maybe now’s the time to try it. It’s a powerful nurturing effect we all can have on one another.”   I have found that to be true as well.  Everyone feels shy about walking into a gym, rec center or class for the first time.  But once you’re through the door, you’re welcomed and supported.  Working with a certified personal trainer or in a class with a certified instructor is the best way to gain confidence quickly—and learn the proper form so you can get the benefits without injury.

More muscle mass, stronger bones, and reduced symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, obesity, back pain and depression—weight training sounds pretty awesome.

168HAnd it’s fun! Really. I personally like how it feels afterward…like I’ve really tested myself and can feel the difference. Starting slow is truly important. But if you stick with it, I bet you’ll get hooked.

Hey, don’t get defeated because you didn’t do anything new for yourself in January. January’s for amateurs!

Ask the groundhog: February is when the REAL change can begin!

 

“I don’t care how old I live; I just want to be LIVING while I am living!”

         Jack LaLanne

 

 

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