Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘health

Choose Twice

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In celebrating the accomplishment of my 10-years of posting daily, I am somewhat randomly exploring the “Previous Somethings” archive in search of anything that might catch my fancy. One of the first challenges I have discovered is dealing with a bit of embarrassment over plenty of what I am finding. Who wrote this stuff!?

Oh. I did.

Skip that one. And that one, too.

One of the features of “Relative Something” that evolved pretty early on was resorting to two-word post titles. On one hand, it took a lot of thinking out of the process of deciding what to title my posts. When writing every single day, trying to come up with a worthy title over and over again can become an inordinate burden. Limiting it to just two words simplified the task nicely.

However, when I started down the path of this feature, I didn’t realize how soon I would reach a point where I was coming up with titles that I’d already used. Most of the time, I make changes until I come up with something fresh, but as I’ve approached this tenth anniversary, I’ve decided it doesn’t really matter so much.

You may have noticed that I differentiate my poetry posts by using a single word title. It’s a lot harder avoiding repetition when reduced to one word.

Here are two poems that I posted under the identical title, “Choose.”

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From August, 2013:

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freedom
to choose health
in the face of other options
takes effort
that is rewarded
incrementally
sometimes infinitesimally
over time
do the math
not the science
that it takes
making rockets fly
simple addition
day after day
for months at a time
healthy emerges
for goodness sakes
like green on the grass
running in a river
rounding the rocks
headed toward forever
where life is esteemed
and success of good health
the spectacular garnish
that feeds on itself
in magical ways
running and jumping
with joyous persuasion
returning investments
of health options chosen
turn off that tv
go do something else
break down that routine
be someone else
that unlikely person
you never felt could
emerge from your shell
stuck there for good
just a choice
to be made
inside the mind
there’s reward to be nabbed
free for the choosing
life filled with promise
of better than good
outside the lines
of everyday drab
just beyond reach
of those who don’t try
it’s easy to grasp
for the bold few who do
exercise free choice
to choose better health
not just for a day
but from now on
days-months-years at a time

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.From October, 2017:

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

March 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

Heading Somewhere

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Apparently, if my recent dreams are any indication, there is somewhere I’m trying to reach, but circumstances keep delaying my readiness to depart. But, isn’t that just an inherent existential dilemma? Why are we here?

It’s the journey, right? Not just the destination.

I love a good adventure, but the truth is, I’m not all that fond of traveling. One common thread of people’s stories about their travels are the hassles and struggles faced along the way. Getting through airport security, navigating the unknowns of destination ports, communicating through language barriers.

It’s all part of the package of traveling. Choosing to see those parts of the journey in a more positive light than as just being hassles, goes a long way toward helping a person accept them as pleasurable, as in, a puzzle to be solved. If you like puzzling, I mean.

If you are not traveling, you are still headed somewhere. Are the everyday challenges being navigated, hassles? Or are they puzzles being solved?

Are we trying to get ready to depart, or are these little conflicts actually the journey, itself?

Where the heck are we heading, anyway?

To a better place. Free from pains, both physical and mental. We are looking for peace and love.

Don’t just be a consumer of those commodities, though. Be a distributor, as well.

Yesterday, after my well-health check-up physical with my doctor, I needed to visit our local pharmacy. To my surprise, I was offered the option of trying out a short-term regimen of an oral corticosteroid to see if it would settle the lung congestion left over from my recent cold. This, in contrast to the usual long-term (and much more expensive) daily inhaled asthma treatment.

Without thinking fast enough, I let them transmit the prescription to an Ellsworth pharmacy that Cyndie recently discovered was not functioning well. They are understaffed, overburdened, and may be headed out of business.

We phoned to see if they had my common prescription ready for pickup. So far, so good.

They’ve closed the drive through (because it’s too cold outside?), so I had to go in. I was not surprised to see a queue of visibly frustrated customers waiting. The angst in the vicinity was palpable.

Armed with prior warning, I was not flapped by this. I brought love and peace. Calmness. Understanding. Smiling. My energy smoothed some of their rough edges, while I accepted the process of waiting.

I enjoyed an added bonus of being able to find someone on my way out, and tell them they had forgotten their insurance card, which I had witnessed the staff fretting over.

Where are we heading?

Oh, yeah. To peace and love.

And better health, too. What an adventure!

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Twenty Years

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Six months into 2019, I will reach another decade milestone of birthdays. It will mark the entrance to my fourth life span, as measured by my twenty-year segments of life. My perspective goes like this: From birth to age twenty, it seems like a mind-boggling amount life experiences.

We know almost nothing when born, basically starting with little in the way of consciousness, then progressing to a fully functioning adult –give or take a few/some/many skills; individual results obviously vary. Using those first twenty years of life as a benchmark, the changes in the next twenty years aren’t so dramatic.

But here’s the key: It is still the same span of time in number of years.

If it felt like a lifetime of experiences to get to twenty-years-old, then use that same reference to view life from twenty to forty. Don’t devalue that second span of twenty years just because of how much you already knew when it started.

Same thing again when reaching sixty. You have lived from zero to twenty, three times by sixty years old.

Young people may naturally perceive small differences between people in their sixties or eighties. But considering it from the twenty-year reference, that difference is another lifetime.

Last fall, my health insurance provider mailed me a notice that it was time for my annual physical. You know, that annual physical that I get around to every four years or so. As the calendar rolled over to the new year, the one where I will turn sixty, I felt motivated to make the appointment.

Now that I’ve survived that nuisance cold I picked up over the holidays, I’m in great condition for a well-health check. Problem is, I don’t want to bring up any symptoms of aging for fear the doctor will want to sell me a battalion of pharmacological solutions.

Among nuisance details like age spots on my skin, and declining testosterone induced nose/ear/eyebrow hair growth, I’m recognizing new and increasing signs that my oft-sprained ankle from years of sporting activity is sending very arthritic aching signals lately.

The ankle pangs provide a compliment to the arthritic thumb pain that my hand doctor discouraged me surgically treating when I sought advice on it after the family trait showed up in my left hand about a decade ago.

Being uninterested in long-term prescription treatments, I would like to delay a standard routine of osteoarthritis pain medicines as long as possible.

I’ll focus my next twenty-year life span toward optimal hydration, controlled sugar intake, healthy meals (portion control!), regular planking and stretching, clean air, positive mental focus, regular dental checkups/eye exams, interacting with our animals, and sending love to everyone, in attempt to manage the ravages of time.

Who knows? Maybe in another twenty years, they will have perfected the art of genetically re-engineering epigenetic changes or senescent cell management, and aging will be a thing of the past.

Twenty years seems like a lifetime of experience, though, doesn’t it?

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Reclaiming Normal

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For all the times we look forward to holidays and time off from work, it feels wrong to be so interested in having things get back to normal. I am a big proponent of staying open to variety and change, but at the same time, I have a very strong comfort with routine.

This weekend, we brought a return to normalcy in a variety of ways at home, not the least of which involved the taking down of Christmas decorations and returning furniture to the usual arrangements. I will be lobbying for a return to our artificial tree next year.

Getting back to my routine of days commuting to the day-job, and (full) days home without travel holds a surprising appeal now that we are a week into the new year. I’m guessing one of the reasons it seems so appealing to me today is because my health has also made great progress toward normal wellness again.

I spent much of the weekend lying low in quest of recuperation. It seems to have produced desired results.

Here’s to the rare phenomena of feeling good about the arrival of a typical Monday morning.

Hah!

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Written by johnwhays

January 7, 2019 at 7:00 am

Other Examples

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As long as I’m on the subject of sticktoitiveness, there are two other examples in my life that have slowly rewarded me for staying the course day after day, in one case, for years.

When I finally took action to address an addiction to sugar which manifested in cravings that controlled my decisions, I had no idea what lay ahead for me. I had previously experimented with simply cutting out desserts and cookies or candy treats for a random period of weeks, just to see if I could, but I neglected to account for the amount of sugar I was getting from other sources.

My cravings for breads and cereals would ramp up to impressive levels, and I would allow myself those compromises.

After learning more about where I was getting most of the sugar in my diet, and discovering the actual measurement of sugar recommended by the World Health Organization for percentage of daily calories, I set out to control it by watching the numbers.

That made a big difference. First of all, it showed me how physically addicted my body, and mind, had become. I experienced withdrawal symptoms that included headaches, dizziness, nausea, and tremors, not because I cut out sugar completely, but simply by strictly limiting the amount of sugar in the food I was eating.

It has taken me years at the rate I am working it (because I waver with my level of strictness), but self-control slowly improved to a point where it hardly takes mental energy to employ anymore. Most importantly, I am not just doing this for a period of weeks. This is forever. I always measure how much cereal I eat, and I always check serving size information to figure out how much sugar there is.

A more recent adventure in every day tenacity that I am watching produce slow results is, my daily planking exercises. When I started back in the last week of March, I decided to see what results I might achieve if I did the exercises my physical therapist recommended for the entire month of April. These were focused on strengthening my core to treat the painful symptoms of degenerating discs.

It is really helpful to not be constrained by debilitating pain when doing daily chores to care for our animals.

Thirty consecutive days of planking in April established enough of a pattern that I found it easy enough to keep going through May. Then two months became four, and in a blink, I’ve made it eight months of pretty regular planking. In that time I have slowly gained enough strength that I have modified my methods to match.

The current plank that is my primary exercise is four minutes long, starting with a minute and a half of a basic horizontal planking, then 45 seconds of lifting an opposite arm and leg for a two-point plank, 45 more seconds with the other arm and leg, and then finishing with a final minute of the basic plank again.

There are other leg exercises and some yoga stretches that get mixed in after the planking, depending on how much time I have to spend, but the planking is key.

Between these two daily efforts of healthy controlled-sugar diet and regular exercise, practiced over months and years, my physical health is in better shape than most of my previous adult life.

That is providing plenty of incentive for me to stick to this indefinitely.

Maybe the fact that these steps are not a quick fix, makes the positive results that much more satisfying. It definitely provides a welcome bonus of boosting my mental health, as well.

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It’s Friday

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One of the marvels of my Fridays is that I don’t have to commute the long drive to the day-job. You’d think that might give me an extra hour to sleep in, but my experience has been marred by a problematic habit of staying up too late on Thursday nights, and then suffering a double whammy by naturally waking very near the normal early alarm time of my work days.

By Sunday mornings, I have usually made progress with sleeping past the alarm time, but that just makes it that much more difficult to deal with the Monday alarm time the following day.

At this point, of all my attempts striving toward optimal health, getting enough sleep every night seems to be my Achilles’ heel.

Being over-tired doesn’t mix well with needing to drive in traffic for an hour to and from work.

Some days there are changes that mix things up a bit for me, which helps maintain alertness. On Wednesday morning, I had a chance to explore some of St. Paul’s streets in the early dark hours when I dropped off the Tiffany light fixtures with a buyer who found my ad on Craigslist.

Yahoo! They are gone!

There is a perk for driving through the cities four days a week: it’s easier to accommodate buyers who aren’t exactly local when I’m pawning off clutter online. The woman this week was so appreciative that I would drive all that way to deliver what I was selling. (It was a few short blocks off my normal route on the interstate.)

I didn’t bother to tell her I would gladly pay her to take them, after having them sit in a box under foot for the last six years.

My drive home yesterday was interrupted by another traffic stopping accident, but this time I was close enough to the incident that my delay was mere minutes. The sad part was this meant the vehicles were still positioned where they landed and the people and emergency responders were still present.

It’s a very unsettling sight. The collision occurred at an at-grade crossing of a divided 4-lane highway that has a 65 mph speed limit. Damage was significant to at least three vehicles.

I drove a little slower the rest of the way home, and I didn’t feel drowsy at all.

But for the grace of God, go I.

When I pulled up the driveway, the horses were in the far corner of the paddock and whether it was that they saw me, or heard Cyndie and Delilah walking down to feed them, they bolted from where they had been standing, racing and kicking their way up past the barn overhang all the way over to the near paddock fence.

What a nice welcome-home greeting.

Cyndie reported she and Delilah came upon two young deer that dashed away across the trail in the woods. Our paths are becoming paved in golden hues. The freezing temps seem to flip a switch on a lot of our maples such that 80% of the leaves will drop in a matter of a few hours and create a gorgeous circle of color that carpets the ground around the trunk.

It’s beautiful to be home this Friday.

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Improvement Movement

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In my grand scheme of a continuous improvement movement toward optimal health, I have recently added new attention to not cleaning my plate. It’s an old habit, but eating everything served has long contributed to my consuming more food than my body needs at a sitting. I’ve decided to take another crack at altering that pattern.

It’s a project I tried off and on in the past, just like my attempts to stop snacking directly out of the bag, or trying to get a full 8-hours of sleep a night. I have not accomplished everything I set out to achieve.

I’m hoping to springboard on the success I have been experiencing with my daily regimen of planking and stretching exercises.

Actually, it parallels well with my recent decluttering effort. The latest accomplishments have inspired me to keep going to the next level of clutter out in the shop.

My planking success –started about 6-months ago and still making daily progress, well beyond the initial 30-days-in-a-row goal– seems to be inspiring me to take the next step toward better (and consistent) attention to portion size.

This whole portion control thing rides on top of my earlier focus to kick a sugar addiction and rein in the percentage of my daily sugar consumption in my diet.

Last night, I took a moment to calculate the number of grams of sugar in a serving of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Coconut Almonds that Cyndie brought home as a treat on our anniversary. It’s the coconut that sends these over the top. It calls out to me every time I walk past them.

Sixteen grams in a 1/3rd cup serving, which is a little under 1-gram per coated almond.

I have tried to satisfy myself with eating just 2 or 3 almonds at a time, but then the challenge I face is to honestly track how many little visits to the well I make in a day.

Craving is a powerful thing.

I’m happy that I have developed a bit of a craving to do my daily planking routine, and I struggle with the craving to sleep that washes over me at times of the day when I can’t.

Now, if I could just get myself to crave small portions of really delicious large servings of food on a plate in front of me, I’ll really be getting somewhere.

Here’s to continuous movement toward optimal health, one step at a time. Mind, body, and spirit.

Join me, won’t you?

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