Sunday Musings

Another beautiful fall day here. It's my last one for three weeks, as I'm leaving next Sunday for a week-long trip to my favorite health spa in California, returning late the following Sunday.

Here's Padma Lakshmi, talking about how she wakes up every day in New York, hits the gym for a few hours and returns to have tea and breakfast in bed. For me, it will be waking up at 6am for a five mile mountain hike, followed by a very healthy and elegant breakfast brought to my room. (Then the gyms for flexibility, cardio and strength training, yoga, pilates, etc, interspersed with massages, herbal wraps, facials, etc.)

It will also be the first time since I started TalkLeft in 2002 that I won't blog or be online for an entire week.

What are you doing to stay healthy and reduce the future cost of your health care? And how many of you are spending less time online these days and more attention to your own lives?

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    I walk five miles a day (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 12:14:47 PM EST
    until asthma season hits for me.  Which is now sadly.  After they are done harvesting the peanuts and it gets a little cooler I can go outside for long periods of time again.

    Is is asthma caused by allergies? (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 12:24:06 PM EST
    If so, antihistamines can really help.

    My allergy is to a mold called alternaria (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:12:52 PM EST
    My allergy to it is so bad that it can cause me to go into shock.  I'm currently on Fexofenadine and Singular once a day.  I'm also on Advair 250 and a rescue inhaler.  I also throw a Benedryl in there when it seems to be worsening.  It is very bad.  That is why I am doing that under the tongue exposure to the alternaria too.  I can't try allergy shots because I'm too allergic and my doctor won't risk the shock with me.  It is very bad though andgarden and he said this year that if the drops don't improve my reaction to alternaria that we should move out of here because now he is worrying about my lungs developing scar tissue.  To have to leave here,  it would just be terrible :) As much as I dislike living here though socially I am doing my drops daily.  Moving can be a large stress on a family.

    Yikes. And I thought I had allergies! (none / 0) (#13)
    by Cream City on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:16:59 PM EST
    This all sounds so hard -- but another tip learned the hard way, as I went into hypertensive years, is that some antihistamines can cause bad spikes in high blood pressure, too.  And one of my docs didn't spot that cause, but fortunately, the other did.  It certainly sounds like you are under doctor's orders, but be sure that they know about the over-the-counter stuff and interactions.  There are alternatives, so that I can get through allergy season, too.  Take care.

    The only one my doctor has not prescribed (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:26:06 PM EST
    is the Benedryl.  I do sneak that.  I have been blessed with the genes for very low blood pressure, but that can change at any time as I age I'm sure.

    Yes. I had chronically low blood pressure (none / 0) (#20)
    by Cream City on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:40:49 PM EST
    -- almost freakily low, and for years.  So I stopped watching it.  Big mistake, as I found out when I had the ministroke at the end of my 40s.

    I let my sibs know -- all younger than me -- to get their b.p. checked, and only then found out that half of them already were on hypertensive meds.  So then they got a lecture from me about staying in touch with each other, as we age together, about such stuff.  But I ought to have known better, as both of our parents had hypertension.  Of course, I thought it was because they were sooooo oooooold.

    I now am almost the age of my mother when she died.  Now I realize that she died too young. . . .


    Sounds like I need to watch it (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:51:24 PM EST
    Because I had freaky low pressure too in my youth, almost too low at times.  When I had Joshua though I was 35 and I had toxemia.  My blood vessels ruptured in both of my eyes during delivery too.  I looked horrible for weeks.  Like someone had beat me.

    And I have no sibs and no history on my mom's (none / 0) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:52:48 PM EST
    aging because that didn't happen for her.

    Sorry to hear it's not working perfectly for you (none / 0) (#14)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:19:42 PM EST
    I have fairly mild seasonal allergies, but when I was younger they used to be worse. And I tried just about every antihistamine. Benadryl  works, but puts me to sleep. Claritin is useless for me. Allegra, your chosen product, made me feel sick. Zyrtec, however, always worked best. However, I still only take it when I'm having a bad allergy day because a) it loses effectiveness for me if I take it too often and b) it makes me really hungry.

    Benedryl and Allegra work best for me (none / 0) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:24:40 PM EST
    but both make me very sleepy. I don't notice much difference and the dogs take Benedryl, so I borrow from their stash :)  Claritin works on my allergy to dust it seems.  I took it sometimes in Colorado. I don't think it does anything for my reaction to this mold though.  My doctor tried it.  I grew up in a high plains desert, we had few molds and it seems I have no tolerance now :)

    I'm busier than ever these days (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 12:24:59 PM EST
    but up to a limit, I still find it mostly true that work expands into the time allotted for it. (Parkinson's law IIRC).

    I worked with a nutritionist (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Cream City on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 12:29:14 PM EST
    to help me and my spouse lose at least some of that weight that adds on so easily after 50.  And some had started for me in my 40s -- and then I had a ministroke (TIA) at the end of that decade, too, and I had to start daily meds.  Ugh.  That, to me, was really the sign of the onset of old age . . . that lineup of pills to take take every morn and night.  Plus, travel had become more and more unpleasant -- I can't do anything about the smaller and smaller airline seats and spaces, so I had to do what I could to fit in those seats and spaces.

    So when I recently had my baseline physical marking my 60th birthday, it was great to see my physician ask what the heck I had been doing to get better test results on all counts than I had at 50.  We actually were able to reduce some of my meds for hypertension.  And I now am back to no cholesterol problems at all, which is good, as I had resisted -- based on reports -- going on those meds.  Etc.

    I attribute most of the good results to weight loss, which in turn is attributable in part to better nutrition -- really learning how to balance protein vs. calories (not just counting calories).  And a tip from the nutritionist:  That, in turn, is accomplished not just by better eating but first by better food shopping.  We eat what we have in the house, so her tips on better brands to buy, better stores stocking better brands, all have made major changes here.

    And it's never too soon to start.  My daughter has a different build and metabolism as well as a health condition and meds that had caused weight gain much earlier than it came for me.  And when she saw mom's weight dropping down closer to hers, she freeked.  So I offered to pay for her to go to the nutritionist, too -- and a healthier, happier and more confident gorgeous young thing who now knows how to keep the weight off in coming decades for her was a gift to me!

    It's a struggle at any age (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 12:40:03 PM EST
    One useful tip my mom taught me at a young age is that if you need to eat a snack, make sure it has plenty of protein. If it doesn't, you'll be hungry an hour later. That's one of the reasons why entire bags of cookies or potato chips have a tendency to disappear without much thought. Greek yogurt (fat free, of course) has been a great go-to over the last few years in that respect.

    Wow. That's a huge accomplishment! (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by ChiTownDenny on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 12:46:41 PM EST
    All this and you lowered your cholesterol?  I take cholesterol medication.  Almost everyone in my family, blood relation or not, is medicated for cholesterol.  Any specific tips?

    To you and andgarden, here's another tip (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Cream City on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 12:55:30 PM EST
    from the nutritionist:  Get your metabolism going right away in the morning, which means protein in addition to the standard starchy breakfasty stuff.

    So I stayed with my beloved morning bagel -- but switched to a whole-wheat one with lots of lovely seeds on it.  And I only have half of it (the spouse and I split it).  And I put peanut butter on it or have some other protein with it.  Voila, your metabolism is burning calories right away in the day.

    Other things that have become standard -- and have helped other and less mentionable health conditions, too -- include finding a protein bar I like, and often having that for a large part of my lunch.  Another snack that's easy to pack is string cheese, yum.  Cheese must be part of my life as a Wisconsinite, and it is high in protein, of course, but also can be high in calories.  So I found cheeses that are low-cal.

    To stick with it, as the nutritionist says, we have to not give up one of the few joys in life in advancing age: favorite foods.  We just have to modify them and have them in moderation -- balanced with the good things that we need, too.

    Btw, I still have a long way to go to get to the weight I want, but I'm also following her advice to take it slow.  Fast weight loss just brings the rebound, fast weight gain and giving up.  It took a year to lose 25 pounds, but most stayed off . . . until the holiday season last year, darn it.  So this year, as we head toward the Thanksgiving and Christmas and seasonal affective disorder tendency to pile on weight for the long winter hibernation, I am determined to do better.  Because I know now that I can do it.


    How's your vitamin D level? (none / 0) (#31)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 04:38:38 PM EST
    Most Americans in the northern half of the country are seriously deficient, and that affects an incredible number of things, from mood to metabolism to immune system health.  I'm not generally much for supplements, but I got convinced by the growing info on vit. D and now take it daily.  It's physically impossible to get enough vit D from sun in the winter, even if you lie around all day outside stark naked, because of the low angle of the sun.

    I've started taking it also (none / 0) (#33)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 05:00:25 PM EST
    and both of my CA living parents take it. It's the only supplement I currently take.

    Thanks for the reminder! (none / 0) (#41)
    by Cream City on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 09:03:54 PM EST
    I read here or somewhere a while ago about Vitamin D in winter, too late for last winter, as I recall.  So I must try it this winter . . . as the days now are getting shorter so fast.  The sun still is high enough in the sky for our glorious Octobers, with the clearest and bluest of skies to bring beautiful light on our lovely autumn leaves.

    Right now, it's the moon that can hang so low on the horizon for those amazing, huge harvest moons in oranges to rival the leaves.  But soon enough, yes, the sun will get to that weird low-hanging level that sends the light almost sideways.  Time for Vitamin D to keep me energetic and burning calories!


    Word has it (none / 0) (#42)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 10:09:13 PM EST
    it might also help fight the flu.

    Days are getting shorter pretty fast, aren't they? I'm loving the gift of fall harvest and the weather, but kinda wondering where our summer that wasn't a summer went! Pretty soon they're going to be turning on the heat on me and I'll be forced to reset my clocks, Oy. Maybe this year I'll actually buy one of those lights in addition to the Vit D I'm taking . . . .


    I have a Double D health plan (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 12:50:47 PM EST
    Diet and Dalmatian  ;)

    Diet = Pretty much no processed food (unless I process it!) etc. Mostly fresh and local aside from the local meats in my freezer. Rarely eat out anymore. I've added a lot more nutritionally packed foods to my diet over the past couple years. Use kosher salt, which is lower in sodium. No refined sugars, whitened flours etc . . .

    Dalmatian = can go for miles . . . literally! So we do a power walk of sorts daily at minimum. And she needs to go out several times a day, which adds to the trips up and down the stairs to my 4th floor walk-up, lol!~

    Sounds wonderful, Jeralyn. Enjoy. (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 12:58:28 PM EST

    Yes, is this a belated reward (none / 0) (#12)
    by Cream City on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:14:28 PM EST
    for making it to a big birthday, too, Jeralyn?

    I know that some of our peers mark this by going mountain-climbing or something . . . but I think that going to a spa for some pampering as well is great.  I remember my single-again years when I could not afford to do any such stuff for myself, so I always remember the sweetness of a gift from one of my brothers (and his wife was involved, I suspect, as she is so wise).  It was a basketful of spa soaps and powders and silliness, and I loved it -- once I figured out, sensible and boring type that I am, what the heck to do with it all: have fun!


    I'm thinking if Jeralyn is gone for a week (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:26:24 PM EST
    maybe I will be able to back away from the computer and return to regular yoga and walking everyday. Afterall, if there is no Polanski stuff here, why bother?

    I did some Wii fit yoga on Friday (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:35:50 PM EST
    I guess even an asthmatic can yoga :)  The funniest morning I ever had though was walking into the livingroom and catching my husband on the Wii fit doing the Tree.  Wii fit has really messed up a lot of gamers.

    One of the announcers of a Padres (none / 0) (#19)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:39:09 PM EST
    game sd. our closer's training regime consists of wii. The guy is pretty chunky.  

    It is very good for core strengthening (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:48:34 PM EST
    and balance, a few things I was shocked to begin losing in massive quantities as I age.

    Which is, of course, the reason to go (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 02:00:20 PM EST
    to yoga class.  Certainly helps.  I was a walking ready-to-trip tourist in India.  Flat light, uneven surfaces, no warning signs (no CA!).  Going back to yoga in April helped a great deal.  Now to honor my commitment to "my gym."  Not a gym person--ever.

    Cholesterol (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 01:59:30 PM EST
    To lower cholesterol my husband tried eating less meat and more fish, less fat of course, too.  He cut red meat out altogether.

    His cholesterol stayed high, his HDL (good cholesterol) stayed low.

    The one thing that works?  He's replaced a large portion of his meat with vegetable protein, mostly lentils.  We make a concoction of lentils, golden split peas, in a broth of pulverized carrots, garlic and celery and a no-salt 25 spice mixture from Costco.  He loves this concoction and therefore doesn't miss meat.

    Now his total cholesterol has dropped significantly and his HDL (good cholesterol) is creeping up.  The increasing HDL is practically unheard of for him.  He has never been able to increase it, even prior to his knee surgeries when he was running 60-70 miles/week.  

    I really don't think humans were designed to eat animal meat..although most of us love it.  I suspect something in it -- and it may not be just saturated fat -- blocks chemical pathways used to formulate HDL.

    Me, I was a size 4-6 in my 20's.  Since my -- in the too much information dept, but I don't care --> surgical menopause, I can't stand food.  Prior to it, I was a veggie fiend!  I craved things that were good for me.  Now foods that are actually good for me sound disgusting.  The thought of eating anything at all sometimes makes me sick. It is amazing to think what certain hormones do to the brain. So I eat what sounds good because eating nothing isn't a good idea, and I typically choose things that are horrible for me.  Lots of red meat, lots of potatoes, lots of fat, hardly any veggies.  And no I won't get my cholesterol tested.  I honestly don't think I can change my eating habits and testing is unnecessary if you don't plan to do anything with the results.  

    I try and stay with an exercise program, but it's pretty liberal. I think the key to sticking with exercise is to forgive yourself if you fall off your schedule, so I just do it when I can and forgive myself when I can't.  I also have labradors as "personal trainers.  Those beautiful Hollywood faces, coupled with the pleading liquid brown eyes ensures that I'll walk at least as much as their arthritis can stand.

    I don't think statins are necessarily a good idea.  The studies regarding their ability to PREVENT FIRST heart attacks are conflicting (some studies say they DON'T).  Cholesterol is a MARKER of heart disease, not necessarily a cause.  In isolation, lowering cholesterol via statins probably isn't enough, and the ARTIFICIAL cholesterol lowering benefit they provide probably gives a false sense of complacency.  Lowering cholesterol via diet is a much better approach, because while lowering cholesterol, other heart disease markers and probably actual causes (like arterial inflammation) are also decreased.

    mcjoan has an FP post at DK (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 02:25:19 PM EST
    on Burns's series on our national parks and converation.  Many commenters are adding wonderful photos.  Quite interesting.

    Saw it last week... (none / 0) (#43)
    by oldpro on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 10:24:45 PM EST
    fabulous...the visuals, of course, but even more interesting was the story of the politics of the wins and loses of the national parks and monuments.  Very instructive.

    Enjoy the time off (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Gisleson on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 02:26:15 PM EST
    It's always a test of your commitment to blogging to take a break. It's a habit as much as anything else and there's nothing like a vacation to help you kick a habit.

    I'll be checking back in three weeks to see if you're back, or ???

    I cooked up the heritage (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Fabian on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 03:05:30 PM EST
    chicken.  Fascinating thing.  I simmered it until well done and pulled the leg bones out.  Strong and long!  At least 30% longer than Beech Meadow's standard bird, which to quote "You have to harvest them then, because after that they can't walk.".  Modern birds are bred to mature fast and that's it.  

    A bit sad really, but you shouldn't feel bad about eating them - that's what they were bred for!

    I feel better about eating a bird that is still capable of chasing down its own dinner.  We discussed a few things - according to old time cookbooks, a standard chicken was about two pounds, not 3-4 pounds!  Things have definitely changed.

    After my nap (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by The Poster Formerly Known as cookiebear on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 06:44:22 PM EST
    [see below for what necessitated the nap]

    I'm going to begin marinating a nice piece of buffalo - eye of round - in olive oil, garlic, thyme, a little rosemary and lots of black pepper. Maybe a touch of red pepper.

    I'll cook it tomorrow night in my clay pot.


    I try to walk (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by cawaltz on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 03:09:17 PM EST
    3-5 miles five days a week. I limit my soda intake to once daily and still keep my fluid intake at 64oz(I have kidney stones so hydration is a big issue). I try to keep fruits and veggies in the house and limit candy consumption(I'm falling down on the job this week due to CVS.)

    You are probably getting in shape for (none / 0) (#30)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 03:20:44 PM EST
    Halloween, no?

    Yep (none / 0) (#39)
    by cawaltz on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 08:10:23 PM EST
    CVS had a deal where if you bought $20 worth of candy and soda you got Monsters vs. Aliens for $5. I wanted the movie so I bought 3 large bags of candy(and some vitamin waters which the kiddos loooove) thinking I had Halloween covered. My hubby and kids begged to open one bag and my willpower is not nearly as strong as it ought to be so we now have 2 bags of candy(yikes, I knew there was a reason I rarely by candy by the bagful).

    At least you aren't the only one (none / 0) (#47)
    by oculus on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 12:36:36 AM EST
    eating that open bag.

    Funny movie.  I saw most it on a flight recently.  How did it end?


    Living in the country (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 04:57:57 PM EST
    Has made a huge difference for me.  The amount of physical work I have to do, particularly splitting, stacking and hauling firewood, but also keeping a major kitchen garden in summer, and year-round basic property maintenance chores, is considerable.

    I wasn't much overweight when I moved here three years ago from the soft suburbs, but I'm now literally in the best physical condition of my life at 60, and the clothes I brought with me from my other life are too loose.  The main thing, I think, is that my metabolism rate has been kicked back up to near what it was before menopause.

    No "virtue" involved at all, just pure necessity.  Voluntary exercise has always bored me to tears and I've never been able to stick with it.  But when the choices are between going out and hauling in more firewood or turning on the oil burner and listening to the dollar bills burning up, I go out and haul firewood!

    I don't eat as wisely as I might, but since I've never much liked any prepared or processed foods, at least most of what I eat is stuff I cook for myself, and a lot of it is from my own garden (even if I do throw more butter on the veggies than I should...)

    One odd thing is that I actually eat less than I did when I was less physically active.  I think maybe when your metabolism is running the way it should, your appetite is satisfied more completely by eating only as much as your body says it needs and no more.  The blissful result is that I simply don't have to worry about what I eat at all (er, except for watching out for that excess butter).

    Always excercise before (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 07:44:45 PM EST
    you eat. It does suppress appetite.

    Not for me (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 10:25:35 PM EST
    I will get extremely low blood sugar from exercising.

    I make sure and eat some protein and carbs before exercise or I can barely make 10 minutes.


    Tonight's supper.

    Horribly unhealthy, but I sure feel great for as bad as it all is.

    Of course, I'm usually such a fuss-budget about how I eat that I can afford to go wild and eat [undistinguishable] ounces of full fat blue cheese and over half a pound of figs every once in a while.

    And now: a nap. While watching a little blood and gore (The Departed).

    Today (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by kaleidescope on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 10:25:18 PM EST
    I split hauled and stacked about two and a half cords of wood to get it under cover before the fall rains begin.  I did the same yesterday.  I have a very sore wood splitting elbow.  

    Ooh, watch out (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 08:00:58 AM EST
    for that elbow!  You can do long-term damage to that joint that's very hard to repair if you push it ("tennis elbow," "golf elbow").  That's one thing I'm really careful about, is to quit right away when I feel a twinge or two in my elbow and wait at least a couple days before doing any more.

    Quit smoking (again) and (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by oldpro on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 11:08:17 PM EST
    my sweet tooth has gone crazy and I'm eating everything in sight...even things I don't particularly like because I've run out of my usual substitute (little red hots/cinnemon candies) and hate to go to the store.

    Blogging less these days...check in but comment less, read less.  Guess I care less since I became an Independent and moved to the political sidelines.  Somehow it feels as if nothing that happens has anything to do with me...any more...seems odd but the passion for politics (55 years worth!) is pretty much gone.  I'm either disgusted or annoyed but that's about it.  No longer do I expect anything good to happen by design...perhaps by default, but that's not really politics, is it!?

    Gorgeous Indian Summer day here on the peninsula.  Hate the idea of winter and short, dreary, dark days coming on fast.  All the flu stories are scaring the spit out of me...not a good patient and living alone makes it worse.

    Wonder if it's time to get one of those Life Alert thingamabobs?  Joined the Neptune Society this week.  Not that it's time but planning ahead and getting ready for 'the inevitable' with an eye to sparing my son and friends much trouble.

    Oldpro (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 08:08:07 AM EST
    you sound to me like you've got a touch of depression there.  At least get yourself on the vitamin D if you're not already.  It will help.  Also get outdoors and get some exercise, which will also improve mood.  It's soooo easy when you get older to get more sedentary and passive, and that's a sure way to start sliding down both physically and mentally.  It's also a good way to stifle that longing for a smoke when it seems unbearable.

    Yep. Agree. Thanks, kid....xox (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by oldpro on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:52:57 AM EST
    Well, I hope the spa location is (none / 0) (#5)
    by ChiTownDenny on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 12:33:20 PM EST
    "enticing".  Seriously, kudos to you.  The spa sounds very healthy and therapeutic.  I've had time on my hands these last 6 or so weeks, being unemployed (if I resigned, am I a statistic on the unemployment rolls?) so I've been going to the health club pretty regularly.  I thought I would have 10 lbs off by now.  Gotta give up the twinkies!

    Voluntarily leaving (none / 0) (#40)
    by cawaltz on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 08:12:35 PM EST
    would mean you do not qualify for unemployment benefits so I don't think you qualify.