Archive for category health

Fearing Poor Health And Painful Accidents

For two weeks, I was pretty distracted. So I didn’t write. Much of what happened reminded me of how important good health is and how quickly our physical circumstances can change. Life is so fragile. It’s amazing we don’t live in constant daily fear. There was also the tension of the election and arguments about who would win.

First was giant hurricane Sandy, requiring preparations like removing outdoor furniture, gathering supplies. I grew up used to lots of hurricanes in Florida, where we would buy batteries, food, and fill up the bathtub with water. After Sandy hit the northeast on October 29th, I had power, but for days no land line phones and internet. Fortunately I have satellite TV, but seeing the devastation and fires probably depressed me. We only lost some trees. Nothing. Spared. I was numb for days.

But a friend has had no power for 10 days. Yes he has a house, but that is still a big change to deal with. Another friend in Brooklyn can’t buy gas, her Manhattan office is still without power, her subway doesn’t work. One day your life is different. So fragile.

Then I found out about an acquaintance, age 63, who walked up stairs, his leg gave way suddenly, and he fell on his neck. He is now confined to a wheel chair, maybe forever. So fragile.

Two weeks ago I found a tick on my chest. Hadn’t even been out in the woods. Probably picked it up from the dog who had eight of them I located later. A friend who had a severe reaction for months from Lyme disease had a relapse: headaches, joint pains. Would I get that too? The bite location is still red, but I don’t feel any of the systems. So fragile. One day your life changes.

Another acquaintance has a husband in his 50’s who stopped communicating. No words, no thoughts come through. She has to take care of him constantly. One day…

How do we live through all these possible calamities and not be either terrified constantly or grateful for every healthy, happy moment? Is the fear just so great that our brains won’t let us think about it? I met a boy on a bus in Japan decades ago who braced himself during the ride for the crash that could happen at any second. Tensed and white knuckled as he gripped the pole or seat hand rail, he was ready. But what did that do to his equanimity? Destroy it? Or give him peace, because he was prepared. I was 21, he was my guide, and I never forgot his continuous fear of the bus crash, his legs extended out in front of him, just in case there was a collision. I wonder if he lived a long life, or if his fear poisoned his system and made him sick?

These daily doses of terrible events and accidents from the media can’t possibly be beneficial…other than teaching us things to watch out for and avoid. Then people we know have so many stories of their losses, setbacks, tragedies. Yet somehow we go on, trying to be disciplined, doing what is right or good for us, what we hear is healthy and beneficial. All such a muddle, a jumble, a mix up and a hodgepodge. Or as one effete snob writer explained, “gallimaufry.” I had to look that word up. Can you believe that someone writes like that in a newspaper, where she is supposed to be communicating to the masses! Idiot. And so I rant in the face of Fate’s wheel turning turning turning and scaring us if we let it.

Now I will stop writing and do some exercise. This will be my 366th continuous day of exercise. A full Leap Year of discipline. I have reached this simple goal. It is a way to give me pride and confidence. A bit of tone, not really bulking muscles. But I am striving to enjoy the after effects of each session and also defer my inevitable bodily decay.

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My 15 Minutes Of Fitness Fame On Reddit

Yesterday my son posted a paragraph on the reddit fitness site (200,000 followers) talking about how I did some exercise 330 days in a row as a challenge to be disciplined and to also keep a little bit more toned than doing nothing at all. Well it really caught on and was voted right to the top for most of the day. He also had some links to this irasabs site, so the traffic numbers were blown way off the charts: almost 25 times the average number of daily visitors. Even today the traffic was six times normal.

But in addition to 729 points, compared to 270 for today’s highest-valued thread, there were 140 comments. My son was proud and amused by them. I certainly was laughing at some of the responses. So here are a few to add some giggles to your day as well. And contrary to what some of the people suggested, I am not on any steroids or other drugs to bulk up…

I hope to be like you when I’m 50+.

Dang, I hope I look like you when I get to 30.

I never was into older men…. but damn you’re the exception

Ira you are an inspiration and a mad cat.

If I am 70 and look like that I will dress like an African Bushman and tell everyone to deal with it.

Your father is in better shape than a lot of men my age (22). Good for him, that’s amazing.

This is pretty awesome. So much of the aging process happens because people stop engaging in physical activity.

mein godt your dad is a beast, mine is in perma bulk mode with fat-beetus and a large amount of heart problems associated with bulking for more than 25 years.

It’s kinda sad that’s probably the best our bodies would look when they’re that age. I don’t wanna get old.

I’m sorry but someone doesn’t look like that at 71 without some help.

My first thought as well. People always assume it’s an insult even though his dedication is awesome either way. People (are) denying the likely reality that he is on gear (slang for steroids), but even if he is there’s nothing wrong with that.

At his age he could easily get prescribed testosterone from a physician too. Anti-ageing clinics everywhere.

Your dad is a very inspirational character, thanks for sharing his legend!!! (“story” seemed unworthy :p)

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Back At The Gym For A Tension-Relieving Workout

After 14 months of avoiding the place, I finally made it to the gym. It was a minimal workout, just 30 minutes, but it really felt great to be pumping up. But knowing I was going to be near the gym after a friend’s afternoon lecture, I thought the gym visit would be easy.

In fact it was absolutely necessary. At the lecture, I saw an acquaintance who told me his wife had died just three months after learning she had cancer. They had been together almost 30 years, had both recently retired and were planning “a decade or two of travel and relaxation.” I was so stunned I could barely stand up. I became a bit dizzy and thought I was going to fall down, that my legs wouldn’t support me.

So I raced to the gym to burn off my fear, anger, tension, adrenalin, whatever. It was a welcome relief from a horribly upsetting encounter. I feel so bad for this man who is struggling with his new and unexpected circumstances. And for his deceased wife, who had almost no time to prepare. I didn’t ask any questions about lifestyles and health habits. It just reminded me yet again how fragile and unpredictable our health and living is. It’s a constant gift that needs to be appreciated, treasured and cared for…

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Obesity, Cancer And Other Health Issues May Correlate With Childhood Traumas

David Brooks wrote a very upsetting column last week suggesting that if you had as a child many of 10 pretty common traumas, then you may be doomed for life to suffer bad stuff, including health and weight issues. Traumas like being abused, having divorced parents, or family members who’d been incarcerated or declared mentally ill. Coincidentally I saw a movie about Freud and Jung, in which the former just wanted to identify the source of the problems, while Jung also wanted to help heal or cure the problem. Hard for me to understand why Dr. Freud wouldn’t want to heal the patients as well. Here are some excerpts from the Brooks article.

They gave the 17000 adults interviewed what came to be known as ACE scores, depending on how many of the 10 experiences they had endured. The link between childhood trauma and adult outcomes was striking. People with an ACE score of 4 were seven times more likely to be alcoholics as adults than people with an ACE score of 0. They were six times more likely to have had sex before age 15, twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer, four times as likely to suffer emphysema. People with an ACE score above 6 were 30 times more likely to have attempted suicide.

Later research suggested that only 3 percent of students with an ACE score of 0 had learning or behavioral problems in school. Among students with an ACE score of 4 or higher, 51 percent had those problems.

Schools are now casting about, trying to find psychological programs that will help students work on resilience, equanimity and self-control. Some schools give two sets of grades—one for academic work and one for deportment.

And it’s not just schools that are veering deeper into the psychological realms. Health care systems are going the same way, tracing obesity and self-destructive habits back to social breakdown and stress.

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325 Continuous Days Of Exercise

When I do my 10 minutes of exercise tonight, it will be the 325th day in a row. I am already wondering if I will stop at 365, go for 400, or do it forever? After an evening of tennis, when I was working too actively to exercise before the games, I come home and relax for an hour or two, before I can make myself exercise. Then I eat after 11 pm or so. Not healthy. But I played/practiced tennis six out of seven days from September 18-24. I was tired. Cramming in exercise was NOT easy. Yet I did it.

I have proven to myself and anyone who knows about this challenge that I can be disciplined enough to exercise daily no matter where I am in the world, no matter what the day’s events and demands. At this point, it’s still a source of pride that I made it this far, but it’s also a simple fact. It was the new me before. It’s who I have become at present.

Now my daughter came home for the weekend and brought creamy cheeses like brie and St. Andre. I ate those high-cholesterol bites with great pleasure. Then she made some chocolate sauce with much butter and maple syrup. I ate it on one spoonful of ice cream with extraordinary delight. She is a bad bad influence. I think it would be hopeless to avoid those unhealthy, fattening foods (for me) if she lived here. My secret is to not have the food in the house.

I did see a friend in Manhattan last week who has lost 15 pounds and is walking each day with Heavy Hands. He looks great, is walking more briskly and his posture has improved. He gives my fitness efforts some credit for reminding him to lose weight. His girl friend sees some tone in his arms, and he is feeling better…we all do it whenever we do…if we ever do.

At a dinner party recently with people in their 50’s and 60’s, there was lots of talk about limbs that didn’t work, backs that had been operated on, illnesses that were affecting life styles. I know lots of good health is dumb luck, some genetic proteins that work better, and being blessed by circumstances (like clean water and anti-biotics). While I can play and move, I will. I just won’t brag about it to anyone over 50. Too antagonistic…though it shouldn’t be. I’d rather be an inspiration than a source of depression and resentment. Oh well.

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Obvious Secrets For Living Longer With Minimal Illness

Here’s another Gretchen Reynolds article about the benefits of fitness into old age. The comments are good and predictable too…over 200 of them with first-hand advice. Of course the real goal is to not just live longer, but to delay or minimize infirmity in old age. Middle age fitness helps you do that. Below are some excerpts.

A new study suggests that being or becoming fit in middle age, even if you haven’t previously bothered with exercise, appears to reshape the landscape of aging.

Those adults who had been the least fit at the time of their middle-age checkup also were the most likely to have developed any of eight serious or chronic conditions early in the aging process. These include heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and colon or lung cancer.

The adults who’d been the most fit in their 40s and 50s often developed many of the same conditions, but notably their maladies appeared significantly later in life than for the less fit. Typically, the most aerobically fit people lived with chronic illnesses in the final five years of their lives, instead of the final 10, 15 or even 20 years.

Being physically fit “compresses the time” that someone is likely to spend being debilitated during old age, leaving the earlier post-retirement years free of serious illness and, at least potentially, imbued with a finer quality of life.

Interestingly, the effects of fitness in this study statistically were greater in terms of delaying illness than in prolonging life. While those in the fittest group did tend to live longer than the least fit, perhaps more important was the fact that they were even more likely to live well during more of their older years.

Two Comments:

* ellen
* L.A., CA

This time of life offers so much. If you’re lucky enough to be retired it’s certainly easier. However, having said that, when I turned 50 I made a deal with myself that I would exercise every day. I got to say how much, though. Some days it was 5 minutes, some days an hour. Little by little I got to feel so much better that now I do pilates (at home) for about a half hour and then I walk for about 45 minutes. I eat the paleo diet and, at 63, I can tell you I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been in my life. I have more energy. I have no aches and pains. I kayak and dance, and do art. I’m very lucky to be living this life. I’m also very devoted to making the most of it. Oh yes, I take NO MEDS. I’m hoping to live and long and healthy life. But more than hope, I’m working for it. My body is there for me every day. The least I can do is give it a hand. Start small and trust that it will build. You get to like it after a while, Honest. It’s become so much a part of my life now that on a day I might no get to do my walk, say, I miss it terribly.

* RS Close
* Ventura County, CA

Just the realization that living longer is not the goal, but living better is what happens to someone who exercises should be enough evidence to encourage people to move their bodies. I have been taking workout classes for years. Now, I am 71. I do spinning classes 4X week, at least walk or hike on each of the other days…..I am NEVER sick….I do not take medications…I do take vitamins and supplements…..I have all of my original body parts and best of all….my friends are much younger and lots of fun….people my own age are all falling apart. I also eat a very healthy, almost all organic diet and cook most nights…nothing elaborate, but careful planning…it takes focus but it is well worth the results. Hope more people pay attention to the important findings in the article!

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Hospital Athletes

During multiple visits to the hospital recently to see a friend, I am impressed at all the activity on the floor by post-operative patients who want to hasten their recovery. The main exercise is walking around the floor. I am guessing that the doctors and nurses are really urging their charges to get out of bed and chair, but it seems to me the patients like the change of pace as well.

Most of the time the walker is hooked up to liquids in see-through bags and monitoring machines that are hanging from a sort of hat rack on wheels. It’s a 6-foot-high intravenous (IV) pole with five wheels on the bottom and sometimes a circle of steel near the middle for hand support and pushing. There are often friends and family members walking along too for conversation and moral support. At some stage, the walker lets a companion do the pushing, so he can walk faster, when he doesn’t need to hold on to anything.

There is no rule about the direction you have to walk, so you are constantly smiling at others perambulating opposite to you. And the demographic mix is quite varied…young and old, men and women, all in partially covering hospital gowns. But the guests are more distinctive, for I saw Orthodox Jews with skull caps and wigs, Indians in saris, Upper East Siders in designer clothes and fancy jewelry, as well as the overheated guys in shorts and polo shirts. I loved the Middle Eastern patient whose arm and back were completely covered with elaborate tattoos.

Now how fast you go is really a challenge. My friend could only go a few steps, a helping hand under his arm, and balancing with the pole the second day. He often needed to pause for a breath and that day turned around and headed “home” to his room after a total distance equal to just one fourth of the circuit. By Day 3, he was doing two laps, four the next day, and two of those without him pushing the pole. I was advised not to pressure him to go for a mile real soon, because that was 13 laps at the hospital I visited.

On my third visit in a week, he was doing five non-stop laps at a time, 15 total laps for the day, and was walking so fast that it seemed there was a wind generated by the speed that whisked papers off the nurse station desks. The pole-pushing person walking with our group of four had to practically run to keep up. She said she felt like the last body on the outside end of some ice skaters turning a corner and whipping her around. I thought my friend was like a race horse who’d been cooped up in a stall (his bed and room) who was just let out for a walk, but geared up immediately for a gallop.

Whether “jogging” without assistance or using a walker or cane, each patient is trying to improve muscle tone and mobility as quickly as possible. Their courage and determination to overcome their weakness and pain are laudable and an athletic challenge I never appreciated before focusing on this site.

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I Should Have Eaten More Steak!

These were the first words said by a woman who just found out she had incurable cancer and was going to die soon: “I should have eaten more steak!” Seven months later, she was gone…

I heard this anecdote from a friend who knows the widower. My friend (let’s call him Goliath, or G for short) and I were discussing mortality, health, and discipline. G often comments how disciplined I am to avoid foods with cholesterol. I often remind him how I used to eat half a pint of ice cream with chocolate syrup almost every night. Then my cholesterol rose to heart-attack-warning levels, so I gave it up. Eat a lot of sorbet now, almost no cheese, fat-free yogurt, soy milk and olive oil instead of more delicious butter. Now my cholesterol is down. Hopefully I will live longer and more healthfully.

Do I miss those foods. Sometimes, for sure. But knowing they are bad for me, I usually am just fine without them. If I suddenly learn that I will be dead in a few months or days, I don’t think it will bother me that I modified my diet and exercised more to stay healthy, fit, and enjoying these later years. But that’s me.

I remember a smoker saying that he is likely to live just 6 or 7 years less than a non-smoker. “Worth it,” he pronounced. Of course his addictions were no comparison to my giving up butter. But it’s all a balance, G and I decided. What if you live 10 years in good health, rather than 20 years in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices?

Of course you could die tomorrow in an accident. In that case you wouldn’t have time to regret having avoided harmful foods and life style. But working out the balance is quite confronting. Why earn more money for older age and health costs, if you think you will die in a year? Why stay fit and flexible? Why not cheat on your wife or husband? Why spend time helping out friends and supporting unemployed children? Do whatever you want!

It’s almost impossible to live solely for the moment, in spite of movies and novels starring glamorous, smiling hedonists. But is it really tempting to you?

When I was working at my own publishing company in the early years, I was newly divorced and wanted to be as stabilizing as possible for my two little girls. When they had summer and holiday vacations, I took huge amounts of time off, regardless of the business consequences. One year I was with the girls 104 days, including 26 weekends (52 of the days). Of course I felt guilty at first, but then I would tell myself that if any of my staff members complained, I would say I only had six months to live. That would justify the time away, I reasoned. In their minds as well as mine.

So I am familiar with that confrontation of how much we…I…should watch the diet, be responsible, do good deeds, exercise, say NO to another beer, another shirt, another vacation.
We each have to work it out, and it a challenge every time we look at a menu, open the freezer, hear about a friend’s trip to Bora Bora, see a friend divorce his wife of decades and become the playboy of the suburban world.

Good luck with your choices. And may the Force of long, healthy life be with you…

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Future Benefits For Healthy Eaters?

Was talking to the owner of the B&B I stayed at in Newport. A slightly overweight guy who cooks and serves guests Eggs Benedict and pancakes with fruit in them made with strange flours. He admits that he loves to eat (“look at all the great food here”) and that he can’t stop himself. His stomach seems to have no “I’m Full” feeling. And there I was eating leftovers for breakfast I couldn’t finish from my dinner the night before.

As long as we were talking about eating, I brought up all the people we’d been seeing in the streets and tennis stands who were grossly overweight. I’d been talking with friends about how people should take some responsibility for their obesity, especially when they don’t buy health insurance, use the emergency rooms for free, and raise the premiums of those who do buy insurance.

The innkeeper was reasonable. “People like me should pay higher taxes or premiums. We need new laws. Even constitutional amendments.” But that will take decades, I told him. He said it’s in the new health care law. Not sure he is right. But one good thing about going bankrupt…it forces you to change your spending habits for sure. If you are a good driver, you get a premium discount. Same if you don’t smoke. So shouldn’t fit and healthy people pay less than those who abuse their bodies and ignore good health?

Food for thought!

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Fitness Trainer Drew Manning Gained 70 Pounds On Purpose

Fitness Trainer Drew Manning gained weight (middle) and then lost it (right) to better understand his clients

Here are excerpts from a story about a fitness trainer who gained 70 pounds on purpose (then lost it) to better understand what his clients go through. His journey allowed him to empathize more with his clients and suggest new ways to become fit.

Always a fitness junkie, staying in shape comes naturally for Drew Manning. He’s that guy at the gym the rest of us love to hate. But his wife says he was a “judgmental” trainer who would look at someone who was overweight and say, ‘They must really be lazy.’ ”

In order to better understand the struggles his clients were facing, he had to face them himself. He gave up the gym and started consuming junk food, fast food and soda. In just six months, he went from 193 pounds with a 34-inch waist to 265 pounds with a 48-inch waist.

Manning says he didn’t realize the effects of his weight gain would be more than physical. It altered his relationships and his self-confidence. The fact that he had to do push-ups on his knees was almost humiliating.

Manning suffered through soda deprivation headaches and food cravings on his way back to fit. The journey was easier for him than for most, he’ll admit, but he’s eager now to provide tips for others to follow in his footsteps.

“The biggest thing [I learned] is that it’s not just about the physical. It’s not just about the meal plan and the workouts and those things. The key is the mental and the emotional issues. I realized those issues are real.”

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Why Some Black Women Are Fat

Fitness instructor, Michelle Gibson

There was an interesting article the other day explaining why so many black women are overweight or just plain fat: they want to be. It’s a cultural thing. White girls want to be skinny. Many black women never want to go below 200 pounds, partly because their husbands and boy friends won’t like it. Or so claims Alice Randall as she states candidly, “My goal is to be the last fat black woman in my family.”

She is hoping for a revolution against this desirable large-bodied stereotype, because one in four middle-aged black women has diabetes, which with obesity are causing more cancer deaths in America than smoking. And blacks have 51 percent higher obesity rates than whites do.

A few days later, the Times quoted a Washington Post study that concluded heavier black women have much higher self-esteem than average-sized white women. Fitness instructor, Michelle Gibson, who teaches 10 aerobics classes a week, says “I’m a full-figured woman who would run circles around the average person, and I know it.”

The Times also printed eight short opinions about this whole issue of overweight black women. Here are some excerpts:

“We are all dealt various hands in life through our genes. Some may be more fit than others, and some may have an inherently better self-image. I would suggest it’s how we play the hand we’re dealt that’s important.”

“While there is a greater acceptance of a curvaceous body in the black community, that holds true for other cultures as well — Latino, Armenian, Italian and Greek, to name a few.”

Josephine Baker

“To say that “black women are fat” because they “choose to be,” as Alice Randall says in her Op-Ed, could not be further from the truth…I agree with Randall that Josephine Baker “embodied a curvier form of an ideal black woman.” Similar to Marilyn Monroe, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce, Josephine Baker is considered “thick.” But there’s a difference between thick and fat.”

“According to Alice Randall, not dieting is a bad idea. But here’s what current data show:
· Pretty much everyone who loses weight gains it back within a few years. Some regain more.
· Yo-yo dieting is linked to poor health and shortened life.
· Exercise is good for health, not for weight loss. (Fat people who exercise regularly are healthier than thin people who don’t.)
· Nutrition is good for health.”

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TJ Faces Two Big Challenges

TJ (left) with friends—3/24/2012

Back on March 17th, I wrote about how I hurt my knee and was scared that I might no longer be able to play tennis…and then was ashamed that with all the sickness and sadness in the world, I had no right to feel sorry for myself. Here is a poignant and powerful comment from a reader named TJ. She has really set a high athletic challenge for herself: to run a marathon (26 miles) although the most she has ever run non-stop in her life is “just” eight miles! She also has another challenge involving her health and appearance, and has an unbelievably positive and adaptive attitude. She reminds me how in the past, as my hair thinned out, my bald spot became larger, and I watched a relative lose all her hair during cancer treatments, I would rationalize that “it’s better to be bald than dead.”

This post resonated with me, so I felt the need to comment. These are just some thoughts, so forgive me if the sentiment’s a little scattered.

This past December I entered the lottery for the New York City marathon for the fourth time in my life, and was admitted. FINALLY I’m getting the chance to live out one of my lifelong dreams of running 26.2 miles in the city in which I’ve learned some of my most important life lessons. To have the opportunity to meet this challenge head on, means the whole world to me, and every day that I go running, I just picture all of my Rocky Balboa-esque workouts culminating in that final moment when my mind has conquered matter, and I’m dashing across the finish line.

Another challenge presented itself this past December too—I discovered I have an auto-immune disorder called alopecia areta that causes my hair to fall out in patches sporadically. While otherwise perfectly healthy, I have absolutely no control over what my hair will look like the next day, and eventually, if my body doesn’t respond to treatment (cortisone injections in my scalp once a month), I could end up totally bald.

You can imagine that for a woman, not having any control over how I’m going to look is incredibly frustrating, and it’s made me consider how drastically others’ perceptions of me could shift in the next year or so. But surprisingly (even to me), I’m not that upset. I’ve had a lot of time since December to reflect on what my condition really is in the grand scheme of things. I’m not dying. Being bald wouldn’t change who I am fundamentally. There are so many worse things that can happen to a person. I have friends who are battling cancer, mourning the losses of their parents, and learning how to live their life again with only one leg. So whenever I start to feel sorry for myself for a little hair falling out, I remember that for now, I can still go for a run. Who knows? Maybe if I end up totally bald, the lack of extra wind resistance will shave a couple minutes off my marathon time? : )

she is losing patches of hair

It’s tough not being able to do something you’ve been able to your whole life. It’s tough not having control while your body changes. I know playing tennis and putting your hair up are in two totally different ballparks, but I think I can empathize with the sentiment. We’re all constantly on a journey to achieve and to perfect ourselves despite the wear and tear that comes with living. But maybe if you stay off of your knee for a while, you’ll have the opportunity to pull something else out of yourself you didn’t know was there. Maybe you’re a world class chess player? Maybe you’ll spend more time rowing and find that it’s something you love?

We are each a project that’s always evolving and re-growing. I could lose all of my hair. I could sprain my ankle and not even make it to the marathon (knock on wood). But until that happens, I’m relishing in shampooing my hair every morning and beaming with every step I take in the evening because you’re right—as long as we’re alive, it’s not enough to just watch the ocean from the beach. You don’t get a dress rehearsal, so you have to enjoy what you’ve got while you’ve got it and push for everything you want in this life. If you love tennis, play tennis until you can’t play tennis anymore, and then when you can’t, you’ll find a new passion within yourself and be a stronger person for it.

When I’m running, I spend a lot of time thinking about the people and ideas that have made me strong enough to conquer a marathon, and I want to put them all on the t-shirt I wear that day in some way to remind myself of who I really am. You can be sure that I’ll have a shout out to irasabs.com somewhere on that shirt. Thank you for always being an inspiration.

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Injured, Panicked, Ashamed

This is a true confession. Last week I was walking towards the squash court for the fourth day in a row—two of them after 2+ hours of tennis—and my left knee started clicking or popping. No pain, just sounds. I hit squash balls that day and the next, but still just tightness. I have no recollection of any twisting or sudden jarring that would have done ANYTHING.

I spoke to a doctor who said I was describing bone to bone rubbing, a lack of fluid, and advised me to take glucosamine, which is over the counter. He said it could be the onset of arthritis, didn’t sound like a tear. I looked up some quad exercises that might help.

The clicking was intermittent, and over the next few days there was some serious soreness.

So I started worrying A LOT that maybe my super workout, 2-4 hour sports days might end. Maybe I had Lyme disease. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to play tennis into my nineties, or even my eighties. Damn! Just when I was improving. Could I have arthritis, a torn knee?

I’ve spoken to friends going crazy about not being able to exercise for weeks after leg breaks from skiing. I’ve talked to people who have had clicking joints for years and just took it and the pain in stride (“I don’t even feel it any more. I could never be a ninja and sneak up silently on anyone.”) Others tell me that they are always in pain from sports exertions and injuries. And I hear countless stories at the tennis club about players of all ages who have given up the game, because the risk of serious disability is too great for their hurting knees and shoulders.

Then I spoke to friends who have—or told me—about illnesses that are so serious that they might die. The fear and reality these people live with each day sounds terrible. They go to hospitals and see doctors weekly or monthly. I can’t imagine what that is like, even though I have spent months in a hospital recovering from hepatitis and jaundice in Korea, was flown back to the States on a stretcher, and took weeks of recuperation, before I could walk one block.

So now I feel great shame that I am upset over not playing tennis another 5-15 years. Of course Life is NOT fair. And we have to play with the cards that it dealt us. Some are poor, like bad genes. Others are crappy, like accidents that no one ever thought about or were one in a thousand or one in a million chances we would be hurt. Wrong place wrong time. Or OK place, but still wrong time.

How can I moan about it? But everything is relative.

I knew someone who was making over a million dollars a year many decades ago. I was making less than $35,000 then. Yet he was hanging around with tycoons acquiring over $50 million a year. He felt poor. He was frustrated. He felt inadequate.

A friend told me about an acquaintance who had inherited $600 million, but was depressed in 2009, when his fortune declined by a third. So he only had $400 million to his name. Laughable to me. Misery to the rich guy.

How do we resolve these attitudes? It’s like being caught in two or more worlds. Glad that I can play at all…have the time, don’t have to work every minute, have the health, live near a court. Others are sick, working like animals at my age, or are dead. I should be grateful for any level of play and decent life. Even if I can no longer run safely around the court.

But then there is the other world, where I want to keep going, improve, have the greater satisfaction that comes with prowess, cardio, health, more skill. It’s not enough just to be alive and healthy. I want to push and grow and accomplish. Greedy for more, lusting for continued success.

Maybe it is just built into our DNA. A human survival instinct. As long as we’re alive, it’s not enough to just watch TV on a couch or the ocean from the beach. We need the challenges and reaches, the competition and grasping for achievement. What do you think?

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Joe Marshall’s Thoughts On Diet, Health And Fasting

In response to my post on January 29th about the diet and health of the super athletes of the Tarahumara Indian tribe in Mexico, Joe Marshall wrote some interesting comments. I should mention that my father was a chiropractor who believed that you are what you eat, and moderation is one path to good health. He was also sick enough to spend a day or two in bed just four times in his life that I knew about, until his late 80’s, when years of smoking and too many pastrami sandwiches caught up to him.

As far as cancer goes, nutrition is key. Everyone must stay within his limitations to stay healthy. We eat un-natural foods. We compromise our digestive systems, so even good foods leak out and give us immune disorders. We are stressed out.

The AMA has contributed to the chronic disease syndrome by pumping us full of unnecessary drugs that mask symptoms, poison us, and ruin our digestive tracts. . Worse, they have been convicted in court of trying to put chiropractic out of business, a science that tries to improve health through natural means, helping the body heal itself, and following the Hippocratic Oath Mantra of “Do No Harm”. This is not to say that the AMA has not done wonders with surgery.

All chiropractors and naturopaths study the art of fasting.

A group of licensed medical experts (some of them MD’s) got together in the mid-20th century to form a group know as the American Natural Hygiene Society. These marvelous healers increased the lives and health of millions of people, promoting breast feeding, vegetarian diets, fasting, sunshine, and avoidance of polluted water (especially water with chlorine and fluoride). I could tell you case after case of people I have met who have gone on to have radiant health after being diagnosed with “incurable” degenerative diseases….arthritis, cystic ovaries, sterility, infertility, colitis, enlarged prostate, heart disease, liver diseases, emphysema, asthma, etc…..and all accomplished WITHOUT ANY medications.

Dr David J Scott fasted over 30,000 patients (including me). He had liver problems as a young man, due in part to a drug he was made to take every day for a year during WW2. He helped break the Japanese code back then. He came down with cancer at the age of 32. He kept the cancer in remission for 66 YEARS, running two full time businesses the whole time, dealing with all kinds of pressures, and never taking any medication. He fasted every winter. He just died at the age of 88, busy and productive until the last 2 weeks of his life.

Dr William Esser, in Florida, was never sick in his life. Never took a drug or had an operation. He lived to be 93, playing excellent SINGLES tennis until then, and died quietly in Florida, after also fasting more than 30,000 people. His mother lived to be 99 living the Natural Hygiene lifestyle. Anyone interested in vibrant health should search Natural Hygiene or David J Scott to be introduced to it. There is a famous book written in the 1950’s called “Health For the Millions” by Herbert J Shelton. It’s a good start, though some of his ideas have been modified by others.

Each of the two doctors I mentioned SUPERVISED over 30,000 fasts. Most were people who came to their establishments and fasted there, staying with them at the facility, under the doctor’s direct care (daily checks of blood pressure and other vital signs, and in Dr Scott’s case, blood tests in his own fully accredted lab, documenting the benefits of fasting). In the early days, some fasts were directed over the phone. Each was in operation about 60 years…..so that’s and average of 500 a year. Seems high, but that is what hey both said, and they were not known to lie. Fasts can range from 3 days to 50+ days. Dr Esser supervised a pro Canadian football player who fasted 70 days on distilled water (he lifted 100 lbs over his head on the 40th day….with one hand). He had been feeling short of breath and fatigued. the next year, he returned to the team and the coach couldn’t believe his evergy, running circles arund the other players….living on a little fruit and two (very big) salads a day. My brother, who is your age, fasted 50 days last summer. My roommate fasted 50 days when I did 30.

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Sacrifices For Shoveling

just 2 1/2 days back from Florida heat—10/30/11

lift, toss, don't overdo it

The other day I came back from Florida and watched 18-20 inches of snow crash down in a few hours. A freak storm. The historical record here for October is just 1.7 inches! We lost power for five days. Some people lost it for over a week. Even though I have a generator for part of each day, it’s still a more primitive existence.

Afraid that one of our flat roofs might buckle from the weight, I started shoveling off the heavy, wet snow.

Perhaps every time there is a big snow storm, some one over exerts and has a heart attack. Sometimes they die. Too out of shape, too fat, too macho to take it easy or pay a younger, fitter man to do the job. I thought of how with all this snow, I might be that idiot who drops dead. But I also thought that it was unlikely. I am fit, thin, do cardio on the tennis court. The odds were with me. Though I tired, I kept tossing the increasingly heavy shovels full of snow.

As I made progress clearing the roof, working my way through the tedium, relishing my abilities to heave the weight, I thought of all that I had given up over the years to be able to accomplish this task:

I have not enjoyed thousands of memorable and tasty meals with butter and cream sauce.
I have missed out on a million fabulous desserts with whipped cream, syrups, and icings.
I have passed on years of delicious alcohol drinks, like the sambuca and coffee beans that I was given at the hotel in Florida, and I was sipping every night.
I have pushed myself to exercise, when I didn’t want to.

You pay a price for everything, life is always a compromise, and I guess I made the right decision for me, no matter how much liquor and liqueurs I have not savored over the years…Is it really worth it? To have lived such a deprived life? Not totally, of course. I weaken now and then. There is no Big Brother ready to jail me or chain me when have an occasional pie a la mode. But I am constantly denying myself gustatory pleasures. Almost every day, I say no to some taste treat or spend time on a couch, rather than do push ups. And what’s the benefit? To be able to shovel snow? To not die from that effort?

We all make our choices, pick our paths. Some go to the gym and make muscles. I look in the mirror and wish I had the discipline to do that. Could I if I had to? Of course. But I don’t want to badly enough. I guess I was born to shovel snow sometimes. And think about anything but the boring chore of throwing frozen water drops off the roof…yet somehow, I am proud of this silly achievement.

Two great comments from Michael:

2011/11/14 at 10:41 AM

If you had been the village idiot, the rescue people would have had to go up on your slippery roof to get you down…further reducing your chances of getting to a careplex or decent cardiac unit on snowy, icy roads out in the middle of hooterville where you choose to reside. Perhaps after getting their shoes covered in snow, they would have slipped going down the three flights of stairs with you on a backboard or gurney, and dropped you over the railing…OMG, now look at the paperwork we will have to fill out. Or, in the words of my nephew, tripped over that little white ball of fur (sic…useless white dog) that was barking and biting at their heels encouraging them to hurry up and get the alpha dog out of the house so it could be in charge again.

I think we know (and I have proven) that being fit is no guarantee you will conquer the white stuff building up on your roof. While I have made a few less culinary sacrifices than you, I have for years made more fitness sacrifices. Hours lifting and toning in the gym, triathlons, kayaking, hundreds of abs each week, hiking, walking, spinning, aerobics, etc.

So I don’t worry about a little butter in my food…I never have eaten cream sauce [mom gave us margarine and corn oil, worse than butter by far…who knew].

I don’t eat many desserts, just the occasional piece of pie (once a quarter maybe), and perhaps some ice cream every couple of weeks. {Don’t you dare bring up the first cheesecake I made in almost 30 years, yes I know I ate most of it, how was I to know that no one else in the family liked cheesecake, I couldn’t let it go to waste. It took me two weeks to get through it after all.}

My cardiologist says one or two alcoholic drinks helps clean out my arteries but I choose vodka not a sweet syrupy concoction like sambuca (yes I know my liver is paying a price, but we are discussing heart attacks here. What do you mean how often do I have those one or two drinks?…next question!)

I have not been a big beef or pork eater since the mid 80s when our military served my chow, at least I hope it was beef and pork…(now maybe once a month for each), limiting myself to reasonable portions of chicken, fish or other seafood (shrimp, oysters and scallops on occasion…can’t remember the last lobster…sigh!!)

Lastly, most importantly I believe little or no fried foods, no trans fats at home, fresh vegetables and salads at every meal (no, not breakfast, I don’t eat breakfast except on the weekends, so put your egg yoke back in your repertoire and save it for someone else please). I have never had a rise in cholesterol after eating eggs for breakfast the weekend before. Did I mention I can’t remember my last lobster, I think it was responsible for about a 30 point gain one year…sigh!

So in spite of this reasonably healthy lifestyle (exceedingly healthy compared to most of the world, and certainly most Americans) I wind up with an aortic valve replacement and a double bypass at 55. Would I give up shrimp scampi if someone guaranteed me that I would not have needed to have my chest cut open…certainly. But there are no guarantees like that.

Do what you can, find your balance, check your levels annually and make some choices. If you wind up in ICU with a breathing tube and a whole lot of pain killers in you, you will still not know if it was bad choices or bad genes, all you can do is mitigate the chances of getting there.

Great pictures of you shoveling, a much higher chance that you would end up with a pulled back from twisting than a heart attack anyway. Still would have required a paramedic to get you off the roof on a backboard…I’ll stick with my two egg yokes and hire a 20 something to shovel my roof..like the man said it’s all about the choices.

Michael

2011/11/14 at 10:43 AM

Oh and by the way, the cheesecake was post surgery while I was recovering at home. If I survived open heart surgery, I ought to be able to make it through a piece of cheesecake!

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Too Many Decisions Can Lead To Weight Gain

Here is a very insightful article about decision fatigue. Too many choices wear out your brain. Difficulties in compromising—like shopping among many possibilities, when you have limited money to buy your preferred item—also make you punchy. So guess what happens next? Your brain craves sugar, the real thing, glucose…no artificial sweetener. The result is additional calories. Who’d have thought it? And there are many other consequences as well, unrelated to diet, but affecting judicial sentences, your lack of willpower to keep exercising or reject other temptations (your neighbor’s wife?), your ability to keep on working. Check it out after looking over some of these excerpts.

No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue—you’re not consciously aware of being tired—but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain…

These experiments demonstrated that there is a finite store of mental energy for exerting self-control. When people fended off the temptation to scarf down M&M’s or freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies, they were then less able to resist other temptations. Willpower really was a form of mental energy that could be exhausted. The experiments confirmed the 19th-century notion of willpower being like a muscle that was fatigued with use, a force that could be conserved by avoiding temptation. When you shop till you drop, your willpower drops, too.

The brain, like the rest of the body, derives energy from glucose, the simple sugar manufactured from all kinds of foods. The sugar restored willpower, but the artificial sweetener had no effect. The restored willpower improved people’s self-control as well as the quality of their decisions:

Your brain does not stop working when glucose is low. It stops doing some things and starts doing others. It responds more strongly to immediate rewards and pays less attention to long-term prospects.

The discoveries about glucose help explain why dieting is a uniquely difficult test of self-control—and why even people with phenomenally strong willpower in the rest of their lives can have such a hard time losing weight. They start out the day with virtuous intentions, resisting croissants at breakfast and dessert at lunch, but each act of resistance further lowers their willpower. As their willpower weakens late in the day, they need to replenish it. But to resupply that energy, they need to give the body glucose. They’re trapped in a nutritional catch-22:

1. In order not to eat, a dieter needs willpower.

2. In order to have willpower, a dieter needs to eat.

As the body uses up glucose, it looks for a quick way to replenish the fuel, leading to a craving for sugar. Read the rest of this entry »

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Healthy Foods We Should Eat Frequently

Some excerpts from this article by Jonny Bowden, author and nutritionist.

What is the best diet for human beings?…There is no perfect diet for human beings. At least not one that’s based on how much protein, fat or carbohydrates you eat. The only thing various healthy diets from all over the world have in common is that they’re all based on whole foods with minimum processing. Nuts, berries, beans, raw milk, grass-fed meat, wild salmon, eggs, apples, tea, and vegetables, but especially onions/garlic and broccoli/cabbage/brussel sprouts.

Whole, real, unprocessed food is almost always healthy, regardless of how many grams of carbs, protein or fat it contains. And these choice foods are also extremely low in sugar. In fact, the number of modern or ancient societies known for health and longevity that have consumed a diet high in sugar would be … let’s see … zero.

Can’t say I agree with everything he says—I have been avoiding those foods with high cholesterol, like egg yolks and milk. But I’d love to eat less sugar. That is practically a poison that most of us are addicted to from birth, when it is dumped into baby food. But the rest of the list is a regular part of my diet. How about yours?

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Time Lapse Pictures of Muscle Building Transformations

That was a long writing break. Too jammed up with business and family matters. Even X-rays for a sore foot that isn’t broken, but I may have to skip tennis playing for a while and rest the injury. It was caused by way too many games and pounding on hard courts during this past winter.

Also stopped exercising. So this video sent to me by Josh Sobel is very inspirational. It shows a guy’s body changes EVERY DAY FOR ONE YEAR as he whipped himself into shape. Notice his underpants too. Quite aesthetic choices. When I have to avoid tasty, but unhealthy, food, I have no trouble being disciplined. Wish I had that same stick-to-it-iveness or perseverance when it comes to making muscles like this guy:

After watching this video, I discovered more similar stories. Other inspirations:

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Benefits Of Birthdays, Fitness And Posting On this Site

This week celebrates two years of posting on this site. I didn’t know anything about the gym, machines, really good diets, how to make muscles, how many different sports activities there are, what it takes to lose weight, protein shakes, how passionate people are about their physical pursuits. Now I am much better informed. Hopefully some of you are too.

I took a picture of my abs yesterday. Still something showing, even with the extra weight I gained. I swear I am going to make bigger muscles. I promise…

The benefits of fitness and how to become toned really seem so obvious now, even if many of us can’t stick to the diets or gym visits. I read there is a gene, a congenital chemical reason why some like to exercise. I will post the story’s highlights another day. I may have one half of that gene, but after being deprived while traveling for 11 days, I am desperate to stretch and strain. I am not addicted to muscle-building…that is an effort. But it’s easy for me to hit tennis balls 10-plus hours a week. Maybe I have a tennis gene?

I also reached my 70th birthday on April 5th. Given my major goal of keeping fit and able to play sports, be very mobile, nimble and retain my memory…as long as I breathe, I am quite pleased. I know a good bit of this achievement is my genetic makeup. But I also watch my diet, avoid excessive alcohol, no drugs, and lead a pretty clean life. If it sounds boring, then listen on the phone with me as I talk to people in their 50’s who are having cat scans, MRI’s, tests in hospitals, are overweight and tired, hurt when they play sports. I want to avoid that scenario as long as possible.

Today at tennis, a fellow I have been playing with for over a year said he thought I was his age, just 56. I liked stunning him with the facts. After being a bit sad to leave my ’60s and listening to all the well-meant advice about how 70 is “only a number,” I overcame my upset with the sincere rationalization and belief that at least I have lived this long. It is really a blessing. Just listen to people in war and starvation zones all over the world. Just think of those who are sick and seeing doctors, although they are under 50 or 30 or even yesterday a friend under 20, and there is absolutely no justification for any complaint about getting older. OK a tiny regret that we can’t do what we used to do, but then we can at least do now whatever we can do now.

Yesterday a friend in her 40’s said that when she was 30 pounds lighter in high school, she could stand on her hands, even walk on her heavily-calloused hands “around the neighborhood.” She could stay upside down for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. No support. Feet not touching the ground. I am enormously impressed with this revelation. My record in my late 40’s was just 47 seconds. I never reached my goal of one minute. Of course I told my friend she could become fitter now, even though she is a working mom, with a zillion responsibilities more than in high school. She doesn’t have homework these days…

Groggy from a trip to England and Scotland, still jet lagging, another five pounds heavier from fatty foods that were unavoidable there—I have now gained 12 pounds in the last 90 days—I still started exercising again this week. Push ups, crunches, tennis (8 1/4 hours in 4 days and 2-3 scheduled for tomorrow) are all being done easily. Athough my tennis is very poor: I lost three sets of singles today, 2-6, 0-6, 0-6 to someone who usually wins, but after I take 3-4 games. I will get better again. That is the challenge. That is the fun for me. What is your passion?

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Dying Happily From Eating British Foods

Back home at last yesterday and thrilled to be here after 11 days in England and Scotland, visiting daughter studying in London. The food was good, but terrible for me. The sights and evening entertainments were fun, but I had no time to play sports or exercise (one hour in a gym doesn’t count for me anymore…neither does 2-3 hours walking daily in the streets or up and down stairs at castles). I became very grumpy!

Today I played three hours of tennis and feel better already. Had a protein drink, ate less and healthier food, drank more water without fearing I couldn’t find a water closet (toilet)…

Here are some amusing food anecdotes that demonstrate why it is so hard to travel and eat right. I was dining in restaurants, where both countries offer big portions with much meat, fat, butter, cream and cheese. Also thrown in is a fourth meal—the afternoon “tea” with scones, clotted cream (1 oz has 15 grams of fat and 45 mg of cholesterol), sandwiches and all kinds of desserts and pastries. Scotland has the least healthy food in Europe and the highest incidence of heart attacks. Unfortunately, I like the way it all tastes. In the states, my system is to keep luscious, but unhealthy foods out of the house, so I am rarely tempted.

typical Scottish breakfast—Haggis, Orkney black pudding, organic Tamworth pig sausages, bacon and eggs.

As usual I made it a point to ask for my breakfast eggs WITHOUT yolks to minimize the cholesterol intake and blockage to my arteries. So imagine how startled I was to discover that the chef had added double cream to the egg whites to give them more flavor! Delicious. I forgot to say no cream the next time. The third time I ordered eggs, I remembered to say no yolks and NO CREAM. This time they arrived a pleasant yellow from all the butter that had been added. Hopeless. One of the meals I finally remembered to say: no yolks, just whites, no cream, no butter, just olive oil, please. Of course by that time I was in Scotland eating haggis and black pudding with the eggs. I felt like the obese man who has three desserts at one meal and then boasts that he takes his coffee without sugar to avoid calories.

What’s that? You don’t know what haggis is? One of life’s great treats that is illegal to import into America. I love it. Haggis is a dish containing sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal’s stomach for approximately three hours. Haggis was memorialized as the national dish of Scotland by Robert Burns’ poem Address to a Haggis in 1787. Since 1971 it has been illegal to import haggis into the USA from the UK due to a ban on food containing sheep lung, which constitutes 10 to 15% of the traditional recipe. So you have to go there to eat it…or seek out a homemade version at a Scottish festival in the states.

Black pudding is a type of sausage made by cooking blood or dried blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled. The dish exists in various cultures from Asia to America. Pig, cattle, sheep, duck and goat blood can be used depending on different countries. I suppose what I ate was made from sheep’s blood. Sound good enough to eat? I love this dish too. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. I can’t believe either of these foods is low in cholesterol.

At the airport in Edinburgh, I ordered some vegetable soup with fish in it. It came completely white from solid cream. The waiter lied and claimed there was no cream in it. His boss said at least it wasn’t double cream. Before I had to watch my cholesterol intake, I lived on cheese for much of my protein. Those were the days. I probably tried all 200 varieties at the Fairway specialty food store in my Manhattan neighborhood. On this trip I went into two different cheese stores and smelled the aromas, drooled on some of the cheeses and had lots of regrets about this real negative of aging.

At least I am still alive and chasing tennis balls and skiing without too much pain. But what a sacrifice. I drowned my remorse with white chocolates after some meals and the free fudge squares offered at the hotel’s reception desk. If it’s in front of me or in the house…I eat it. No will power when I travel and can’t avoid the food thrown at me. I know, I know: “Life is short. You won’t die from two weeks of bad diet. Stop being neurotic.” My overweight friends who tell me that are correct. But after being used to 10 hours a week of cardio from active tennis playing, I was worse than a wild animal trapped in a cage…I was like an athlete in an iron maiden.

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Some Benefits Of Exercise You Hadn’t Thought About

Here is another NYTimes article that promises the fountain of youth if you just drink some exercise. It’s based on research of mice that is supposedly and hopefully extrapolatory to humans.

Even before I began this site, I was certain that exercise is good for your health. Seems so obvious, even if I couldn’t make myself do regular exercise in past decades. Lots of good excuses. So now I am going to give you incredible excerpts from this article that should make even the youngest person motivated to do something active many times a week. And I am not making fun of the evidence in the article, nor its author, Gretchen Reynolds. I just can’t help finding the humor in some of these conclusions.

“…While Dr. Tarnopolsky, a lifelong athlete, noted with satisfaction that active, aged mice kept their hair, his younger graduate students were far more interested in the animals’ robust gonads. Their testicles and ovaries hadn’t shrunk, unlike those of sedentary elderly mice.

Dr. Tarnopolsky’s students were impressed. “I think they all exercise now,” he said…

By the time they reached 8 months, or their early 60s in human terms, the animals were extremely frail and decrepit, with spindly muscles, shrunken brains, enlarged hearts, shriveled gonads and patchy, graying fur. Listless, they barely moved around their cages. All were dead before reaching a year of age.

Except the mice that exercised.

Half of the mice were allowed to run on a wheel for 45 minutes three times a week, beginning at 3 months. These rodent runners were required to maintain a fairly brisk pace, Dr. Tarnopolsky said: “It was about like a person running a 50- or 55-minute 10K.” (A 10K race is 6.2 miles.) The mice continued this regimen for five months.

At 8 months, when their sedentary lab mates were bald, frail and dying, the running rats remained youthful. They had full pelts of dark fur, no salt-and-pepper shadings. They also had maintained almost all of their muscle mass and brain volume. Their gonads were normal, as were their hearts. They could balance on narrow rods, the showoffs…

Other studies, including a number from Dr. Tarnopolsky’s own lab, have also found that exercise affects the course of aging, but none has shown such a comprehensive effect. And precisely how exercise alters the aging process remains unknown…

Although there is probably a threshold amount of exercise that is necessary to affect physiological aging, Dr. Tarnopolsky said, “anything is better than nothing.” If you haven’t been active in the past, he continued, start walking five minutes a day, then begin to increase your activity level.”

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I Cycled For The Survival Of People With Rare Cancers

at the end of four hours for Evan, one for me and my son

Ira and Evan during their rides

Well I did it. I spun for an hour on February 13th. First time ever that long and in a group. There were 125 bikes at my location, 450 bikes and 800 teams in all five locations. Helluva workout. The huffing and puffing and leg strain was much greater than any of the tennis or squash I do. A friend saw me sweating and was concerned that I was overdoing it and should take it easier. I’d never pedaled before “out of the saddle,” standing up, to loud music and hundreds of people egging me on by their own efforts…I wanted to keep up and move to the group rhythm. I’d planned to just pedal gently, but seated. Forget it. I was cycling for survival.

Definitely in the zone. Spaced out. Mindless. And zinging along. A couple of weeks earlier in a Boston hotel gym, I’d tried spinning on my own . Couldn’t get the seat and handlebars adjusted satisfactorily and was in agony. My butt was screaming from the pain. I was told to buy special padded shorts, but never did, so I brought a small blanket and padded seat. But I was up in the air so much I barely needed it.

How did my son-in-law, Evan, do it for four consecutive hours??!!! He is an animal, an ox, a lion. One of just 40 extreme cyclists out of 4000 participating. I was thrilled when the hour was up. I’d made it, but also sad that the experience was over. A real high. And this charity event raised almost as much this year as in the previous four years. The overall total is now greater than $8 million.

Our team goal was $15,000, way up from last year’s $3000, when only Evan cycled. This year Evan raised almost $17,000. My individual goal was $1000, and will add up to more than $2000 by April 1st, when the fund raising is officially over. All for a good cause. Rare cancer research. Yet add up all the rare cancers in America, and the total number of cases is equal to the major cancers that get almost all the corporate research dollars.

she started it all

This event was started by a woman, Jennifer Goodman Linn, who developed cancer that is a rare cancer and that minimal research is being done on. So she began spinning, because it felt good. Definitely shows you what a difference one person can make.

For more details, check out this earlier story . And go to this site if you want to donate too.

And here are some of the poignant comments from the Cycle for Survival Facebook page.

Today I rode all 4 hours at my first Cycle for Survival! Thank you for your putting together such an amazing event. Thanks to all who supported me and the generous donations to this great cause! I rode in the event in honor of those who have beat cancer, in memory of those who have not and in support of those who are fighting.

My team cycled last weekend in Chicago and we had an amazing time!! I’ve been battling leiomyosarcoma since 2006 and I can’t even begin to describe my emotions I experienced on Saturday! To see so many people pull together and fight for me and the many other patients out there that have a rare cancer leaves me in tears… and speechless! Thank you to all of those who cycled in Chicago and thank you to all of you who are cycling in New York this weekend!! You are doing such an amazing thing and it means the world to all of us fighting cancer!!! Go New York!!!! And have a blast!!

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