Sunday, October 24, 2010

38 But I’ve Been Sick

The proverbial question, “How old are you”?
It is much easier to say, “38 but I have been sick” than saying 64 and getting those quizzical looks, some of disbelief, some showing empathy and some that say, “then get a move on, I need that machine”.
If you feign illness I would think there would be much more tolerance for slower movement.
In fact I actually feel 38, I just don’t move as easy as a 38 year old.
The body is not 38 and most days recognizes that fact but is willing to ignore it.
The pay back comes at night, aches that wake you up when you roll over on a recently strained arm, touchy hip or even worse an unbending lower back.
Then you see those fleeting shadows, circling the bed, those dream hallucinations that haunt the edge of near sleep.
Finally the pain or ache brings you full awake and you lie there, thinking, “Should I do arms in the morning or maybe work on some back health”?
Some would say that those questions in themselves betray a level of mental imbalance but when I dredge up those memories of the past when I was actually 38, I think I was more stressed and sleeping even worse that I am now.
There were different hallucinations that haunted those days.
So here I am back to 38 recovering from a lifetime of bad habits, trying to get to 30 or maybe 28 but a long road lies ahead.
Spin, lift, Boot Camp, run, walk the golf course, no more carts, no more easy paths and besides it is cheaper.
The groceries no longer include meat but yogurt, berries, salmon, tuna, cottage cheese, whole grain bread, pine nuts, almonds, whey protein, nothing too tasty but just right for muscle and growing younger.
So yes, “I am 38 but I have been sick”.
It is only in the past two years I think I am finding a cure.
I just want to make sure I don’t go too far and get back into diapers.
My wife has already said she is too old for any more babies.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Different Exercise: Left Brain versus Right Brain

Tonight, 6:30 PM Boot Camp, also an invitation to a private art showing by Shirley Kern, a beautiful talented artist previously of Evansville, now living in Princeton, New Jersey across the street from the home of the late Albert Einstein.
I am racing home from an out of town job and deep in my heart I am torn between exercise for the body and exercise for the mind.
In the end I chose to exercise my brain and the art of appreciating art.
Getting your head around art is often as difficult as deep squats or dead lifts.
The artist’s web site,, is definitely worth a visit.
The event was held at The Begley Art Source, which is affiliated with the Evansville Museum.
I must admit, every joint, every muscle begged me to take a day off and I was looking forward to seeing old friends, having a glass of wine and letting my eyes and mind wander over new as yet unseen art.
I was going to be allowed to look into the soul of another person.
As I walked around looking at the works I was impressed with the colors, the bold stripes, the “Ordered Impressionism” of Shirley Kern versus my memory of the drips on canvas by Jackson Pollock and his “Chaotic Impressionism”.
To me it seems one painted from hope while the other from despair.
Some pieces, especially Wings Across Open Waters, kept calling me back, as it inspired serenity and peace.
But in the end, I had to admit, the art gallery ended up being much like the gym, a whole lot of people seeking to get and be just a little bit better and make the world better for it.
Now if only we can get the gym to serve Chardonnay and Merlot along with finger sandwiches, couscous on whole grain bread, then that would be a little bit of heaven.
I might never go home especially if they throw in an art show every now and then.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Size It Seems Does Matter (At Least To Telomeres)

The river of time is inexorable, always moving forward.
But all rivers have eddies and places where the river sometimes flows backward
So, can we find a way back, to a time of youth and youthfulness?
As we live longer this is a crucial question to answer.
I am approaching my sixty-fourth birthday but I feel like I am forty; the answer, extreme exercise and an extreme diet.
It is now known that on the end of each gene there is a chain of nonsense DNA that protects the DNA during replication from becoming “ragged”.
It is like the end of a carpet piece that has extra heavy stitching to keep the carpet from unraveling after prolonged usage.
These end pieces are called telomeres.
As we age telomeres become shorter and shorter until the DNA becomes unreadable and the cell dies (This is an over simplification but I hope you get the drift)
Much of the damage to telomeres occurs because of inflammation within the organism, the same inflammation that causes arteries to harden, etc.
It now has been shown that endurance exercise protects the telomeres, as do diets with low inflammatory properties, such as the Indo-Mediterranean Diet.
So the longer your telomeres, the healthier your cells, the more true the replication and repair thus keeping cell death and cell aging at bay.
The effect of physiologic stress on Telomere length has been shown to reduce length by as much as a decade in age controlled groups.
The same can be said for inflammation, bad diets and a sedentary lifestyle.
In some bird populations the length of a telomere predicts higher levels of adaptability to changing environments.
In twin studies, the sedentary twin loses telomere length at a much faster rate than the active twin and shows signs of earlier aging.
There is no pill, no easy solution to deferring aging; it is hard won in a gym, on the road and eating foods with high anti-inflammatory potential.
So in the end size does matter- Copy the link and paste into your Browser for more on the issue.

Desiderata says it best: “Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy”----finally eat your veggies, Fish Oil capsules, legumes and nuts along with a good helping of fruit so your telomeres can keep on growing.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Has Happened

I was overweight; I loved great food and cherished great music, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, etc.
I would sit for hours listening to the sounds of these great composers while digesting a six thousand calorie meal.
Then I met "The Sparta" a modern day Spartan Queen.
The first recording I heard and thought was “catchy” was a tune by the group, Disturbed.
The lyrics, as I understood them, went on and on about a “sick monkey”.
I asked the group about this and was met with derisive laughter; it seems the lyric was actually closer to “down wid da sickness” and had nothing to do with a monkey but a deranged individual attacking his maternal upbringing.
I found that this music actually helped me exercise.
Next I heard a rhapsodic melody by one, Buck Cherry, not Chuck Berry but truly Buck Cherry.
Buck it seems was deeply in love with this young lady and just had to tell the world about their escapades and limbic energies.
Again this music not only helped me exercise but drove me to exercise well beyond my preconceived limits.
On and on I was introduced to new songs, thrusting me to new levels of caloric expenditure and just like Pavlov dogs, the minute I heard a song with a great beat, I would try to get 50 more push-ups or attempt more weight on the bench.
It seems just like plants, muscles and energy, brain-derived, respond to a primal beat that goes back beyond the written record.
I have expanded my listening tastes to Nelly, Nickelback, Nikki Nana and many others.
I no longer listen to the classics except for those times I attend the Symphony (I don’t think they will be playing Buck Cherry any time soon) or find myself relaxing to NPR in the evening but in the car the volume is on max, the tunes, they are heavy, like the weights I am trying to master.
So be careful, if you inhabit a gym for a prolonged period of time, your brain and body will seek to rock to the beat of the different drummer.