Category Archives: Physical Health

Maintaining/gaining good physical health

I’ve Got My Ears On…

After months (okay, maybe years) of responding “what” to persons engaging me in conversation; or, missing much of the dialogue in movies I was watching; and, lastly, being told by my children that I couldn’t hear, I have succumbed and been fitted with hearing aids.

My new ears!
My new ears!

I didn’t go into this without some trepidation.  First of all, I think of hearing aids necessary for only OLD people, and I don’t want to be thought of as elderly…oh, wait, I am getting old.  (Notice, I said getting old.)  Secondly, amongst the few people I know that have them, they always seem to be complaining about them – hearing too much noise, or messing with them to get them to work properly.  My fear was that I would not be able to adjust to the aids, and I too, would not be successful wearing them.  Add to these concerns, the cost of the devices (EXPENSIVE) and the fact insurance and Medicare pay very little in the way of reimbursement, and you might see why I was fearful as I made my appointment with the audiologist.

But, make the appointment I did with an audiologist recommended to me by a friend.  The doctor, a woman, put me at ease immediately.  Though she is likely several years younger than me, I would describe her as a grandmotherly type lady with a huge smile on her face and very cheerful.  During the appointment she thoroughly tested my hearing and shared with me the results in easy-to-understand language.  She answered all my questions and calmed all my fears.  It was clear to me she is very passionate about helping people to hear better.

So I left the first appointment after indeed, placing an order for devices the doctor felt were most appropriate for me.  She actually represents about ten hearing aid manufacturers so had many to consider for me.  Turns out her favorite and the one she felt would work best for me is a Danish company – must be a sign as I am part Danish!  There really is no risk in making a choice, as her routine is to give people 45 days in which to get used to the devices and make sure they are working well.  If in that 45 days I decide these aids are just not working, she will fit me with a different pair.

I received my hearing aids a week after ordering them.  Now, I am still in the 45 day trial period, and in fact, have had two adjustments made already.  It seems that as my brain adjusts to the hearing correction, tweaking may be necessary to make the devices more effective, especially when first starting to wear them.  Once, I have gotten comfortable with my new-found hearing ability, changes may not be needed for a long time.  With this particular audiologist, adjustments are made for free for three years.  The devices themselves have about a 8-10 year life span.

Just this week, an adjustment was made for me that did not increase the loudness, but made the sounds sharper.  My hearing test shows that I have trouble with the higher pitched vowel sounds when listening to someone speak.  That is why while watching movies, for instance, I could hear the dialogue, but could not always discern what was being said – very frustrating!

The bottom line here is I am very happy with the outcome of my decision to get help with my hearing.  Yes, as a woman, I do have hair to hide the fact that I am wearing devices; but, they really are made such that even if I was bald, you may have trouble noticing I am wearing anything extra on my ears.  I am happy to report I can now understand dialogue when I watch TV, I think I am asking “what” less frequently, and, in general, I am not missing out on what goes on around me.

By the way, I can adjust my devices for three different settings (many more are available) – master is the one I use most of the time, comfort is used when I am in a very noisy situation and don’t want to hear everything, and TV is a sharper version and allows me to hear the dialogue when watching a movie or tv program.  A voice in my ear tells me which level I am using; she also tells me when my batteries are low.  (Actually, just like choices one can make for Siri’s voice on iPhones, I can choose the voice to be male or female and even one with an accent.)

If you feel like your hearing is not what it used to be, I would suggest you not hesitate to get help.  I’m here to tell you it is a very good thing to hear well.



Idle time? What’s that…

Do you ever turn off all your electronic devices, the TV, and/or radio and just sit and stare out a window, or close your eyes and just be still? It seems we can benefit from doing that.

The garden seems like a great spot to sit and be idle.
The garden seems like a great spot to sit and be idle.

Since we are under an “excessive heat warning” here in Minnesota today, it’s time to find an indoor activity where, thank heavens for air-conditioning, I can keep cool.  (I mean that literally, not figuratively; though, it would be fun to be COOL too.)  So, it seems like a good time to explore the topic mentioned above, and sit at my laptop and write.

I read an article in the May 2015 Experience Life magazine that has got me thinking about the benefits of sitting idle (and in quiet).  In the article, entitled The Upside of Downtime,  the author, Heather Rogers, states that neuroscientists say our brain goes into its “default-mode network” when we are idle; and, this is where creativity and problem-solving happens.

Ms. Rogers goes on to write, “Idleness stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system bringing a host of healthful outcomes, including a reduced heart rate, good digestion, and better moods.”  Hmmm…

Even in retirement now, I find myself mostly always in the midst of doing something.  Rationally, I know that retirement is supposed to be a time when it is okay to just sit and do nothing; but, it seems I always have a little nag coming from inside my head somewhere, telling me I should be active…all the time.

Blogger wannabe that I am, I’m all for finding a way to stimulate my creativity.  So, here are some strategies I will try to employ in my quest to find (read that, make) idle time.  Just maybe, they will inspire you also.  Just think what our brains might come up with if we sit still for a minute – a new way of handling a personal relationship situation; an aha moment as to how to re-decorate a problem room; a new way of cooking salmon; a new landscape design plan; in my case, a new blog topic,  etc., etc., etc.

Let’s try –

  • turning off all electronic devices, ignoring emails, texts, notifications, and sitting in quiet, even for just 10 minutes daily;
  • shutting off the TV, CD player, or radio so we can sit in silence and stare out the window for a few moments;
  • allowing ourselves to daydream as we do menial chores like washing dishes or cleaning a bathroom (again, we need to avoid distracting stimuli and be in silence as we do these things);
  • going for a walk without using ear phones that are plugged into music or a podcast, instead just letting our thoughts go where they will;
  • letting our minds wander as we wait in line at the post office (something I did just yesterday for half an hour), in traffic, or elsewhere;
  • taking a few minutes just before bedtime to sit in silence and just relax (might help us sleep better also).

Seems like a plus to me if we also gain some positive physical health outcomes from doing any of the above…lower blood pressure, less stomach distress, and mentally – a brighter outlook on life.

I suggest we counteract society’s dictate that we always be busy, and strive to find some downtime.  It seems to me we have nothing to lose.  Let me know if you’re with me and how you find (or intend to find) time to be idle.  Right now I’m going for a walk and leaving my iPod at home.


Throwing caution to the wind…

It’s Monday morning – Monday is my stay-at-home day.  I love that I can address the day in a very leisurely fashion, no need to hurry anywhere.  This morning I indulged in a breakfast of Frosted Mini-Wheats and bacon…and, that is the inspiration for this post.

I have paid pretty close attention to my diet and exercise programs throughout my life.  My quest has been to live healthily so as to feel good all the time.  That’s not to say I haven’t fallen off the wagon several times a month (sometimes, several times a week).  I have read enough articles, books and doctors’ manuals  however, to know what activities constitute a healthy lifestyle.

A breakfast of Mini-Wheats and bacon is not part of a healthy lifestyle!


I know that eating cereal is like consuming several teaspoons of sugar.  Add in the fact that I was eating a sugared cereal, and my eating error is magnified many times over.   The fact the cereal was whole grain added a trifle bit of wholeness to the mess, but not much.  And, I think we all know that bacon has no redeeming health benefits.  My thought process this morning was it would add protein to the mix.  Yeah, right, but mostly just a lot of fat.

But, WOW, did I enjoy eating this junk this morning!

Which brings me to my new strategy about life that I wanted to share with you.

Now that I am in what I call the last third of my life, I have decided to indulge in a few actions that up till now I considered bad choices for helping me to be healthy.  My thought process – whether an intelligent one or not (RC thinks I am crazy!)  – is yes, I would like to live to a ripe old age (as long as my body and mind hold out); but, when it is time for me to go I don’t want the process to take months because my body won’t give up.  So, to help prevent that from happening, I have decided to indulge in the following not-so-healthy activities as frequently as I want:

  • eating cereal for breakfast; and when it is oatmeal adding brown sugar and half and half rather than milk
  • visiting the Dairy Queen or Culvers for an ice cream treat
  • eating bacon
  • exercising only 3 times a week instead of 5
  • not working out with weights (I know, I will have no body strength and my balance will be off so I’ll likely fall and break my hip – but, so be it)
  • drinking a “real” Coke once in awhile
  • eating the croutons on a salad, and using full-fat dressing

All of these activities make me happy – that is the trade-off for the negative effects they may have on my body.  Actually, when I think about it, I have done all of the above and more on occasion, throughout my life – now, I am just choosing not to feel guilty or worry about my mistakes.

I realize this new strategy somewhat contradicts what I touted in one of my early posts regarding taking care of my body…see Taking Care of My Vessel.  I still believe in the points I made there; I’m just loosening up my stance a bit.

For those of you that are still youngsters (in my eyes under 60) disregard this proposed strategy – you should still be exercising and watching what you eat – making wise choices.  You need energy and a healthy body to raise your families and further your careers.

So, for today anyway, this is my new approach to life.  What is marvelous is I can change my mind and behave however I want on any given day.  Retirement and old age is wonderful…I can pretty much do what I want provided it doesn’t harm anyone else.

Anyone want to join me in indulging in some not-so-healthy vices once in awhile?  I’d love to hear what some of your ideas for questionable activities might be (or, maybe you’d like to side with RC and tell me I’m crazy) – feel free to leave comments below.



As seen on TV…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We are the proud new owners of the NutriBullet…as seen on TV.  Making this purchase was my husband’s idea, and he is certain he is instantly healthier now that we have this cute little blender-like machine.  The accompanying user guide touts getting the most out of life we need to get the most out of our food, and includes “life nutrient extraction recipes”. The manual goes on to say the NutriBullet breaks fruits and veggies down to their most digestible form which releases nutrients that otherwise are locked inside un-chewed bits of food…hmm, that’s a shame!  Using the NutriBullet ensures our bodies are absorbing all of the disease fighting compounds the fruits and veggies offer.  Wow!  Are you sold on your need for this wonderful invention yet?? (Perhaps I could make some money here marketing this machine.)

Actually, we are both having fun using the Bullet – though I felt my old blender was working fairly well at making my smoothies also.  I’m waiting for the novelty to wear off for my husband, then finding the NutriBullet sitting idle except for my use.  For the time being, however, we’re enjoying smoothies made with kale or spinach, fruit, protein powder, and chia seeds or flaxseed meal.  It’s an easy way to get protein and Omega 3’s among other benefits.  I do feel like I’m being very healthy when I drink one of these concoctions.

I’m a huge proponent of getting ample amounts of protein (12-18 grams) with every meal, and eating 5-6 servings of veggies and/or fruit each day.  (Some nutritionists suggest you eat 9 servings of fruits/vegetables a day;  I sometimes struggle to get 5.)  And, I am a 3-meal a day person with a couple of snacks in between (hopefully healthy, but not always).  I began focusing on including protein and the veggies/fruit in my diet after reading The Mood Cure by Julia Ross, M.A.  My take-away from that book is I can control my mood (read that be happier without anti-depressant drugs) by eating a diet rich in protein, healthy fat and vegetables.  The NutriBullet will help me with getting the veggies and protein into my diet if for no other reason than after reading the literature for the machine, I am pumped up and inspired to continue on this path.  It’s pretty easy to throw healthy things in the machine, whir away for 15 seconds and voila, get a healthy beverage that tastes good.  (I still think a blender can work as well.) Trust me, you don’t even know the dark leafy greens are in the drink, the sweetness of the fruit trumps the veggies.  That’s not to say I am not a little put off by the color of the smoothie; it’s a bit odd…a weird greenish-brown shade!

I also add plain Greek yogurt to most of my smoothies to get more protein, pro-biotics, and it helps thicken the smoothie.  By the way, using frozen fruit makes the smoothie nice and cold which I think makes it more like something fun to drink (imagine something with ice cream, perhaps?).  You can also add ice to get that cold beverage effect.  Using a banana as part of the fruit also helps thicken the drink; and I happen to enjoy the banana flavor.

I will caution that a smoothie can be calorie-laden.  When I get done adding ingredients I’m guessing I have 250-300 calories in my smoothie; but, I use it as my breakfast meal, usually along with a whole-wheat English muffin.  I warned my husband he had better not think of using the Bullet to make snacks unless he wanted to increase his calorie intake for the day.  So, he replaces his noon meal with a smoothie from the Bullet two or three times a week, thereby not adding any calories to his day.

My favorite smoothie…

  • a handful of spinach leaves or 3 or 4 kale leaves
  • about 1/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • 3 or 4 frozen whole strawberries
  • a half of a banana
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons plain whey protein powder (I don’t like the flavored powders)
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • about a 1/2 cup water, milk, or coconut milk, etc.

A side note, hubby thought it would be fun to make an ice cream malt for our grandsons in the Bullet.  He did so, the boys took a few sips, got side-tracked and didn’t finish their servings.  Hubby put them in the freezer and the two of us ate them as a frozen treat a day later – YUM!


A single postscript:  I don’t always pull off eating 5 or 6 servings of fruits & veggies or getting enough protein in a day.  Tuesday night, for example, I had a root beer float for dinner…another yum!!

Take a deep breath…

One of the most beneficial practices I have taken away from yoga instruction and use daily is the yoga deep breathing technique…I think it may be called diaphragmatic breathing(who knows if that is spelled correctly).  Inhale slowly to a count of whatever is comfortable, ballooning out the diaphragm, pulling the air into the lungs, holding the breath for just a couple of seconds, then exhaling twice as long as the inhale.  A slow count to four on my inhale and a count of eight on my exhale works for me.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I find this breathing technique useful in several different ways; and, I don’t even have to be reclined on a yoga mat – while walking, sitting or standing anywhere works just fine…

  • enjoying the delightful fragrances I encounter on a morning walk outside – the smell of newly mown grass, flowering crabapple trees or lilac bushes, or the moist smell of the earth after a rain;
  • relieving stress when I find myself overwhelmed by a difficult project at work with a deadline, or the many tasks I perceive I should complete in a day that doesn’t have enough hours (I know, this last one is a self-imposed stress – a whole other topic to discuss at some point);
  • gaining the strength to finish the last few minutes of my workout on the elliptical machine when I think I just can’t do it…breathing in strength, exhaling tiredness;
  • finding the courage to do anything daunting – like making known to the public that this blog exists!
  • easing pain – I love the technique a yoga instructor once taught me, to concentrate on the pain and to think about expelling it from my body with each exhale.  Try it – it works to relieve any tension in the painful area, if nothing else.
  • bringing myself to the present moment to alleviate sleep issues (trying to solve the world’s problems in the middle of the night when I would like to be sleeping – another blog topic for the future).  Yogis preach being in the present moment – deep breathing centers me so I can experience that phenomenon.  (Yes, it is a phenomenon to me to be able to eliminate concern about how I handled something in my past, or worry about something that hasn’t happened yet – and may not!)  I’ll admit the deep breathing doesn’t always work in this case, but I keep practicing, hoping to master it someday.  Practice makes perfect, right??

There are probably other situations where deep breathing could be used, but these are the ones I practice regularly to help me “ignore the wind”!  Happy breathing.




Taking Care of My Vessel

My body is a vessel – the vessel that carries me through my life.  Therefore, if I expect to maneuver through all of the joys, sorrows, opportunities and challenges I may encounter along the way, I best take good care of it!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A few years ago, I read a quote, something to the effect of what I just wrote above.  I can’t remember the exact words so I guess I won’t worry about acknowledging the author – whose name I don’t remember.  But, the essence of the quote has stayed with me.  I googled  body/vessel to see if I could find the quote, with no success.  I did, however, find several other such mentions including some Biblical references to the body as a vessel.  Some of those verses referred to the body being the vessel that houses the spirit.  I can go along with that also – important to provide a safe spot for my spirit.

I have several activities I feel are important for keeping my body in good working order.

  • getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night
  • exercising regularly – for me that means walking and sessions on the elliptical machine three to four times a week
  • maintaining a healthy diet (most of the time)
  • drinking lots of water each day (some of this is in the form of green tea)
  • getting monthly full-body massages
  • scheduling chiropractic adjustments every 6 weeks or so

I know there are other points that could be included in a list of wise things to do to keep a body going, but I focus most on the ones I mentioned above.  Adhering to these activities regularly has served me well.  I am a very healthy senior who, so far, needs no daily prescription medications; and, for the most part, I can still keep up with my two grandsons (6 years old and 9 years old) even so much as occasionally shooting baskets, or playing whiffle ball in the back yard with them.

I may elaborate on the topics mentioned above in future blogs because I do feel all are so very important.  For now, I thought I’d just let you know what helps me “ignore the wind” and keep my vessel afloat.