I’ve been pretty lucky in life. I’ve taken it on the chin more than once and survived without too many scars. Part of that luck may be doing some of the things that people say are good for you and not doing other bad stuff simply because I don’t like it.
That bad stuff includes eating things that aren’t supposed to be good for you. You’ve heard that list a dozen times so I’m not going to repeat it here. Just say the CW – conventional wisdom – has a way of morphing depending on who’s writing the article and maybe who’s paying for the research. Think of the number of diets all claiming to be the best. My take: moderation and a balanced approach. I’ll even let you overindulge occasionally. If you’re not an old fart like me, it’s not the worst thing in the world and you can shed those extra pounds later.
Ditto for drinking. Report after report shows either beer or wine, again in moderation, is better than abstention. Indeed, red wine is supposed to help lower cholesterol – at least in one study of French people. Well, I live in Wisconsin, and (true confession) I like beer and I’m a homebrewer. So when my company sent me to France to work for a month and there was no good beer available where I worked outside of Nice (put those violins away, OK) I thought, what-the-hey, I’ll drink some of the great local reds and eat all the cheese I want.
Duh; I came back to the States, got my cholesterol tested, and oopsie – the red wine didn’t work for me. On the other hand, I was pretty mellow back there. Again, moderation – try smiling at your dependencies. Because, don’t kid yourselves, food and alcohol are addicting.
Moving right along then.
As I said before, I’m lucky. I like outside activities and for some, like white water canoeing, it’s best to be in shape for safety as well as keeping it fun.
I’ve always liked exercising and found out it’s fun sweating (of course it’s even easier if you have access to a sauna or steam room). I discovered yoga 60+ years ago – there were a few yoga books in a section of the library I wasn’t supposed to be in. I found out that yoga, easy stretching, and toning, were great ways to minimize injuries while staying in shape.
And then I noticed that for me (yeah and studies show for others too) exercise is great for lots of reasons including mental health. It also helps keep the bad cholesterol down and the good cholesterol up.
But COVID-19 came and the local pool closed. Seemed that it also closed my brain and foolishly I stopped exercising. I still walked the dog – but we have a beagle and it’s not a very vigorous walk since she stops to sniff every blade of grass. No surprises: 10 months on my fanny and the next blood test was a disaster. I was highly motivated by the Docs and my wife and kids to get back in the saddle, at least the bike saddle.
And you know what? It’s working. Initially, it was tough remembering to “work out” a couple of times a week, do some yoga, light weights, and faster walks without the dog. I’m feeling better and the good cholesterol is getting back up there. And better yet, I’m feeling better and avoiding the doldrums that come from sitting on my duff and bemoaning my fate.
So let me ease you into all this. Consider starting an exercise program, best in consultation with your physician. Go slowly, give yourself reasonable goals. Find an exercise partner or two. Make it fun. And now that the weather is improving, find something to do outside – walk without a beagle or walk the dog and then go out again without the dog (remember to leave the leash at home).
Look, observe, and listen. A lot is going on in nature. At the same time, listen to yourself, own up to your feelings, and accept yourself where you’re at now. For me, it’s a little (bigger) belly.
And do all this with kindness. Things will get better.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.