Praticing Optimism in 2016

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Aging & Attitude

Happy New Year!

      The year 2015 was crappy. Although it is not politically or otherwise correct to say so, it was; and became more crappy and crappier.

     Remember; it started with Tom Brady and an inflated, uninflated or deflated (whatever) football. Then as shock and dismay about Bill Crosby unfolded, we almost forgot about Hillary’s emails.

     Let’s not revisit the numerous mass shootings, police killings, plane crashes, and weather related disasters. You can read about them at abcnews link, factor in any personal crappiness and evaluate the year yourself. For me, it was one of the crappiest.

     Thank goodness Donald Trump added some much needed humor, Prince William and Kate appear to be a happy family, and Pope Francis’s visit to the United States prompted John Boehner to resign.

     Mr. Wonderful and I were asleep by 9:30 pm on New Year’s Eve. We took a 6 am flight home to Florida, having spent Christmas in Albuquerque with our kids and grandkids, and exhausted.

     I slept until 8am the next morning and while enjoying a cup of coffee viewed Dr. Oz. He discussed the glass half-full or half-empty approach to the New Year and a solution for cynicism. “Practicing Optimism,” is the catchy expression he used.

     Although a sunny disposition is to some degree a byproduct of genes and life experience, there is increasing support that thoughts have a cognitive effect on the mind. Specifically, meditation and mindfulness are being studied.

     “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

    In the March 2014 issue/Meditation Research Psychological Science  of Meditation  the following findings are listed from articles:

  • Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness
  • Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem
  • The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: larger hippopotami and frontal volumes of gray matter
  • Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density
  • Mechanisms of white matter changes induced by meditation

 

     Sounds promising. Previous research indicating jumping up and down was the way to reactivate a shrinking hippocampus. Now we can achieve the same, if not better, improvement in a prone position.

     Things are looking up. My Christmas cactus is in full bloom and being an optimist, I believe it to be a sign that 2016 will not be as crappy.

. . . . just saying

     These articles  discuss the benefits of practicing meditation and mindfulness. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mindfulness-research-2015_567865b6e4b06fa6887e3f1d

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/meditation-apps-inner-peace_n_2900544.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2015/12/12/how-to-meditate-in-five-m_n_8779824.html

Global Positioning System and the Hippocampus.

 

2014 Weight Loss Resolution

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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”   Lao-tse  

   Here we go again; the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, unfortunately only eight percent of those making the intention succeed. That means ninety-two percent or almost everyone fails, and I am one of them. It was my resolution last year, the year before and the year before that; to lose the five pounds gained in retirement. Granted it is not the freshmen fifteen but I am not eighteen either. Mr. Wonderful, my husband of 42 years, says, “You’re not really overweight.” My response, “Yea and that’s the way I want to keep it.” Besides not really overweight is equal to, not really smart or its counter not really stupid. His comment does not make me feel better. My pants are tight, and please do not suggest I wear pants with an elastic waist. I am philosophically opposed to the fashion concept.

You may think losing five pounds for someone my size is easy, but it is not. In order to lose one pound a week I need to cut my caloric intake by 500 calories a day or eat 25% to 30% less than I now consume. What typically happens is that I am “Good” on weekdays and take off the pound, but it comes back over the weekend. On Monday I face the same old challenge.

Consequently, to meet success in 2014, I have consulted a professional personal trainer, my brother, Victor. He reinvented himself in retirement and has his own business, VB Fitness(vicboylhart@gmail.com), with a catchy tag line; “Stay Fit With Vic.” The Silver Sneakers flock to him. Vic’s advice, “Sis, you can cut calories to lose weight OR increase activity and people who want to lose more have to do both.”

Vic explains, “walk one mile, lose one hundred calories. Take any amount of time to do that but the faster you walk the less time you need to burn calories. That is why people run.” Vic can lose a pound in 6 point something minutes.

But Vic, “I do not run, my boobs shake, but I walk several times a week for about 30 minutes and exercise with Miranda Esmonde-White’s The Classical Stretch routine.”

Vic smiles and says, “That’s the problem you’re burning calories not fat. You have to sweat and exercise 40 minutes or longer, sweating clears the body of toxins. ”

But Vic, “I don’t like to sweat! How about I change my resolution to; I’m not going to gain five pounds.”

Mr. Smarty Pants response is to do jumping-jacks, he is right.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends:

  • Adults participate in at least 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity physical activity to prevent significant weight gain and reduce associated chronic disease risk factors. For most adults, this amount of physical activity is easily achieved in 30 minutes/day, five days a week.
  • Overweight and obese individuals will most likely experience greater weight reduction and prevent weight regain with 250+ minutes/week of moderate-intensity physical activity and reducing calories.
  • ACSM also recommends strength training as part of this health and fitness regimen, to increase fat-free mass and further reduce health risks.

Consequently the way for me to lose weight is; give up wine, give up cookies, and jump around until I sweat. I love my cookies with coffee as an afternoon snack and seriously, sweating is highly over rated.

   Place your bets!

. . . . just saying