Archive for the ‘secrets of youth’ Category

Repeat after me …

August 14th, 2012 No comments

Every now and then, I repeat what I hear on television as I hear it and try to keep up with the speaker. It’s the same kind of thing a UN translator would do, except I do it in the same language as the speaker. It’s kind of fun, and it might also be a good way of keeping that part of my brain working.

Just a thought.

Weather. Ain’t it grand?

August 15th, 2011 1 comment

I like weather. Wind, clouds, rain, that sort of thing. There’s nothing quite like appreciating it when you can. Most of the time, we choose to exist in weather-free indoor environments, only choosing to really experience the elements when they’re benign, or pleasant, such as on a sunny day.

Having spent most of today indoors, a bout an hour ago I chose to head outside and get some fresh air. I was about to open the front door, when I heard the sound of a sudden cloudburst … that sound of steady, heavy rain, that isn’t a rumble, isn’t a hum, but something else — white noise, I suppose. I could see the water rushing down the gutters, pouring out of the downspout, rolling in waves down the street. So I opened the door anyway.

Not being keen on getting a soaker (eh) as we used to say, I stayed at the front door, under a small shelter. But in that space, I remembered a little bit of childhood. Remember when you had nothing better to do but watch and listen rain? And smell it? Those sensations had a wonderful, calming effect on me standing at the door, idly listening to the rumble in the distance and the volume of the white noise, telling me that the rain was abating as the sound grew more gentle.

Most of the time we listen to that sound hoping that the rain will stop so we can get somewhere, do something. Come on, come on. Not this time. As the rain calmed down, said its piece, I watched the clouds part and felt pretty good.

Categories: modern life, secrets of youth Tags:

What do Walter Murch and Winston Churchill have in common?

May 16th, 2011 3 comments

So who’s Walter Murch? Well, he’s an author, award-winning film (and sound) editor and Very Clever Fellow. When you get a chance, check out his books In the Blink of an Eye and The Conversations (with Michael Ondaatje, another Very Clever Fellow). And Winston Churchill was a Very Productive Guy, and of course, Very Clever Fellow. He did some stuff, if you’ll recall.

But to answer the question, they both worked standing up.

According to this article in the Globe and Mail, sitting down all day just isn’t very healthy. We have to move, not just through exercise, but as a normal part of the day’s activities, and these two gents worked standing up. Murch edited from a high table, and Churchill wrote from a podium, to which the Globe attributes his longevity despite his well-known smoking and drinking.

For my small part, I’ve raised my working table to a standing height, and that may have contributed to my maintaining my weight loss in the face of an admittedly-reduced exercise regime. The change wasn’t expensive — based on an article on the web, I bought some 3-inch plastic (ABS) pipes and used them to extend the legs of my Ikea desk. The top and bottom half of the Ikea legs don’t connect directly, but the pipes act as splints, keeping everything together. With an extra leg to support a long span of desk, it seems to work nicely. I don’t work standing up all the time since I find it easier to write sitting down, but I’ve been able to do my motion graphics work standing up at least.

(Here’s another option if you’re not into the pipe thing.)

Not everyone can change their work environment, but if you can do it, I recommend it. Not only does it help while working, but it encourages more movement and standing in general, which is better than sitting around. Oh — when you stand, don’t lock your knees. (Thought I’d get that in.)

Longevity “R” us

March 8th, 2011 No comments

Loyal reader Paul alerted me to this article on one of our favorite subjects, this longevity thing. In a nutshell, it seems that it helps to be conscientious. Here’s how the study, The Longevity Project, defines it:

A conscientious person is responsible and organized and not very full of ego. They’re pragmatic and they think ahead.

The study has good credibility because it followed the same subjects from 1921 up to 1990, with some breaks in-between. Check it out.

Categories: psychology, secrets of youth Tags:

Miss non-congealiality?

January 31st, 2011 No comments

(Boy, that headline’s a stretch.) Anyway, Rebecca, a Chinese friend of mine says that if we drink cold drinks after or during a meal, it’s more likely that the fat in the meal will congeal in our stomach. This is one of the reasons why Chinese drink tea at meals — to prevent the congealing. (I thought it was because the water in China was so unhealthy it had to be boiled … go figure) So Rebecca says “drink more tea. Hot, but not too hot.”. If you know Rebecca, you know Rebecca knows.

It also works for me because I have a low body temperature, and cold drinks tend to make my hands and feet cold. So I drink more hot tea, and feel great, Pu Erh being my tea of choice, but I’m cool with a lot of them, including Earl Grey. Pu Erh takes a bit of getting used to, but it seems to be smoother if not oversteeped. I just had some nice smooth stuff at Crown Princess restaurant in Toronto. Nice place.

So there you go. More tea for thee?

Categories: nutrition, secrets of youth, weight loss Tags:

Pound for pound …

October 30th, 2010 2 comments

The other day, I had the pleasure of the company of one of the most charming babies ever. Apparently, she took a liking to me as well, or at least my hand, which must have looked quite tasty. When little Avery reached for my hand, I felt this strong tug. I knew it was Avery doing the pulling, but I thought I’d try looking the other way and see what this sensation felt like without the visual cues.

It felt very odd, even before the gumming. Sure, the pulling came from a small area, but it felt as if an adult were pulling me in. The pull was insistent and strong, and could have been mistaken for an adult’s pull.

Now we’ve all heard about strong baby grips, but this was quite something. Internal martial artists try to recover that natural, full-body strength, but what if we had maintained that natural strength all through childhood and it only grew as we matured? How naturally strong and healthy would we be? I have to ask …

… at what point in a child’s life does that strength diminish? What went wrong? Are children told they’re small and weak? Do they become self-conscious? Are they told that things are more difficult than they really are? Or does it have something to do with bad physical training, or a complete lack thereof?

… or can little Avery buck the odds and keep her natural, non-self-conscious, strong way of interacting with the world?

“If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.”

September 20th, 2010 No comments

As anyone who has ever done anything around the house knows, it pays to be able to crawl under stuff, lift stuff, step over stuff, get into awkward positions and most importantly, get out of them.

If I want to keep crawling, lifting, stepping and extricating, I have to stay healthy and in shape.

I’m sure Red Green, famous Canadian handyman, would agree.

Secrets of Rejuvenation #12: know your body

September 3rd, 2010 2 comments

I’ve found that knowing how my body functions best is key to overall health. However, this doesn’t mean “my body craves chocolate” or “I’m not good at sports”, as those statements would relate more to my mind, habits and choices than my body. No, I’m talking about how my body functions best, based on actual performance data. To wit:

1) I tend to be rather stiff in the morning, 2) in a squash match, I tend to lose the early games and win the later games, 3) even though I may start a workout by dragging my sorry butt into the gym, after a squash warmup, I can run for a half-hour, do some weights, and I’m not tired yet and 4) It takes me a while to get flexible. Combining this experiential data with some test results, namely 5) I have a resting heart rate well below 60 and 6) I have a body temperature below normal indicates that I probably need to warm up more than other people.

So, “big deal”, you say. Yeah, it is, to me, because my old idea of physical exertion was that I would begin with 100% of my available reserves, and working out would only deplete them and tire me out. (Sure, I expected an increase of reserves from workout to workout.) Now, I see things differently: my energy actually increases as I work out, to a point where I need to really push it to get tired, which of course, I eventually do. “Lucky bastard”, you say. Maybe, but that doesn’t matter. “Big deal, then”, you say. Yes it can be, because I’m addressing those of us who believe they are walking around with the most energy they’ll have that day, and exerting themselves will only make themselves feel worse.

(Well … maybe if you’re carrying a lot of weight and everyday tasks make you lose your breath, then fine, but that’s a function of your current level of fitness.)

So I should reframe it: know your body as it is right now. Get some data. Do some physical stuff. But you have to sweat, otherwise the data isn’t very meaningful. Then, push yourself a bit at a time to see just what you can do. Refine and repeat, no?

Categories: fitness, secrets of youth Tags:

Secrets of Rejuvenation: Incremental Growth

June 16th, 2010 No comments

When we try to make changes in our lives, we often become frustrated at the lack of progress, especially as we approach our target. In my quest to improve my health, I’ve found it to be a slow, steady march toward a healthy weight, diet and level of activity. However, after being at it seriously for about a year, I’ve gotten used to this pace of progress. If I gain some weight over the weekend, I know that by eating properly the next week and exercising, I’ll get back down in a couple of days: no big deal.

I think that’s the key. We expect that something will happen quickly, but if we stick with it and don’t give up, we’ll find a pace, or a rhythm that we can maintain. We’ll get used to that, letting it form our new set of expectations. If we wish, we can then push them a bit more to see if we can pick up the pace.

As for incremental growth, I’ve now realized it’s the key to lasting change. The body is trying to adapt to new circumstances, but there are limits to the pace of this adaptation. If we try to ram too much change in at once, the body knows that something’s not right, and it tries to return to the previous steady state, whatever that was. However, if we make small changes, give the body a chance to adjust and create a new steady state, then previous habits won’t seem normal any more. For example, my previous portion size seems too big now, I don’t like Coke very much any more, and I can handle much more physical activity as a matter of course.

In other words, each incremental gain creates a “new normal”.

Secrets of Youth #7: keep moving!

February 15th, 2010 No comments

(Gotta love those war posters. I didn’t want to use a shot of seniors running in pink tracksuits for this one. For those of you who enjoy looking for subtext, please feel free to do so.)

We call it exercise, cardio, fitness and so on. But really, we just need to keep moving. Whether we were designed to do that doesn’t matter: movement is a natural function for us. The more we move, the easier it gets, and the more natural it feels.

Movement is life.

Now for those of you who’ve been paying attention, yes, stillness is necessary too. You must have both. But the odds are, that in Western civilization, we’re not moving enough. I’m not telling you anything new, but hopefully simplifying it. Move more, sit less.

Make motion a normal state for you.

Categories: fitness, secrets of youth Tags: