Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banging Pots & Pans

When I was a freshman in high school,
I rolled my ankle in gym class, and had
to call my mom. "Mom, I sprained
my ankle; you have to come get me."

"You didn't sprain your ankle," she said.

"Yes I did, you need to come get me."

"Fine, but you didn't sprain your ankle."
She repeated it again on the way to
the hospital. Upon examination, there
was something delicious and affirming
when the doc told me the ankle was
sprained, even though it hurt like hell.

Bang, bang, bang !

When we're kids, we play hard, and we
sometimes get hurt. In our 20's, we play
even harder, and get hurt even more. In
our 30's, parts of the body ache when we
get out bed, so we slow down a little.

This is the fork in the road where we
either go sedentary and pack on the pounds,
or we work harder to maintain "fitness,"
every year clutching more desperately
to our youth.

I watched my father go from super-athlete
to mad-dog jogger; then when he hit age
42, he had to have surgery on both knees
and he was done-- out of the game. Being
only age 22, this was shocking to me.

Pa-dink, clank.

At age 26, I was lifting weights and told my
partner that my chest was sore. A 31-year old
guy heard this and piped-up,
"Wait 'til you're over 30, and everything hurts."

At age 31, fresh from another winter of
skiing the big mountain and dropping cliffs,
I thought I could easily jump over a fence
from the top of a ladder. I caught my strong
foot on the fence, landed on the stiff one
(the one I had sprained many times), and
the tibia split UP in three pieces like a
peeled banana.

Bang, clank, bang, smash !
This was my wake-up call.

My wife is in the military, so she has to
maintain the required "Fit to Fight"
standard of the Air Force. They have
periodic physical testing to ensure airmen
can run a timed mile and a half, do
timed sit-ups & push-ups; and can meet
BMI and waist circumference standards.

I started telling her to observe her
coworkers getting injured as they age.
One after the next, torn muscles,
tendonitis, spinal problems, they
were dropping like flies. She's shocked.

I plea with my friends rounding 40
to stop running marathons, triathlons,
lifting weights and all that other "fitness"
insanity. I hate to watch them get hurt,
but they do, just like my wife's

I feel like I need to bang pots and
pans in the street to get people to
wake up. I don't want to take away
anyone's fun, but I care deeply about
people and their health.

You know you won't be jogging
or riding 50 miles on a bicycle when
you're 60. Chances are you won't
be doing it when you're 50 either.
In the name of sustainability, please
realize now that if you're over 30,
these kinds of exercise will need
to stop one day. Why not cut them
down now and find a suitable
replacement ?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Medicine Of Animals

If human products are considered
unnatural, dogs must be so too.
Dogs did not occur in nature; we
manufactured them out of wolves.
To be our friends.

Some of the latest dog research I've
seen is just incredible. Did you know
that we are now training dogs to sniff
out cancer ? True story.
Just like the singular smell of cadavers,
cancer in humans can be picked up
and signaled by trained dogs.
Pretty neat.

Robert Sapolsky has spent the last
30 years studying the brain science
of stress by observing baboons.
Stress in baboons, he notes, is the
perfect model for human stress because
they spend so little time finding food,
and so much time abusing their
hierarchal subordinates. They're nasty !
Instead of running for their lives
once in a while like a zebra chased
by a lion, baboons are just like us in that
they marinate in stress hormones all
day long. Their health really suffers
for it, especially the low men on the
totem pole. "Zebras don't get ulcers."

One of the latest lab rat studies shows
that eating fatty foods not only drops
your physical performance by 30 percent,
but memory and cognitive function
as well. One theory is that a high-fat
diet can trigger insulin resistance,
which means the body becomes less
efficient at using blood sugar which
is important to brain function. (seems
like I saw something about fatty diets
increasing the risk of Alzheimers...)

A very promising subject of research
is the science of regeneration. A starfish
can regrow a limb; so can a salamander.
Maybe someday we can too.

Thousands of years ago, the Chinese
began emulating the movements of
animals for a variety of reasons: if you
need to attack, tigers are pretty good;
if you need to run away, chickens do
that very well; and if you can stimulate
your endocrine system by shaking
your tail, your health and longevity
will assimilate the deer's.

The snake is famed in Chinese myth
because it could fight off a stork; the
snake's stillness and blinding impulse
speed were two observations said to
have influenced the development
of Tai Chi. This observation of nature
also witnessed water wearing down rock,
wind breaking trees, and the imminent
cycle of the sun, the moon & the stars.

Over thousands of years, the Taoists
observed animals in nature and developed
systems of movement and breathing
that replace chiropractic, physical therapy,
and even higher levels of medicine.

When you see the word
Tai chi
you may find it easier to say the word