Category Archives: Health

Health – let’s stay positive.

The perfectable lightness of being

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As I am getting older, I am becoming much more aware of my state. Sleep is more of a challenge, keeping your body functioning smoothly becomes a conscious goal, and I am really quite conscious of how the physiological state impacts my mental experience. In my 60’s, jumping out of bed is not the exhilarating experience I remember from my 20s.

Yet I am much more conscious of the flow of time and the importance of every moment to be lived fully.

Insomnia and other issues started me on a conscious road of measuring and tracking myself and looking at the results. I am gaining understanding of the influences that give me a good night sleep and make me feel well during the day, things like

  • Sleep – 7.5 – 8 hours – this has been difficult. I put in the time, but actual results are variable. It is the most delicate balance depending on time in bed, prior eating and drinking etc. I can only allow the occasional single glass of wine, need to get to bed by 10:30pm, eat only moderately, and now force myself to get up at 7am unless I had a truly poor night with lots of sleep interruptions.
  • Meditation – I now strive for at least twice a day 15 min, or longer monitored with Inner Balance
  • Exercise – I strive for 5 minutes HIIT on a stationary bike plus some bar bell work
  • Weight loss via no carb diet
  • Writing or other “self-fulfillment” activities

My success in achieving the goals is improving. Monitoring myself with Streaks helps maintain awareness. And when it all works like today the experience of being alive seems on another plane. It is not like a manic high, but just feeling great, productive, at peace, in the flow. It makes all challenges look easy and life fun.

I think, the most important realization in these moments is how our outlooks and judgment are truly impacted by our physiology.

Makes you wonder, whether important people like politicians and presidents should have physiological tests before showing up for work.

Fixing Myself to Fight Getting Older

One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Dune by David Lynch, Thufir Hawat: “Remember, the first step in avoiding a trap is knowing that one has been set.” This concept is really fundamental to all problem solving, to fix a problem you need to know of its existence and understand it well.

It’s the kind of thing that must currently drive Elon Musk crazy, since they do not yet have the right data to understand the recent Falcon 9 fueling accident. For Elon, accidents are just part of the path, unfortunate but an opportunity for learning and improvement to achieve reliable and full control.

Being older is not obsessing me as might be common in our youth obsessed culture. But I do feel a slow down. My mind is fine, but the body is clearly showing some wear. One elbow seems slight arthritic, my sleep has become very disrupted, and a creeping weight issue has created “more of me” than I would like.

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My basic approach this year has been to “map the problem space.” And I have to say that Withings has been with me on this as has my Apple gear. I have really become to like their Healthmate app, which is tracking my weight, BMI, HR, and other environmental factors with their Body scale. I have started tracking my sleep with the wonderful Aura, which tracks my troubled behavior via movement and HR picked up through a sensor underneath the mattress – no need to wear a wrist device or headband. It also tracks light levels and noise. It features a neat “go to sleep” color light and sounds and wakes you gently at the right time (I tend not to need that.) I exercise with an HR strap reporting with my stationary bike cadence into Wahoo app. After realizing some trends, I have been able to take action.

  1. My weight has continued to ever so slightly keep shifting in the wrong direction. I faced the tough choice and have started to cut our carbs and now track calories with MyFitnessPal. The trending plot in the Healthmate app really made things clear. My iPhone and Apple watch are tracking my Activity level.
  2. My sleep patterns has worsened after getting better. I am reviewing changes in a few supplements and am switching back to an easier regimen and sources. I am also more careful about keeping regular hours and reducing exposure to blue light in the evening with Apple’s “Night Shift” screen settings and the wonderful f.lux on my Macs. It’s free but so nicely designed, I would gladly pay for it.
  3. I had been tracking my blood pressure. On a daily level. I saw a sudden dramatic and persistent spike to dangerous level that persisted for several days. Definitely unusual and most likely stress related. I took steps to reduce stress and ended up getting a Withings Blood Pressure Monitor that I am now using mornings and evenings automatically averaging my readings. I am happy to say I am back in the safe zone.
  4. I am also planning on starting a daily log about how I am feeling to see correlations and detect long term trends.

I don’t think it is just my playful fascination with gadgetry that makes this process more fun using devices. But the integrated tracking on iPhone and web really makes it easier and keeps me with the program. It also supports gradual changes that are easier to handle than trying dramatic change in one step.

However, I might have to get more proactive in heading out to a medical professional in some areas – like that painful elbow. Just like a car that is not maintained and gradually declines to become a wreck instead of a classic, we get “old” before our time via gradual diminishment and aches that we do not deal with.

Time to be proactive in self maintenance!

The Illusion of Separateness

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Looking at the odd history in the making in Europe with UK voting to leave the EU, it becomes apparent that we generally look and understand parts better than the whole. This is certainly true on the political stage, where we often do not know, what we have lost abandoning the bargaining table. When Prince Escalus says “all are punish’d” in the final scene of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, he might as well have referred to all European nations and especially Britain in place of the Montagues and Capulets. They lost their most precious children in exchange for nothing. In the UK, it is the young who will lose the most being partially blocked from a larger world, which is struggling to become whole despite our common lack of vision.

I am starting to think that it is a peculiarity of our vision that makes us so fond of finding differences, of loving the parts more than the whole. Vision shapes our way of defining models. Delineating lines of shadow and dark, seeing colors instead of the continuity of the full spectrum is a trick our mind & vision use to make sense of the complexity of the world with limited capability. We simplify, reduce, decide under the illusion that seeing the parts we understand the whole. This is true even in science, where reductionism has given us progress especially since the Enlightenment. We are delving ever deeper taking the world to bits to find the Higgs. But even finding this God particle, our search is not at end. I sense, we are going about it wrong.

Perhaps we are about to enter the next age, where we look at the world with new eyes and try to understand it as one system – from the way we look at nature, our bodies, our societies, our ecosystem, and the world. Systems theory clearly shows that the most interesting emergent behavior is on the larger level of simple elements working together to shape much more complex behavior. This is where all of our answers lie, maybe even to our quest for purpose and the meaning of the universe.

The separateness of anything in the world is an illusion. The world is one system. As we look at the apparent boundaries in detail, they disappear to the point that we cannot truly tell one quantum particle from another. Our bodies are in continuous interaction with the micro-biome in us and surrounding us. We are seeing that our old disease models are simplistic. We are truly and deeply connected with our environment. In cyberspace, our minds and thoughts are exchanging thoughts and concepts at increasing speed. It might be a struggle, but I believe in seeing and making things whole, we truly find the solution to all of our issues. Being in and with this world and each other will give us incredible progress and peace and prosperity past anything we can image. It is the key to our humanity!

All we need to do is look at the world differently.

“What we think, we become.” — Buddha

We need to become one with each other and the world.

The U.S. Is Failing in Infant Mortality, Starting at One Month Old (NYTimes)

There is really not much one can say – except “what is wrong with us?”

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Aaron E. Carroll: “The U.S. Is Failing in Infant Mortality, Starting at One Month Old “

“Many more babies die in the United States than you might think. In 2014, more than 23,000 infants died in their first year of life, or about six for every 1,000 born. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 other industrialized nations do better than the United States at keeping babies alive.”