Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Five things I learned from “It’s a Wonderful Life”

There is always a Mr. Potter in our lives

We closed out Thanksgiving Day by welcoming in the Christmas season viewing the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. This movie provoked deep thought in me this time. It seems there is always a Mr. Potter in our lives. He represents the opposition and consequential growth that happens in our lives.
Mr. Potter may be an illness, a financial crisis, a demanding boss, or so many other “unfair” things in life. In order to grow, we ignore, overcome, rise above, serve others, confront, and conquer. In the end of the movie, Mr. Potter did not change, in fact he was worse than ever. However, George and the rest of the town by passed him, leaving him powerless.

We have dreams waiting to be fulfilled

As a child, we begin to dream about the things we will accomplish, the places we will go, what we will become and in our childlike mind, there is no failure. Hopefully many of your dreams become reality. It is normal, however, for some dreams to take a back seat to life’s responsibilities. Many of our dreams stay in the shadows of our life waiting for the right time to become real. Dreams have no time limits. Evidence of that is all around us. I recently read about the 82-year-old grandpa who is going to college with his granddaughter because it was his dream to attend college, but he could not accomplish it until now? Then, there is the 73-year-old marathon runner who made it into the Boston Marathon after trying countless times to qualify. I know a 95-year-old who started writing even though she was blind. Her articles were published in the local paper. Dreams will wait, but seldom need to be abandoned or forgotten.

We make a difference in small but important ways

We do not have Clarence, the angel, waiting to come down and save us. Our lifetime
of influence on others is not paraded in front of us to assist us in the realization of our accomplishments. Still, it is good to realize we have been of some good in the lives of others.  Throughout the entire movie, George sacrificed his trips, his education, and desires so someone else’s needs could be met. Nearly every mother can look back and see sacrifices she made for her children, whether it be education, clothing, food, frivolities, and extras in her life.  Our lives are made up of small daily acts that interact with others, serving, helping, and influencing.

What if you had not existed?

George Bailey was given the opportunity to see life without him in it. Have you ever done that? Think about what would not have
happened in life had you not been around to make it happen.  I gave birth to four sons. My husband and I adopted three siblings adding two sons and our daughter to our family. It was not easy, but it was worth it. If I did not exist, what about them?
Think of the surgeons who saved lives. What about the fireman who saved the lives of others during their everyday work? What about the patient’s nurses care for, comfort and influence? Think of the friendships you have nourished throughout your life. What would your life be like without that friendship? What would their life be like without you?

Look at your life, examine it. Find the purpose in it.

Can we go through our mundane life and realize the daily influence we have on others? Do you remember each time George Bailey would run up the stairs, the banister knob would come off in his hand? He hated that until he lost it. Then he kissed it, was thrilled to have it. Even the possibility of going to jail changed perspective when he had lost everything. Can we stand back from our lives and see the world without us? What a sad world it would be! Look at your life, examine it. Find the purpose in it. Do not look at it collectively or shallowly. Look at your life remembering each individual year, each person whom you interacted with, each moment you breathed. Yes, you will see things you don’t want to. But take off those glasses and only see the good. Filter your memories.
You know if you are on the freeway and you only want to see red cars, you blur out all the others and just see red. That is what I am asking you to do. Just see the good that you have done for others. Think long and hard about your past and give yourself credit for the good you have done, the people you have influenced and the joy you have brought. You have had a wonderful life no matter who you are.
This Christmas season, whenever you hear a bell ring, think of something good you have done for others. That makes you the angel to give someone else their wings.

Thoughts to ponder and discuss

What are the Mr. Potters’ in your life?

What are some of your dreams?

How have you made an impact in the lives of others?

What sacrifices have you made in your life for others?

What would life have been like for those around you, had you not existed?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

What is nutrient dense food?

Lets look at the question piece by piece. Nutrients are those little things that our bodies use for cell replacement and function. I am purposely avoiding heavy science here because that can be found many other places. The simplest way to consider the value and importance of nutrients is to acknowledge that the human body uses vitamins and minerals for growth and function. Some minerals are essential meaning that the body cannot fabricate them from combining other minerals. The absence of some vitamins and minerals in the body results in limited to no growth and poor functioning.

Some foods contain a greater variety of nutrients and a higher concentration of the nutrients than other foods. Foods taken straight from nature with no or limited processing, have the greatest nutrient density. Low nutrient levels in the foods we eat lead to disease and cause the body to pull nutrients from tissue and bones. While we may eat because we enjoy the tastes and eating with good company, our biggest gain from eating are the nutrients we need for our bodies, our fuel.

Vegetables are on the top of the list of nutrient dense foods with fruits and grains high on the list. Meats also contain much of what is needed as well. From there the discussion of which are best and why becomes fuzzy. The many studies and even more opinions cause confusion for anyone searching for guidance about what to eat. A few factors to keep in mind while assessing information about food quality and health benefit.

Starting in the 1940s scientists started to notice a decline in the level of nutrients in the soil. Much corrective action has been and is continuing to be implemented. Despite the improved knowledge about how to grow food best, not all food is grown with the benefit of the improved growing conditions. Some methods work better than others. Some methods are more expensive. Too often, crop improvement has focused on growth rate and size coupled with disease resistance. As consumers we demonstrate our preference for pretty, colorful, large, and tasty (for some foods we ignore the poor taste because these foods are good for us). Our purchase preference encourage production of the nutrient deficient foods.

It all begins with the soil. A soil that has a balance of all the needed minerals and microbiotic goodies will do the best job of growing nutrient dense produce. If we harvest that produce when fully ripe we gain the best possible nutritional benefit. This is true if we consume it directly or feed it to animals used for meat of dairy production. A wise farmer puts the balance of minerals in the soil with the microbiotic inputs will grow plants rich with nutrition. We can eat that food or the farmer can feed it to this animals which will use it to produce the best possible meat, dairy, eggs, etc. We consume this nutrient dense food and our bodies have what is needed to generate healthy cells, tissues, and function in a healthy manner.

Eating real food, food without any processing, is only the start for changing our lifestyle to a more healthy one. Real food that lacks nutrient quality only leads to what is being called “type B malnutrition” where we eat “good” but still succumb to disease and poor health. Know the source of your food, meaning the soil and production methods and be satisfied that you are eating the most nutrient dense food possible. Your search for improved foods will lead to interesting places. My choice was to grow my own food the greatest extent possible. I am 65, take no medications, have lots of energy, and feel great. This is working for me. 

This post does not get to the details but foreshadows what I will be addressing in the future.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Live to 120?

Live to 120
Why you should want to live until you are 120. When I tell seniors that I want to be 120 many ask me why do I want to put up with being old longer. Hopelessly accepting old age as a disease causes most of the problems endured by seasoned citizens. Available for us to recharge our hope of a healthy, pain free aging experience is an ever increasing list of research pointing out lifestyle changes proven to improve our health. While these research findings point out scientific fact we have long known that many people were living healthy and happy into their 90s and beyond. Most of us have realized that poor diet and sedentary habits lead to disease and body pain. No big surprises, but specific facts can often help us overcome our natural tendencies to indulge to much and too often accompanied with avoiding even simple exercise.

  Dr. Preethi Srikanthan, an assistant clinical professor in the endocrinology division at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA , stated "As there is no gold-standard measure of body composition, several studies have addressed this question using different measurement techniques and have obtained different results," Srikanthan said. "So many studies on the mortality impact of obesity focus on BMI. Our study indicates that clinicians need to be focusing on ways to improve body composition, rather than on BMI alone, when counseling older adults on preventative health behaviors." The study was conducted between 1988 and 1994 with a followup in 2004. They measured muscle mass index and compared mortality rates between the various levels of muscle mass among the study groups. They concluded that muscle mass seems to be an important predictor of death.

Flexibility and cardiovascular exercise remain extremely important but the results of this study encourage anyone who wants to improve their survivability to adopt an exercise program which will increase and maintain muscle mass. This means adopting a progressive resistance exercise program.

Back to wanting to live to 120. Imagine not needing to take any medications, not having any medical “conditions”, not suffering from pain, being able to do any activity you want to do. For those who answer that this is already what they are experiencing I plead, please share you success with other seasoned citizens. For those who think that this is too good to be true I admit that getting there is not easy, that is the price, hard work and sacrificing many pleasures. About those pleasures, they are the foods which contribute to human disease and I will save that discussion for another time. The pleasures are anything that takes us away from a healthy lifestyle. To those who say that they enjoy these pleasures too much to live without them I say that you have your choice to enjoy them until you die but if you were to shift your pleasures to lifestyle choices designed to improve and prolong your life expectancy, then you could enjoy your pleasures even longer.

Why do I want to live to 120? I have yet to do everything I want to do plus I enjoy watching my children and grandchildren live and grow. What do I include in my list of what I want to do? Like anyone who has discovered wonderful insights about living a happy, healthy, fulfilling life I want to learn more and share the knowledge so that others will benefit. This idea has far reaching possibilities. Here I am writing about better health but others who could live longer and thus have more influence are working to reduce poverty, crime, hate, etc. If more of the people who are succeeding at improving our world were to have longer to make the changes for which they are working then the world would be a better place. Although not scientific, my observation is that most of the people who are part of the causes of the problems are less likely to make the necessary lifestyle choices. This is sort of an evolutionary occurrence where the people who foster positive change survive while those who foster negative change diminish until they become extinct. Overly simplified? Perhaps, but the biggest accomplishments consist of several simple parts. Lets enjoy our lives choosing to seek improvement instead of contributing to the ugly alternatives.


How much do you exercise? and why is that enough?

What do you use to measure your healthiness?

Who is a healthy person you admire and why?

Place your answers in the comments below.