Stress and politics, it is really a matter of your heart!

 

I try to avoid politics in my writing, and I believe that although politics is mentioned, the main message in the blog is not political at all, it is truly about heart health.  Heart health is my mission.  It is what our organization is working for, that is fewer heart disease related occurrences.  It is believed that 80% of heart disease related occurrences can be prevented.  80%, that is an amazing statistic.  When I read that, I realized that what we are working towards is achievable.  We can make a difference.

 

One of the causes of heart disease is stress.  Stress can adversely affect your body, specifically, the toll it can take on your heart.  In the big picture, what has been more stressful lately than the recent presidential election and subsequent inauguration?  Two sides bitterly opposing the other.  The Facebook arguments, what the media chooses to highlight, the non-peaceful protests, the fake news, the strong opinions, and the spin and twisted truth, it is surrounding us, maybe even consuming some.

 

I’ll have to admit, I didn’t sleep all that well the night of the inauguration.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t so much about who is now our President, although it does bring some trepidation, it would have no matter who was elected,  I was restless because of concern for what we as a society have become.  We have become a society of know-it-alls, and that is scary.  What this means to me, is that very few people are truly objective and willing to have open minded discussions before forming an opinion.  We have become intolerant to people with opinions that don’t mesh with our own.  That is dangerous for many reasons, including a lack of growth as a person and how we interact with others.  Of course, not everyone falls in this category, but it is prevalent in today’s society.  How did this happen?

 

I have my theory, and of course I am going to share it, otherwise what’s the point of writing this blog.  LOL.  Let’s do it like this, let’s imagine these two candidates in 1950, or 1930, or 1830 for that matter.  What would we know about them?  We would know their accomplishments, what they tell us, what we heard with our own ears, or read about in a single newspaper, a newspaper that most likely reported factual information (what a novelty).  We may not have all the information about the candidates, but what we would have known is most likely credible.  At the very least, it would have been based on our own rational thoughts and feelings.

 

Today we are bombarded with the opinions of others, factual or not; blog posts factual or not; media reports (many of which have a biased spin); memes (most of which are contrived, are biased, or filled with lies); and publications, many of which have an ulterior motive.  We are supposed to sift through it all to know what to believe.  I say it is impossible. 

Just as an example, there was a video on Facebook of Bill Clinton at the inauguration looking off into the distance.  You have probably seen it.  Hillary looks at Bill, with a funny look on her face, Bill catches her glance and then proceeds to look back in the original direction.  Hillary looks to be a bit put off by it all.  The caption represents it as Hillary catches Bill staring at Melania Trump, insinuating that he can’t keep his eyes off good looking women.  Nowhere in the short video is Ms. Trump.  Nowhere is there proof that Bill was looking at Melania and not something else.  What I found interesting were the comments.  People bought it hook line and sinker.  That’s what scary, because they are basing their opinions on information that may not be credible.   

 

To reduce stress in your lives, I think it is important to know that most information available to us, needs to be fact checked and read with a bit of skepticism.  In other words, we need to remain open minded and know that what we are reading is probably not 100% factual.  Know that you most likely aren’t a political expert, and most likely don’t know all the facts.  I will give one more example, I questioned the US giving Iran $150,000,000,000 (that’s a lot of zeros).  I have an opinion on it, but really, what do I know?  Was I involved in every sit-down discussion with the Iranian leaders?  No.   Was I in the internal US strategy meetings to discuss how to handle the situation?  No.  Do I have all the information I need to form an educated opinion?  I doubt it, and guess what, our leadership isn’t going to give us all the information in every situation, often times in order to protect us. 

Why then get all worked up over it, and argue with someone who may know less than me about a subject, should they have a different opinion than mine.  That type of rationale, recognizing that we are not experts in every matter, is becoming rare in our society and it needs to change fast.  I’m not saying you cannot have an opinion, it is ok to have an opinion, just keep an open mind that the reasons you believe in a certain thing, may have been based on flawed information for no particular fault of your own.

 

I for one, am going to take a deep breath, do my homework, try to forge my opinions (political and otherwise) out of knowledge and facts (notice I said try), and not engage with others if they happen to have an opposing opinion, unless, and here is the key, unless they are as willing as I am to admit that we are not experts in the matter, and willing to be open minded.  Less stress will result, and less stress is better for the heart.

 

Thanks for reading, and I hope our society can someday see the light.

 

Chuck Woolaver

 

It Starts with the Heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fitness, stick to it

I’ve done a lot of exercising in my 55 years.  Some was well thought out and planned, and other times, well, not so much.  The first step everyone should complete, before a dumbbell is picked up, or the tread mill is stepped upon, is to have a goal.

What is it that you want to achieve?  Do you want to lose weight?  Do you want to pack on muscle?  Do you want to firm up those abs and that back side?  There can be quite a few goals when it comes to exercise.  Now that I am 55 and still fighting coronary artery disease, my objectives have changed.  At one time in my life I wanted to build muscle.  This meant a regimen of lifting heavier weights.  The amount of sets and number of reps in those sets, along with the rest in between was designed for muscle-building.  That is a completely different program than what would be designed for someone looking to lose weight, or simply “tone” their body for golf or other similar sports.

There are many variables that go into exercising, and many different exercises.  They all lead to certain results.  So, you decide you want to get in shape, which is the first step, and before you step one foot into the gym, think about what it is you want to accomplish.  It is at that point you can construct a workout plan that helps meet your objectives.  Your choice will be to do it on your own, or get help from a personal trainer.  With the complexity involved in exercising, the latter is recommended.

I will finish with this, moving is better than sitting still.  For those wanting to lose weight, it is simple, burn more calories than you consume.  Understand this, most people start a program and somewhere along the way, stop.  Heck, many New Year’s resolutions are probably already broken.  Secondly, fitness planning is a very complex subject for the average person.  I always recommend to get help.  After learning what I now know about fitness training, I realize that I made some major mistakes in the past when it comes to working out.  Those mistakes led to injury and loss of motivation.  That is what you want to avoid.  You want a sustainable plan, where you can see positive results, and a plan that avoids injury and leads to long term success.

So best of luck in reaching your fitness goals in 2017.  If you need help, give me a shout.

Chuck

 

 

 

 

 

Eating Healthy

How much does eating right mean to your cardiovascular health?  Well according to many experts, it means a lot.  Everything you put into your body does something.  It either provides nutrients that are used as fuel, provides value in terms of health, or is detrimental to your health if it contains the wrong ingredients.

A fast food hamburger does have some nutrients.  There is protein of course, which is an essential component for muscle health.  However, it comes at a cost.  There is also a fair amount of fat in hamburger, and of course these days it is all about grass-fed beef and free range chicken.  What we eat, eats, is important too, as we are learning. Hormones, chemicals, insecticides are all ingested by the animals that we call food.

We like to say “eat clean”.  That means monitoring the fats, sugars, and carbohydrates.  Making sure the food you are eating is pure from the bad things mentioned in the last paragraph.  It takes time and education to know how to read a product label, but it is very important.  Know what you are putting into your mouth and understand how it fuels your body and what nutrients it provides.

Drink plenty of water.  If you are an active male, it is recommended to drink 125 ounces of water a day.  An active female should drink 91 ounces a day.  That seems like a lot, and it is, so start early.  Drink a large glass of water when you first get up in the morning.  Your body is in dehydration mode after going 8 hours without water.

In terms of being heart smart, moderation and portion size are important, maybe as important as what you are eating.  There is so much more that we can discuss.  You can get more specific information relative to your own personal goals from Mike Doehla at StrongerUFit.com.  He does nutrition counselling and is highly recommended.

Personally, I try to make sure that I get 2-3 servings of fresh fruit each day (blueberries are my favorite), 2-3 servings of fresh vegetables each day, a serving or two of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), and then make sure I eat lean protein every day.  When I eat breads or pasta I make sure it is whole grain (there is an old saying, the whiter the bread the quicker you’re dead), and try to steer clear of simple carbs (table sugar, candy, etc).

Complex carbohydrates come from plant-based foods, and we know that those foods also contain a plethora of beneficial nutrients in addition to their carbs, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Carbs in general, are important in providing fuel for your body (energy) in the form of calories.   Calories are simply a unit of energy.

Protein can also be a fuel source after carbs are depleted (thus the need for carbs).  However, protein plays a more important role in that it builds and repairs muscle and tissue, promotes immune health by forming antibodies and white blood cells, creates hormones and enzymes and manufactures red blood cells. In addition, it contributes to the structure of your organs, skeleton, skin, hair and nails.

The general rule of thumb, especially for an active person is to 45-65% of their total calories from carbs (primarily complex carbs), 10-35% from protein, and 20-35% from fats.  Fats are not all bad and some actually are quite beneficial.  There has been a lot of back and forth on whether or not fats are the main culprit regarding heart disease.  Recent studies suggest that they are not, however I am still a bit of a skeptic, and am mindful of the types of fats I ingest.  Without getting to deep into the subject, the fact is that some fats raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease, while others lower cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease, and provide other health benefits. The good fats are typically the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and are high in omega-3.  They can be found in salmon, nuts, olive oil, avocados, and my favorite, natural peanut butter.

There is a lot to know about nutrition in order to eat healthy.  Some people think they are eating healthy but really aren’t for many different reasons.  My recommendation is to eat natural foods.  Those are foods that don’t typically come in a box, can, or package of some type.  Organic is important and meats that are minimally processed where the animals were fed properly makes a huge difference.

Eat a balanced diet including some of the foods mentioned above, and if you really want to get serious, do your research or contact Mike at StrongerUFit.

Chuck

 

 

 

 

Recovering from Surgery

Surgery can take more out of you than you would initially think.  There is a mental and a physical aspect to it, and depending on the type of surgery, the mental aspect may be a tougher road to navigate.

I have had my share of surgeries/procedures/complications over the past two years, all of which have put me in the hospital or emergency room a total of eight times.  Some were easier than others, but all took their toll.

I experienced pain of course; anxiety (never would have guessed that one); nausea (I found out afterwards that they can help with that in advance); mental and physical fatigue; internal bleeding; an inflamed testicle due to a procedure (that one was a toughie); weight loss (not welcomed); loss of strength and stamina; mental stress.

What can you do to prepare for, or minimize these symptoms?  In my humble opinion, the first step is to expect them.  Sounds simple right?  It’s like having a guest come to your home.  If you expect them, your house will be clean and tidy, and you will have fresh coffee in the pot awaiting their arrival.  If they drop in unannounced, your stress level instantly spikes and well, you can imagine the rest.  Preparation helps!

Secondly, I would make sure you are as healthy as possible prior to the surgery.  This could include eating right, drinking plenty of water, and exercising/stretching.  Actually, I suggest living a healthy lifestyle whether or not you are about to have surgery, but some people choose to live hard.  Regardless, having your body in shape for what it is about to go through, including the anesthetic, the surgery (invasive or not), and the recovery (possibly limiting your movement or ability to exercise for a specified period), will help in all these areas.

Third, follow all rules given to you by your healthcare provider prior to the surgery.  There may be drugs prescribed to prepare you for a procedure (read all instruction on pill bottle labels and the paper the pharmacist provides).  They may instruct you on what to eat or not eat, and when, along with how much water to drink.  All those things are told to you for a reason, and that is to make sure the procedure goes as smoothly as possible.  Complications only make matters worse.  These things can help prevent them.

Then of course, don’t be a knucklehead and try to rush things to soon.  You may want to get up and moving, back to work, etc., however, it is important to give your body and mind the time it needs to recuperate.  I rushed things a couple of times last year and found that it had a cumulative effect.  I got to the point where I couldn’t even hold my head up straight when sitting.  I had zero energy.  This required over a week of rest to recover, when a couple of days after each procedure would have sufficed.

Lastly, have a good support system.  Have someone to help you move around, or just someone to talk to, to tell them how you are feeling.  In my case, after a few of my procedures, we knew that I was not going to be able to move very efficiently for a couple of days.  My wife made sure some of the furniture was moved around to accommodate for this, and of course, she had my bedside prepared with everything that I would need.

Getting old isn’t for sissies, as my friends and I often say, but really, it is no joking matter.  These types of things become a fact of life, and staying ahead of the curve, if at all possible, both physically and mentally is quite helpful in the recovery process.

Best wishes,

Chuck

It starts with the heart!