Blue Zones Principle #1: Move Naturally, says in part, “The world’s longest-lived people … live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it.”
Because we live in a world with lots of sitting, I believe it’s more necessary than ever to add planned movement to our lives. I’m lucky the hills near my home provide different options for movement throughout the year.
Hiking up hills to both condition and prepare animals mentally is a strenuous enjoyable twice a week workout for me now since late May.
Mules and just one big white llama will carry our packs this year on a longer more difficult trip than usual, as we hike 8.5 miles on first day, which is predicted to be 100 degrees even in mountains. We’ll leave early from 4,000 feet and hope that temperatures drop as we gain elevation to 7,000+ feet.
To prepare the animals, a helper and I climb them up a steep 2-mile trail thru what I call Hawks Canyon, then up steep short cross-country portion for a total 1,000 feet of elevation gain to reach a more level last mile along Hawks Ridge before we retrace steps and head back down.
With animals and people both needing frequent rest stops on way up, it takes us 2 hours to get to end of trail overlooking river and just one hour to get back. (Will be 5 hours on actual trail each day, but this is best I can do for training.) Views along way are huge reward for me.
I’m satisfied that animals and myself will be prepared for husband’s Bucket List trip, which will take us and three more family members over five nights to three high-alpine lakes. The prize being a lake off the beaten trail that few people have reached. Unknown if lake has fish.
Parts of trail are said to be very rocky, so I’m hoping that mules hooves will hold up. If not, each family member carries a light pack that will become much heavier and we’ll all gain strength along with movement on this year’s first outing.
Blue Zones Principle #8 — Loved Ones First, starts out: “Successful centenarians in the blue zones put their families first….”
28 DAYS WITH NO BACKUP, computer warned while I sat in airport on way home from extended trip to help family.
First 12 days were completely devoid of yoga or exercise or aerobics. I managed to add daily yoga and some exercise and aerobics back into schedule on day 13, but wonder if this blows my grand experiment, as none of the 4 weeks included a day of Intermittent Fasting and there were more than a few days with unhealthy fast-food meals.
Finally relieved to be home, even though I’m isolating upstairs and double-masked when coming down since spent hours on flights and in airports. No loosening of caution at this house where husband and I both qualify as high-risk due to age; although he says may be protected since having Hong Kong flu in 1968; I think best not to take chances.
I’m really loving outdoor time when free from suffocating masks! During snail-mail jog up trail with appreciative big dog, I reassure self that getting back to good healthy habits, even little at time is valuable.
I’d gone in early May to help youngest sister prepare house and find caregiver so her husband could come home from Acute Rehab; after 5 days we had all needed items in place. Next morning, phone rang early, hospital calling. Kind nurse told sister she was so sorry, but sudden cardiac arrest had taken her husband while he slept peacefully.
Sister devastated, as husband only age 55; then faced daily difficulty with shutdown limiting services in making arrangements; he had a large loving family and only 7 of his family would be allowed in chapel, even for viewing.
My flight was scheduled home 5 days later, so went to mortuary with sister and supported her each day in dealing with unexpected things. Then decided suddenly on night before flight home to cancel and extend trip; instead of going home would drive 2 hrs northeast to stay with parents.
Believe I felt like it might be last time to see them; they both towards late 80s and they not being careful enough, in my opinion, to avoid Covid-19 (still going to Home Depot, still grocery shopping, still having visitors with kids in house, still not feeling masks important).
On way there we got call and learned my mother went to hospital with seizure, possibly stroke, so it was fortunate that I had stayed and could help when four days later we brought her home. We set in place some safety measures, but, luckily, she was normal quickly.
The days went by while taking both parents to doctor’s appointments and waiting in various offices; those seem to be what life is comprised of both after hospitalization and simply when approaching age 90. One specialist calls another and each day we’d go out to more appointments.
Otherwise, I enjoyed morning yoga in front of world map on living room wall (see photo) and hearing occasional sounds of piano as mother played, reminding me of childhood, but now “to help memory,” she said had read.
Since leaving home almost 50 years ago and moving far away, I’ve only gone for short visits, never more than 4 nights. This longer time gave me a relaxing chance to sit and chat on outside patios with both parents and closer-living brothers; to find out more about what others’ lives had been like since I’d left so long ago and what daily lives were like now.
I appreciated that greatly and hope gained a better adult understanding of both parents and siblings. Even though at times I was critical of differing lifestyles, I hope they know it meant a great deal to me to be with them and help in the ways I could.
I admire that they are still very independent, but appreciate that brothers stop by often and am happy that a strong young grandson lives there who can help when needed.
I will trust that Blue Zones Principle #8 means Family Time definitely counts greater towards healthy longevity than missing some days of fitness and better eating. Am happy now to be completely back on track towards Healthy2aHundred.
Fast hike up steeper more direct part of hills this morning with big white dog, since lots to do to get ready for All-Family Birthday Party: Make signs to direct people up hill towards site, wear mask and keep hands away from birthday cards while writing thoughts, prepare mock-up for great-grandpa’s memorial rock to represent bronze plaque that will finally be ordered 9 years now after spreading ashes, get song sheets ready, help husband move tables up to field so food, drinks and each family have own tables (only 10 people gathering, but several elders need separate tables), give big dog a bath (dread that, but good to check for ticks), brush mules so can carry pack with supplies up hill and give rides to grand-children; plus, all the regular ordinary stuff to do each day, as farming hasn’t stopped.
I’ve found that the cadence of moving feet is excellent for thinking and my brain suddenly realizes that all Blue Zone cities are in a similar band across the world, shown where I’ve circled them on world map in my hallway at home, which would mean all have Mediterranean-type climates. Greece, Italy, Okinawa, Loma Linda (CA), Costa Rica.
Nine evidence-based principles were found in those communities that seem to contribute to people living healthy to 100.
That important, as my mind had brought up a contradictory thought. David Sinclair in book LIFESPAN: WHY WE AGE AND WHY WE DON’T HAVE TO, says that hot and cold are proven to stimulate the body towards health. He suggests to be like people in Scandinavian countries, going from sauna to ice ponds.
I haven’t really been able to find a way to fit that into my life, as can’t bring myself to run outside after a nice hot bath (to help sleep) and plunge body into snowbank (seems would defeat purpose of relaxation).
Therefore, I’m relieved now when remembering that Blue Zones in Mediterranean climates probably achieved healthy living to a hundred without using that component of the LIFESPAN anti-aging practices. Perhaps I won’t live to the healthy age 120 Sinclair thinks is possible, but getting Healthy2aHundred sounds like enough to me in this time of deadly threat from virus.
I put dog on leash so as to keep her from heading towards chickens as we jog down hill where I’ll mix the “anti-aging” potions, eat my healthy every-day-same 10:30 breakfast and get on towards a purposeful day. Hoping all will incorporate the 9 Blue Zones principles into their own lives as we strive to be healthy in stressful times. Here’s the link:
Anger propels my feet up hills this morning. Run goes more quickly than usual, as when timer signals walk period, I keep on at slow jog since must get home to make signs for parents’ front and back doors and get them into mail before deliveries leave today.
I am so angry since mother told me at 7:30 a.m. when called that young people with kids visited her home twice in last weeks.
I wonder, “How, can young people possibly think it SAFE to go in an old person’s house!” What is the matter with those younger people, as not only one visited her with child but another visited with four children!
Young people must have heard about asymptomatic carriers; don’t they know that means people without any symptoms of sickness have the virus and can spread it to others? Wouldn’t they want to keep older people they love from getting this awful disease?
My mother has never known to set boundaries, since her religion told her for years to invite strangers in, “as thereby, some have entertained angels.” She cannot keep herself and my dad, both entering later 80s, safe. She cannot do it. We must rely on the kindness of others to KEEP THEM SAFE.
I called my brothers earlier (before yoga and jog), as they the closest and most able to help parents stay safe. I’m dismayed when one brother tells me, “Oh, it’s not so important, you saw that 500 had virus on U.S.S. Roosevelt and only one died.”
I want to shout at him (I probably do), “Those are young and healthy people. They are not OLD & SUSCEPTIBLE PEOPLE LIKE OUR PARENTS!!!”
I call another brother and am relieved that he taking more seriously. However, he’s still going over to take food, visit and help them by vacuuming. I want him to know that he may STAY HOME NOW or at least leave food on table outside and visit in front yard at distance. More important that he keep himself and wife safe and not worry for awhile that our parents eat frozen dinners and house gets dirty. So far as I know, a dirty house is much safer than COVID.
I told him had tried to impress upon mother that this virus is DEADLY and it KILLS OLD PEOPLE. (Dad was out already working on property, so will tell him later when we talk.) I told her we (she, dad, self, husband) must stay away from ALL people until a vaccine is available. Told her will make and send signs for both doors.
Brother says will post signs and make white line with duct tape and big black letters at both doors saying — STAY THIS FAR BACK. COVER FACES. PLEASE KEEP OLD PEOPLE SAFE.
I next text the grandson who lives at their home to say THANK YOU for disinfecting and for isolating, as my brother has told me he sees being done. I ask grandson to have bandannas and scarves ready to hand to visitors and to please insist they stay in front yard when visiting grandparents. He doesn’t know when people coming, he says, and I tell him all we can do is try our best. We’ll hope it’s good enough.
I head out to send signs, glad to see man at FedEx desk wearing mask. I plead here for younger people to help keep older people they love safe with distancing, face covers and reminders until we get vaccine.
I woke this morning frustrated by my lack of website skills after seeing son’s gorgeous 3-page wedding invitation site. I want immediately to make a beautiful thing like that for our Annual All-family Birthday Celebration to be held on hill above house next month.
Worry is how to get birthday website made? Does son use a technical person in India that can help me? I’ve thought of that as to making my Healthy2aHundred website better; I know it’s possible, but it takes time to research.
Still feeling discouraged at lack of technical skills, I then read morning’s AWAKENING: Birds don’t need ornithologists to fly. Duh. Why not just an old-fashioned style invitation that I copy and mail or hand deliver? Stop thinking every creative endeavor now needs to be so up-to-date and fancy!
As I’ve tried to encourage with farm kids in past summers when they help me lead llamas for pack-trip conditioning — learning basic old-fashioned skills is very important. “How many days,” I ask them, “will a bale of hay last if feeding llamas 1/6th bale each day?” or, much harder, if planning to leave and preparing them to feed my dogs, I’d say, “If each morning and evening the big dog gets 1-1/2 cup of food and small dog gets 1/2 cup, how many days will a 5-quart bag of food last?” (Difficult questions for kids to answer when put on spot, but we figure it out together.)
I breathe a sigh of relief once realize I can make invitation by hand as always done before; do yoga, then head uphill with happy dog to take photo of what we call Great-Grandpa’s Memorial Rock where birthday celebration will be held for first time in 2020.
Cross fingers that paper invitation gets quickly made and sent, skies stay clear, temperatures stay warm and all stay well!
“I Am, I said, to No One There,” (Neal Diamond), I sing as red-tailed hawks circle overhead and screech “We see you!” to affirm my being.
Went well with morning reading from Mark Nepo’s AWAKENING book, which told me is the “speaking of one’s heart,” which makes us human.
That thought goes well with hiking down hill and thinking what to write each day in my blog called Healthy2aHundred.