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.
Morning started out great when hysterical video received from friend at 7 a.m. showing New Normal of Quarantine.
Next opened favorite daybook AWAKENING and saw today, titled “The Next Step to Health”. How could poet Mark Nepo write something so appropriate for today, I wonder? Then realize it’s April 15th and taxes normally must be paid, so it does apply to each year. I’m lucky not to have that stress, since mine turned in early for first time in years. Another blessing for this day!
Finally up when sun streams in upper windows, causing sneezing before yoga. I can’t worry about disease when taking anti-aging potions recommended from LIFESPAN by Dr. Sinclair, right? Although look in mirror and see teeth looking browner. Could that be from those new drugs or is it due to three cups of coffee before getting up each morning?
“Copious cups of coffee” said to be drunk in Blue Zones (those where people live at much greater ages to 100), so even though knowing for sure that only 3 of the 5 drink coffee (Greece, Italy and Costa Rica; not Loma Linda Adventists or Okinawans who drink tea), I’ve made it my new daily habit to have a delicious 3rd cup from Keurig, leaving the 2-hour old last cup in pot for husband; telling myself he likes the ease of pouring from pot.
Finally done with yoga, headed uphill with dog, realize very cold wind blowing from northeast. I’d thought days were warming and only thrown on a light windbreaker over tank top. Now I think might go back for heavier jacket, but remember that in LIFESPAN Sinclair said it stimulates and improves immune system if we allow ourselves to get very cold.
He suggests going from heat of sauna or hot tub and rolling in snow like done in Sweden; but, also, says that colder sleeping is beneficial, so perhaps this colder walking will be extremely healthy on this day.
I’m a bit warmer I realize, since wore work gloves today so can stop at mules’ corral on way back and clear it of tall spiky dead weeds left from last summer. Mule stepped on a sharp stub last year and became lame in back foot. Best clear weeds with hoe, not mow which leaves spikes; as even when stepping myself on stubs of huge weeds it felt last year as if might poke through my boots.
Reminds me that farrier will be needed soon. I wonder if he’s considered “essential” or willing to sneak out to our farm to trim hooves not done since late December. Reminds me of prohibition when people sneaking into speakeasies with fear of getting arrested. Things must be done!
Hoof trimming essential on dun molly who starts fussing if back feet held up longer than she thinks is necessary. Previous owners said she used to have shoes on feet, but with new owner and different farrier (even after 4 years), she’s decided will tell us when enough is enough, so I hope he says can come.
Be good if that’s my only worry for today. I’ve told husband and friends will hook hdmi cable to big TV and show video for him at Happy Hour time, ours still 5:00 on working farm, but some friends tell me maybe they’ll start earlier as shown in video. Whenever you decide, lift a glass, say “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!” — join us and stay well!
Always something joyful to see when living on a farm. Two weeks ago in the hay barn I’d seen a nest with 12 eggs, last week a dark brown hen setting on it, today when at barn, I find things have completely changed and now 3 eggs alone in that nest. No evidence of any shells in nest (chicks and mom eat for the calcium), so makes me think a hen somewhere has a large flock of little ones.
I’ll keep my eyes open for her when by barn and pasture next time. Comes to mind that will be rooster stew at farmworker housing eventually, since we want hens for eggs, but can’t have roosters crowing to bother sleepers and seems like each batch is about half males. As usual, males tend to have it tougher on a farm.
For today, I used black pen to mark those eggs with tiny x on their small end so can start taking out the freshly laid eggs every couple days. Believe it’s time for this hen to contribute to our survival rations needed at home.
Realized earlier as walking up hill with big white dog on this gorgeous sunny spring day that it was probably important to actually WRITE OUT the 16-second Box Breathing method, since I know that if readers depressed when reading the last post, it may seem like too much work to click on another link and read the whole story about SEALS and Box Breathing.
Therefore, sweet and simple so those with anxiety keeping them awake at night can try, such as was needed again last night for me; felt was unsuccessful, as had to keep pushing away anxious thoughts and starting over with the tedious Box Breathing, getting up several times in night to wet throat that might have been starting to feel sore (probably hypochondria as more sensitive lately to new aches and pains, seems fine now).
Eventually when I woke at 6:34 a.m., I felt good energy and enthusiasm towards the day (immediately thinking must let dog out of crate!!!), so perhaps slept more than thought.
Here’s the box breathing — following quoted straight from the article (which I hope is okay with them):
You’ll see that each of the four steps is done for four seconds, hence the box part of the title. It will only take you 16 seconds to cycle through the method one time. Just repeat the cycle as long as it takes you to feel relaxed.
- Breathe in for four seconds. Make sure all the air has been expelled from your lungs before you start to inhale. Once you start sucking up your air, make sure to really fill those lungs.
- Hold your breath for four seconds. No more inhaling at this point, and don’t let any air escape yet.
- Exhale for four seconds. Let the air out of your lungs at an even rate for the whole stretch of time, and make sure to get it all out.
- Hold your lungs empty for four seconds. It may be tempting to suck in some more air immediately after letting it all out, but just hang on for four.
That’s it, end of quoted material, from link in previous post. They say can be used in stressful situations to calm self, as the SEALS sometimes find themselves in.
I’ve only actually tried it when anxious at night and needing to fall asleep, so fear that if using it during the day it might make me nod off. Probably not what is wanted, although if I find myself in a Fight or Flight-type situation, then perhaps I can remember to give Box Breathing a try before reacting.
I posted previously another excerpt from article saying that to be sure your lungs are staying healthy, HOLD BREATH FOR 10 SECONDS EACH DAY.
I find it easier to do that as part of the morning’s 10-minute yoga routine. That routine is very much a mindfulness practice, so if you’re looking for a mindfulness practice during these stressful times, trying this routine might be exactly “what the doctor ordered.” Stay well!