Sunday, October 25, 2009

One Flu Over

I keep an eye on the news...especially as it pertains to the H1N1 "Swine" Flu.  I guess I remember stories told about my great uncle George who, after being a hot-air balloonist in World War 1, lost the love of his life to the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918.  He never recovered and died a bachelor, a taciturn, Dakota grain farmer.

In 1976, while in junior high, my family and I stood in a long line in Loveland, Colorado's high school to receive the Swine Flu vaccination for an epidemic that never occurred.  I do remember hearing stories of people who were later affected by the vaccine, not by the flu...and I anxiously and silently waited for similar side effects to hit me.  Luckily, my dramatic premonitions, like the expected epidemic, never came to fruition.

I, personally, will not have an H1N1 vaccination.  Did you notice that while Oprah's charismatic Dr Oz  took the vaccination on the show, he will not be giving it to his family?  There seems to be a lot of unanswered questions about the flu and the I will do my best to remain healthy by consciously taking care of myself.

There are several simple precautions you can use to proactively help lessen your chances of getting the flu (of any sort) this season:

1) Wash your hands every time you think about it...and DO think about it!  Be especially careful to wash before meals, after coming home, after being around get it...just keep washing! Wash your hands with soap and water after handling money, shopping carts, doorknobs, public bathrooms, etc.

2) Be careful to NOT touch your eyes, nose and lips when your hands are not clean.  These are easy entries for viruses to enter your system.  Like I tell my students at school: don't put that borrowed pencil in your mouth, don't share your chap stick or soda.... Stay away from people who are visibly sick. Don’t use other people’s pens, phones, and don’t shake hands!

3) Get plenty of rest...really...8 hours is so much better for your immune system than 5-6 hours.

4) Eat healthily--a whole foods diet; eat plenty of protein, get lots of antioxidants from colorful vegetables and fruits, avoid sugar and excessive caffeine

5) Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day

6) Take a good multivitamin and extra Vitamin C, Zinc, A, D and fish oil (Omega-3)

7) Manage your stress with meditate, relaxation, having fun, and most importantly by listening  to your body.

I wish good health to you and yours....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Women Vitamins: Remembering Dakota

I spent 12 years on a farm in South Dakota raising my close to the land and to nature in rural America was a conscious choice and a gift I wanted to give my child.  We lived about 5 miles out of a small town of 500 people.  The surrounding area was gorgeous; rolling hill country, sloughs and lakes, larger than life blue skies....wild animals and birds everywhere.  I taught school during the day.  The evenings and every other moment of 12 months of the year focused around the farm.  I had a commercial flock of 300 ewes, Arabian horses, ducks, some vagabond chickens, a Great Pyrennes dog, assorted cats, and a China gray goose that showed up one day and decided to stay.

The work was hard and constant....just because a fence was newly put up, did not mean it stayed up.  Unending rhythms of work are unbroken and continuous.  Fences always need repair, and barns alway require paint, fields need plowing, disking, and cultivating just as animals need feeding and tending, nursing and observation.  The cycle is  harmonious and comforting...demanding and redeeming. Snow starts to fall at Halloween and stays around until May....the frost line can go down to 8 or 9 feet depending on how long the Arctic fronts and their -30degree temperatures decide to stay.  It is not a land for the faint-hearted.

Dakota is still a land of pioneers.  Strong people, hard working, dedicated, good-natured, willing to share a joke or a lend a hand... There is a work ethic and a sense of responsibility drilled into them from childhood starting with simple chores of feeding cats and dogs and chickens....thru their adulthood and working with the seasons and with the forces of  nature and the vagary of God.  Farmers are the most optimistic of us all, sowing with hope, tilling and cultivating with expectation, and harvesting with thanks.....if the rains aren't too heavy, or too late, or too little, and the sun is not too hot, nor too infrequent...if the tornadoes don't hit and the wind storms don't strip the rows.....and if hail doesn't shred the plants.

I saw the end of a lot of small farmers...  They were unable to compete with large corporate farms...unaided by our own government which chose to subsidize Australian wool and sheep farmers over American sheep farmers.  Land prices rose, grain and meat prices fell.  Some left for the Cities, others held on with diminishing returns, some turned to politics, others borrowed to expand and hoped the bankers would be flexible.  Their children, my students scattered like seeds in the wind....and thank God for Facebook...we have all reconnected.

This week it was 90 degrees in Houston, and a friend sent a picture of the first snowfall in South Dakota this winter.  I miss the life in Dakota, the people, living with nature....but I do not miss the 6+ months of gray skies and snow....I keep them all in my prayers....every dog, child, fox, deer, coyote, pheasant, farmer and farmer's wife..cow, sheep, horse and pig....Bless them all.  Keep them strong.....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Over Weight? Dealing Now or Later

A couple of studies caught my eye... these studies dealt with the increased chances of poor health and earlier than necessary death rates for over weight and obese women.  We should be concerned for ourselves and for our children's sakes.

Consider theses facts and then let's wake up and start taking care of ourselves and our children.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center funded a study that compared health thin women with overweight women..  They found that for every increase of 1 point in a woman's Body Mass Index (BMI), she has a 12% lessened chance of living to age 70 in good health when compared to women who were thin.

A British study, that was published earlier this year, found that women who had a 30-35 BMI  die about 3 years earlier than normal, while those who were considered morbidly obese with a BMI above 40, die approximately10 years earlier.  

So, you are over-weight and you are thinking about some form of bariatric surgery to assist with your weight loss....Ponder the following:

Things you may or may not know:
•    When you go thru bariatric surgery, you are pretty much altered for ever….your body is no longer the bio-entity it was prior to surgery
•    It can be expensive financially, emotionally, and mentally
•    It may seem like a “quick fix” but it’s not, it’s a life-long commitment
•    You will most likely suffer from transfer addictions
•    Food may taste different and your body may react to it in strange ways
•    You probably can’t hold your alcohol as well, if you drink, which you probably shouldn’t do anymore
•    You may end up unexpectedly pregnant (if you are female) your fertility runs amok

Bariatric surgery can lessen or resolve a lot of prior medical problems:
•    Heart issues improve
•    Diabetic Issues can sometimes be eliminated
•    Sleep Apnea conditions lessen
•    High Blood Pressure Issues are resolved
•    Risk of premature death  is reduced

You will most likely:
•    Need more surgeries to fix the problems of left over, sagging skin
•    Lose your hair
•    Be unable to efficiently assimilate the vitamins & minerals your body needs
•    Develop teeth issues
•    Have chronic muscle aches and cramps
•    Need protein assistance

There never is an easy, quick fix
....BUT you can:

1.    Take care of yourself…before you become over-weight or obese
2.    Exercise, move it, and lose it
3.    Eat sensibly….you can do portion control without the lap band….okay so you won’t dump, get nauseated, throw up, and otherwise experience stomach revolt, but you can watch what you eat.
4.    Deal with the emotions that trigger over eating….because emotions remain to haunt you with or without bariatric surgery. 
5.    Put some stock in yourself.  You are worthy of being taken care of by yourself….SO…take care of yourself!
6.    Invest in exercise activities, good wholesome foods, common sense multivitamins, efficient protein shakes supplements….
7.    And then forgive and forget those who have hurt you, caused you pain, given you reasons to doubt yourself….take a deep breath and step away from that old attitude and response.

Live those extra years that a healthy life style and healthy body weight can give you…