Chubb's Walk

Happy Healthy Pets

Category: Health (Page 2 of 2)

Why I Walk

Walking is one of my favorite forms of exercise for many reasons.  It is easy to learn.  There are few steps involved (2) so it is easy to remember.  And walking requires no special equipment, but there is enough special equipment geared toward walking that, if you are one who is inclined to gimmicks or not, you can find your comfort level with the technology available to you.  In other words, walking is as simple and pure as you can get, but you can still feed your technology addiction to whatever level tickles your fancy.

I like to keep it simple.  I often use a walking stick as I find it useful to set my pace and to push away the errant vine or branch as I walk.  I less often take along some form of musical or spoken entertainment.  My walks are most often along forest trails or in parks and I prefer the sounds of nature around me to stimulate my thoughts and prepare me for a day of writing and carving.  I find my walks often are my muse, delivering ideas and a chance to refine them as I walk encased within the sounds of the woods.

My wife gave me a simple little pedometer that she had gotten from AARP and I have found that it helped me much in standardizing the length of my walks and I now have a much better idea of the distances that I walk, even when I have forgotten the pedometer.  My judgment of distance has greatly improved through use of the inexpensive little device.

Walking gives me a time when my body can be occupied while my mind soars and searches what boundaries can be pushed and what truths can be found when we explore the unknown depths that lie within us.

Walking gives me the quiet time that I need to connect with my Creator, to pray and to converse with God and to work through the internal conflicts and questionings that arise in even the calmest days.

Walking heals the mind and soothes the soul.  You cannot walk for long and remain angry.  Motion soothes.  Motion heals.  Motion sparks our pioneer spirit and pushes us to discover that which has been hidden to us.  When we move we change our perspectives and thus the way that we perceive our situation.

There is a need within us to move freely.  When we move our bodies we exercise our minds as well.  There is no downside to walking.

I walk because it moves me forward in so many ways.  When I walk a trail I normally wind up back where I began on the path, but I will never really be in the same place that I started.  When I walk, I walk into the future.

“Age is an excuse, not a reason.”

“Age is an excuse, not a reason.”

Lately, as I approach the ripe old age of fifty-eight, slogans and inspirational quotes seem to take a new importance.  Eight years past the half-century mark.  Where did the time go?  Can I really be that old?

The past three years have been eventful for me, with the loss of a job that I had held for nearly eighteen years and the realization that I should have left  nearly eighteen years ago and pursued the writing career that I now am working to get on track.  I cannot express the joy that I feel to be able to work at the thing that I love to do every day.  Thank God and thank my beautiful and supportive wife who is sacrificing her time and sanity to support us while I work toward once again pulling my weight.

Also thrust to the forefront of my life is a new appreciation and concern for my own health and the health of those around me.  This is a process that has been slowly building for the years of my marriage making a jump when I became a parent twenty-five years ago and then taking a bit of a dip as the boys got older and I began my slow decline into laziness.  (Another of my recent focuses.)  Recently the rapid addition of three of the most adorable grandchildren into my life along with familiar reminders (high blood-pressure, high cholesterol, etc.) have combined to re-focus my attention upon healthier eating and exercise along with attention to the spiritual and mental health of myself and those that I love.

Speaking of getting old, my fortieth high school class reunion is coming up in June.  Forty years since I skulked down the halls of Hillsboro Senior High School.  There has been a lot of recent chatter on Facebook by my old classmates, but most of the memories that they share are not my memories.  High school was not one of the highlights of my life.  It really represents the beginnings of one of the darker times of my life.

As with most troubled youth of that age group, most of the pain and troubles that I had were self-inflicted, fueled by feelings of inferiority compounded by being one of the shortest and smallest guys on campus, but I remember having no trouble in finding volunteers who were willing and able to add to my misery. Add to that extreme shyness, and you had a toxic brew.  My peers seemed more than willing to magnify my inadequacies and they had some fine role models as Hillsboro had a good stock of teachers and staff with a sadistic streak when it came to dealing with the occasional square peg. 

I don’t mean to fall into a self-pity party here, just saying that I have some ambivalence about attending.  I have only attended two of the reunions to date, the fifth and the twentieth.  I didn’t enjoy them much, as the people who I really was hoping to re-connect with were not there.  Like I say, I wasn’t really socially accepted and so did not know a lot of the people who I graduated with.  Some names don’t even ring a bell, and others are just names without faces.

I did have a few friends, and I managed to make it through all four years of high school and graduate.  I made some acquaintances here and there and anyway people change; Lord knows that I have.  I can even think of a few teachers who actually made me believe that I could succeed at something.  I am still writing because of the encouragement of one.

I must confess to following some of the chatter online and kind of wishing that I had been more involved with making the memories that so many of them share.  I missed out on what could have been a wonderful part of my life and may have had an enormous impact on where my life has gone.  Then again, everything that I have been and done has led me to the point at which I find myself now and I would want nothing different if it meant losing what I have.  I am content.

Having said all this, I think that I am leaning  toward attending.  It would be fun to see who I remember and how much we all have changed.  (Yes, I dragged out the old annuals.)   I think, too, that as I get older it becomes more important to stay connected with each stage of the development that brought me to who I am today, and pleasant or not, high school had a very profound effect upon where my life went for many years beyond those confining walls.

I think that it is also important for me to be open to making new connections where perhaps an opportunity was lost years ago but may not be entirely gone.  New friends are always worth finding, even if it takes forty years.

Back to age.  Time is fleeting, no matter your age.

Age should be a reason, not an excuse.

Just A Couple Of Things

My thoughts and prayers are with the people who are suffering in Japan and to those who have lost loved ones or are struggling for news of family or friends.  Thank God that He is most present when we need Him the most.  A disaster like this is an opportunity for the best of mankind to shine through as even those locked in deadly struggle often rush side by side to aid the stricken.  Seeing the raw power of the world we live in can be a humbling reality check that reminds us of our connectedness.

We should remember also that there are people all around us experiencing disaster in their lives that, while on a more individual scale, is every bit as devastating and overwhelming for them as for the victims of the huge natural disasters.  As we bring needed aid to the victims of this most visible disaster we should also pledge to better recognize the need for comfort and aid when it is on a smaller or less visible scale.

Would that the world could respond so quickly and positively to the man-made disasters  in such places as Iran, Libya, and so many places of violence in the African continent.  

The reports on Portland’s talk radio scene of the demise of Brandon Roy’s game were a bit premature, it would seem, judging from his play since returning from double knee surgery.  How quickly some forget that Brandon Roy’s most impressive basketball attribute while playing for the Blazers and even when he toiled north on I-5 for the UW has always been his intelligence and ability to transform his game whenever circumstance or physical limitation has thrown up a barrier.

Off the bench.  Twenty minutes a game.  Bone on bone knees.  Deferring to Lamarcus Aldridge.  Playing alongside Andre Miller.  Fitting in to a unit that is playing well already.  Could his ego take it?

What ego?  Between the legs cross-over dribble and weave to the basket.  Drop step dribble, pump-fake, and swish a “J”.  Finish on a fast break alley-oop lay-up.  Twenty-one points on 9 of 17 shooting and a third period buzzer beater for the lead.  I’d say he’s blended in beautifully and with the way that Lamarcus is playing I have a feeling that there are some teams sweating where Portland may end up in the play-off standings.

One of the most mysterious and wonderful aspects of our lives is the God-given ability to fail and to recover stronger than before.  Sometimes when we try to fix everything unfortunate that happens to someone we rob them of the ability to recover from that sort of failure later in life, or of the strength that would be gained during the struggle.  We should choose with wisdom the things that we would save our children from, allowing them to fail sometimes when the consequences of the failure are still small and the potential for gain is large.

Wintertime Blues

As we go into the winter holiday season we enter a time that many find to be full of stress and sadness.  Studies have shown that weather related depression is a real and pervasive problem in many of our colder states. 

The holidays themselves, a time of joy and family to many, can be depressing and dangerous to those struggling with relationship problems or with the loss of someone close. 

The lack of sunshine can force the need for extra sources of vitamin D.  The weather discourages activity and exercise and the shortened days restrict our ability to accomplish our constantly increasing to-do lists. 

Without some kind of outlet for all the pent-up energy and frustration of the season, you can sometimes feel overwhelmed and underappreciated.

 

An excellent way to overcome the wintertime blues is to take regular walks. 

It’s cold out there, but if you dress appropriately there is still a world of wonders at your disposal. 

Walk after a rainstorm and revel in the cleanly washed and stark outline of the city, or the pristine and somber trees in the forest as they shed the dust and grit of the summer. 

Walk on a clear December day and breathe in the pure air, free of the pollen and dust of the summer.  Watch the undulating masses of birds as they navigate the stiff breezes and tricky currents overhead or the massive aerodynamic formations of geese as they flee the snows of Canada to rest and nest in warmer climes.

If you are a dog person, take in the furry confusion of wagging tails and excited barks at a dog park.  Exercise and a show.

There is so much to see this time of year, and a desperate need to appreciate it.  Get out and take it all in.  Your mood will be the better for it, and your health will follow suit. 

Do something for yourself this holiday season.

 

Take a hike.

Misplaced Values Have Us Out of Whack

As we move into an age of rapidly growing technology and scientific advancements it might benefit us to evaluate where we place value in our society and how misplaced value; over-valuing some aspects of society and undervaluing others; can have a crippling effect on our society. 

Increasingly we hear warnings that America is overweight.  Statistics show that in 2009 there were 9 states that had more than a 30% obesity rate.  19 more states are over 25%.  The only state below 20% was Colorado at 18.6%.  Washington D.C. came in at 19.7%, but of course it is a district and not a state.    

Our society is geared more and more to promote a sedentary lifestyle.  Every day something new emerges to make life easier or to keep us in front of the TV or computer screen, taking the effort out of more and more of the daily tasks that serve the secondary purpose of moving us around and making us work.  Often it is the need to save time rather than a conscious effort to avoid work, but the end result is the same.  We trade time spent doing something to time spent watching something.  Sports give ground to video games.  Movies and reality shows provide our thrills, rather than our own adventures hiking or skiing or river rafting.

Our exercise machines now do the work while you just hold them or sit on them or stand on them!  Isn’t the point of exercise to increase your activity?  How much aerobic benefit can there be to holding a vibrating stick?

The real key to the solving the sedentary trap of technology seems is in education.  As we focus upon the rapidly advancing technology and sociological fields we are forgetting the importance of some of the more basic tenets of a growing and expanding population. 

In order that the proper balance between supply and demand is kept we have to value the basic needs of life and those who choose to spend their lives providing for those needs.  Doctors, physicists, computer programmers and designers, game designers, politicians, financiers, and all the highly valued professionals need to have a network of farmers, manufacturers, producers, ranchers, fisherman, etc. to make their lives possible.

At some point, all technology fails.  The more we rely on technology, the more we set ourselves up for disaster depending upon what fails.  If we want to know the real value of the more labor intensive professions such as farming or trucking or ranching, ask yourself who would need to learn new skills to survive in a post-technology environment?  Who would need to re-invent if the electricity went out?

We need to educate ourselves to care for our physical, mental, and spiritual health.  We, as a society, are at a point of decision. 

If we continue to neglect our physical well-being, our mental health also suffers.  We are created as well-rounded and self-sufficient beings.  Sitting in front of a computer or a gaming system or a TV is a choice that we are certainly entitled to make, but does little to increase our contentment or sense of self-worth.These things are fine in moderation, but the stimulus around us pushes us away from the ability to improve or to entertain ourselves.  We rely increasingly upon others to bring meaning and relevance to our lives.  Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean that you should.  Just ask the Congressional Democrats.

Take A Hike

I haven’t been writing much lately, but I do keep on walking.  Walking and thinking go hand in hand, and I find that if I do not walk or if I drastically cut down the amount, I do not have the abundance of subjects that interest me and stimulate me to write and to share the insights that have occurred to me during my daily excursions. 

One of the differences that may have affected the volume of my writing is location.  During the nicer weather of summer I would usually walk for a couple of miles and then sit in the woods with my laptop or my pen and paper and write, sometimes for three or four hours, and I never seemed to run out of passion or subject matter to fuel my efforts.  Now, with the advent of the rain, which does not mix well with computers or, for that matter, writing tablets as well, and the unfortunate encounter that my dog, Chubbs, had with a young porcupine, we have taken to walking our three miles on a trail near our home and then coming home to write at my home office. 

Fortunately for Chubbs the porcupine was young with small quills.

As much as I try to make that office conducive to writing I just can’t make it as relaxing and inspiring as sitting out in the woods with the sound of the creek at my feet and the birds conversing in the trees. 

My dream is to move back into the country and live along a creek or river, or perhaps near a lake or a pond so that the dogs and I can go into the back yard and sit with the timeless sound of the water and the sweet hum of the forest to inspire me and I can write and the dogs can run free in the woods and then, in the afternoon, we can catch our dinner and then sit by the fire and enjoy a hearty meal and watch the Trailblazers game on the big screen. 

I have to keep writing to fulfill that dream.

I have to keep walking, too.  For inspiration, for health, and just to keep myself grounded and appreciating the beauty that God desired for us to live in as we work our way toward Him.  I have been promising to write more on the benefits and pleasures of walking every day, and I will fulfill that promise in the coming days.  I will give you some facts, health tips, recipes, and other related news that I believe will help you to realize how simple it is to improve your health and increase your awareness and enjoyment of the world around you.  I leave you with my new mantra, don’t take this wrong, but:

Take a hike.

Walk It Off, Part 2

One of the greatest threats to our health today is not cancer and it’s not heart attack or stroke.  These are, however, symptoms of this pervasive problem.  It is not a disease in itself, but is the breeding ground for countless diseases and afflictions suffered by modern man, and modern Americans in particular.  The problem has roots in the combination of a permissive society and the easy access to fulfillment of most of our physical needs.

Obesity is running roughshod throughout our modern society, fueled in part by our affluence and ability to easily find gratification without justification.  This ease of access leads to overconsumption, which then fuels a loss of a sense of self-reliance, which can lead to a lack of self-esteem, and in many cases to more overconsumption.  A loathsome circle is formed and our health is at risk.  Food is plentiful, but so much of what we eat is empty calories, pumped full of chemicals that we will finally learn about their harmful effects ten years from now when people begin growing a third eye or their nose falls off.  Then the lawyers will get involved and someone in the government bureaucracy will make a lot of money from the additive companies as Congress draws up new toothless regulations and that additive is pulled from the market and replaced with a new product that is ready to be tested on a massive scale, on us.  And as the economy tanks and the wars drag out and every aspect of our way of life comes under attack we just eat and eat and eat, because that is the only thing that we really can control anymore. 

At least they can’t tell you what and how much to eat.  Right?

Then why are you eating all that crap?  And why are you just sitting around, taking in everything that anyone wants to feed you, physically, mentally, and spiritually?  There is something very simple that you can do now, today, to make things a little better.  And if you will commit to doing this every day, or at least most days, Things will get a little better each day.

Take a hike!

No, seriously.  Go walking.  Walk every day.

Walk It Off

               I think that it would be appropriate, considering the title of this blog, to spend a little time talking about the benefits of walking.  Simply put, walking is the act of putting one foot in front of the other, shifting your weight forward with each foot placement to propel yourself from one point to another.  Well, I guess that was not so simply put.  Let’s try the dictionary.  Merriam-Webster tells us that to walk is to move along by foot or to advance by steps.  Or, more appropriately for this post, to go by foot for exercise or pleasure.

                Walking is much more than its definition would leave you with.  Walking is physical health, walking is peace of mind, walking is connecting to the earth and what it gives us, walking is one of the safest, most complete and efficient forms of exercise, walking is a time to meditate and to be with your Creator.  Walking is also a very good way to get from one place to another. 

                You might be questioning me on one point at this time.  Walking is slow, where is the efficiency?  How can I get ripped by walking?  These, upon the surface, seem like valid questions, but walking is not the destination, only the means to move further on the journey.  Walking is like a gateway drug.  If you are prone to addiction, you will progress to the hard exercise that is the only cure for those type of cravings.  Walking is a perfect exercise because you never do it without doing something else.  If you are lifting weights, running, swimming, aerobics, pilates, whatever, you have to concentrate upon the activity itself, for safety and for effectiveness.  Playing sports requires your full attention.  You have been walking all your life, well, at least most of it.

( I do have a buddy who can probably claim the ability to walk for less than half of his fifty-odd years, but that is another story only slightly related to the whole exercise theme.) 

                The point is, your mind is always working while you’re walking, (unless we’re back to discussing my buddy), and so you are either organizing or meditating or planning or brainstorming a problem or calming your ragged nerves  or any of a multitude of mental tasks that would otherwise require you to pause and devote time directly to that task.  And yet you can do it while also getting exercise, changing your environment and thus stimulating new perspectives, and even getting somewhere if you have somewhere to go.  What a bargain.  How can we not have time for that? 

                The social aspect of walking is another peripheral benefit that may equal the original goal of exercise. We live in a society that seems to have devalued to importance of personal connections between neighbors and neighborhoods.  If you walk around your neighborhood you are more likely to encounter and interact with your neighbors and have the opportunity to meet and perhaps direct visitors in the neighborhood. 

                  Every day we are bombarded with examples of the very worst of the world around us to a point that we are as likely to be fearful of our neighbors, or distrustful, than we are to offer to help if we see a neighbor struggling with something.  We are even suspicious of offers to help.  We have let the “bad guys” control our lives by letting them convince us that almost everyone out there is a “bad guy”.  Or could be.  If we all knew our neighbors, we would all know that isn’t true.  The only thing that holds us hostage is a few bad guys and our own acceptance of us as a nation of them.  Walk around and you will see that we aren’t really like that.   

                   The psychological benefits of walking are immeasurable.  Walking eases the symptoms of depression and stress.  If you walk where there are other people the social aspect of the walk can be invigorating in itself.  If you walk in the woods or along a less traveled road or path, the time for introspection or meditation can carry you for miles.  I walk in the mornings, generally along a logging road or a seldom traveled path to walk our three dogs.  I cannot walk for long in the woods or along a wild river or on a secluded beach without feeling closer to my Creator.  I use the time to pray and to reflect on the things that I put in this blog and on the stories that I write.  I prize the time that I spend walking and my best ideas come when I walk.  If I am stuck on something or cannot write I walk and I think and I can usually come back and attack the problem from a new angle or with a new set of tools and get on with my life.  Walking has become one of my most indispensable writing tools.

                    I find that I cannot stay angry for long when I walk.  The combination of endorphins and adrenaline along with the peaceful setting and the time to think things over and to work through the emotions without allowing them to cause any more damage just drains the anger from me.  I find that as I walk, my thoughts go from what was done to me to what I could do differently in the future to change the outcome.  I am no longer at the mercy of an act but in control of a solution.    Anger feeds only upon the emotional side and, while it has its place and its purpose, can never survive when the intellect is wielded.  Common sense and walking are, like Forrest Gump would say, like peas and carrots.  I think that it would be nice if our politicians did a lot more walking, one way or another.

                     Our country is fighting a war against obesity.  This war costs more in lives and dollars than any other war that we have ever fought.  Worse than any civil war, where brother can be pitted against brother, father against son; this war is one that we are fighting against ourselves. 

                    We can walk our way out of this conflict.

                     I have some statistics and some personal anecdotes on the physical benefits of walking that I will share soon.  Until then, if you decide to do some walking for the benefits already discussed, be safe, consult your doctor if you have any existing health concerns,  start slowly and then gradually increase both your speed and your distance to whatever goals seem right for you.  Walk on a consistent schedule at least three or four times a week and you will see many positive results within the first month.  Let me know.

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