Your happiness depends on it.

There are such simple, wonderful concepts here. Including the 3 to 1 positivity ratio in your life can make it so much better.

Tony

Thriving Under Pressure

Most people fight against what brings them despair instead of openly receiving what brings them joy.

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Shift your focus. Change your life.

Consciously accept the good that already exists in your life.

Your health. Your freedom. Your vision. Your voice.

Accepting what is does not lower the bar.

Quite the opposite.

Acceptance opens your eyes to all the favour that exists in your life.

Your hope. Your creativity. Your community. This moment.

And it’s that good feeling that motivates you to strive for more of what’s right for you. Instead of fighting against what’s wrong for you.

Begin by accepting what is.

Moment by precious moment.

Your happiness depends on it.

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 Applying this Post in Everyday Life

  1. The 3 to 1 positivity to negativity ratio is one way of applying this post in your everyday life.
  2. Specifically, each time you criticize something about yourself (or any area of your life)…

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How dangerous is it to shovel snow?

I recently wrote about the beginning of flu season. Well, what goes hand in hand with flu season? Cold weather and snow shoveling. Hopefully, you have gotten a flu shot by now and are set up to face flu season. I just wanted to remind you that you need to use your brain as well as your back when it comes to shoveling snow.

For many of us the onset of snow shoveling season is just around the corner.. Please be aware that in terms of your body shoveling snow is not a totally innocent activity. While I strongly support calorie burning exercises to build up your cardiovascular system and other benefits, it is important to know your limits. If you are not currently working out or don’t consider yourself to be “in condition,” please think twice before you grab that snow shovel and race out to clear the walk. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported that more than 195,000 people were treated in U.S. Emergency Rooms for snow-shovel-related incidents from 1990 to 2006. This is an average of 11,500 individuals per year. Keep in mind that this information only covers folks who actually went to the ER for treatment. Plenty more stayed home and nursed their wounds …. About 2/3 of these incidents occurred among males. Children younger than 18 made up 15.3% of the cases. Older adults (above 55 years) accounted for more than 20%. Continue reading

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Filed under cold weather exercising, Exercise, exercise duration, outdoor exercise, overexercising, snow shoveling

Why am I cold when you aren’t? – MNT

A little personal history here. Back when I first retired, 17 years ago, I got really careless about my weight and health. I ballooned up to 225 pounds from the 185 to 190 that I had carried while working. I was around 5 feet 10 inches at the time. My waistline measured between 42 and 44 inches. The only good thing about carrying that weight is that I never was bothered by the cold. I began writing this blog in March of 2010. Since that time I have taken my weight down to the 155 pound area and my waist to 31 inches. Yes, I am enjoying robust good health now. BUT, one of the aspects of my life that has changed negatively is that I am often cold. When the temp drops I freeze. I think I wear long underwear about six months a year. When I asked my doctor about this, she told me that in losing the fat, I had taken the insulation away from my core and I was now more vulnerable to cold temps. So, I was most interested in this information from Medical News Today on feeling the cold.

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Gloves? Check. Hat? Check. Thermal layers? Check. But why am I the only one prepared for the onslaught of a snowstorm? The cold affects everyone differently.

With Halloween now firmly behind us, we find ourselves on the slippery slope into full-blown winter. While many of us may enjoy spending time outdoors on a crisp winter day, few people enjoy feeling cold.

Our ability to sense temperature changes is essential to our survival. Small changes to our core temperature can have detrimental effects, putting us at risk of heat stroke in the summer or hypothermia in the winter. Continue reading

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Filed under abdominal fat, aging, body fat, cold season, cold weather, fat

Are there alternatives to Flomax?

This post is primarily for senior guys, folks who may be involved with senior guys, or middle aged guys who may want to peek into the not too distant future.

Medical News Today reported that for most, benign prostatic hyperplasia is a mild inconvenience that can be treated with a drug called Flomax. But Flomax does not work well for everyone. Some alternatives can help men with this condition relieve their symptoms and feel better.

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Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or an enlarged prostate can cause painful and frequent urination, bladder stones, and incontinence. According to one estimate, nearly 1 in 5 men between 55 and 74 experience this condition.

What is Flomax?

Flomax, the branded version of the drug tamsulosin, is often prescribed to relieve the symptoms of BPH. Flomax is one of a group of drugs called alpha-1 blockers that can help urine flow more easily.

Commonly known as alpha-blockers, these drugs change the behavior of the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. This can relax muscles in the urinary tract, making it easier to urinate.

Flomax is considered a selective alpha-blocker, which means it targets the urinary tract specifically and has less effect on other muscles.

In men with a moderately enlarged prostate who have no serious health issues, Flomax often works well. But for some, it causes unpleasant side effects. Common side effects of Flomax include:

low blood pressure
nasal congestion
swollen ankles
dry mouth
headaches and dizziness
fatigue
problems with ejaculation

For some men, however, the cost is also a significant concern. Flomax can cost more than $200 per month and might not be entirely covered by insurance. Flomax may be no more effective than other alpha-blockers, but the manufacturing company spends more than $100 million marketing it to consumers, so it is often the only BPH drug many people know about. Continue reading

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Long term aspirin use sharply reduces incidence of digestive cancers – Study

Personally, I try to take as few drugs as possible and as small a dosage that I can. My action is rational in that I don’t like to introduce foreign substances into my system. Additionally, I also feel uncomfortable about foreign substances in my system. So, I take a minimum of drugs, especially considering the fact that I will be 78 years old at the end of January. One of the few exception is aspirin. I take one regular aspirin (326 mg) every morning to help reduce the pain from arthritis in both of my hands. So, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are further benefits to aspirin.
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The long-term use of aspirin has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of digestive cancers, new research presented at the 25th UEG (United European Gastroenterology) Week has found.

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Daylight Saving Time “fall back” doesn’t equal sleep gain – Harvard

Don’t forget to set your clock back tonight before you go to sleep.

Daylight Saving Time officially ends at 2:00 am this Sunday. In theory, “falling back” means an extra hour of sleep this weekend.
Winston Churchill once described Daylight Saving Time like this: “An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn… We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later.”

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That’s an overly optimistic view. In reality, many people don’t, or can’t, take advantage of this weekend’s extra hour of sleep. And the resulting shift in the body’s daily sleep-wake cycle can disrupt sleep for several days, according to Anthony Komaroff,M.D., Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter.

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Sorry, I couldn’t resist this one.

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Losing weight through diet and exercise helps brain blood circulation in older diabetics – Study

Once again we have it demonstrated that diet and exercise prove beneficial even to seniors suffering from diabetes, according to HealthyinAging.org.

Type 2 diabetes affects blood circulation. The disease stiffens blood vessels and reduces the amount of oxygen that circulates throughout your body. This includes your brain. When blood flow in the brain is impaired, it can affect the way we think and make decisions.

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People who have type 2 diabetes are often overweight or obese. These are conditions that may also be linked to cognitive problems (problems with thinking abilities). Lowering calorie intake and increasing physical activity are known to reduce the negative effects of type 2 diabetes on the body. However, the effects of these interventions on cognition and the brain are not clear.

Recently, researchers examined information from a 10-year-long study called Action for Health in Diabetes (Look AHEAD). In this study, participants learned how to adopt healthy, long-term behavior changes. In their new study, the researchers focused on whether participants with type 2 diabetes who lowered calories in their diet and increased physical activity had better blood flow to the brain. The researchers published their findings in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, brain function, brain health, diabetes, Exercise, exercise benefits, Healthy brain, successful aging, Type 2 diabetes

Weekend fitness funnies …

Here are some more fun pics I snagged on the web in the past week.

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Have a great weekend!

Tony

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Do daydreamers have more efficient brains? – MNT

Must confess I have had a problem with daydreaming in my youth, particularly in school. So, this news from Medical News Today gave me something I could throw back at those teachers who chided me as a child.

Daydreaming is often associated with a reduced capacity to focus on a task at hand, and people who allow their minds to wander may be regarded as uninvolved, or as having “their head in the clouds.”

One study found that people’s minds tend to wander for almost half of their waking day, and the researchers behind it suggested that daydreaming could render us unhappy as our thoughts tend to drift toward negative scenarios.

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Yet could people who daydream more than most actually have an advantage?

New research led by Dr. Eric Schumacher and doctoral student Christine Godwin, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, seems to indicate that daydreamers have very active brains, and that they may be more intelligent and creative than the average person.

“People with efficient brains,” explains Dr. Schumacher, “may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering.”

The study’s findings were recently published in the journal Neuropsychologia.

Cognitive ability and DMN connectivity

The default mode network (DMN) of the brain — that is, the neural connectivity that is visibly active even when the brain is otherwise at rest — has previously been linked to daydreaming.

In the new study, the researchers were interested in finding out whether the particular dynamics of the DMN in daydreamers, and this network’s communication with other parts of the brain during mind wandering, correlated with heightened cognitive abilities.

Dr. Schumacher and his team worked with 112 participants who were subjected both to MRI scans and to tests targeting cognitive performance.

During the scan, the participants were asked to look at a fixed point for 5 minutes, during which time the researchers monitored their DMN activity. They also investigated how DMN activity correlated with other brain regions in a resting state.

“The correlated brain regions gave us insight about which areas of the brain work together during an awake, resting state,” says Godwin.

This was important, she added, because “research has suggested that these same brain patterns measured during these states are related to different cognitive abilities.”

The data from the MRI scans were paired with information derived from tasks aimed to measure the participants’ intellectual abilities and creativity. They were asked to respond to a mind wandering questionnaire.

It was found that participants who said that they spent a lot of time daydreaming performed better in the cognitive tasks. Their MRI scans also showed heightened activity in regions connected with learning and memory.

The scans confirmed that DMN activity was tied to mind wandering. Daydreaming also correlated with connectivity between the DMN and the frontoparietal control network of the brain, which has been associated with cognitive control, or adaptability to different situations, and working memory.

Efficient brains and wandering attention

Dr. Schumacher says that these findings suggest that daydreaming may not deserve the stigma attached to it, after all.

“People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention and you can’t. Our data are consistent with the idea that this isn’t always true. Some people have more efficient brains.” Dr. Eric Schumacher

He adds that daydreamers with a heightened cognitive performance will most likely be able to tune themselves out of discussions or presentations without, in fact, losing the thread of the argument.

“Our findings remind me of the absent-minded professor — someone who’s brilliant, but off in his or her own world, sometimes oblivious to their own surroundings,” says Dr. Schumacher.

“Or,” he adds, “school children who are too intellectually advanced for their classes. While it may take 5 minutes for their friends to learn something new, they figure it out in a minute, then check out and start daydreaming.”

However, the researchers think that more studies are needed to investigate both the positive and potentially negative aspects of daydreaming.

“There are important individual differences to consider as well, such as a person’s motivation or intent to stay focused on a particular task,” Godwin concludes.

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, daydreaming

Winter is coming. Are you ready for it?

I would like to add a personal word here. When I first started taking care of my aunt with Alzheimer’s some years ago I was concerned about her handling winter. We had always been close and I remember that winter’s short and dark days got her down. The doctor had told me that she would be able to live at home if she didn’t become aggressive. I had no idea how to keep her mood up but I stumbled upon an article about these full spectrum lights that mimic the sun’s rays.

So, I thought I would get her a couple of these lamps to fool her body and brain away from dark thoughts and moods. Long story short: it worked. She was able to live out her life in her own house. By the way, this was the house she moved into when she married my uncle more than 60 years earlier.


Tony

Our Better Health

Well with the forecast in mind, snow, wind, and all the things associated with it, I have to ask: Are you ready for winter?

The ten foot snow banks, the blizzards, the -38 C wind chills, the bad roads and everything else that I’d rather not even think about right now?

Hold on a second.

You might have assumed I was talking about the physical requirements to get through yet another Winnipeg winter, but I wasn’t. We all go through it every year right? Winter clothes are in good shape? Check. The furnace is in good working order? Check. Got the winter tires on? Check.

Sure all those things are necessary to get by in the six month Manitoba deep freeze, but what about mental preparation?

I never used to think about that very much because you just dealt with it, you handled it. You knew what to expect and…

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The most popular Halloween costume this year? – Wonder Woman

As a die hard Wonder Woman fan, I was thrilled to learn that her costume is the most popular one this Halloween. This is undoubtedly due to the superb Wonder Woman film starring Gal Gadot which came out earlier. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been a Wondy – ❤️ – fan since I first read her comic books in the 1940’s as a kid. She is a strong admirable woman who is a super role model for  girls of all ages.

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A very early version

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Gal Gadot in the film

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The 2017 film version

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Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot

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In case you missed it, Wondy’s birthday was October 25 and I posted a Happy Birthday for her.

Tony

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Trick or Treat – How Much Chocolate Do We Eat?

Since this is the biggest day for chocolate consumption in the year, I thought it might be interesting to check into it.

Do you know how much chocolate the average American eats in a year? One pound? Ten pounds?

As a matter of fact we eat an average of a pound of chocolate a month, so, by a process of rapid calculation, 12 pounds in a year.

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According to WebMD’s chocolate quiz “We each eat close to a dozen pounds of chocolate per year. And most of that is milk chocolate. More than 90 percent of Americans say they prefer milk chocolate over dark or white.

“It takes a long time to work off all that chocolate. It would take a 130-pound woman about four days and nights (95 hours) of brisk walking to burn off those calories!”

And I know you have heard that chocolate has caffeine in it, but how much? WebMD says,

“You’d need to eat 14 regular-sized (1.5 oz) bars of milk chocolate to get the same caffeine as you’d find in a 8-ounce cup of coffee! That would have about 3,000 calories and more than 300 grams of sugar — compared to only about two calories in black coffee.

“Dark chocolate does have more caffeine than milk chocolate. Even then, it would take four bars to give you the same buzz as one cup of regular Joe.”

So, enjoy the evening, but if you are going out with your little trick or treater, keep in mind how much walking is required to burn off those calories.

Tonya

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Filed under calorie counting, calories, chocolate, chocolate cravings, Exercise, exercise benefits, Halloween, trick or treat

Flu season is here … getting a shot?

Flu season is here.

Of all the subjects I write about the flu shot seems to be one of the most incendiary. Forget politics, President Trump and Hollywood sex perverts, flu shots really get under peoples’ skin. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one. Anyway, I will be turning 78 in January and I get a flu shot every year. I started around 20 years ago when I was teaching journalism and one of my students wrote a piece on flu shots. She interviewed a senior lady who said that she had been getting flu shots for years and, not only had she not gotten the flu, she hadn’t even had a cold since she started. That was enough for me. I hope you get one, too.

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The contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs can cause mild to severe illness and at times may lead to death. People of every age — including people in good health — are at risk for flu.

Approximately 970,000 Americans were hospitalized due to the flu in 2014, and more than 40 million were affected by flu-related illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although a majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur in people 65 years and older, even healthy young children and younger adults can have severe disease or even die from influenza. Nearly 100 deaths from influenza among children are reported each year to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading

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Brain response to stories universal, regardless of language – USC study

There is something universal about what occurs in the brain when it processes stories, regardless of a person’s origin or language, according to a study at the University of Southern California.

New brain research by USC scientists shows that reading stories is a universal experience that may result in people feeling greater empathy for each other, regardless of cultural origins and differences.

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Human brain cell

And in what appears to be a first for neuroscience, USC researchers have found patterns of brain activation when people find meaning in stories, regardless of their language. Using functional MRI, the scientists mapped brain responses to narratives in three different languages — English, Farsi and Mandarin Chinese.

The USC study opens up the possibility that exposure to narrative storytelling can have a widespread effect on triggering better self-awareness and empathy for others, regardless of the language or origin of the person being exposed to it.

“Even given these fundamental differences in language, which can be read in a different direction or contain a completely different alphabet altogether, there is something universal about what occurs in the brain at the point when we are processing narratives,” said Morteza Dehghani, the study’s lead author and a researcher at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC. Continue reading

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Filed under brain, brain exercise, brain function, brain health, brain response to stories, Healthy brain, Uncategorized

Harvard offers hope for aging knees

I will be turning 78 in January and, thankfully, have yet to experience the kind of knee pain that many of my fellow seniors suffer. My brother, three years younger, got a titanium knee more than 10 years ago. My arthritis pain lives in the base of my thumbs, so I have trouble using my hands. Also, there is no surgery for hand arthritis. Harvard Health Letter has some positive words for those of you who have problem knees.

Stanford professor Michel Serres hikes the Dish on a regular basis.

Knee pain is common in older age, often caused by osteoarthritis (the wearing away of knee cartilage). Fortunately, there are ways to fool Father Time and postpone knee problems or even prevent them entirely. “In many cases, you can delay or avoid the need for surgical intervention, such as a knee replacement,” says Dr. Lars Richardson, an orthopedic surgeon with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

The aging knee

Your knees absorb a huge amount of pressure with every step — typically one-and-a-half times your body weight. That pressure, plus regular wear and tear, takes a toll over time. Muscles and ligaments get weaker. The knee’s two shock absorbers — pads of cartilage called menisci — start to deteriorate. So does the articular cartilage protecting the ends of the leg bones where they meet at the knee. If you have a family history of osteoarthritis, if you’re overweight, or if you’ve had some knee injuries, you may be more prone to this deterioration. Continue reading

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Filed under arthritis, hand arthritis, harvard health letter, knees and hips, osteoarthritis, osteoarthritis pain

Weekend fitness funnies …

Thought you might enjoy these little goodies I picked up in my web wanderings.

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Hydration is important

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Have a great weekend!

Tony

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