An Ageing Questionnaire

It’s always really interesting how I end up with multiple clients going through a similar journey at a similar time. It’s probably fair to say that because many of my clients are in the second half of their life, they would have reasonably similar experiences. I’ve never believed that giving the exact same advice to two different people is a good idea. But sometimes a nugget of information can apply to two different people. Sometimes, not all the time.

I’m going to paste a little questionnaire that I’ve posed to a couple of clients lately. Maybe there’s a moment that you the reader can reflect on the questions and have an experience with your answers.

Please keep in mind that I likely don’t know you whatsoever. So these questions are not directly for you. But, if something positive comes out of it then that is just wonderful.

What does getting old mean to you?
What does aging mean to you?
What do you want your health look like in one year?
What do you want your health look like in 10 years?
What currently worries you the most about your health and wellness?
What is your greatest strength in your health and wellness?

Content Requests

To add to my wonderful spring enthusiasm based on sunny days and spring showers giving life to this oft-barren Alberta, I’ve received more new blog followers than normal. Thank you so much to you all. It’s a great, uplifting feeling to have people reading and (hopefully) appreciating my content.

My brain is a flurry of thoughts, opinions, links between science and concepts. While there are endless articles for me to present to readers, it’s also important that you see more than just what I think is important. I’m urging anyone who is inquisitive to reach out, comment, email, scream from the mountain tops and let me know what topics interest you.

If a client is in front of me, their needs and curiosities are quite apparent. Granted, that comes through years of experience working with people. But I definitely cannot just assume what my readers would like to know about. I will change that and say that I can assume, but I feel as though the reader will get more out of this content if their queries are discussed.

Don’t hold back!

Talk to me!

Satisfying My Inner Rebel

Green Day, Slipknot, even Marilyn Manson back in the day (admittedly not so nowadays with details of his abusive relationships coming to light) – those have been some of my musical tastes since I was a child. They’re not just rebellious bands, they’re not just fast and aggressive. As a young man, they were an outlet for my mind and emotions – an escape from a world that was hard to make sense of. My Dad taught me one of the most important lessons of my life. He has always said “just do the right thing.” There have been countless instances throughout my almost 36 years where hat advice has rung true. And yet, from early childhood I can remember getting so frustrated – irate even – wondering why the world as a whole can’t seem to follow that same advice. I’ve never claimed to be perfect, but I do live in a constant journey of continuing to improve myself. As my articles are generally, this is now going to change into a discussion about health and wellness. I still maintain my frustration with the world as a whole. Maybe I’ll forever want more and better, or maybe one day I’ll find satisfaction in what is, is. But until that happens, I will continue to push myself and everyone around me (including you, the reader) to improve. My clients are looking to improve physically. At least that is what they set as a goal on our first meeting. But to improve physically, lifestyle changes generally need to be made. As the phrase goes: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.”One of the most common goals set by any clients I have ever worked with is to lose weight. This requires any mix of the following:-eating better food-getting more activity-doing some appropriate exercises to adapt the body to do more – and better – activity over time-changing sleep habits-social factors such support from loved ones-environmental factors such as the amount of time spent sitting for work (including commuting). Losing weight is not simply improving yourself by eating less and exercising more (which likely should be thought of as having more activity, but more on that in a different article). It requires improving yourself as a whole. It might require improving those around you also. It’s a journey in having a healthier body, mind, social circle, and more. Maybe this is why life took me toward a career in health. I get to help people with their journeys of self improvement, thus satisfying that young man listening to angry music. He gets to help people be better.What is better? Right now I’m thinking that self improvement requires an element of selflessness. It has so much to do with having a positive impact on the world around you, resulting in a better you.Let’s take nutrition as our example for this point. I desire to eat good food because the nutrients I intake through my mouth then become the cells that replenish my tissues. I’m just reading that Colon cells die off after about four days. For me, I’d like those cells to be replenished with really good nutrients. That’s how I think about the process anyway. Is my Colon made up of nutrients from candy or from Chickpeas? Admittedly I’ll have some treats and “bad stuff” in my diet over a week. I’m working on getting crackers and peanut butter out of my routine, intaking less alcohol, etc. That’s the self improvement part. But I am also very interested in farming practices and gardening. How does that tie in? If the food that I eat is treated with unnecessary chemicals, are those practices also harming my gut microbiome or decreasing the vitamins and minerals that I could be ingesting? If I do my own gardening, what if I practiced the no-till method to enhance the health of my soil by not tilling out microbes? What if I add clover into my lawn, attracting pollinating species and decreasing the amount of water I use? Those pollinators could benefit my vegetable crop. That water can go to more productive means. These factors help to make me healthier, without ever being a decision between “good” for or “bad” food. By looking after the earth around me, I’m doing something selfless, but also improving my own health at the same time. It also isn’t doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That young idealist wanting a better world, but only knowing how to deal with it by listening to rebellious music would be happy with his future self.

Joy From A Soccer Ball To The Kisser: Children Mimic Our Habits and Behaviours

My daughter (who just turned three) is well aware that getting hit in the face with a ball isn’t equivalent to a good time. So why was she so excited by a ball bouncing down the stairs and smacking her straight in the kisser? Why did she then get frustrated when she couldn’t replicate that exact bounce and bonk?

A ball in the face is generally a scenario that would lead to this series of events:

-Wide eyes, almost welling up with tears

-Curling up into a ball, looking away trying to pretend it didn’t hurt

-Bawling on my shoulder because once she realises that it DID indeed hurt, Dad is a safe place to cry

-Changing activities or altering the current one to not get smacked with another bouncy sphere

The simple answer is that we had been watching Champions League soccer and the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper saved a shot with his face. Of course I was excited having been a goalkeeper in the past and felt that I had to replay the save multiple times. My excitement was palpable because that just doesn’t happen all the time and the goalkeeper bounced right back up, no ill will, no lasting injury. I didn’t think much of it. So my kid must have thought it was neat. She wanted to play just like the “green guy on TV,” which is how she recognizes goalkeepers because of their often green jerseys.

Kids mimic us. They watch more closely than parents ever seem to count on. How many times has a parent (maybe you reading this) said inward out aloud “where did they pick that up?” Wanting to have her own ball hit her in the face again was directly reflective of my excitement at it happening on TV… While my beloved team lost… The actual negative in this story.

So how does that anecdote end up on a Health and Wellness website? As I said, kids mimic adults. They learn habits and behaviours from their parents. Good or bad, healthy or not. There is a line in a song that I grew up listening to which I will not quote because it uses language that I choose not to spread at this point in my life. But the gist of the entire song is that trauma gets passed down through generations and it can be a very hard cycle to put an end to.

In my experience discussing children’s nutrition or activity levels with my clients, recognizing that the parent has a set of habits and behaviours that developed from their own childhood influences is step one. This is the generational trauma that the song was speaking of. It’s not just you influencing your kids. But it has to be you to end that influence – step two.

Do not at all think that your child is the one that needs to change. They are mimicking you. If I had reacted in horror to a face-save, I highly doubt my daughter would have had so much fun in the aforementioned scenario. If my wife and I didn’t drink water multiple times a day, I would imagine I would never hear the little voices in our house say “can I have some water, please?” And on the less healthy side, if Grandpa didn’t love buying Timbits for the grandkids so much, they would likely not state that as the main reason for us going to the golf course. But hey, if a couple of timbits gets them walking the course with me, there are probably worse things in life.

The Intensity Conundrum

Step one to step 10? Or step one to step two? Could this be the difference between setting lofty goals versus living a consistent, healthy life? Trust me, we live in a world that fetishizes quick, big gains. But – I’ve seen it time and time again – betting big on a high-flying stock can plummet your portfolio. Being comfortable with slow, modest returns is often the way to achieve that long-standing success. It’s not sexy, but living a longer and happier life isn’t (just) about sexy.

This morning I finished up with my first client and had half an hour to do what I wished. Stop and grab a coffee, do a quick grocery shop, scroll through Instagram (the clear winner in my head this morning) or go use the excessively tall set of stairs near my next client’s house.

Instagram is just not a productive use of time. Plus, it eats up my data like crazy. I already had a coffee this morning, so if I felt like another one later, that’s fine. But I don’t need that much buzzing through my head early in the morning. I forgot to take a picture of our whiteboard grocery list, so the grocery store was out. Being that this is an article that eventually is going to talk about health and healthy lifestyles, you can guess that doing the stairs one out as the sun was rising today.

Note: this article probably came up because it’s actually quite a pleasant morning here in the early spring in Calgary. Thus I was able to comfortably be outside for more than a few minutes.

Recently, a gentleman procured a new stationary bike. I am assuming this was a new piece of machinery to use as a tool to increase his health and fitness. Obviously, I am a big fan of that idea. Being that this has been my career for quite some time. Every year, that quite some time just keeps getting longer. Funny how time works. We will do a comparison of two different methodologies and mindsets, with an eventual mathematical problem and solution. His biking versus my stair climbing.

The first I had heard about this bike was a comment about having to take a day off because the days of biking before that, led to muscles so sore that he couldn’t get on the bike that day. For arguments sake let’s say this is a 5-day period. Day one through three involved reasonably high intensity bike sessions. Day four was completely off, and day five was back on to an intensity strong enough that they were quite warm and wore shorts in a situation that I have never seen them wear shorts before.

My stair climbing would be usually seen as lacklustre in comparison. I walked, not ran. My breathing and heart rate were elevated, but not gasping or thumping. Let’s say that I could keep my hands in my pockets (it’s still not THAT nice in the mornings in early spring here) and have no fear of tripping going up or down the stairs. So that’s not as good of a workout as the aforementioned biking. Right?

I did the stairs yesterday. Two times down and back to the top. Today was three times down and back to the top. Extrapolating to five days to compare to the biking – I could do those stairs easily for three more days – even adding another one or two sets.

Welcome to my anecdote. A gentleman was explaining that he watched someone max out on pull ups. Let’s say 10. Then the next set was maybe 8. Then 5. Then 2. Total? 25. He took a more conservative approach. Yes he could max out at 10. However he stuck to sets of 5. 10 sets of 5 to be exact. Total? 50. Twice as many, but with more modest effort throughout.

Exercise science shows us that there are differences between maxed out efforts and modest efforts. However the behavioural knowledge that I’ve gleaned over my career shows that people often max out their efforts in the short term and do not keep it up. I encourage health and wellness from birth to death. In the short term I focus on taking people from step 1 to step 2. Rather than thinking about step 10. But step 10 will come as long as this person stays consistent. Consider walking the stairs daily – with some increase over time – instead of maxing out your effort and having to take days off. Maybe you’ll end up with 50 pull ups versus a meagre 25.

Final note: I am not proposing this as the right way to approach health and fitness. But I am giving you permission to do less more often.