On the eve of 2017

Just finished my morning back exercises and meditation. One more day of less-than-strict dietary activities and than 2017 will begin.

I have a number of goals for 2017 and they mostly revolve around improving my health. That all starts tomorrow.

With that in mind, I’ll be updating this post with the various health-related things I’ll be attempting to do this year.

Sleep

Almost everyone I pay attention to with respect to health recommends at least 8 hours of sleep. Since I’m retired, I don’t wake up to an alarm clock unless I have a morning appointment for something. That said, I don’t always get 8 hours of sleep. This year I will make a more concerted effort to get 8 hours per night.

Aside from sleep quantity, there is sleep quality. One other common recommendation is to not be exposed to computer/tablet/phone screens in the hours before bed. I definitely haven’t been following that advice but in 2017 I am going to.

Meditation

I have been meditating via the Headspace app on and off during the second half of 2016. It has had a beneficial effect on my blood pressure (which I measure every morning). I will be more regular in my meditation in 2017 – hopefully doing it every morning.

Fasting

In 2016, one of my new year’s resolutions was to fast for three days every quarter. I successfully did that and found it beneficial. During the year I have been doing some reading about the benefits of fasting which only makes me more committed to making fasting a regular part of my life. In 2017, I will fast for 4 days each month.

Movement

In the second half of 2016, up until our Thailand trip, we walked pretty much every day. This was really great and I want to continue doing that. Unfortunately, right now it’s pretty cold and there’s snow. So, my plan B is to get on our elliptical machine. At least 6 times a week in 2017.

I also intend to try taking some yoga classes in 2017, probably after I finish my jury duty in January.

Food and Drink

I plan to be more strict in 2017 than I was in 2016. The basic plan is no grains, sugar, bad fats, legumes. Bulletproof coffee in the morning and two meals during the day. One day per month of eating out.

Doctor Visits

I haven’t been able to find a functional M.D. nearby but I am overdue for a checkup including blood work. I plan to get that done in January.

In 2016, the only red flag in my blood work was high LDL and I’ve been doing some diet & lifestyle modification to try and help that. The next time I get blood work results should tell if that helped. I’m anxious to find out.

I also need to find a sleep doctor this year, if only to get some new supplies.

 

That’s a quick view of my 2017 plans in the area of health. I will be reviewing each week to see how things are going and likely you’ll see that on this blog.

 

Gratitude

I’m just about recovered from our Thailand trip and the resulting journey home. Our trip was fantastic and I want to thank everyone who helped make it great. We have special gratitude for:

My wife’s friend Leena. We are so grateful to her for providing a place to stay in a great location. She also took us to some amazing places for food and other things. When she had to travel, she was still taking care of us remotely. Thank you Leena.

My wife’s friend Fai and her family. They also took us to many great locations during our stay. Even more, when we both got food poisoning, Fai came over late in the evening to take my wife to the hospital, no questions asked. I don’t know what we would have done without her. Thank you Fai.

My brother-in-law, TK, and his wife. Early on in our trip they took us to many amazing places in the northern part of Thailand. Some of the best things we experienced on our trip were in places they took us. They also brought us things we needed while we were in Thailand and they made sure we got to the airport for our return trip. Thank you TK.

This was the best of our trips to Thailand and we thank all those who made it great. And we’re looking forward already to our next trip there.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Mark Manson

I have to admit being drawn to the title but the reviews I read also convinced me that this was a book I should read. I loved it.

Manson is a great writer and storyteller and he’s got some important things to say. With advice like “Don’t Try,” “Happiness is a problem,” “You are not special,” and “Failure is the way forward”, you could say that his take on self-improvement is counter-intuitive. However, the way he explains it all I found myself agreeing with him.

A word on the title. It would better be “The Subtle Art of Only Giving Fucks That Matter.” The book is about prioritization; its value and some thoughts on how to do it. Very good book.

Home

It’s 3:52am on a Sunday morning. A few hours ago we arrived home after more than 24 hours of travelling back from Thailand.

We arrived at the airport three hours early, a nod to the possibility of massive delays common in driving anywhere in Bangkok. Because my wife’s sister Vicky was travelling back on the same flight as us and because they are them and coming back from many weeks in Thailand, we needed two cars to get us and our luggage to Suvavarnabhumi airport. My brother-in-law and his wife did the honors,

I was delighted to find that there was an S&P restaurant in the airport. My last Thai meal in Thailand was chicken basil over rice (with a fried egg) and durian with sticky rice in coconut milk for dessert. Then, 25 hours from BKK to ORD (which included a 4 and a half hour layover in Korea). The flights were pretty uneventful but the last leg, twelve and a half hours in the air, was an exercise in endurance.

The shock of coming from 89 degrees to single digits wasn’t has hard to take as I thought it would be but I was still shivering. My other sister-in-law Im, who joined us in Thailand but came home a day earlier than us, picked us up at the airport. She thoughtfully picked up our winter jackets before picking us up which helped a lot.

The plan was for Im to take us home and Vicky’s husband would pick her up and take her home to Indiana. Unfortunately, Vicky’s husband ran into really bad traffic. More than 12 hours on the road and still not there to pick her up. So, after we got home, we drove back to the airport to take Vicky to our house to wait for her husband.

On the way back I had the idea to stop at Yu’s Mandarin for food which turned out to be a great idea. The food was so good. And there was enough for dinner in the evening so we didn’t have to go out again for food.

Now in the wee small hours of Sunday morning and with my body not fully adjusted to Central Standard Time I figured that since I wasn’t really sleepy maybe writing a blog entry would be a good idea.

Recovery

After two days of being sick as a dog from food poisoning I started slowly getting better. Today I’m just about fully recovered.

Aside from the annoyance of puking my guts out for 12 hours and then feeling sick in general for another day, there have been some benefits. I had been experiencing pains in my right leg and fitful sleep. The purging that accompanied the food poisoning seems to have had a somewhat salutary effect on my aches and pain. I also feel noticeably lighter (not surprising after not eating for 2 days).

Feeling good for the last few days of our Thailand trip.

The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, David Perlmutter, MD

I read Dr. Perlmutter’s book, Grain Brain, a while back. His research and recommendations align with many other folks I follow – the danger’s of eating grains, particularly wheat, and the benefits of abstaining. This book goes into more details on the implementation of his recommendations. In addition, he updates us a bit on research that has happened since the publication of his earlier books. He also talks about non-diet related recommendations (sleep, stress management, etc.).

I enjoyed the updates in this book and the “nuts and bolts” of how to do his plan. Particularly relevant as I plan out what I’ll be doing in 2017.