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It Has Nothing To Do With Age provides self-help principles. The inspirational stories give concrete illustrations of overcoming many of life's challenges. Difficulties pertaining to depression, grief, divorce, and death are presented and worked through by the participants. Physical impairments, injuries, overcoming issues with weight, alcohol, and nicotine are also dealt with and resolved by the athletes.

This book provides a model on how to overcome some of the difficulties that confront all of us . Further, this read sheds a beacon of light on preventive measures for good physical and mental health. Research demonstrates that exercise is an important component in treating such ailments and debilitating illness such as depression, stroke, heart disease, brain or cognitive malfunction,and Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest that proper exercise can be used as a preventive measure for psychological, cognitive, and physical health as well. Follow my prescription and lead a better, more fulfilling, and healthier life.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mental Toughness-Part 9

A second component of Mental Toughness: 2. Re-framing is substituting a word or statement with another word or statement, that conveys a different meaning with a different connotation. It’s important to have a positive emphasis or positive idea in place of a negative one. In discussing a physical procedure I eliminated the word “exercise” because for many that has too many negatives associated with it like boring, repetition, grueling, no fun, etc. and replaced it with the word “conditioning.” Conditioning conveys a level of fitness, indispensable to some result or even the state of health. It is simply a word that has an absence of any negative affect. So when I planned one of my runs, I referred to it as a conditioning run. It was nothing more nothing less, it was simply conditioning. In other words, I was always in my conditioning mode.

 Another example was taken when I was running my 100 mile trail run and I had crossed the American River at roughly the 80 mile mark. I verbalized to myself that I had completed 80 miles and “only” had 20 more miles to complete. The key ideas included what I had completed and what was left; and by employing” only “I minimized the remaining task ahead of me. I didn’t get weighed down by my discomfort [I inserted and re-framed the word discomfort for pain], the number of hours that it would take me to complete, the difficulty of the terrain or how tired and exhausted that I felt. The words “I can” were part of vocabulary and not the words “I can’t.”

Believe me, there were plenty of opportunities during that long day to re-frame my thinking. Because I know, that negative ideas and/or negative thoughts create negative emotions which can affect behavior dramatically. It’s important to keep the ideas and thoughts positive or neutral at the worst, so that thinking and emotions do not get in the way of goal attainment. We know that perceptions and thoughts create our emotions. We also know that negative thoughts create negative emotions that can become automatic and can turn into self-defeating behaviors. We don’t want to have negative thoughts that distort the reality of what we want to accomplish and unravel and sabotage behavior.  Yes, there is power in how we think, and the words we employ that accompany our behavior.

More to follow

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

McDonald's, Burger King, Carl's Jr., etc. Are Killing Us

 Of the 2.4 million people that die yearly in the United States, the six leading causes of death include the following: 1. Heart disease 2. Cancer 3. COPD 4. Stroke 5. Accidents and 6. Alzheimer’s disease. Not only that, two thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese and about 20% of the people continue to smoke cigarettes causing another 45,000 deaths per year. Further, nearly 11,000 people per year are killed by drunk drivers in our country. And, our own lifestyle habits are the largest cause of morbidity. Many of these risky behaviors develop in childhood and adolescent and continue to be problematic throughout adulthood.

Let me repeat, our behavior is governed by that 3.3 or so pounds of brain located between our ears. I know it’s hard to believe that fact but it’s true. The federal government publishes nutritional recommendations called “My Plate chart” in which a plate is divided into four portions. About 25% of the plate is made up of proteins, 25% grains, 25% fruits and 25% vegetables. Latest studies show that only 2% of us eat in this healthy manner roughly 70% of the time. Of course, a lot of us eat vegetables, but really not the healthy ones. Instead, the most commonly eaten vegetable in our country is a potato and it’s usually in the form of French fries, or potato chips; while, the second most commonly eaten vegetable is a tomato and that usually eaten in the form of ketchup, pasta sauce or pizza sauce. While onions are the third most consumed vegetable, the fourth is iceberg lettuce, which has little nutritional value and is mostly water. So it’s obvious that our citizens engage in poor diet and nutrition decisions that generally start at a very early age.

Not surprising is that over two thirds of Americans don’t exercise regularly and yet 75% of us distort reality by believing they we are in fair to excellent physical condition. And exercise can be 30 to 60 minutes per day attaining 60 to 90% of maximum heart rate [220 bpm] minus age. For me, the number of beats per minute would be approximately 130 at 90%; 115 at 80%; 100 at 70% and 85 at 60%. And I easily accomplish the recommended beats per minute.

More recent studies suggest that sedentary people may benefit the most by starting to exercise. In fact, one study found that exercise is about as effective as drugs in preventing death, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Another study found that inactive people who increased their physical activity by just 15 minutes per day, reduced their risk of death by 14% and increased their life expectancy by 3 years. And for each additional 50 minutes of exercise per day, the risk of death was lowered by an additional 4%. Now of course if one has a healthy lifestyle and is healthy those numbers are appealing. However, if one has an unhealthy lifestyle, poor health and is he won my advice miserable, then why would they want to increase years of misery?

Remember that the hunters and gatherers averaged about 6 to 22 miles per day in their survival mode and consumed unprocessed, vitamin filled foods without pesticides. In other words, they exercised and eat healthier than us civilized types. If you want my advice, keep moving, smiling, laughing, bonding, loving and appreciating.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mental Toughness-Part 8

  As you can see, there are many components or aspects of this thing we call “mental toughness.” There are certainly more questions than answers to the question. In thinking and researching this topic, I decided and applied it to my 2002 Western States 100 mile one day trail run. I believe that I have elicited some of the motivational or psychological components that allowed me to be successful, while running this grueling event that summer day in June.  I refer to the following psychological ideas as principles and they are as follows:

1.       Achievement Goal. In order to accomplish a major feat, task or athletic competition, it’s important that one has a goal. With the goal, the individual is able to look ahead [to future] and plan the various steps necessary for its attainment. It’s important that the goal is concrete, as well as clearly defined. This not only means that the goal must be concrete, but it must be easily measured as well. In my case, my goal was to complete this 100 mile run. Either I completed it or I didn’t. In any case, it was clearly measurable. And, I was going to be either successful or not. There was no ambiguity regarding my task. Further, my goal had to be reasonable and attainable by me. I didn’t want to set up an unrealistic event as far as my athletic and mental abilities were concerned. Also, I had to have complete control over the outcome. The completion of this event was about my performance and my performance alone. My performance was not dependent on any one thing or anyone else. It was my brain, my lungs, my legs alone, etc.

While having a major goal, such as running 100 miles in one day, it was necessary for me to install many sub goals prior and along the way. To illustrate, that meant such tasks as  running the hills, increasing  stamina, running at night etc. or sub goals. It was also necessary for me to figure out hydration, nutrition, and electrolyte balances as well. Proper running shoes, wearing apparel, containers for water, etc. were also part of the program. I even ran a half marathon, one 50 K and two 50 mile running events as shorter or sub goals before my main event.

More to follow

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mental Toughness - Part 7

When it comes to understanding the neurobiology of pain, such elements as individual perception, activation of pain pathways, fight or flight response, neurotransmitters, opioids and hormones are involved in the process. Psychological factors such as depression, anger, grief, and loneliness are also important variables in understanding pain tolerances. Therefore, psychological health and the ability to work through these issues effectively likely play a significant part as well. Even the use of swear words help us to endure and deal with pain more effectively.  For instance, I have sworn a number of times while receiving a deep massage from the “Monster of Massage” in order to get ready for a future running event.

Many factors or explanations seem to be attributed to individuals who are successful in displaying this grit. It is my belief that I can present a model to provide understanding of this mental toughness drive, courage or perseverance. A working definition of ego strength [mental toughness] during a trail running event or some other activity is as follows: the ability of the individual to encounter and effectively deal with threat, conflict, frustration, discomfort, or stress with or without fear.

For me, there were and are plenty of times that I experienced discomfort, fatigue, or periods of exhaustion during a trail running event. Most recently, when I ran the Way Too Cool 50 K on March 7, 2015, and the temperature was higher on that date than any previous training run this past year. That along with inadequate hydration [uneven electrolyte balance] resulted in cramping of my legs and feet roughly after 18 to 20 miles in the run. Even though I loaded up on sodium and drank more water, at that point, it was too late. I did not have fun during the rest of the run. However, I was pleased that I kept on going despite painful conditions. I believed that I wasn’t going to die, and that my issue was only muscle tightening.

During that last 10 or 12 miles, I continued to persevere. I wanted to complete the 31 miles, and thought about mental toughness during the process. It was important for me to evaluate my goal, and complete this tough trail run. I knew that I would feel good and satisfied about my completion afterwards. And my prediction came true.

More to follow

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mental Toughness . Part 6

Does age or the aging process have anything to do with this particular drive [mental toughness]? Are there sex differences that differentiate between this drive? Is there a common thread between self-imposed or other imposed hardships as related to the drive? How do pain thresholds affect this drive? What about the importance of spirituality, religious conviction, or persistence as related to the drive? In other words, why is one individual, able to endure while others seem not able or capable? As you can see, their numerous questions or hypotheses that we can raise in exploring this concept that is commonly used to describe motivation as related to sports, politics or religious beliefs?

Even though my interest is primarily sports, there are certainly other examples of mental toughness outside of sports. Take a look at the countless number of returning war veterans or individuals who suffered some physical injury, loss of limbs, PTSD or other debilitating conditions. Courage or grit can be found with individuals born with congenital disease, such as poor eyesight, retardation, or some other physical impairment. We often marvel at their ability of someone with impairment or disability and their will to persevere and make the most out of their life.

An additional example regarding the mind-body connection comes from holistic psychology. Holistic bodywork practitioners hypothesize that our bodies incorporate and store ongoing psychological trauma. One way to relieve or exacerbate these stored hurts is through bodywork or deep massage. These practitioners illustrate their point when they work therapeutically on different body parts, and their patients express tears or emotional pain during this process. As a consequence, the interaction of the relationship to the mind-body cannot be overlooked in understanding the mental toughness drive.

More to follow.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mental Toughness- Part 5

Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the h hills; we shall never surrender” was the inspirational and about courage, will, and hope to a British nation under siege during World War II. He also said “If you’re going through hell, keep going. Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all others.” This quote has been replayed over and over and lives on because of its imperative meaning.

Motivational concepts of conscience, guilt, or simply doing the right thing versus doing the wrong thing; heroism, being responsible or loyal for your own men; the drive for new adventure or exploration of the unknown; or way of thinking differently in fighting for your life or survival, seem important in describing man’s motivation to endure-mental toughness. But that’s not all there is to mental toughness.

What about the athlete, young or old, who decides to run 100 miles, rows or paddles in extreme water conditions, bikes across America, swims the English Channel, kicks boxes, or competes in some extreme or ultra-event? In these sporting events, these individuals, push on and on despite physical exhaustion or emotional pain. What is that allows some of us to persevere or “grind it out” in these self-imposed competitions? Do we enter these competitions for the coveted buckle; for the temporary are long-lived fame; or some other ego related notion? It is clear that we do not do it for the money. Is this drive related to a certain type of personality or character structure development? Is the competitiveness drive hardwired into our brains; is there a correlation between certain successful or unsuccessful childhood experiences and the component of will; and if so what are they? Or, as Alfred Adler hypothesized that the ability to overcome and succeed is related to some physical or mental inferiority compensation.

More to follow.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mental Toughness -Part 4

Stephen Ambrose’s “Undaunted Courage” depicted Meriwether Lewis’s, expedition in the opening of the American West. Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame, dealt with many personal demons during and after this momentous journey. As you may know, Lewis suffered from depression, and died at an early age as a result of suicide. In Laura Hillenbrand’s,  bestseller “ Unbroken” ,she depicted Lieut. Louis Zamperini’s, an Olympic runner, experiences as a POW during World War II and his ability to withstand and persevere through various unbelievable and extreme torture ordeals handed out by the “Bird” and others while in Japanese  occupation. Louis’s release, difficulty with alcohol, anxiety and mental illness going from despair, to forgiveness, finding God, and leading a productive and fulfilling life demonstrate his grit and resourcefulness.

First, it is clear there is a mind-body connection. Not only is there simply a connection, there is a powerful relationship between what happens in our mind or brain and the effects on the physiology of our body. One example that illustrates this magnificent mind-body correlation was taken from Viktor Frankel’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning-An Introduction to Logotherapy.” In this book, Dr. Frankel tells the story of a prisoner, in Auschwitz, who had lost his faith in the future and as a result, believed his life was doomed. The story goes like this: a senior block Warden, who was a well-known composer confided to Dr. Frankel when he told him about his dream “A voice told me that I could wish for something that I should say only what I wanted to know, and all my questions would be answered. What do you think I asked? That, I would like to know when the war would be over for me. You know what I mean, Dr.-for me! I wanted to know when we, when our camp would be liberated and our sufferings come to an end.” Dr. Frankel asked “and when did you have this dream?” In February, 1945 “he answered. Dr. Frankel noted that it was then the beginning of March. Dr. Frankel “what did your dream voice answer?” He whispered to me, “March 30” when the prisoner told me about his dream, he was still full of hope, and convinced that the voice of his dream would be right. But as the promised date drew near, the war news, which reached our camp made it appear very unlikely that we would be free on the promised date. On March 29, the prisoner suddenly became ill and ran high temperature. On March 30, the day his prophecy had told him the war and suffering would be over for him, he became delirious and lost consciousness. On March 31, he was dead. To all outward appearances, he had died of typhus.” This dramatic and sad example illustrates how close and powerful the connection between the state of our mind and its resulting deadly effect on the state of our body. In this case we see the dramatic effects when the individual lost all courage and hope, and died.

More to follow. Continue to keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mental Toughness- Part 3

If learning comes into play, then we are talking about or referring to certain developmental factors, psychological principles or characteristics that likely play a significant part in the makeup of mental toughness or perseverance. However before we identify these principles, let’s take a look at some illustrations or examples of historical facts associated with perseverance or mental toughness.

There are numerous illustrations of mental toughness or perseverance found, in fairy tales, film, literature and history. Was in an unwelcome environment and was both physically and mentally abused by her envious stepsisters. She bit her lip, didn’t complain and endured anyway despite these obstacles. In the Passover story, we find the Hebrew people enduring unbelievable physical and/or mental hardships both before and then wandering in the desert during Moses’ 40 years of self-struggle. The Old Testament attributed the motivation; appear to be primarily related to removing the shackles of slavery, the drive for freedom, and the struggle to believe in one God and only one God.

Other descriptions of physical, mental hardships, like battling for independence in the American Revolution seem related to the drive for individual, economic, and religious freedom. Mental toughness or ego strength therefore seemed to have a motivational component in this process. Other examples of mental toughness found in literature include but not limited to the following: Jon Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage” illustrated politicians making difficult choices especially when confronted with disapproval by their colleagues and voters. In many cases, the politicians made decisions or choices that affected or ended their political careers. The critical choices made might be attributed to a moral conscience or more specifically Judeo-Christian principles. Kennedy’s own heroism, perseverance, loyalty, courage, and toughness are exhibited in his heartfelt PT 109 story. In the Pacific, during World War II, Kennedy was instrumental and went beyond the call of duty in saving his men during the fight with the Japanese. Kennedy, experienced mental toughness first-hand, and certainly was able to communicate about it effectively as well.

More to follow. In the meantime, keep moving, smiling, laughing, loving, bonding and appreciating.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mental Toughness-Part 2

What was it in the individual make up of Mohammed Ali, Joe Frazier, Marvin Haggler, or Sugar Ray Leonard that allowed them to gather up the strength and courage to succeed or win even when getting severely pummeled? Was it related to physical strength, grit, or the supportive nature of their mother, father, or both? Was this toughness inculcated in early and challenging circumstances during their childhood, or developmental years? Was this strength associated with a positive or negative history of overcoming trauma, illness or physical injury? Was this strength the result of the ability to withstand or tolerate pain? Could this inner strength be related to anxiety, and the ability to manage or deal with it effectively? Could it be related to the existence of a mental illness condition or absence thereof? Could it be that one’s perception of the circumstance affects the drive, the ability to suck it up, and to succeed during periods of extreme stress, and unthinkable conditions? Was it compensating for a physical, psychological, or emotional issue? What about the role of competitiveness, and the desire to succeed and dominate? Certainly there is a faith or belief that the present will end the future will be better. How might revenge enter in the character of the individual? Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive.

As we can see, their many questions; along with many hypotheses about this thing we call mental toughness. Is there a major artery that explains most of the story? Or, are there many veins that contribute to the enhancement to better explain or describe this idea?

More to follow. In the meantime, keep moving, smiling, laughing, loving, bonding and appreciating.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mental Toughness-Part 1

  Have you wondered, like I do, why some individuals are able to persist, persevere, or have the ability to proceed despite various known barriers or obstacles in their path? Some might refer to this as mental toughness or just plain perseverance. Just think a moment about the world of sports and some the accomplishments by such well-known names as Peyton Manning-overcoming physical injury, Sidney Crosby-his history of concussions, Tom Brady-his age, Michael Phelps- all his Olympic gold medals and Dana Torres-swimming accomplishments at her age. Athletes illustrate being able to push through and endure pain while still continuing their sport. Time and time again we view a tired, exhausted, injured, or out of breath, athlete not giving up but still persevering, regardless of the circumstances or the impairment. Even though only a movie, the Stallone “Rocky” film story depicts and illustrates what happens in athletic competition when a beat up and bloody Rocky all of a sudden finds inner strength to conquer and eventually defeat his opponent or foe. However, in real life, we have the real McCoy with the classic Mohammed Ali-Joe Frazier, or Marvin Haggler-Sugar Ray Leonard boxing matches, where each of them gets pummeled and bloodied round after round during their many fierce battles.

Of course, others like Steve Jobs with his cancer or Oprah Winfrey with her poverty also have demonstrated mental toughness or perseverance with their highly successful careers to say the least. It’s obvious that persistence and overcoming barriers is not limited to the athlete alone. Make no mistake about it that many individuals famous or not, in many walks of life, have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments and have overcome the odds. We can certainly call them mentally tough too.

It has taken me a while to have discovered, age plays a role, in what it takes to have achieved and have accomplished at extreme levels. It is also become obvious to us that some people seem to have what it takes-mental toughness, while in others it appears to be lacking. It is also clear that mental toughness cannot be simply explained by genetics or heredity alone. Once again it’s that old nature versus nurture paradigm that comes into play. I believe the development of mental toughness or perseverance is obviously related to nature, nurture, culture and environment. It is also true, that means that learning plays a significant part and is associated with its development.

Stay tuned as more to follow. In the meantime, keep moving, smiling, laughing, bonding, loving and appreciating.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Better Anti-aging Decisions

It’s safe to say that people in the United States would not only like to feel younger, but would also like to have a terrific quality of life. What good would it be to be able to live to 100, but not to be able to fully participate either mentally and/or physically? I would like to be able to age productively while being mentally and physically engaged in life.

In order to continue to live and function productively, I must make certain decisions since there are intended or unintended consequences that correlate. This means that I have to be aware and knowledgeable of anti-aging medicine. There’s information available regarding nutrition. Aside from making a difference in aging, a diet is one cornerstone to our health. A good diet, among other things can decrease risk of cancer, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis, senility and depression.

If you have trouble believing that information, it’s likely related to your character and way of thinking. If you have narcissistic character trait issues, that information can be distorted in many ways. Cognitive Dissonance theory states that we would distort the information by not believing and/or distorting the data in some way. One could also distort, downplay or deny their eating behavior could result in developing   some illness or medical condition. One might also rationalize that by “cheating” this one time won’t make a difference.

Other ways that sabotages personal behavior patterns include frequently going out to restaurants, etc. for meals. We should all know by now that the main motive of the restaurant owners is for profit, and not necessarily about whether not the food is healthy for you. Restaurant portions are large; we don’t have information about chemicals and preservatives used; the health and cleanliness of the preparers and food servicers; and when the last government kitchen inspection occurred.

We also know that diet and food is emotionally charged. It is more than a source of nutrition. It also is a source of comfort, symbol of love, recreational pastime, and a connection to family and community. It is not surprising, that individuals in this country are becoming more huge in size; that there are a variety of many diets; many people fall  off the wagon; and a great number of people  do not seem to have the will or grit. So, personality, irrational thinking, and poor decision-making, contribute to the epidemic “unhealthy” in our country.

In essence, take a good hard look in the mirror and ask, “Am I doing the best I can to ensure the likelihood of my living a full and healthy life?” If the answer is “I can do better” that would be a good start.

In the meantime, keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Better Health Can Be a Goal

I read in a January 17, 2014 edition of The Wall Street Journal that American diets have improved by 6.4 trillion fewer calories in 2012 than in 2007. This number breaks down to a reduction of 78 calories per person per day. However, if you wanted to lose some weight, one would need to eliminate at least 350 calories a day, from diet.

In order to improve one’s health, the following are three suggestions taken from March/April 2015 edition of Double Runner Magazine. Do you realize that Xanthohumol [found in beer] might be able to prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, act as an anti-inflammatory agent, and treat menopausal symptoms and obesity? In a 2014 study, this flavonoid actually improved a group of young mice’s ability to navigate a water maize after ingesting this compound. I’ll bet there are volunteers willing to participate in a human study to test to determine if beer can improve their cognitive functioning.  Any volunteers?

Israeli scientists studied whether or not diet sodas cause obesity. In their published study, they found that artificial sweeteners alter the composition of bacteria in the G.I. tracks of mice. This in turn altered the way mice digest food.  The mice became intolerant to glucose which lead to elevated blood glucose levels and other pre-diabetes factors linked to weight gain. Probably, we would find volunteers to participate in a diet soda human study. Personally, I would rather volunteer for the beer study than for the diet soda one.

At one time, people believed that a steady heart rate was a sign of a healthy body. However, in a more recent study, the authors believed that there should be beat variability in beat to beat time. They believe that heartbeat variability is a sign of good health and fitness and the loss of that heart variability indicates the bodies, fatigue, or stress. In their study, they had five healthy athletes exercise on stationary bikes. The researchers found that the body must make constant adjustments to maintain oxygen flow to the brain and to skeletal muscle during exercise. This means that  increased  blood pressure is good since without  increasing blood pressure, that would likely cause brain damage. So employ a heart rate monitor to determine if you have heart rate variability during exercise. The loss of heart rate durability during exercise indicates there is a problem so check it out.

If you are eating less, then that’s a good sign. You now have information about beer, diet sodas and your heart. If only having the correct information was enough for better health. Consider, having a goal of reaching better health. What comes to mind is as following quote: "The tragedy in life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach."
– Benjamin Mays

In any event, keep moving, smiling, laughing, loving, bonding and appreciating along the way.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cuddling Is Good

Should You Cuddle?

By now we should all know that there are problems with getting a good night’s sleep in the United States. There are many reasons given, and many suggestions as well. Briefly, one question that could be raised “Is it healthier to sleep with a loved one or to sleep by yourself?” You may have heard the following complaints: 1.You have all the sheets/covers 2. Quit snoring 3. Having hot flashes 4. Turn off the TV 5. Turn down the TV 6. Open the window, etc. etc. etc.

Historically, going back to the days of the caveman, individuals had little clothes and slept naked. So one way to stay warm was to sleep alongside someone else. So that made sense, along with providing a little more protection from predators and outsiders since two is stronger than one. Well, in our present day society, we have blankets, more sturdy sleeping dwellings, alarm detectors etc. We’re not likely to be attacked and we have additional sources for heat.

But guess what, there are some reasons to spoon. Oxytocin the so-called love hormone is released during many types of touching, including cuddling. And increased oxytocin helps the body relax, reduces blood pressure and promotes healing. Not only has that, cuddling resulted in increased emotional feelings related to affection, security and love. If you’ve ever had a fight before going to bed, I’ll bet that interfered with spooning that evening. And, I’ll bet you didn’t sleep as well that night. Every time, it’s better to make up as quickly as possible and to spoon.

In fact, a recent study demonstrated a link between the quality of sleep and the couple’s daytime interactions. For men,   better sleep resulted in smoother daytime interactions with their spouse. When a woman had less negative interactions with their husbands during the day that led to more restful sleep at night for her.

And don’t forget, that is not uncommon for people and/or families from different cultures and different countries to sleep together. And in the early part of our last century, families with many children slept together. It’s only been since the 50s and 60s, that three and four bedroom homes have been marketed to the baby boomer generation. In any event, spooning is recommended for a number of benefits including better sleep.

In addition to forget to keep moving, smiling, laughing, bonding, loving and appreciating.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Math Made Easy

"Let me listen to me and not to them."
– Gertrude Stein

As early as I can remember, there has been a concern about inner-city kids. They perform poorly in school, [Low graduation rates] become associated with drugs, alcohol, crime and poverty. Schools within our society, for many reasons, have not solved the problem. There have been many programs such as Head Start and different teaching curriculums that have not made enough significant differences. In fact, some economists have stated that schools should be more pragmatic in their educational approach. The objectives should help kids keep out of trouble and teach them practical skills [whatever that means] to help them enter the labor market. They added that launching programs towards 4 year college degrees on a large scale is costly and would be ineffective.

Recently, neuroscience research believes that adolescence is a period of tremendous neuroplasticity. This means that the brain has the potential to change through experience. That suggests that we perhaps should look at creative programs at the high school level.

There is a program in Chicago called Match. This program is designed to deal with the following problems: 1.The average reading and math scores of eighth grade black boys are barely higher than those in fourth grade white girls. Further, Latino boys scored only marginally better. 2. Only 57% of young black men and 62% of young Latino men graduate from high school in four years, compared to 79% of young white men. 3 . In Chicago, these 16-year-old teenagers were as many as 7 years behind in reading -10 years behind in math, compared to third graders. 4. Nearly a fifth of these students had arrest records.

Simply put, the Match program is a tutoring program. Each tutor, recent college graduate, works with two students by individualizing instruction and maybe more importantly, by becoming advocates, friends, role models, and, in a positive sense, big brother like. The results have been spectacular. Not only have the students improved significantly in math, but in their other subjects as well. Their grades have improved, their study habits improved and a love for learning has been nurtured.

These Match tutors are paid roughly $16,000 year plus benefits. The program costs about $3800 a year for each student. By comparison, New York City spends more than $20,000 per student, and even more in schools serving poor neighborhoods. Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to expand the program and reportedly stated “what this shows is, never throw the towel in on the kids,” and added what’s happening in Chicago shows that without breaking the bank, the lives of adolescents can be turned around.”

There is no question in my mind that learning and education are keys to success. They are not guarantees. But they do open more doors. I know we have solutions to these problems. However, the motivation or will seems to get lost. Shame on us. Article found in the February 1, 2015 edition of  The New York Times.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Are You Feeling Lonely?

How many of you are aware that loneliness is on the rise in our country? In 1980, there were perhaps 20% of Americans reported being lonely. Currently that statistic has doubled to about 40%. Further, a study done at Brigham Young University, involving 300,000 participants found that loneliness was a strong predictor of early death along with alcoholism, smoking 15 cigarettes a day, obesity, and/or a sedentary lifestyle. In other words, loneliness is detrimental to your health and well-being. Furthermore, loneliness is different from depression [which is a mood disorder]. Depression can be treated with drugs, while loneliness can’t.

 Contributing factors of the loneliness issue are likely the result of the increasing percentage of one-person households. In the 1970 US Census Bureau, there were 17% of one-person households and now in 2012 that figure has risen to 27% [it’s the baby Boomer generation]. Perhaps another contributor to loneliness is the rapid increase and easy access to electronics and computer like instruments [emails, texting, social media platforms etc.] in the old days, there was an opportunity for more face-to-face interaction. Face-to-face interaction is also a better way to communicate.

So if you’re concerned with feeling social isolation or dissatisfaction with your relationships then you likely fit this category  of feeling alone or lonely. Do you do better with face-to-face interactions or connecting with some group? Taking inventory might be a good first start to determine the next step. In addition, it’s important to possibly reframe your thoughts. Obviously thinking to yourself that “I’m alone, nobody likes me; everyone hates me” is not beneficial to your health. It’s much better to acknowledge feeling alone and then to change behavior or behaviors. And remember that certain things like reading, hiking, running, swimming, are obviously positive ways to spend alone time. Whatever you do, and I mean whatever, employing moderation strategies are appropriate. Just define moderation selectively.

Do not forget my health prescriptions include: keep moving, smiling, laughing, bonding, loving and appreciating. And if you follow that you will likely be okay. Today’s source was the November 5, 2013 edition of the Wall Street Journal.


Tony joined me in last Saturday’s Jed Smith 50 K trail run. The highlight was going to Baskin-Robbins and Starbucks for treats. This Saturday, I am joining Tony on the Western States trail run.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tom Brady, Malcolm Butler, and Russell Wilson Might Have Contributed to a Higher Death Rate in Seattle

Did the Death Rate Rise with the Seattle Seahawks Fans?

There is research that examines what happens in the bodies of fans watching big, important sporting events [The Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2013]. The research evaluates what happens to the individual in a close loss or blowout victory. The findings so far suggests that fans tend to drive more pleasure from a close loss than from a blowout win. In other words, with less certainty, there’s greater suspense and greater enjoyment even if fans are disappointed by the outcome. The nail-biting endings make games worth watching. In other words, fans expressed disappointment when their home team lost, but there was no statistical difference in enjoyment, regardless of who won. Enjoyment comes from the close nature of the event itself.

Interestingly, in 2009 when the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl over the Arizona Cardinals, there were 25% fewer circulatory heart related deaths [in the Pittsburgh area]   than average for the next eight days. Other research found when the New York  Giants defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl of 2008,  the number of circulatory heart related deaths in Massachusetts rose by 20% over the next eight days.

In another study, there were more auto related deaths in cities were the home college and pro football and basketball teams had just won by a close margin   [  there  could be as many as 8% of the fans legally drunk after the game]. Possibly, the fans might release more testosterone the hormone responsible for aggression during those nail biters. Afterward, the happy fans testosterone goes up, while the losers drops.

In another study individuals who identified most strongly as fans released the most cortisol and were the most stressed, partly because they had no actual control. Powerless fans may also find themselves losing self-control. After a loss, the ability to say no to a giant plate of food diminishes. After a victory fat consumption goes down by 9% and overall calorie consumption by 5%.

According to the research, when something good happens to you in your life, you’re more future oriented. So when you have good news, you are good to yourself and want to keep feeling good, and likely it will increase your motivation to follow your diet, exercise, visiting the gym etc. Feeling bad elevates short-term goals like looking for food for comfort.

The research suggests that those individuals with more positives going on in their lives are probably more likely to eat better and to exercise more efficiently. Like I say, when you keep moving, smiling, laughing, loving, bonding and appreciating you’re more likely to be future oriented and have goal like behavior ahead of you.


I enjoyed the New England Patriot-Tom Brady victory so much. I think I would have enjoyed it if it was a blowout as well. Further, I’m running, the Jed Smith 50 K this coming Saturday. Tony plans to be there to pace me.  I’m looking forward to it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Do You Have Enough Sex in Your Life ?

One economist [New York Times, January 25, 2015] looked at various sources in attempt to answer the question “How much sex are we having?” He looked at information from The General Social Survey, and Google searches. He believes that we are lacking reliable data as people tend to lie about sex. For example, this young man calculated the number of sex acts per year of both heterosexual men and heterosexual women that indicated they used a condom. According to his calculations, over 2.6 billion condoms were used. Then he went to the manufacturers and found that about 600 million condoms were sold each year. These numbers puzzled him.

Then, he looked at data from Google searches. The top complaint about marriage was related to not having sex. Googling “sexless marriage” had three and half times as many more searches    than searching for “unhappy marriage.” He also found there were 16 times more complaints about a spouse, not wanting sex than about a married partner, not willing to talk. In addition there were 5 ½ times more complaints about an unmarried partner, not wanting sex, compared to an unmarried partner refusing to text back.

This economist, then looked at fears related to sex. The data showed that men make more searches and have more questions about their sexual organs than any other body part. And, one of the most common questions that men Google pertained to penis size.  Women rarely Googled penis size. In fact, for every search a woman makes about the man’s organ, men make roughly 170 searches more. When a woman does go to the Internet, the data showed that more than 40% of the female’s complaint was about their partner’s penis size being too big and pain was most commonly googled word.

Another major concern for men was how to make their sexual encounters longer. Interestingly women most common concerns were related to their boyfriend’s orgasm and wonder why it wasn’t happening at all. Employing an anonymous, aggregate web activity, interest in beauty and fitness were 42% male; weight loss 33% male and cosmetic surgeries 39% male. There were more than 7 million searches looking into breast implants and about 300,000 women go through it annually. Beginning in 2010 bigger butts were on the minds of women. Women like men have questions about their genitals, but their concerns were more health-related. For example, women want to know how to shave it, tighten it and make it taste better.

One major problem in looking at Google searches is the attempt to generalize the findings. Clearly, this information is not gathered from a valid sample of men and women. In the universe, in order to take a random sample, one has to do just that. Google information is not just a random sample nor is it a representative universe. So if you’re reading this information, you probably have a certain motive. You are not chosen at random to take part in the study. However, the data is interesting to say the least. And maybe the economist is correct in that he can’t get reliable and valid information regarding sexual encounters.

Are you getting enough sex? If not, maybe, you need to keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ask Paul Simon About leaving Your Lover

Self-Reflection, Emotions and Breaking Up There was an article in The New York Times, January 18, 2015 that gave an example of the best way to get over a breakup. A psychology professor and graduate student evaluated the self-reflection of 210 individuals ranging in age from 17 to 29 who had recently broke up with her partners. In one group, the individuals filled out a questionnaire pertaining to emotional feelings and then completed a four minute assignment in which they were asked to talk into a recording device and give responses to various questions that pertained to self-evaluation at intervals of 3, 6, and again at 9 weeks.

   The second group filled out the questionnaire at the beginning, as well as the end of the nine week exercise. Then, they did the speaking exercise only once after filling out their final questionnaire. Thus, the first group were given more opportunities to think and to mull over their responses regarding self on three separate occasions. It is suggested that these pertinent questions, assisted, these individuals into insights into their character.

   The researchers found that the first group experienced greater improvements in self-concept clarity [the degree to which you understand yourself as a person]. Briefly, the difference or explanation given by the researcher was that the speaking exercise helped people because it changed their thinking about their sense of self that was independent and separate of their former partner. This researcher thought that getting back a sense of self after breakup was extremely crucial.

   Perhaps another variable not measured might account for the differences in self-concept clarity. Given an opportunity to think about self might have changed an individual’s thinking. Learning, reflecting and thinking that the world is not coming to an end and that one can spend their time differently and productively can add to defining self. I agree that the sense of self is a very important variable and how thinking can change perception of self. The key is separation, individuation or a separate and independent self from partner. Otherwise, symbiotic attachments and other unhealthy components like dependency can surface and be suffocating.
    Thus, looking at the change [process] in thinking might provide more clues as to breakup efficiency. Further, it would be interesting to look at different character types to assess if some individuals can better utilize the self-reflection or emotional tool.

   Paul Simon’s 1975 song “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” alludes to this research. For example, let’s take a look at some of the lyrics: “the problem is all inside your head” she said to me….. I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free….. Make a new plan, Stan…… Just get yourself free…… These lines of the Simon song acknowledge that the problem is in your head, which relates to thinking and perception of self. I’ d like to help you in your struggle to be free , suggests the struggle for separation and individuation while make a new plan gets one thinking about other ways to live and do things with their life. Just get yourself free again is to remove dependency issues by becoming separate emotionally.

 While this is going on, keep smiling, laughing, bonding, loving and appreciating.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

How to Fast, Effectively

I think many of us believe that fasting is a good thing. An article in the January 18, 2015 edition of The New York Times Magazine had an article about two different studies with mice. Perhaps, you might apply this to your own eating habits. And in the process, rethink about dieting.

Essentially, researchers at the Salk Institute had mice eating in different patterns. For example, they had some mice eating high-fat food whenever they wanted; and other mice had the same diet, but could only eat during an eight hour time window. And none of the mice exercised. In this study, the mice that ate at all hours grew chubby and unwell with symptoms of diabetes. However, the mice on the eight hour schedule gained little weight and developed no metabolic problems.

In the other study, Salk researchers fed groups of adult male mice, one of four diets: [1. High-fat 2. High fructose 3.  High-fat and high sucrose 4 regular mouse kibble. Even though the choleric intake for all mice was the same, some were allowed to eat whatever they wanted in their waking hours while others were restricted to 9,12 or 15 hours of eating. The findings were: mice eating at all hours were generally obese and metabolically ill. But mice eating within a 9 or 12 hour window remained sleek and healthy, even if they cheated occasionally on the weekend. So in other words, time restricted eating prevented obesity.

These researchers believe that mealtimes effects circadian rhythms. This result influences the genes that involve metabolism. Whether or not their explanation is fully understood, the results speak for themselves. Just think, if you eat your last meal around 5 PM in the evening and then your breakfast is around 7:30 AM, you will have fasted 14 ½ hours. And just think if you do that, five days a week. And this is without exercise. Just think if you add exercise to this program?

In the process, keep moving, laughing, smiling, loving, bonding and appreciating.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Josh Barro, Economics and Working Out

How many of you have ever had a gym membership? And if you had one, for how long did you attend? Further, did you get your money’s worth from that membership? There are economists and corporations attempting to figure out how to get people to continue their attendance and workouts because of the high discontinued or failure rates. Studies have shown that people discontinue in great numbers. Just think what a gym facility would be like, if everyone attended. It would not be fun, as you’d likely be waiting for that machine or free weight.

Economists have come up with incentives to see if they can motivate people to continue their workouts. Certainly paying for a gym membership upfront doesn’t seem to work. One study gave undergraduates free iPods loaded with audiobooks of their choice. The students were told they could listen to them only at the gym. Initially, that worked for a while [for about seven weeks]. In another study, with a Fortune 500 company, the employees were paid $10 per visit up to three times a week to work out. Then after four weeks there were no payments but the workers were offered a contract. The contract set aside their own money that would be released to them only if they worked out over the next two months. Otherwise, that money would be given to charity. Those that had commitment contracts worked out after three years [about 20% worked out more than those that hadn’t been offered cash or any other incentive.] So, this worked for 20% of those employees. The researchers concluded that self-funded payments seem to be able to change workout habits for some people. The New York Times, January 11, 2015.

For me, an iPod; $10 per visit; or some commitment contract in and of itself would likely not work. I like goals. My goal has to be relevant, concrete, and attainable by me alone and easily measured. For example, for the last 12 or more years, my goal has been to run at least 50 miles per week. That week could be one to seven days [this week I ran over 50 miles in five days]. I decide where to run and what day to run. All I have to do is total the number of miles per day. If I’m ill, or go on vacation then I don’t worry about my mileage total that week.

That goal has been relatively “easy” to attain. Since it’s a sub goal for competing in some running, riding event, or for my physical and mental health. The running goal is also related to running and competing with friends. In essence, running meets a number of motives [Often I clear my head, while running, and even write a post in my mind.] Running for just an iPod or money does not appeal to me.  It’s been said that if you enjoy something, it’s better than having to make money while doing it. I agree.

Don’t forget to keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating in the process.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Islamist Gangs are Racist,Criminals and Murderers

   Racist Islamist Gangs are  a Group of Criminals and Murderers
 I am disappointed to say the least in how our media portrays today’s so-called terrorists. They refer to these groups of people as radical Islamists and misinterpret their motivation. And of course, when a terrorist or racist thug mentions God or Allah that reinforces this incorrect and misguided motivational label. Since when is Islam a religion of hate, sadism, and/or sadomasochism? And since when does Mohammed preach the opposite of love? Further, how can Allah be so  dull , imperceptible and ignorant when it comes to satire, Charlie Hebdo cartoons and/or comedians? Allah is likely loving, judgmental, smart and all-knowing when it comes to current affairs.

If Allah were alive, Allah would not be upset, angry and want revenge when it comes to a mere cartoon or someone making a joke about religion in today’s world. Certainly, Christ or the Hebrew God Elohim would not reinforce or feel good about killing a journalist or Solomon Rushdie for writing about or critiquing the religion of Islam.

Many of these thugs hide behind the religion of Allah. These ruffians are not about love or living a life with human connections or brotherhood. These racist criminals are not about making a better world for all. Many of these racist criminals are unconnected, have little social skills, and simply cannot take part in society today. They are fooling themselves about who they really are. Certainly, unemployment, poverty, income inequality and lack of social mobility affects many and contribute to their stress and not fitting in well in society.

If we peel away, their talk about Allah or their hateful prayers, what do we find at the unconscious level? We find evil, hate, sadomasochism and a life without generativity [Guiding the next generation in creativity and productivity]. The pretense of religion allows these misguided souls to act out their unconscious character structure. They misuse religion. It allows them, unconsciously if you will, to mask who and what they are.

And so the press buys in to what they say, instead of focusing on their behavior. The key is not what they say but what they do. We are not defined, as humans, by words. Instead, it’s our behavior that tells the story about our values and our character structure. We love by our ability to love others   or we kill by killing others [Revenge], and rationalize the act. This criminal behavior is clearly destructive and hateful to others with the cruel beheadings and to self with suicidal behaviors [Fighting it out with the police, or blowing oneself up with a bomb]. They seek out other gangs such as Hezbollah etc.  that have the same or similar negative character types. [Grossly selfish, callus, irresponsible, unable to feel guilt, low frustration tolerance and blame others for their behavior.] They are dangerous gangs of racist criminals and make no mistake about it. Let’s call them what they are- racist criminals and murderers and their motivational cause is hate.

Friday, January 9, 2015

When Swearing Is Good for You

  When Swearing Is Needed or Necessary

In the December 10-11, 2011 Wall Street Journal, there was a summary about dealing with pain. Pain is frequently encountered, especially as we age. Of course, we don’t have to age to experience pain. And we also know that there are levels or degrees of pain. Just go into a doctor’s office and the nurse will likely ask you to, on a scale of 1-10, rate your pain level.

About a month ago, my wife Linda had her second knee replacement. So the study that follows seemed pertinent. In this study, 71 undergraduates held their hand in a container of near freezing water for as long as they could. The variable studied was the use of obscene or offensive swear words. In other words, would swearing activate, fight or flight responses that have been known to release opiates?

In this research, swearing helped nearly ¾ of the students deal with pain. In other words, they endured the test for a longer period of time [Average length of time improvement was 31 seconds or about 50% over non-swears].

 I suggested to Linda that she start swearing when she was experiencing pain related to her surgery. Initially, she had difficulty using cuss words. At first, when I reminded her, she would say or give a word without much enthusiasm or conviction. As I continued coaching and/ or reminding her over time, she improved somewhat. For her, when experiencing the pain, swearing didn’t come immediately to her mind.

Linda had to practice swearing so that her reaction became more immediate, more credible or believable. So, it’s not clear if swearing can help reduce her pain. Another idea about confronting pain, is to re-frame thinking. Instead of calling it pain, refer to it as discomfort. By re-framing, one can then think about the discomfort differently as the associations associated with discomfort are very different than the associations associated with pain. Hopefully, perception will allow you to think differently about the workings of your body and yourself.

Next time you’re having difficulty or when things aren’t working properly, consider swearing and re-framing. Like everything, practice can make it better.In the meantime, keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Collecting and Hoarding

 Am I just collecting or am I hoarding? Do you know anyone that collects animals, i.e. cats; clothing, books, magazines, newspapers or some other mixture of items? Do you know anyone who engages in excessive buying that often creates a financial strain? Do you know anyone that has difficulty discarding their possessions? Do you know anyone that creates clutter in their living room, in their bedroom, in their garages, making it difficult to find a place to sit down? When shopping the hoarder likes to touch and handle things and has difficulty walking away and controlling that urge to possess and buy. Perhaps this individual is aging and also seems to invite you less and less into their home. In any event, there are other characteristics of hoarding.

According to Erich Fromm, the hoarding character is orderly and stingy with things, thoughts and feelings. The person has difficulty dealing with things that seem to be out of place. And only he can put them in order, which means the person controls the space. Irrational punctuality and/or compulsive cleanliness are other behaviors that allow the person to control time and things. This orderly individual is generally not overly clean, but could be actually dirty. And this person, often prevents anything from leaving the living space by saving. For the individual that saves, it is like fortifying his home, garage [Fortress]. And of course, that person is also stubborn and often obstinate.

This character trait allows the individual to employ possession as a means of security, or feeling safe in a dangerous world. If you possess it, you control it. Then it’s yours and yours alone. In essence we are talking about employing possession to control an irrational or dangerous world.

So if you know a collector or hoarder, you might consider suggesting professional help. And that task often presents a problem for the helper.

One might ask, what does this have to do with health and well-being?  More than likely this psychological character trait can get in the way of productivity and relationships which interferes with maximizing growth. In other words, this trait get in the way and limit one’s life. If your orientation is for hoarding , it’s the antithesis of health.

Moving, laughing, smiling, loving, bonding and appreciating is a healthier way to orient yourself to the world.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Resilience and DNA

An article in the November 30, 2014 edition of the New York Times brings to mind the Nature-Nurture argument. Simply put, is man more or less controlled by his nature or DNA [Machiavelli, John Locke] versus nurture- the conditioning within society [Rousseau]?   More recently, the nature idea was put in place in the 30s with Nazism and their supposedly superiority of race.

In this article, the question of whether or not positive interventions like preschool helps all children equally. In reality, some children seem more delicate, and appear to have it more difficult if exposed to stress and deprivation, but do better when given a lot of support and care. Others, it appears seem to be more resilient to the negative aspects of their environment and appear not to benefit much from positive experiences and support.  Research is attempting to differentiate which children should be given help and which children should not be given assistance. This has implications for state, local and federal funding. Who would argue to give assistance to children if they do not benefit from it?

 The research, in question, was designed to determine and identify which children are more susceptible to both negative and positive interventions. This research looked at the genetic makeup of children. Research findings suggested that people who carry certain variations of short alleles of the gene 5-HTTL PR [this gene transports serotonin] has been linked to depression. While long alleles of the dopamine receptor gene, DRD 4 have been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnoses. And children who carry either or both of these genes appear to be the most adversely affected by negative experiences and seem to benefit most from supportive ones. While children, who don’t have either of these genes, seem relatively immune to the effects of both supportive and unsupportive environments.

The question: Should our society seek to identify by DNA these most susceptible children and target them with special programs?

Watching the movie Hidalgo, while on the elliptical, got me thinking about this particular article. In the movie, Frank T. Hopkins, played by Vigo Mortensen, rode his Mustang Hidalgo in a 3000 mile horse race against pure blooded Arabian horses. In the movie, the theme was that the bloodline of the Bedouin riders horses were superior and unequaled [nature]. However, Hopkins challenged that notion and talked about the will of man [nurture], and the will of the horse.
As an equestrian, we always talk about both the breeding of the horse and the heart of the horse. That distinction refers to the characteristics of that horse, but also the bonding that takes place between man and animal. And we sometimes think that the horse is either going to protect us [nurture] or run until it drops because that horse doesn’t want to let us down.

For me, I believe there is an interaction and relationship between nature and nurture. I have a younger brother, [5 years] and younger sister [10 years]. They are highly intelligent and competitive, especially when it comes to education and career. My brother is a physician and my sister a CEO headhunter of information technology. We all had the same parents, actually attended the same elementary, high school and universities [Wayne State and the University Michigan]. One could make a strong argument for DNA similarities.

However, I excel in sports and health and am in superior physical condition compared to both of my siblings. I don’t know how much variation in the DNA there is between us, but I do know mental toughness differentiates us. I am not ready, at this juncture, to rely solely on DNA differences to start subgrouping either people or children.


Tony, Randall, and I ran the 10 mile trail run event on New Year’s Day. Tony, believes his completion time was similar to last year. This year’s run was a little longer and more challenging than in the previous 5 years. I’m not convinced that I ran faster than last year, but I do believe I ran well and am pleased to start the New Year In my present condition.
As I say, keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating for 2015.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Few 2014 Memories

Hello 2015

Goodbye 2014 and hello 2015. Looking back at this past year, there have been many highlights. Since I’m into health, I am pleased to report that my Achilles discomfort has just been practically eliminated. This means that I’ve taken very little ibuprofen or Advil this past year.  I ran a 10 mile trail run; two 50 K trail runs; 2 marathon trail runs; a half marathon trail run and a 10 K competitively. During the 50-52 week calendar year, I put in on average, 50 miles of running with some elliptical thrown in per week. My conditioning has been fine.

My recent book Bo’s Warriors-Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football was released in September. Linda and I went back to Michigan for the initial book launch for book signings and interviews with the players interviewed in the book.

Mike Keller, Fritz Seyferth, Reggie McKenzie, Linda Gusich and her two sons, Jim Brandstatter [the Duke] and his wife, Jim Betts, and his wife, Thom Darden and his wife, and many others were met at the Big House. Mike, Fritz, the Duke, Jim and Thom were involved in the book signings. Jim Betts, and Mike Keller and the Duke accompanied me at a Michigan alumni presentation in Ann Arbor, were we shared the stage with Michigan’s football coach Brady Hoke.

Jim Betts and Mike Keller accompanied me on a radio interview, and another radio interview on the Jim Brandstatter -Brady Hoke radio show. The time, in Ann Arbor was great and filled with fun memories. Prior to going Ann Arbor, my wife, Linda and I traveled to Charlevoix, Michigan [close to the Mackinac Bridge] for a family reunion with cousins and family. That was good to reconnect with the Detroit family. We have reunions every 1 to 2 years. In 2015 we are likely to meet in Ann Arbor.

I am pleased that I’ve been able to maintain trail running along with the book promotion. Likely, 2015 will be more of the same. With the Jim Harbaugh, hiring as Michigan’s new football coach, the year could be very exciting. Jim Harbaugh played for Bo Schembechler and was coached by Gary Moeller, among others. The University of Michigan family is intact and well-connected.

On New Year’s Day, I am running the 10 mile trail run with Randall and Tony. After, we will party and my home. In the meantime, Go Blue; keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, appreciating and loving.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Finding the Edge

 Looking for the Edge

 Athletes are competitors looking for that edge. The advantage could be found in diet, training methods, the latest piece of equipment or some other man-made creation. Just ask Alex Rodriguez, Lance Armstrong, Mark McGuire, or even South African cyclist Daryl Impey about their secrets. Mr.Impey purchased some pills (sodium bicarbonate or baking soda. During intense exercise, the acidity of your blood increases and eventually interferes with muscle contractions and baking soda neutralizes this rising acidity) from a pharmacist to boost his performance on the Tour de France. Later, the authorities announced that he had tested positive for probenecid, which is a substance sometimes used to mask the presence of other drugs. As it turned out, the pharmacist said that he did sell him the capsules and used a pill counter that was contaminated from selling probenecid to a previous customer. Fortunately, Mr. Impey was exonerated.

Other illustrations of looking for the edge Include the following: 1. The ancient Greek athletes ate hallucinogenic mushrooms; 2. The Tarahumara of northern Mexico ingested peyote; 3.  The 1904 Olympic marathon winner, Thomas Hicks, had his doctor dosing him , while running, with a small mixture of brandy and strychnine [a stimulant, but in safe  amounts].

 In the 20s, drugs began to be used more frequently, and was considered to be negative to sport. And in 1928, the anti-doping authorities created list of banned substances. They’re constantly updated to deal with the new wave of drugs such as steroids in the 60s and 70s and hormones such as EPO in the late 80s.

Examples of other aids used to enhance performance Include: 1. Creatine -the muscle builder that increases energy stores available for short-term all-out efforts. 2. Pseudophedrine the decongestant over-the-counter medication like Sudafed (a stimulant). 3. Caffeine, which fights mental fatigue, and also affect muscle contraction and metabolism 4. Tylenol which boosts endurance performance by 2% 5.  Beet juice which has the same nitrates found in hot dogs. Nitrates are converted with the help of bacteria in saliva into nitric oxide, which enables muscles to use less oxygen when contracted and by estimates, increase performance by 2%. 6. Viagra and even hornet larva extract. Check out the research.  7. Move to Kenya or the rarefied air of Colorado because it boosts red blood cell, or sleep in a deep pressurized tent that simulates thin mountain air.

If you’re competing in a sport regulated by the World Anti-Doping Agency, their code includes the following no-no’s. 1. If the substance enhances performance; 2. If it carries a potential health risk and 3. If it violates the spirit of the sport. The spirit of the sports says that we should play by the rules. Remember when McGuire, Canseco, Sosa and other players used, or when Lance Armstrong said the same. Regarding the cyclists, they were punished because they lied about its use. The lying seemed to be a major issue. It may even overshadowed the “spirit of the sport.”

If you can afford it, move to Colorado, or to Kenya. If not, you have caffeine, beet juice, baking soda or even Tylenol available at your nearest supermarket.

Or be like Tony, he had a few months off from running and he developed a head cold. Did these aids assist him, in running over 15 minutes faster than he did in last year’s 50 K at this time?

In any event, keep moving, laughing, smiling, loving, bonding and appreciating. Source found in the New York Times, November 30, 2014.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Jim Harbaugh's Midlife Crisis

 Jim Harbaugh’s Midlife Crisis

Jim Harbaugh is presently the head football coach of the San Francisco 49ers. For the past month or so, the media has been reporting that Jim Harbaugh is out as far as the San Francisco 49ers are concerned for 2015. The media has also reported that Jim is being recruited for a head coach coaching position by the University of Michigan and the Oakland Raiders.

Jim was an All-American quarterback for the University Michigan back in the late 80s. Jim’s first NFL coaching position, as quarterback coach, was for the Oakland Raiders, in 2002. Jim also attended high school in both Ann Arbor and Palo Alto. He was even head coach for the Stanford Cardinals prior to taking the San Francisco 49er position.

If all the media reports are true, Jim’s dilemma is apparent. Although he had close knit ties, in the past, in Ann Arbor, he has more current connections in the Bay Area. Michigan’s football program at the moment is less than ideal as is the Oakland Raider’s. Both programs desperately need to improve.

If it’s a matter of prestige, and sibling rivalry [Jim’s brother John is a Super Bowl winner-the pinnacle; Jim has outperformed his father, “only” an assistant coach with the Wolverines and the Cardinals] then the NFL would more than likely win out. I’m sure that there’s another NFL head coaching position, [And win a Super Bowl like his older brother] in the cards. For Harbaugh, if it’s a matter of “returning home” to one’s glory in adolescence and young adulthood, then Ann Arbor is the place. It’s been said that you can’t go home. If Harbaugh returns to Ann Arbor, he would return home. If it’s a matter of present connections, current residence, Bay Area familiarity, then, the Raiders would win out.

Harbaugh just had a birthday and is now 51 years of age and is in a midlife crisis so to speak. His life for the past 45 years or so has been sports and football but not necessarily in that order. His identity is that of a football player and coach. Since retirement from professional football, Harbaugh has been working with young men in both a mentoring and teaching role. I cannot imagine a major change in direction for Jim. As he’s progressing developmentally through life’s stages, Jim is in his second marriage. [Intimacy versus isolation] and is in the generativity versus stagnation stage.

Developmentally this mature man is focused on guiding and teaching the next generation through the vehicle of football. Jim has touched many young men in the last decade or so. He has gained their trust as expressed by creating a team with winning football. He has a gift of being an outstanding athlete with a super professional career and is in a position to reap economic security.

Even though Jim may be released by the San Francisco 49ers, his future looks great. Jim is an exceptional position during his psychosocial stage of development. Whatever he does, or decision that he makes is likely to be a terrific one. Good for him.


I have no trouble admitting that I am a fan of both the Oakland Raiders and the Michigan Wolverines.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Social Status Level and Health and Tom's Birthday Run

 Socioeconomic Class and Health

The world has become more complicated and more stressful in the last 40 to 50 years. We have experienced  political assassinations, racial rioting  , threats of nuclear destruction, military- industrial complex buildup, economic system disaster, unprecedented contrast between the haves and have-nots, collapse of the middle class, numerous and frequent military encounters, radical terrorist threats, etc.

There is a correlation between stress- insecurity and with an increase in escapism-books, movies, idols, entertainment and especially sports on the college and professional level. I’m saying there is an association for sure and likely a cause-and-effect relationship. More and more individuals are feeling powerless, insignificant, bored, depressed, and anxious and   searching for meaning in their lives. This also results in an unbelievable increase in drugs/medication, legal and otherwise to deal with their unpleasant reality.

As people become more and more left out of the top 1% of economic wealth in this country, that means what’s left becomes a shrinking middle class and lower class levels of socioeconomic status. Education was once the vehicle to escape poverty and to move up in social class. However, now college has become extremely expensive and young adults and their parents take out loans to pay for college. And with the shrinking opportunities for good jobs, many graduates are faced with unbelievable debt and limited ways to overcome their situation.

Unfortunately, there’s a relationship between socioeconomic status and health. A recent article in the Journal of Evolution, Medicine and Public Health found that even in the Tismane [egalitarian foragers in the Amazon] culture, individuals with less political influence( compared to high levels of influence), had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and respiratory infection, which is the most common cause of sickness and death in their society. Further, it’s believed that adults who experience low socioeconomic status in childhood show heightened cortisol responses as adults, regardless of their current socioeconomic status [The New York Times, December 14, 2014].

We know that diet and physical activity are related to health. We can now add socioeconomic status. Therefore, we should have a universal health care system for all to assist with the myriad of health issues that start at an early age. It’s unfortunate that individuals who are psychologically and psycho socially close to, but above the poverty line, often resent those living just below it. This resentment turns into a withholding-controlling attitude and not giving which is not   humanistic, but selfish like.

From Tony: Frank had to miss Tom's birthday run this year. ( Home taking care of his wife Linda) This was the 20th year we have done this to celebrate Tom's B-Day. Tom turn 63 same age as me. we have all been running and riding  off and on together for about the same amount of time great group of people to be with now even the kids are joining us. Happy Birthday Tom!!

Regardless of your socioeconomic class, keep moving, smiling, laughing, loving, bonding and appreciating when you can.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Linda's Surgery

Linda’s One Tough Lady

 Last Friday, December 12, my wife Linda had her second knee replacement. Her first knee replacement operation was performed on October 13 of this year. Linda’s second surgery seemed smoother than her first. In fact she only spent an hour in recovery. In October, the recovery took longer as she was nauseous. Before having this second operation, we talked to the doctor, about her difficulty with the medication prescribed. We wanted to make sure the changes would be made prior to the second surgery.

When I visited her after her time in recovery, she was alert, smiling and happy. Things were going well and I expected to take her home the following day.  Saturday morning I received a call from Linda and she said, “Come get me, I want to come home.” When I reached the hospital around noon, she was walking around and seemed hyper. That medication really worked. She felt good on the drive home from the hospital.

However, the next day, she began to experience more and more pain and was less chipper. We talked to the nurse and there was an adjustment made to her medication. With additional medication, she felt a little better by Tuesday. Then came Wednesday and she was discouraged because of the recurring pain as she experienced difficulty walking. In fact, she was unable to put her heel down on the floor without experiencing pain.

She had a physical therapy appointment Wednesday afternoon and received treatment about how to walk properly. She was told that her pain was normal and that she just had to work through it. So by hearing that she was progressing and that her discomfort was normal, made all the difference. Instead of stopping because of pain, she learned that she had to push despite the pain. That was all she needed because her attitude changed and she then began walking and doing her stretching exercises as recommended.

So far, each day, little by little, she has progressed. Good for her because she’s a tough lady and she will get through this no doubt with flying colors. Remember, keep moving, smiling, laughing, bonding, loving and appreciating and good things will happen.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tackling Diabetes

As you may know, since 1991, the rate of diabetes has increased dramatically. This past November 14, was World Diabetes Day and recognized worldwide in more than 160 countries. We can thank the International Diabetes Foundation and the World Health Organization for recognizing that disease. The date was chosen because it honored the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who was recognized as one of the researchers involved in the development of insulin.

According to the American Diabetes Association, consider some tips that may help in the prevention from this awful disease: 1] Exercise is recommended because it can help with weight regulation, help lower blood sugar, which boosts sensitivity to insulin. Remember insulin helps keep blood sugar within a safe range. If you don’t currently exercise, make sure you walk for at least 30 minutes per day, reduce your sitting and increase your standing daily. 2] Fiber helps boost blood sugar control, lowers risk of heart disease and helps an individual lose weight. Good fiber sources include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Check out the food pyramid and adjust accordingly. 3] If you’re overweight, make sure to reduce your weight since every pound you lose can improve your health. Paying attention to your BMI is a useful tool as far as waist circumference. 4] Choose nutritious foods and pay attention to your food portions.

As you can see, exercise and nutrition are important variables for good health. And we all know how difficult it is to exercise and eat properly. If you know what to do, but are not doing it effectively, consider talking to a professional, i.e. therapist, nutritionist, or joining a gym. Another idea is to find that App device, if so inclined.

There’s no harm in starting before the Christmas holidays. If you’re too busy, that’s a poor rationalization for your health. What kind of future do you expect, if you are not taking care of you? Continue to keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating along the way.


Congratulations Tony on your 17 minute improvement from last year’s 50 K in Washington State. This means 2015 is going to be good for you.
As you may know, since 1991, the rate of diabetes has increased dramatically. This past November 14, was World Diabetes Day and recognized worldwide in more than 160 countries. We can thank the International Diabetes Foundation and the World Health Organization for recognizing that disease. The date was chosen because it honored the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who was recognized as one of the researchers involved in the development of insulin.

According to the American Diabetes Association, consider some tips that may help in the prevention from this awful disease: 1] Exercise is recommended because it can help with weight regulation, help lower blood sugar, which boosts sensitivity to insulin. Remember insulin helps keep blood sugar within a safe range. If you don’t currently exercise, make sure you walk for at least 30 minutes per day, reduce your sitting and increase your standing daily. 2] Fiber helps boost blood sugar control, lowers risk of heart disease and helps an individual lose weight. Good fiber sources include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Check out the food pyramid and adjust accordingly. 3] If you’re overweight, make sure to reduce your weight since every pound you lose can improve your health. Paying attention to your BMI is a useful tool as far as waist circumference. 4] Choose nutritious foods and pay attention to your food portions.

As you can see, exercise and nutrition are important variables for good health. And we all know how difficult it is to exercise and eat properly. If you know what to do, but are not doing it effectively, consider talking to a professional, i.e. therapist, nutritionist, or joining a gym. Another idea is to find that App device, if so inclined.

There’s no harm in starting before the Christmas holidays. If you’re too busy, that’s a poor rationalization for your health. What kind of future do you expect, if you are not taking care of you? Continue to keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating along the way.


Congratulations Tony on your five minute improvement from last year’s 50 K in Washington State. This means 2015 is going to be good for you.