Subscribe to It Has Nothing to Do with Age by Email Follow Tusk95664 on Twitter It Has Nothing to Do with Age: March 2015
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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Don't Allow the Tobacco Industry to Kill You

Smoking cigarettes continues to be the biggest contributor to diseases that cause premature death. Again, it’s the largest contributor to diseases in our country. There is certainly an elevated risk for cancers [mostly of the lung, neck, tongue, larynx, esophagus, and bladder]. However, the majority of smokers die from cardiovascular disease. I’ll bet you didn’t read that on a package of cigarettes. And I bet you also didn’t read that on your cigarette pack that passive secondhand smoke elevates the cardiovascular disease risk by 25%.

Looking at the demographics, Americans with GED’s have a 40% smoking rate compared to 24% of high school graduates and 10% of college graduates. So go to school and maybe you’ll be smart enough not to smoke or die from a cardiovascular disease. Further, the highest rates of smoking in the United States are of Native Americans were 31% of American-Indians and native Alaskans smoke. The good news is that quitting smoking reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease to the level of non-smokers in 5 to 10 years.

The tobacco industry has gotten away with murder for so many years, even though they are now paying for ads talking about the risks of smoking. But apparently, Native Americans, and/or individuals with GED’s are either not getting the message, or simply continue to engage in self-destructive behavior. Does it matter if you’re enrolled in a good health plan with no pre-existing conditions for exclusion, if you continue to smoke? Is the tobacco industry doing enough to educate the public? Or maybe the tobacco industry could do more to help deal with this health crisis in our country?

For the educational part, perhaps the tobacco industry could be more involved in traditional educational programs as well with the educational programs of Native Americans. It seems to me that this industry is able to do more than provide TV commercial advertisements. That’s not to say that the major networks, religious institutions, government agencies, sports, music, entertainment celebrities, coaches etc. should be coordinated to provide a comprehensive program to reduce the effects of this deadly drug on our citizens.

If you see someone smoking, consider talking about the risks and enter a discussion of why that individual continues to smoke. I have heard excuses such as “it reduces my nerves” or “it helps me to control my appetite.” In weighing the pros and cons, there are certainly better ways to deal with stresses. I know at one time, it was considered cool or neat as something an elite individual would do to do. It was certainly glamorized in the movies though we see it less and less. Let’s start a campaign from the ground up and do our part.

If you want my advice, keep moving, laughing, smiling, bonding, loving and appreciating.

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.