Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rant on Aging

Why is it that so many people think it is okay/necessary/important to take care of their motor vehicle, but not so their own bodies? They change the oil, rotate the tires, take it to the car wash, have it tuned up regularly, etc and so keep it running as well as it can for as long as it can. How is it that some of the same people can not see their bodies as their most important vehicle, a vehicle that also requires maintenance and special care?

You would not pour sugar in your gas tank because your car needs gasoline. The human body isn't as specific and can take a variety of fuels, but they must be balanced. If you fill your body with junk, its performance will diminish.

When a vehicle sits unused for a period of time, bad things happen. Parts rust. Gaskets crack. Gunk builds up in places you don't want gunk to build up. The same thing happens with the human body. You may be able to trade your vehicle in for a new one, but you only get ONE body.

All you have to do is go to a car show to see that old vehicles can still be beautiful and well running. They may not have the latest gadgets and technology, but they can be reliable and enjoyable just the same.

People make a choice to take care of their vehicle ... or not. Whether they drive a rust bucket or a clean ride depends on the time they are willing to put in for the required care and maintenance.

In his book, "Chasing Life" CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta makes an important case for taking care of our bodies to not only live longer, but to live better. The same goes with "You: Staying Young, The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty" by Michael Rozien and Mehmet Oz. Both books examine what works. I like what a review of You: Staying Young says, "You--as mayor, resident and street cleaner -- have the power to balance your biological budget to ensure a life that's both healthy and strong. Thankfully, just as cities can invest in renewal and improving their repair processes, so can you."

So basically, what I'm saying - and prepare to be ticked off at me - is that anyone could look good and feel good at 50 and beyond IF they are willing to put out some effort. I really have a bad attitude about people who want everything to be easy or they don't want to do it. Cory Everson (like her or not) does not have to be an exception to the rule. Plenty of people do it without money, without plastic surgery. I see them at 5K races all the time, I see them at the gym. You don't even need a gym membership - show just how fit one can be with just using your own body for exercise.

Alright, so to play devil's advocate...what if your car has something wrong with it, like the Dodge Grand Caravan I used to have? The serpentine belt went on that stupid thing every 12 - 18 months. The only vehicle I ever had that had a serpentine belt problem. Well, if you know that your car is prone to something like that you prepare in advance. You know of the problem and you make the proper adjustments (in this case, to the budget - being prepared to have it replaced). So if we are talking about your personal human body and you know you are pre-disposed to certain ailments --- you can prepare accordingly, you can make the proper concessions...and you can still attain fitness and your best health. Just look at America's Athletes with Disabilities for inspiration.

If your life is busy with things you like to do - reading, crossword puzzles, etc.... be aware that physical exercise IMPROVES brain function and has been shown to protect your brain from cognitive decline associated with aging. If you like to do these things and want to enjoy them when you are elderly, then perhaps you had better consider physical exercise NOW. Exercise causes the release of growth factors, proteins that increase the number of connections between neurons, and the birth of neurons in the hippocampus, a brain region important for memory.

Why do some so easily try to separate the brain from the rest of the body? It's all one unit - and the poor health of any part can effect the whole. If you enjoy brain-oriented activities, then you had better take care of your muscles and cardiovascular system if you want it to keep functioning properly. If your car's carburetor is clogged, the radio may work...but without the whole car running to charge that alternator, you are going to run the battery out and there goes listening to the radio!

I wrote a blog on stability, on those little proprioceptor cells that are stimulated when we perform activities requiring balance. I'm not going into the whole thing, just follow the tag that says "stability." I'm pretty sure it was imported over here, if not...then it is lost forever and I'll have to think up all of that stuff again.

I've hardly mentioned the whole vanity aspect of looking good as one ages, but I might as well now. According to Cynthia Dermody surveys were done regarding weight loss and sex. 80% of women said they felt sexiest when they weighed less. In obese women, the number jumped to 95%. Women weren't alone in their insecurities - 70% of men felt that being thinner would lead to better sex. 42% said they would only go shirtless in front of their partner. When asked to rate themselves as "yuck, " "ok" or "hot" only 14% of women and 20% of men chose "hot." 25% of women and 13% of men chose "yuck." Low self-esteem can lead to or be a part of depression. Depression hurts - not just the depressed, but those around them.

Feeling good about yourself is nothing to be ashamed of because there are obvious perks - like better sex. And sex is a good deal - meaningful sex induces the release of the hormone oxytocin which is involved in social recognition and bonding - it makes us feel happy and loved. Sex also can lower blood pressure and it tells your stomach not to send signals to the brain to eat. So lots of good, healthy sex can lead to weight loss. Sex is wonderful and certainly doesn't have to die off with age. We're human beings - we're wired to like looking good for the opposite sex. Nothing wrong with that - at any age!

Confidence is another plus that comes with feeling good about yourself. Confidence happens to be a powerful aphrodisiac.

35% of men surveyed wished they had a body like Brad Pitt's. Well, I'm not into the idea of looking like other people - I think being happy with who you are is important. The whole Hollywood ideal of what is good looking or what isn't is very lopsided as far as I'm concerned. There's more to be said for an intelligent face, a face that reveals the personality behind it. Brad Pitt is nothing ... Tom Hanks totally rips him as far as sexy is concerned.

I think of women I know and everyone of them has those days where they get dressed and can "find nothing to wear." Days where they look in the mirror and call themselves a cow or complain about the roll around their waist, that their buttocks has dropped midway down their thigh, etc. That stuff sucks - and the way women talk to themselves sucks. In order to avoid berating oneself like that, doesn't it make sense to do something about it? Healthy self-esteem assesses the problems realistically, accepts them and decides on a course of action (either stay that way and stop beating yourself up OR make the effort to change).

That, ladies and gentlemen, is my rant for the day. I still think Cory Everson looks AMAZING. I'm also pretty darned impressed with Chuck Norris. AND Jack Lalanne will forever be inspiring to me. :)

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