OK, let me first start off by saying that I am neither preaching nor trying to make any kind of a statement about anything or anyone 🙂 . What I am doing is just sharing a few tidbits of knowledge, my experiences and perhaps a little too much anecdotal evidence. It is a fact that in my life I have had times of great health as well as periods during which I smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. So how does one go from three packs a day to zero packs, “Cold Turkey” and with no drugs (patches, gum, etc…)? This is simple; I wanted to be a pilot. While controversial, I read several studies that showed how smoking impacts night vision:
If you look at this chart you notice the higher the altitude the more vision loss for a pilot at night. This was a problem for me. Those of you that know me, you know my favorite time to fly is at night and at an altitude of at least 10 000 feet that would be a 40% loss of vision. With ground speeds up to 200mph in a small beech four-seat plane, this would be a recipe for disaster. So I quit smoking. The lesson I took from this is that your health will impact what you are capable of doing. Hey smokers, I am not preaching here. In Spain, Europe in general or at random times and events, I will have a cigarette or a Cuban with a good scotch or three nines infused with amber.
Your health impacts your ability to travel. Taking a 10-hour flight is difficult enough; it is much worth if you are in bad health. After the long plane ride, when you land at your destination, do you want to hop in and out of cabs or do you want to be able to have the choice of walking in places that cars cannot go, climbing up stairs in old European castles and exploring places by foot. I can think of walks up to Prague castle, the hills of Rome, the Streets of Venice, Edinburgh castle, or even a nice walk around London that I have enjoyed in my journeys. These places would not be the same if you could only hop in and out of tour busses. As we are all living longer good health becomes both a blessing and curse. Do you want to live longer but not be able to travel and see anything except a tourist stop? Or do you want to travel with bags full of medicine.
STOP/PAUSE: I know there are some people that by no fault of their own are in bad health. I also know many more that are less then healthy and it is all a matter of choice. In Paulo Coelho’s (http://www.facebook.com/#!/paulocoelho?ref=ts ) book the Witch of Portobello it is posed (by the witch) that the problem with the world is dieting and that we all need to stop dieting as this is silly and no one did it in the past. This is a simple and anecdotal look at history, in fact a better look would say, maybe there was no way to preserve food and you had to kill or gather what you ate, so there was not as much! In fact America and the world are getting less healthy.
I saw a special this morning that said that if someone is obese in their early 20’s they will be for life and this brings the big possibility of a large number of chronic diseases. But as a society we are so politically correct so we say nothing! The medical records legislation in the US is saying you must have your BMI number in your medical records. While I am not sure I agree with this. This number is not the bible but it is a way to decide if you need to consider your weight, try the BMI calculator. http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/ Perhaps the best reasons to get into shape and stay in shape and moderate you appetite for life to a level where you are not limited is that you have no idea of what opportunity will knock on your door and you do not want to have to not answer the door because you, by choice, are not physically capable to take advantage! Again, I am talking about people that are in bad health as a life style choice. Additionally I believe a person can make his or her own choices and it is not the governments place to interrupt or legislate in this area. But what I am saying is do not limit what you can do because you smoke, eat, drink or do some other legal or illegal thing that limits what opportunity that may knock.
Oh and I have heard it all before:
• I am 40 why should I care if I can climb a mountain
• I am too old to care about how I look or my health
• I have completed all I want to do in life so why does it matter now I want to just do what I want to do
When I think of this I remember when I was going up the final stairs to get to the actual summit of Mount Washington-after having climbed from the base of the mountain to the road at the top at which the staircase was built to up the top final feet. I have no shame in saying at this point I was going slowly and I noticed a couple with their kids coming up the stairs behind me. They were all going slowly but I was slower. I decided I would let them pass, I said, “Go ahead, I am going to stop for a second”; the man responded that no it was fine they were going to stop for a second also. I commented that yeah it was one hell of a climb up. They said you walked up from the bottom. I said Walked, Rock Climbed, and Dragged my ass up some mud walls and then climbed up over huge rocks to the point of the road. He said Wow; we drove up and just were taking the stairs up. I paused, looked down the three flights of stairs he had climbed. He was at least 10 years younger than me and had trouble with three flights of stairs.
Hiking up mountains has become a good part of my life, the ability to get out in nature and see things, perhaps reflect on what I see and share the experience. I am glad I have stayed healthy so I can enjoy this. OK my little rant of staying healthy is just about done. I suppose I will close with saying that staying healthy is work, hard work. It gets harder as you get older, not easier.
If you are lucky enough to have health, then you should work at keeping it. I love the saying; if you do not use it you use it. Use your health, be active, or risk losing it. Personally this is a constant battle with me and as I get older I need to work out more and more to just keep parity. But I love food, wine, and life in general and the Constant sampling of it that needs the counter balance of exercise of both body and mind. So it is the summer (northern hemisphere) get out there and sample life and try not to forget the balance that is health! OH, and if you are out of balance, relax, it happens to all of us, just get back into balance.