It’s Easier to Stay Healthy Than to Get Healthy

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

So, yesterday my state announced a list of measures to re-open some businesses and give people the option to go back to work. That’s a welcome sign after all these weeks of sitting around the house. But it comes at a price. Social distancing will be enforced, and protective gear is required. No mask, no service. I’m still trying to figure out how that’ll work in banks.

I remember when getting into a bank meant walking past an armed guard and getting into school didn’t. Times sure have changed. Eight years ago, people were leery of teenagers in a hoodie, and now they have to cover their whole face. Wow! We may have to actually talk to people before we jump to conclusions. What is this world coming to?

Lots of things will change as we move ahead. Sadly, one thing that won’t change is our general approach to health. We’ve gotten so used to just filling the tank and running through life that we forget about preventive maintenance. Besides, that’s for old people and hypochondriacs. When something breaks, you go to the doctor, he gives you pills, and life goes on. Right?

There’s an entire industry devoted to nothing more than changing the oil in your car. And it’s there because people recognize the need. The book says change the oil every 5000 miles, so we change it. Okay, maybe after 7500 miles, but that’s better than nothing. Of course, while you’re there, they try to sell you everything from air filters to air fresheners. It’s all about money.

One time I told the guy I wanted an oil change – nothing more. I was clear about that. First he came back with the dipstick. “Sir, your oil is dirty.” Yep. That’s why I’m here. Then he told me my serpentine belt was worn. Not today. Then he came back with the air filter. I cut him off mid-sentence. “Is that mine?” He nodded. “Then put it back where you found it!”

Yet, when the mechanic points to the owner’s manual and says it’s time to change the transmission fluid or engine coolant, we start to pull back. I can honestly say I’ve never had a car break down because of old coolant or transmission fluid. And I can honestly say I’ve never heard of the brain wearing a hole through the skull. You know, until it happened to me.

Preventive maintenance is simply a practice of fixing things before they break. It’s based on the premise that a complete engine rebuild is costs a few dollars more than a few quarts of oil, or that being sick is more expensive than taking care of your body in the first place. One leaves you walking, and the other leaves you barely able to walk. Both pretty well suck.

For me, preventive maintenance was always a matter of necessity. The cars I could afford pretty much demanded it. A quart of oil leaks out the bottom, I add a quart in the top, and voila! Fresh oil! I wish I was making that up. Smart? No. Not even close. Yet, how many of us do that with our own body? We run and run, and only think about the essentials when the dipstick goes dry.

Right now, people are trying every kind or remedy imaginable, safe or not, to battle this virus. Yet those same people are going through the stores without a mask, reaching over complete strangers to get a can of soup. The hand sanitizer aisle is empty, but the vitamin aisle is fully stocked. You can’t find a box of macaroni, but the produce section is brimming with variety. Do we see a trend?

Which is why I say we won’t learn a lot from this, at least in terms of our overall health. We’re so focused on making the bad things go away that we don’t even consider keeping them away in the first place. We’re so busy trying to fix what’s broken that we don’t take care of what works. And we all know the inevitable result of that. More stuff breaks. Important stuff.

At some point, we all come face to face with the choices we’ve made. Preventive health isn’t something we think about too much until the “check engine” light comes on. And, while nothing we know of today will prevent any of us from getting this virus, we do know that it’s a whole lot easier to overcome if we’re in good health to begin with.

Hopefully we’ll come away from this with a more vibrant zest for living, a stronger love for family & friends, and a greater appreciation for life’s many blessings. Part of that appreciation is taking care of what we’ve already got. Don’t wait for the “check engine” light to come on. Take care of yourself before something goes wrong. You’re worth whatever it takes.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Snake Isn’t Always Hiding Under Somebody Else’s Porch

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

I’ve been trying to mix in some humor with these messages because we absorb and learn faster when we’re being entertained. If a few laughs are sprinkled in, the message sticks that much longer. Think about it. How many jokes can you remember from your childhood? Odds are, you can remember most of them verbatim. Now, how many 8th-grade Civics lessons can you recite?

We learn and retain better when we’re able to laugh. Besides, it’s just plain fun. Sometimes I even make myself laugh. Of course, that’s not hard to do. You know, simple pleasures for simple minds. I can say it. If being smart means cashing in your sense of humor, color me stupid. I’ll wear it like a badge of honor.

But some days, there’s just not a lot to laugh about. Oh, it’s out there. But it’s hiding and there are days when we’re not in a mood to do a lot of digging. On days like this, humor has to come looking for us. It will, and when it does, I’ll give it the good hearty laugh it deserves. Then I’ll go back to focusing on the matter at hand.

Last week I said that, before this current crisis is over, it’ll touch each and every one of us in some way. Well, yesterday afternoon, my youngest daughter was admitted to the hospital with what the doctor calls “significant pneumonia.” I didn’t know there was an insignificant kind, but it got my attention. Now she’s in isolation and can’t have any visitors. Not even mom and dad.

They tested her for coronavirus, but the results won’t be back until sometime today. I don’t think that’s what she’s got, and her respiratory doctor seems to share that gut instinct. But, as he said, there are no certainties in medicine. We’ll just have to wait and pray. Yes, we live in a time where people really utter the words, “Thank God – it’s only pneumonia.”

We’ll deal with whatever diagnosis comes back, and I’m just thankful she’s where she needs to be right now. Given the fact that she’s been living with us for the past two years, and our other daughter and grandkids are here all the time, it’s pretty obvious what a diagnosis of COVID-19 would mean. Full lockdown for everybody for at least the next two weeks.

It’s not like we were going out that much anyway. Like most other people, we go to the store only when we need something, and those daily “I forgot something” trips to Walmart are a thing of the past. We stay six feet from other people (as long as they stay six feet from us), and face masks & pocket-sized hand sanitizer are now a normal part of life.

Our daughter goes out even less than we do, but like pregnancy and a lot of other conditions, it only takes once. The admitting doctor told my daughter it’s possible she’s got “a touch” of coronavirus. Is there such a thing? I guess for some people the symptoms are a lot worse than others, but still, a germ is a germ is a germ. Either it’s there or it isn’t.

And therein lies the problem. Any of us could be carrying that germ with no symptoms at all, but in the time it takes for the virus to die within us, we could infect a lot of people. From that perspective, she could have gotten it from me. You just never know.

I always get a little peeved when I’m driving on a misty morning, and cars suddenly appear out of the tree-laden background with no headlights. Depending on the color of the car, you may not see it until it’s too late. Oh, but they can see perfectly fine, right? Well, that’s the thing about headlights. They work in both directions. Sometimes, it’s as much about other people as you.

This social distancing is a pain. It’s frustrating, going to the hardware store to find it closed. And who wouldn’t enjoy a decent meal out with the family right now? Yes, it’s a pain. And I think we’ve all taken some risks we maybe shouldn’t have taken. I know I have. There’s that point where you try to balance caution with life. We can’t just hide in a bubble all day.

But, to the point that we can, that’s exactly what we need to do. We live in an area where, for whatever reason, grocery shopping online means a 3-5 day wait for your food. Most of us don’t think that far out. But that’s what it’ll take to beat this. There will be things we absolutely have to have, right now. But aside from that, we need to put safety ahead of our personal desires.

I’m sure our daughter will get through whatever she’s facing right now. And, if it’s something that has spread to the rest of us, we’ll deal with that as well. As a world community, we’ve come this far. Now is not the time to back off and get careless. It’s like piling up sandbags against a flood. If you let up too soon, it’s all for nothing. Be healthy and stay strong. We can do this. We don’t have any other choice.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Aging Gracefully Depends on When You Start

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off just right.

I just read an article that listed the top ten states with the highest incidence of UV-induced skin cancer in the United States. Sure, that’s just what you wanted to think about first thing on a Tuesday morning. And, having grown up in south Florida where old folks stroll the beach every morning looking like a deflated football with legs, I was pretty certain that state would top the list. I was wrong.

In fact, Florida wasn’t even on the list. That doesn’t mean nobody down there has issues with the sun. But, aside from Georgia, every state on the list was north of Ohio. In case you didn’t pay attention in Geography class, Ohio is right at the bottom of Lake Erie. It snows here. Every year. And even we’re not on the list. It’s all people who live in places closer to the Arctic circle. Why?

I’d love to see some scientific studies on that. Is it because people in the south get accustomed to the sun and their bodies build up a natural resistance? Once they build up a good base tan, they just absorb vitamin D like a teenager absorbs money? I’m joking. Teenagers don’t absorb money. They turn it into sneakers. I bet Houdini would have loved that.

Maybe it’s because people in the south are more aware of the sun’s dangers, so they take more precautions. You know, like wearing full-body bathing suits and only going to the beach on stormy days. Well, if you’ve ever seen any pictures of Fort Lauderdale beach during Spring Break, you know the answer to that one. Burger King doesn’t have that many buns.

Could it be that people in the north are so excited to see a little springtime sun that they rush right out and get that first burn out of the way so they can start tanning? I’ve done that. Okay, I don’t burn on purpose. It just works out that way. But, from all the years living in the south, my skin seems to be a little more tolerant than most lifelong northerners.

Or maybe it’s just that the majority of tanning beds in the United States are north of the Mason-Dixon line. And the further north you go, the more tanning salons you’ll find. Charleston, West Virginia, has one Starbucks, seven McDonalds, and eighteen tanning salons. There are 183 in New York City. Do we see a trend?

But are tanning beds the problem, or is it our attitude of indifference and immunity? “I know, skin cancer is bad. But I’m so special, God would never let it happen to me!” Yeah. I felt the same way about getting fat. Turns out all that unwanted advice about cheeseburgers and Fritos was pretty much on the mark. Funny, I never heard that from a fat person.

If you had told me ten years ago that thinking too much can wear a hole in your skull and you’ll need brain surgery to fix it, I’d have gone straight to Snopes to prove you wrong. Well, in the surgeon’s own words, “It’s just normal pulsations of the brain wearing on the skull.” Now I have a big scar on the right side of my head, yet here I am thinking again. Some people never learn.

Yes, bad things can happen to normal people who aren’t doing anything to hurt anybody else. Just minding their own business and trying to enjoy life on their own terms. Sometimes we can look back and see where things we did may have increased the danger, and other times not. It’s not always predictable, and it’s never fair. It’s just life.

That said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of manure. Or something like that. Why is there so much more melanoma in northern states? I suspect it’s a combination of factors. Regardless, once it strikes, the results can be devastating. And your days of worrying about a tan will be gone forever. Welcome to long sleeves, big hats, and smelling like Coppertone.

When we think of skin care, we think of rich old ladies who refuse to age gracefully. Well, forty years ago, only fuddy-duddies and race car drivers wore seatbelts. Everyone else took their chances with the windshield like a man. Thankfully, most people have come to appreciate staying in their assigned seat. And, as a consequence, most do.

There’s not much humor in today’s message, but some things just aren’t that funny. Aging gracefully is simply a matter of prevention. Whether it’s weight, physical health, mental wellbeing, or skin health, the choices you make today can make a world of difference later. Have fun, but do it right. And don’t be too proud to put on that seatbelt. You may need it sooner than you think.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Good Health Takes Time – So, What Are You Waiting For?

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.

It’s hard to believe, with temperatures in the high 80s, that we’re just a few weeks away from bundling up every morning. Normally by this time of year, we would be seeing some signs of cooler weather. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. Summer could last all year and I’d be perfectly happy. But here in Ohio, the reality is a little less perfect. Winter will come and it will be cold.

Winter is a time of year full of wonder and enjoyment. I love a snow-covered landscape, icicles hanging off the roof, and kids sledding down the hill.  In fact, I could sit inside a toasty house next to the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and stare at it for hours. But sooner or later, I have to go out in it. That’s when I start using words that are not pastor approved. Lots of ‘em.

I guess it’s a good thing that winter brings the holidays, because otherwise people like me would just sit around and sulk. And the more we sit around, the more we keep breathing the same germs that also don’t like the cold, so they just sit inside the house and breed more germs. It’s what doctors affectionately refer to as cold & flu season. And it affects most of us to some degree.

I’ve been lucky in that regard. When everyone around me is sick, I usually breeze through unscathed. If I do get anything, it just sideswipes me. I’ll get a bit of a scratchy throat or a runny nose and that’s about it. In the past few years, I’ve only had one good chest cold. That’s also about the same amount of time I’ve been taking a good plant-based vitamin. Coincidence? Maybe. But I’ll take my chances.

Lots of people start loading up on healthy foods and vitamins in the winter, because they know what’s coming. That usually starts at the first sign of a cold, and as soon as it’s over, the healthy stuff goes back on the shelf. A few weeks later, here it comes again. And we wonder why we can’t stay healthy.

How often do you take your car for an oil change? Do you wait until the engine starts making a funny noise and that flashing idiot light comes on? Or do you follow a schedule of routine maintenance? With colder weather approaching, you might want to have your furnace serviced. If you have a snowblower, now would be the time to crank it up and be sure it’s ready to roll.

We do these things because we anticipate the need, and don’t want to get caught in the cold (no pun intended) when the time comes. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We’ve all heard that, but do we really follow that advice? Is it easier to go to the store when you’re sick and stock up on cold medicine, or to start working on prevention now?

Unlike a car, where we can drain out all the dirty oil and replace it with something new in a few minutes, our bodies aren’t quite that simple. It takes about two months to completely replace your blood supply. Any changes you make that are intended to enhance your body’s ability to fight illness will require at least a couple of months to take full effect. Cold & flu season is two months away. You do the math.

If there’s something you’d do to prevent illness this winter, now is the time to get started. Give your body a head start so you don’t spend all winter fighting off colds and trying to get back to ground zero. Eat healthier. Exercise. Take some good vitamins. The changes you make today could have a profound effect on how you weather the storm.

And once the winter is over, keep up those good habits. If you slide back into your old routine, you’ll find yourself in the same position a year from now – racing the clock to see if you can build your body’s defenses before the first round of colds comes along. And we all know what happens when we try to beat the clock. Sooner or later, we lose.

Good health isn’t just for the winter. It’s not just for those summer vacations. It’s for life – every day, every week, every month, and every year. It’s about making the most of your days instead of spending them in bed. It’s about not only trying to live a little longer, but having the ability to enjoy those extra years.

Good health is the greatest asset to a long and enjoyable life. But like that dirty oil in your car’s engine, sooner or later it’ll demand your attention. It’s always easier and cheaper to avoid problems in the first place. Give yourself a fighting chance. Get started today. You’ll have the rest of your life to be thankful you did.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

We Change Tomorrow By the Choices We Make Today

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

I’ve found over the years that some things tend to change as we get older. I know, that’s no big secret, but it’s something I’ve tried to deny whenever possible. I think most of us do. But denying age is about like denying pregnancy. Sooner or later, it’ll catch up with you.

When we’re younger, we’re certain we’ll enjoy that youthful existence forever. We don’t think about getting old and the effects it’ll have on our body. We eat whatever we want, whenever we want it. We run, we play, we jump up and down, and that’s just during recess. If we get sick, we blow our nose a few times and all is well with the world.

But as we age, we begin to realize the impact of the choices we’ve made. We realize it in the way a skydiver realizes the ground is getting a lot bigger every second. It’s no longer a theory or old wive’s tale – it’s reality, in full living color. We can’t eat anything we want. In fact, we find ourselves eating a lot of things we don’t want. We do it because all of a sudden, health has become a priority.

Funny how that works. It’s like saving for retirement. If we’d all started at the age of 18 like the old folks told us to do, we’d all retire wealthy (and probably a few years early). But at that age, retirement is a lifetime away and other things are more pressing. Then the day comes when you find yourself talking like an old person – “If I could go back and change one thing in my life …” Yeah. Been there.

Well, we can’t go back and change our past, but we can change our future. If you’re suddenly realizing the ground is getting a lot bigger and you’re wondering how well you packed your parachute, you still have a backup in case the main chute fails. But you have to pull the cord on that backup early enough to break your fall.

This isn’t about skydiving. It’s about racing through life toward that age where we hope everything will slow down and bring us in for a nice, soft landing. It’s about hearing the music we never wanted to hear and having to pay the piper for playing it. And, it’s about doing what we can to negotiate a better deal before that music gets too loud.

Right now, all of us in the northern hemisphere are about two months away from cold and flu season. We’re also a few months from the holidays. Funny how those things seem to coincide every year. And few things can wreck the holidays like being sick.

Another thing to consider – the blood supply in our body lasts about two months. That’s how long it takes to flush out the impurities and replace the old cells with new ones. So, if we want to avoid sickness this winter, now is the time to do something about it.

A healthy diet is a good start, but the sad fact is most of us can never eat enough of the right foods to give our body all the nutrients it needs. That’s as much a factor of the junk we do eat as the declining nutrients in the foods we should eat. If you want to maintain your nutrient levels, supplements need to be part of your daily routine. Start with a good plant-based multivitamin and go from there.

Make no mistake – vitamins and supplements won’t cure any existing medical condition, and doctors disagree when it comes to prevention. But your body needs certain nutrients in order to fight these things on its own, so it only stands to reason that maintaining healthy levels of those nutrients will help you work through anything that does come along.

Physical health is a lot like financial health. Both take a certain amount of planning, and the choices we make today can shape our future in ways we can’t begin to imagine. I can’t go back and un-eat all those double cheeseburgers, but I can make better choices today. The ground is getting bigger, and I want to be able to enjoy my golden years instead of sitting on the sidelines.

We talk about the financial side of that equation a lot, but no amount of money can take the place of good physical health. If you’re like me, the choices we’ve made over the years are coming home to roost. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept them. Every coach knows the right play can change the outcome, even in the final seconds of the game.

Small changes, at any point in our lives, can make a world of difference. Run the right play. Make the healthy choice. The game is yours to win.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved