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