Tag Archives: health

If it’s green, it belongs in this smoothie

In my mind, it began as a Green Elvis smoothie. The King of Rock and Roll enjoyed peanut butter-banana sandwiches, so goes the legend, and I figured I wouldn’t even taste the fresh spinach I picked up at the grocery yesterday in there.

But the only peanuts I had were salt-and-pepper peanuts, and that was more savory flavor than I could stomach in a smoothie. You like kale in your smoothie? You might like salt-and-pepper peanuts, too, I don’t know, but I’ve tried kale in my smoothies, and it’s disgusting. Smoothies should be like dessert, not like a meal for a toothless old coot.

(I’ve also heard Elvis liked bacon in those peanut butter-banana sandwiches, and for a brief moment, I considered putting bacon in the smoothie and calling it a Green Elvis & Ham Smoothie, but no. That’s just wrong.)

OK, so how about a little less Elvis and a little more green? How about pistachios, a green nut?

Perfect.

And what’s this in my fridge? Leftover avocado? Green apple? It’s destiny.

Thus, my breakfast yesterday morning was born. It’s a stick-to-your-ribs 400-calorie smoothie that’s a perfectly balanced mix of carbohydrates, fats (the good kind) and protein. The yogurt makes it creamy, and the chia seeds make it thick. I’m sure Elvis would have hated it (he probably slept through breakfast), but you might like it.

Green Smoothie

Green-Greener-Greenest Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cut into chunks and frozen
  • 1/4 avocado, cut into chunks and frozen
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1/2 ounce pistachios (shelled of course, do I need to say that?)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I prefer fat-free)
  • 1 scoop vanilla-flavored whey protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon green tea leaves
  • 1-2 teaspoons stevia
  • 1/4-1/3 cup water (you need only enough water to help your blender work; too much, and your smoothie will be more drinkable than spoonable, and that’s no way to eat a smoothie)

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a blender (I love the single-serving glasses for saving on washing dishes later). Blend until smooth. Consume with gusto.

I found my mojo at the used bookstore

After turning Suzanne Somers’ book Ageless over in my hands (and my mind), I toted it inside from the rack on the sidewalk, ready to hand over 50 cents for it. I pay 50 cents for a newspaper. Even a book by Suzanne Somers is worth that.

Come and knock on our door …

I hear you, theme from “Three’s Company.”

The oldish guy seated behind the counter in the used bookstore had longish gray hair. A oldish cigarette with a longish ash hung from his fingertips.

“I’ll take this one,” I said, setting Somers’ missive on the cluttered counter. “Do you have a memoir section?”

He eyed me briefly and pointed me down a longish aisle to a hand-lettered sign that said “Biography Room.” Off I went to explore the used treasures therein.

Surrounded by old book smell, I was just happy to be upright this afternoon as I browsed through various political and celebrity memoirs (I found memoirs by Loni Anderson and Rob Lowe I couldn’t live without — because one used book by a washed-up celebrity isn’t enough). I took a shower this morning for the first time since Tuesday, when I was tanked by a virulent strain of the coughing-aching-stuffy-head flu, delivered with a generous helping of exhaustion (for those of you who are counting, this was my second bout of flu this winter). For four days, it was all I could do to change my underwear and brush my teeth.

This morning, I could breathe again, glorious breathing in and out through my nose. I showered. Shaved. Washed my hair. Exfoliated my face. Body lotion. Antiperspirant. Wrinkle creams of every weight and brand.

I even blow-dried my hair and applied mascara.

So my Beloved and I ran an errand that I had been putting off, and the errand brought us near enough to the bookstore that Suzanne Somers’ tome caught my eye (oh, to feel ageless again, when I was just happy to feel human).

A minute or two after I disappeared into the Biography Room (which was more like a Biography Closet, but who’s complaining), my Beloved entered the store, having satisfied his curiosity at the antique shop next door.

“Is my wife here?”

“There’s a lot of wives here,” the smoking clerk said. He paused, eyeing my Beloved and putting two and two together. “Oh, you mean the tall looker? She’s back there, in the Biography Room.”

Did you hear that? He called me a tall looker. Me. The woman who, only hours before, looked like death warmed over. I was no longer the woman of greasy hair and bloodshot eyes and sneezing attacks.

I am a tall looker.

A tip to the clerk wasn’t appropriate, but he certainly earned one.

Flint water crisis is a drop in the sorry bucket of government

The presidential election season tends to bring out all kinds of haters, but especially government haters.

  • I hate government waste.
  • I hate Washington, D.C.
  • I hate federal government mandates.
  • I hate do-nothing politicians.
  • I hate paying for government programs.
  • I hate those bozos in Springfield (this is specific to Illinois haters, but there are probably state government haters in every state).
  • I hate pork (by pork, I don’t mean bacon — even vegetarians don’t hate bacon, they just don’t eat it — I mean pork barrel, that wasteful spending that we all pay for but only benefits one district).
  • I hate Democrats.
  • I hate Republicans.
  • I hate socialists who hate bankers.
  • I hate bankers who back socialists.

You get the picture. So we’re all looking for the candidate who spends less, does more and doesn’t clog up the news with negative advertising. Unfortunately, one man’s government waste and pork is another man’s hope and change.

But can all the haters agree on this? If government doesn’t do anything else, shouldn’t it be responsible for providing clean drinking water?

Even before providing for the common defense or ensuring the blessings of liberty (freedom of religion, speech, press and all that), isn’t potable water, like, the No. 1 way to promote the general welfare? Human beings can’t live for more than three days without water (and it gets downright uncomfortable after just 24 hours). Not to say anything about icy cold beverages, nice hot baths, washing clothes and watering lawns, right?

Water is right up there at the top of the priority list.

So this whole Flint, Mich., debacle makes me sick (not as sick as it’s making Flint residents, I’ll bet, but still, I’m appalled).

Here’s the deal. For the most part, a modern citizen can’t ensure her own potable water (though I once was pretty pleased in the investment of a simple water filter). Sure, 150 years ago, I could have dug my own well and lugged water in buckets I made myself from safely harvested materials, but nowadays, the government sources the water (or permits the well digging), the government treats the water and the government governs the pipes through which the water flows.

Government exists for exactly this sort of job. Most of the time, when it’s being done right, I’m quite happy to leave water delivery to government because the government can take advantage of volume discounts. I’m fine to pay for my share in one way or another, usually through taxes of one sort or another and then by the gallon in usage rates, because then I don’t have to buy own water treatment plant, water tower and pipe delivery system.

Same theory applies to road construction, the fire department, the military and libraries. I can’t afford to do these things for myself so paying for a piece of them ensures I have roadways on which to drive, that firefighters will come to my aid when my house goes up in flames, that fearless soldiers will fight on my behalf and that I can borrow a book for free.

But none of those things matter if I’m dead. And I’m dead if I don’t have a dependable source of safe water.

Effective governance requires knowledgeable personnel, active oversight, safe equipment and, I’m sorry to admit, tax-hungry entities like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food & Drug Administration.

Somewhere along the line, effectiveness in Flint’s water system got flushed.

At some point, we may know who exactly is to blame for Flint’s lead contamination problem, but I suspect the blame lies, in some way, with every level of government — local, state and national. A lot of lazy oversight and buck passing probably will be uncovered.

At worst, it’s just this sort of situation that inspires conspiracy theories (I was once a reporter in a town that refused to have its water fluoridated — because, lower your voice and look around furtively, that’s how the government poisons its citizens). And at best, the crisis in Flint is why so many people hate government. Because if government fails at the most basic and necessary functions, then what hope do we have that government — in any form, with any leader, of any party — can address our bigger, even more complex problems, like poverty, health care and North Korea?

Alas. Not much.

Blob alert! Time to stand up!

Popular culture’s black-hat villain smoking a cigarette was also probably sitting down.

If you haven’t already heard, you’re about to be enlightened: “Sitting is the new smoking.”

That declaration comes from Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk, and it’s echoed by all kinds of experts. So much so that Better Homes & Gardens’ suggested New Year’s resolution to not sit so much be realized with a get-up timer (who knew people made such resolutions? Better Homes & Gardens, that’s who).

Yes, we live in a world where we buy automatic dishwashers and riding lawn mowers and then we invest in health club memberships to get more exercise. And now we have to be reminded to stand up because sitting too much will kill us. Click here for all the ways sitting too much is shortening your life but here’s the Cliff Notes version: Cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression and more.

I looked down on so-called chronic sitters because, I thought, I stand up plenty. I won’t be one of Pixar’s blobby “Wall-E” humans watching TV from dawn to dusk and moving with a hover-round, no sirree! I own a two-story house, which forces me to take the stairs regularly. My laundry room is not on the same floor as the bedroom closets. I run a couple times a week. I walk the dog, goll darnit! We don’t even own a riding lawn mower!

But it turns out my arrogant I-don’t-sit-too-much attitude was based in fiction.

I’m too sedentary, too.

activity appAccording to the folks who know, we should be getting out of our seats at least once an hour. I got an iWatch for my birthday, and one of the functions automatically loaded on the watch is the Apple Activity app, which dutifully reminds me to stand up once an hour by gently tapping my wrist and then it records my results (it also records how many calories I burn a day by moving and how many minutes a day I exercise).

Since Dec. 23, I’ve achieved the goal to stand at least once an hour 12 times a day exactly six days. That’s six out of 27 days or less than 25 percent of the time.

Wow.

What an eye-opener.

Well, the good news is that now I have a standard to beat. The competitor in me can reach (quite literally) for better stats.

And even if you don’t have an iWatch, you can download the Stand Up! app on iTunes and Google Play for the daily reminders, minus the gentle wrist tap. You have Better Homes & Gardens to thank for that tip.

Lower the bar

I don’t know what other people do when they get sick, but I binge watch “Bar Rescue.”

Because there’s nothing that’ll make me feel better than watching an alcoholic who can’t clean his ice machine get yelled at by Jon Taffer and then get wowed by the backlit liquor bottles behind his remodeled bar. Throw in a new menu of salty tater tots and superfluously cheesy burgers, and it’s reality TV heaven.

At intermission (aka a series of commercial breaks), I crunched through half a bag of Spicy Nacho Doritos and an unknown number of slices of cheddar cheese.

Well, when you lack the energy to change the channel, it could be worse.

This is what happens when you neglect to get your flu shot. You get the flu. And spend your Saturday feeling like an ugly bag of mostly water (yes, Trekkers, that was a Next Generation reference).

I figure by now I’m on the other side of the worst of it, despite coughing like a seal.

Please pass the remote.

Feet of clay

Forget my knees, running is detrimental to the health of my feet.

With the help of Google, I have diagnosed myself  with insertional Achilles tendonitis (if you’re concerned this blog will increasingly discuss my petty aches and pains as time goes on, I am, too).

Runners nod knowingly amongst themselves when non-runners say things like, “Running will ruin your knees!” Actually, evidence suggests this isn’t true. But a lot of non-runners like to believe it is because it’s a good excuse for not running.

But I’m pretty sure my semi-regular but excruciating slow practice of running (jogging? very fast walking?) is ruining my feet.

Regular readers will recall my complaints about plantar fasciitis and Morton’s neuroma. Both conditions have improved (I know you were waiting with bated breath for that update).

Now it’s my left heel that hurts. Not my Achilles tendon, exactly, but the place where the tendon connects to my foot. I discovered the exact location while giving myself a foot massage last night during “Bar Rescue” (never a dull moment around here, friends).

Causes of Achilles tendonitis? Age and running farther or faster than you’re supposed to. And, according to Runner’s World, “The cause [of slow healing] seems to be the collagen fibers.”

OMG. Not collagen as a cause again!

Treatment? It’s the most boring, old-person prescription ever. Avoid weight-bearing exercises. Like running. And practice copious amounts of calf stretching.

Oh, and ibuprofen and ice can’t hurt.

This is why runners give up running. People in general give up running because it’s boring and hard — genuine runners are the type of people who do it anyway. But constant nagging injuries deter even true believers.

OK, before giving it up entirely, I will try to spend more time spinning and swimming and stretching.

But I don’t have to like it.

Floater

I curse you, Collagen!

Yesterday’s post was titled “Flutter,” in which I promised to go with the flow more often. Today, in “Floater,” I shall unironically complain about the vitreous compartments in the back of my eyes that are not aging well. I demand my money back! (As if I paid for this ability to see the keyboard upon which I rant. If the human eye and the miracle of sight are not evidence of God, I don’t know what is.)

The eye doctor today proclaimed my eyes to be healthy, if a bit near-sighted. Those floaters about which I complained are irksome, not evidence of anything serious except my inevitable trudge to the grave. Floaters, it turns out, are caused by collagen fibers in the gel-like substance of my eye shrinking and becoming shred-like. At 50, the eye doctor said, that jelly in my eye is like a lava lamp, all lumpy and uneven. By 70, I can look forward to looking through an orb more like a snow globe.

Ah yes, the squiggly lines that fall gently through my vision as I view my computer screen now will inevitably disintegrate into a field of snow. How perfect for a native of Minnesota: Year-round blizzards.

The loss of collagen I lament everywhere else–my face, my thighs, my hands–is now draining lumpily out of my eyes. Sigh. Babies with their plump skin (and, apparently, eyes) don’t appreciate what they got when they got it.

What can I do but … go with the flow. The lumpy flow.