Category Archives: Exercise

Health, Wealth, and Happiness

All happiness depends upon courage and work.

For a little while I’ve been trying to work out what is really important in Life.  In as simple terms as possible, what is that we all strive for, what do we really want, what is life all about, really?  So help me, I came up with; Health, Wealth, and Happiness.

I don’t think these desirable states of being are even on the standard Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  However, I believe that you can’t have good health, sufficient money to live reasonably well, and sufficient contentment to deem yourself happy, unless the criteria within Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is also being met.  You know, Maslow was much smarter than just drawing pyramids, he was also a deep thinker when it came to the science of happiness.

The only happy people I know are the ones who are working well at something they consider important.  ~  Abraham Maslow.

Wishing people health, wealth, and happiness used to be a very common toast in my part of the world.  Perhaps these days some people may turn their noses up at the ‘wealth’ part ~ most likely those people have never know what it is to be dirt poor.

  • Health.  By this we really mean having Good Health, for the great majority of your time on this Earth.  But, like all things, good health is a paradox.  In comparison to our forefathers we are all in good health, but future generations may well look back and pity the standards of health and fitness we know today.  For my personal health I like yoga and long walks.
  • Wealth.  Conspicuous wealth isn’t so important, but having enough money to comfortably meet the criteria of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is desirable.  Money may not be able to buy you love, but money will get you a fair amount of sex.  Money gives you freedom from many worries.  Having a little spare cash creates opportunities.  Personally, I’d rather be miserable with a few pounds in the bank than miserable and broke.
  • Happiness.  The great imponderable.  For many of us happiness comes from being fit and healthy, and having enough money to be free from many worries.  Happiness is also not having a host of negative emotions; anger, envy, fear, jealousy, lust…  There are as many ways to real happiness as there are people on this planet of ours.

I found real happiness the day I stopped being a wage slave.  Happiness also comes from not being pestered by idiots, such as your boss.  Phone calls from telemarketing people, Google filling my screen with crap and not what I searched for, Facebook targeting me with advertisements for things I’ve long since moved on from, and people with clipboards wanting to talk with me in the street ~ all of these things seem designed to disrupt my health, wealth and happiness.  I have a simple answer for those leeches~ fuck off, and please don’t keep in touch.

Perhaps there is no nirvana, perhaps having Health, Wealth, and Happiness is an oxymoron.

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.  ~  Shakespeare.

Being at peace with myself, knowing that I’ve not been a leech or a jerk, means that I can go to bed at night feeling somewhat happy.  But, like most people I’m never totally satisfied with my day’s endeavours.

On the other hand, I can easily walk a dozen miles a day, I can do yoga on the beach in the sunshine, I eat well, I have no money worries, and don’t go to bed feeling like crap.  So, perhaps real Health, Wealth, and Happiness is possible after all.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

yoga for men is cool

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A Mediterranean Diet is Good for You

Is there anything a Mediterranean Diet can’t cure?

Specifically, I wonder if a Mediterranean diet can help to cure this terrible head-cold I’ve suddenly contracted?  Or more likely stop me from catching a cold in the first place? Well yes it could ~ but only if I really upped the amount of raw garlic I eat.

A diet rich in oily fish, fresh vegetables, olive oil, garlic, and nuts protects our bodies and our brains, especially as we get older.  However, to get the most benefit from a Mediterranean diet we also need to cut down on alcohol ~ one drink a day for women, (try not to spill it, and drink red wine, not white), and one or two drinks a day for men.  Lucky for me I don’t drink at all these days.  But, a glass of red wine every day is actually very good for you.

It isn’t only the Mediterranean peoples who ate that type of diet, the Vikings did too, and nobody ever accused a viking of being a sickly wuss.

Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.  ~  Hippocrates

People from the Mediterranean region have longer life expectancies and are generally healthier than people from Northern Europe and the United States of America.  The United Kingdom ranks 19th and the USA 31st in terms of average life expectancy, (out of 183 counties listed).

People from around the sunny Mediterranean have lower risks of suffering; Alzheimer’s disease,  type 2 diabetes, cancers, colitis, depression, heart diseases, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pancreatitis, and strokes.  Trust me, you do not want to get type 2 diabetes, and you really, really, don’t want to have a stroke.

A proper Mediterranean diet isn’t all baguettes, pizza, pasta, and roasted lamb with lots of herbs.  A healthy Mediterranean diet consists of the region’s fruits, vegetables, (especially leafy greens like spinach), seafood, olive oil, cheese, and a couple of glasses of a robust red wine.  These are all anti-inflammatory foods.

But you also need to add a lot of fresh air, sunshine, and lots of physical activity to the mixture to obtain the most benefits.  If you are not already doing so, then you should walk 10,000 steps a day, both to improve your health and help prevent an early death.

Modern scientific evidence suggests that many, (some), of the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet accrue directly from all the good olive oil included in just about every recipe, dish, meal eaten around the Mare Nostrum.

Olive oil is full of monounsaturated fatty acids, (MUFAs), which are supposed to be good for you ~ at least the Mayo Clinic says that MUFAs are good for you.  In fact the well-respected Mayo Clinic says that olive oil is good for you ~ in moderation.

So; your Mediterranean diet should include;

  • The very best extra virgin olive oil you can get.  Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on Earth.  Only ever buy extra virgin olive oil.
  • Fresh fish.  The oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, pilchards, and sardines are full of vitamins D, B, omega 3 fatty acids, and selenium.  Eating oily fish a couple of times a week is said to help prevent; arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, prostate cancer, schizophrenia, and blindness / impaired vision.
  • Green fruits and vegetables.  It seems that eating green plant stuff can reduce the risk of cancer, helps maintain strong bones and good teeth, and promotes the health of your eyesight in your senior years.  Popeye was right all along, spinach is good for you ~ and so are kale and dandelion leaves.
  • Garlic.  Everyone knows that Mediterranean people eat a lot of garlic.  The Ancient Egyptians used garlic as a medicine.  Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed a hell of a lot of garlic.  The health benefits of garlic include; fighting off allergies, keeping bacterial and viral infections at bay, improving your skin, prevents colds and sore throats, reduces the risk of thrombosis, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, helps prevent type 2 diabetes, reduces cancer risks, helps beat anaemia, and improves your sex life, (if she can stand the smell).  If you can manage it, eat raw garlic, especially if you have dental problems.
  • Nuts and seeds.  Walnuts, almonds and other nuts are good for your heart.  It seems nuts and seeds contain lots of unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, plant sterols, fibre, vitamin E, and something called L-arginine.  Allegedly L-arginine does wonders for your sex life.
  • A glass of a robust red wine, (when I was drinking I would always choose an Italian red).  The health benefits of red wine were known as far back as the ancient Egyptians.  It seems a regular glass of red wine boosts heart health, lowers bad cholesterol, reduces the risk of degenerative diseases, helps reduce he risks of type 2 diabetes, stops you being so obese, and may prevent Alzheimer’s

However, some things about the Mediterranean lifestyle are very, very bad for you. Men from the Mediterranean coasts of; Spain, France, Corsica, Italy, Greece, (and less desirable places like Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia and Albania), smoke far too much, drive like maniacs in unroadworthy heaps, drive when they’re drunk, and sleep in the afternoons when they’re drunk.  In medieval Hell-Holes like Turkey, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Egypt you will just get ripped off and / or assaulted / shot / blown up.

And yet, parts of the Mediterranean are among the most beautiful, most magical, most spiritual places on this Mother Earth.  Guys, take your girl there, soon and often.

I’m glad I am a woman who once danced naked in the Mediterranean Sea at Midnight.  ~  Mercedes McCambridge

A Mediterranean Diet is not only good for you, it has some utterly fabulous, great tasting recipes.  Mix Mediterranean with Paleo and you may well have the perfect diet for your health, fitness, well-being, and gustatory satisfaction.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

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How to Stay Healthier and Live Longer

Life is not merely being alive, but being well.

If you adopt a healthy lifestyle, not only will you feel better, you will also add ten or more years to your life.  But, what is a healthy lifestyle?  Turns out that not smoking, (nor abusing prescription or street drugs), drinking booze only in pretty strict moderation, and keeping to a healthy weight are the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle.

Smoking and drinking may look cool, for a short while, but after a short while those pastimes will turn an attractive women into a cackling, wrinkled, old hag.

The reason fat men are good-natured is that they can neither fight nor run.  ~  Theodore Roosevelt.

Personally, I would add another three things we should all do if we want to be fit and healthy well into our senior years; get plenty of good quality sleep, get plenty of appropriate exercise, and eat a good, healthy diet.  Therefore, if you don’t want to suffer a horrible and early death, from this moment on you should;

  1. Stop smoking.  Stop smoking weed too.  Smoking is dirty, disgusting, anti-social, and it will kill you in a selection of particularly nasty ways.
  2. Drink only in moderation.  If you regularly take more than a couple of drinks in an evening, if you empty a bottle of wine in a couple of days, if you have a cupboard full of half-empty bottles of spirits ~ then you have a drink problem, and eventually it will make you very ill.
  3. Don’t be fat, don’t be obese.  It is very easy to stuff yourself with burgers, take-outs, canned food, and other unhealthy crap calories.  Type 2 diabetes will make you very ill, and then it will kill you.  There are three foods / ingredients you should never, ever, knowingly have in your diet;  sugar-free / diet soda, high fructose corn syrup, wheat, wheat flour, wheat products.
  4. Get plenty of good quality sleep.  Lack of sleep doesn’t just make you feel tired and grumpy.  Lack of enough proper sleep causes accidents, makes you stupid, kills your sex drive, and puts you at greater risk of; heart disease, heart failure and heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, and type 2 diabetes.
  5. Take enough appropriate exercise.  Just a daily walk can add 7 years to your life.  You don’t need to join an gym and lift heavy weights.  Both yoga and tai chi have a myriad of health benefits, improving your balance, control, fitness, flexibility, reducing the risks of falls, sprains, and other injuries, easing pain, and reducing the symptoms of depression.
  6. Have a good quality and healthy diet.  And, there are lots of cool diets to choose from; Atkins, Paleo, Mediterranean, Pritikin…  The key is don’t eat junk, have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, eat slowly and chew your food properly, and don’t stuff yourself at every opportunity.

Americans and the British are much less likely to live long and healthy lives than do the inhabitants of most industrialised western countries, and it has nothing at all to do with the standards of medical care in the USA and the UK.  In fact, the Japanese have the highest average healthy life expectancy in the world ~ and it doesn’t have anything to do with either sushi or rice.

Japanese people give attention to health in all aspects of their daily life.  Professor Kenji Shibuya.

Some things you can do today to work towards that fitter, healthier, happier life in your senior years are;

  • Change your attitude ~ tell yourself, convince yourself, that you will be fitter, healthier, stronger, more capable, filled with self-confidence, and more self-aware.
  • Get your blood pressure checked.
  • Eat a better diet ~ stop eating junk.
  • Stop knocking back the booze in the evenings.  Especially DO NOT drink just before you go to bed.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Start exercising.  There are both mental and physical benefits to regular exercise ~ at least 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week.  Walk, (at least) 10,000 steps every day.
  • Walk don’t drive.  Learn to drive in a slower, calmer, more relaxed manner.
  • Don’t get stressed.  Practice meditation and mindfulness ~ just relax.
  • Don’t hang out with people who eat junk, smoke, drink, and slob about just watching sports TV all day.  Stay out of pubs, bars, and down-market restaurants. If you can’t do those things you need to get to an AA meeting.
  • And for goodness sake, stay out of hospital.  Hospitals are incredibly unhealthy places to be for very long.

These are all simple lifestyle changes, and each one is pretty easy on it’s own.  Taken together these lifestyle changes will make a massive difference to your health, fitness, and happiness.  As a side effect you will stop throwing huge hunks of change down the drain.

A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.  ~  Paul Dudley White.

Being angry, hateful, jealous, negative, stressed…, will all damage your physical, mental, and emotional health.   In fact, just believing you are healthy cuts your risk of an early death by three-quarters.

Mens sana in corpore sano ~ a healthy mind in a healthy body.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

 

 

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Why walk 5 miles a day, every day?

When it comes to walking, it’s all good.

In case you hadn’t heard, there is a health and fitness trend that says walking 10,000 paces a day is good for your body, mind, and soul.  For me, ten-thousand paces equates to about 5 miles on level ground, and will usually take me the best part of two hours to accomplish.  Which begs the question; is it really worth my while to devote two hours a day, every day, just walking to somewhere, or even to nowhere and back again?

Well, actually, yes it is, and these are the reasons why.

Let’s start with something scientific and anatomical ~ blood flow in the legs.  The circulation in our feet and legs only works because we use our calf muscles, and because of non-return valves in the veins.  If we sit still, we have bugger-all blood flow in our feet and legs ~ which is why there’s a risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis during long flights.  If you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, you are in danger of developing poor circulation, which is nasty.

So if you want to have healthy circulation, one of the things you can do is just get out of your chair, and walk.

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty.  She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.  ~  Ellen DeGeneres

Walking more, whether it’s to go somewhere, or for leisure, or part of your health and fitness programme is an easy way to be more active without all that unpleasant sweating, huffing, and puffing that comes with some other forms of exercise.   A brisk walk is classed as moderate-intensity activity, and does count towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.  Walking is a form of exercise that’s easy to fit into your daily routine, for example instead of taking the elevator up a couple of floors, take the stairs.

If you’re not used to taking much exercise, then don’t start off by trying to walk 5 miles.  The Mayo Clinic recommends that you add 1,000 steps a week to your baseline average.  This means you are going to need a pedometer, and the first thing you should do is measure how many steps you take in an average day.  Very Well says that if you are an average American you will most likely be walking 5,000 steps in an entire day, (HA! I don’t believe a word of that, I’m certain the average Californian walks about 2,500 steps a day.)

The respected Mayo Clinic is very keen on walking as a form of exercise and even has a 12-week walking schedule based on work done by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The benefits of walking include improving your blood pressure, energy, happiness, mental health, skin tone, sleep, stamina, strength, stress levels ~ as well as reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, joint problems, obesity, a stroke, and nasty diseases in general.  On top of that you are going to look and feel a hell of a lot better.  The key to walking for health and fitness is to build walking into your daily schedule.

These days I am keen on meditation and mindfulness, but I find it difficult to meditate in the traditional fashion.  So, I meditate during yoga, and I also practice a form of walking meditation.  I have never been taught, nor led through yoga meditation or walking meditation, these are mindfulness practices which just came naturally to me.

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.  ~  Friedrich Nietzsche

All of us should also do some strength exercises, at least twice a week, particularly as we get older.  Personally I like to do some yoga, but I also add an isometric workout into my daily walk.   This two-for the price of one routine means that I make the most use of the couple of hours I spend in the fresh air and sunshine, (we sometimes get sunshine in England).

You don’t have to believe me that walking 10,000 steps a day is a good idea.  Just google 10,000 steps and you will come across loads of articles by people such as the well-respected Dr Mercola who say that walking 10,000 steps a day is a basic requirement for good health and fitness.

In life a couple of things now scare me; having a stroke and developing dementia.  If I can improve my chances of avoiding these life-destroying conditions, then a couple of hours walking every day seems a small price to pay.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Being Overweight

It’s simple, if it jiggles, it’s fat.

These past few weeks, I have been lacking a little in energy and bounce, and I decided that one reason for my lack of ‘get-up-and-go’ was that I’ve been putting on weight.  So, I decided to look into what being overweight really was, and if I was actually overweight, what it was doing to me.  Quite frankly, I was horrified at what I discovered.

I hate overweight, because it implies there is a weight standard I should be adhering to.  ~  Camryn Manheim.

You know what?  There is a weight standard, and we should all be adhering to it.

There are lots of health and fitness problems attached to being overweight ~ and the older you get the worse the health problems of being overweight become.

To begin with, are you overweight?  How does one know the difference between a little curvier and softer than we used to be, and truly overweight?  What is the difference between being overweight, obese, or morbidly obese.  Well, the chances are you’re overweight or obese ~ in the UK 68% of men and 58% of women are overweight or obese.  In the USA more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.

One easy way to tell if we’re overweight is to forget the scales and just grab a tape-measure.  Measure you height, and your waist at your belly button, (without sucking in your gut).  Your waist should not be more than half your height.  If your waist measurement is more than half your height you’re overweight with the worst kind of fat ~ visceral fat, (which will kill you).  More scientifically you can calculate your Body Mass Index, (BMI), but that won’t tell you as much about visceral fat as will a tape-measure.

There’s also a cut-off point to assess the overall risks to health just by waist measurement.  In men it’s 40 inches, and in women it’s 35 inches.  So if your waist is bigger than that, you’re officially overweight / obese and in danger of suffering serious health and fitness problems.  Having love handles is another bad sign, presaging heart and liver disease in your future.

Medically defined, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9,  overweight is having a BMI of more than 25, obese is having a BMI of more than 30, while morbidly obese is having a BMI of more than 40, (or 35 if you also have something like diabetes or high blood pressure).  There are plenty of online BMI calculators.

There are a myriad of downsides to being overweight, and even more downsides to being obese.  Some of these are;

We know a great deal more about the causes of physical disease than we do about the causes of physical health.  ~  M. Scott Peck.

The above are the worst of the medical problems.  But look at it another way ~ just how fit are you?  Can you walk up three flights of stairs without getting out of breath?  Can you run for a bus?  Can you walk five miles without collapsing?  Can you easily find clothes that fit, or do you have to buy plus size?  Can you still play sports, or are you limited to gentler activities?  What’s your performance in bed like?  The chances are if you’re overweight, then you’re not happy with your honest answers to any of those questions, because you know you’re not as fit as you would like to be.  Maybe you should take an online test?

It turns out my BMI today, as I write this, is 25.7.  However, according to another set of criteria I’m quite fit ~ much fitter than my chronological age, by 25 years or so.  But do you know what?  I’m going to lose some weight, starting right now.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

I can do that yoga position, but I don’t look as good as that.

 

Yoga for Men

Yoga is a type of meditation ~ and done properly it’s difficult.

Calling this post Yoga for Men isn’t as sexist or as misogynistic as you may think.  When I was a much younger chap, far more cynical, and much less worldly-wise, I used to think yoga was a bit ‘strange’.  In my mind yoga was something that girls did, and perhaps men who were a bit metrosexual.  Now that I’ve grown up a bit I realise that yoga can be a strenuous and difficult workout ~ the kind of workout that hurts while you’re doing it and makes you ache afterwards.

It turns out that there are lots of reasons why more men should regularly practice yoga.  Some say that yoga strengthens your immune system and relieves stress.  And, that regular yoga improves muscle tone, flexibility, agility, posture, stamina, and core strength.  All I know is that regular yoga exercises and nurtures my body, mind, and spirit.  Some also say that yoga will give you a better sex life.

Just in case you don’t know, yoga involves holding postures, and holding some of these postures for any length of time can be damn difficult.  Even the few, (simple), postures I use require a great deal of strength, balance, and concentration.  Because holding these postures take a lot of strength and stamina, your muscles become more toned and develop greater power and endurance.

Yoga also helps with proper breathing, better posture, better balance, better concentration, better digestion, and increased mindfulness and serenity.   Regular and difficult yoga improves the way you look, stand, walk, and talk.  I have been told, by a very close friend, that regular yoga also greatly improves one’s sex life, and increases the pleasure you can give to your partner.  Also, some yoga poses work as great sex positions and increase the intensity of the female orgasm.  Allegedly, it’s possible for women to have an orgasm just from doing yoga.  Who knew?

So, these are the yoga positions I use regularly, and if I have the names wrong… well I’m not a yoga instructor.

The Tree.  This classical, impressive, and elegant position promotes strength and balance in your feet, ankles, legs, and core.  Like all yoga positions I’ve tried it also aids concentration, calms your breathing, and improves your grasp of mindfulness.  Don’t worry too much if at first you keep losing your balance, what’s probably happening is that you’ve lost your mental focus.  The tree pose puts all your weight on one leg at a time, but the balance, poise, and elegance has to come from the whole body.

~

Downward Facing Dog.  Allegedly, this is one of those yoga poses that’s also a great sexual position ~ I can see that.  This position throws a lot of weight on the upper body, wrists, arms, shoulders, and chest.  It stretches the whole of the back of your legs and  body ~ your spine, arms, shoulders, ankles, calves, and hamstrings.  For me, unless I’m doing it wrong, it also strengthens my knees.

~

The Bridge.  This position is especially designed to strengthen your pelvic floor, (and backside), which is good for all kinds of reasons, up to and including sex.  The bridge position builds strength in your core and lower body ~ personally I can really feel this in my lower abdomen.  This is another of those yoga positions which is also a fabulous sexual position ~ or so I’m told.  When I do this, I keep my back straight and my belly flat ~ I have no idea if that’s a good idea or not.

~

The Plank.  I find this pose tremendously difficult, not because I don’t know how to do it, but because it calls for a tremendous amount of strength.  Done properly the entirety of one’s body weight is brought into play to build core body strength, exercise the arms and shoulders, and increase one’s fortitude.  There are three basic variations of the plank, and the easiest is to rest on your knees rather than stretch out your whole body and rest on your toes.  The second easiest is to support your upper body on your forearms, while the hardest of all is to be in a push-up position with all one’s weight on your toes and hands.  Right now, I can hold this position for one minute only ~ which is a bit pathetic really.

~

The Warrior.  This should be so easy, trust me, it isn’t.  The warrior pose stretches and strengthens the legs and core muscles of the body.  For me it also works the arms and shoulders.  More than that, this is the one position that should be so easy that I want to do it properly and elegantly.  Where that gets difficult is the whole being straight, having one’s belly and backside tight, steadiness and ease thing.  The lady in the picture looks a bit wimpy because her right arm is dropping.

Right now I only use these five positions, and the list above is in the order I do this stuff.  I hold each position for as long as I can, and that varies from 5 minutes per position, to less than a minute, depending on the pose and how I’m feeling that day.  And, again depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll probably run through all five positions a couple or maybe even three times.

However, there are stacks more great yoga positions, and if you really want to learn about yoga, then I should strongly suggest that you take a proper class, there will be one near you.  There are even a bunch of good online yoga classes.  (I took one actual class at my local gym, once, and never went back ~ but that’s just me).  Who knows, you may find yourself alongside some fit, supple, young women.  Who will probably make you feel totally inadequate.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Walking Meditation

Through meditation the higher self is experienced.

True health and fitness can only be experienced and enjoyed when the body, mind, and spirit are all in balance.  You cannot be healthy in one part of your being, if you are not healthy in all.

You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.  ~  Juvenal

To be truly fit and healthy one must exercise, take care of, and nurture all aspects of our being.  Although physical health is deeply connected to mental and emotional health, I believe there is little point in just ‘hitting the gym’ because all that is likely to do is strengthen our body at the expense of our mind and spirit.  I firmly believe that to balance our body, mind, and soul we need to incorporate an integrated health regime into the totality of our lives.

When people tell me they can’t afford to join a gym, I tell them to go outside; planet Earth is a gym and we’re already members.  Walk, run, climb, sweat, and enjoy all of the natural wonder that is available to you.  ~  Steve Maraboli.

One of the activities I use to balance the physical, mental, and spiritual parts of my being is to get out into the sunshine and fresh air for a couple of hours brisk walk every day.  Walking is excellent exercise, but more than that I can also practice walking meditation.

When I was much younger I thought that meditation was weird, nonsensical, even ‘girly’.  But back then I also thought that prayer, self-discovery, spirituality, and yoga were also distinctly odd.  These days I embrace all of these good practices ~ although I still don’t consciously pray to a ‘God’.  With maturity I have begun to understand that these are methods by which I can know myself and become an emotionally healthy man.  To be truly healthy we all need to get outdoors for at least an hour every day.  We all need to exercise our own mind and spirit if we are going to escape from the fortress prison we have built for ourselves.

If there was a mature and peaceful woodland nearby I would take my daily walks there, enjoying forest bathing, what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku.  This is a meditative and spiritual activity that is known to improve one’s mindfulness.  Trees are well-known to possess healing powers.

However, in the here and now of my life it is more appropriate that I take my daily walk by the sea, under the open and  ever-changing sky.  Both the sea and the clouds are peaceful, they help me to experience serenity and mindfulness.  The clouds fire my imagination.  The sea is a primeval and primordial force of nature, a part of the Mother Goddess to which all things return at the end of days.

Walking meditation is an easy thing to do ~ providing one is not distracted by everyday activities.  I don’t use my cell-phone on my meditative walks, I don’t use my camera when I’m in a meditative state, I walk alone, and I don’t talk with anyone ~ as a matter of fact I don’t even notice other people.  Walking meditation is a peaceful part of my life where I can be in touch with the more enlightened part of myself.  Time and space cease to exist in the normal way, the world becomes fully open for me to explore in my mind, I become open to appreciate all things with acceptance and understanding.

The secret to walking meditation is to get outside, on your own, and walk in nature for a while ~ an hour or more is good.  Empty your mind of all immediate concerns.  But most of all, walk.

Even if you have to walk fast for 30 minutes, five days a week, by all means do so.  Never make excuses to why you don’t have time to work out.  Your body deserves to enjoy the taste of a good health.  Never settle for less.  ~  Edmond Mbiaka.

Obviously, just taking a walk each day isn’t enough exercise to keep me fit and healthy.  Walking does little for strength and mobility.  For that I practice yoga.  I used to believe that yoga was the sole preserve of incredibly fit and supple young women, but then I learned that yoga is also for men like me.  Done properly, yoga will improve your health and fitness in body, mind, and spirit.  Done properly, yoga for men hurts a little bit.  If it feels right, you can incorporate yoga into your daily walk.

We can experience so much, appreciate so much, and understand so much, if we are brave enough to open our minds to the wonders of the Cosmos.

I enjoin you; get outside into the fresh air, and walk.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder

There Is A Sunlit Garden Just Ahead.

P1030721For almost as long as I can remember, and I can remember a long, long way back, I have felt odd, weird, strange, different, unhappy.  I used to suffer from extreme mood swings, I had a morbid fear of abandonment, every relationship I’d ever had was dysfunctional, I would isolate myself for long periods, and I could do strange and ‘dangerous’ things on just a whim.  Not to mention that I took to relieving the anxiety and stress I suffered from by self-medicating with too much booze.

In short, I had just about every symptom there is of a quite serious mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder.  Of course, I didn’t know I had BPD, well mostly you don’t, why would you?  How can you self-diagnose BPD, when you haven’t even heard of it?  Anyway, I thought perhaps I was bipolar ~ I wasn’t.

My awareness came because I want to see a counsellor about my alcohol problem.  Over several months Sue got to know me quite well.  She didn’t say that I had Borderline Personality Disorder, she mentioned a book to me, a book called I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me, which just about summed up the way I used to feel about every woman I’d ever had a relationship with.

I was prompted to take on-line tests for Borderline Personality Disorder to see if there was a real likelihood that I was suffering from this horrible psychological illness.  Each and every time I came out at the red end of the scale.  I fully accepted and embraced these results.  This was the beginning of my recovery.  When I knew and fully accepted what was wrong with me I could start to heal myself ~ with the help of others.

My problem probably started at birth, (many psychological problems seem to start at birth).  I was small, premature, separated from my mother, and placed in an incubator for many days, (so I’m told).  I never, ever bonded with mt mother.  I did bond with my maternal grandmother, and never understood or got over her death when I was about four-and-three-quarters years old.

A major part of my recovery was recognising these early trauma.  Eventually,  I wrote a letter to myself, aged four-and-three-quarters, and that was a very traumatic and very healing process.

Being very honest and open with my counsellor, my doctor, and a trusted friend helped me enormously.  My doctor even arranged for me to see a psychiatrist, a specialist in BPD.  After three long and gruelling assessments this guy said that I had been suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, but that I had mostly cured myself.  Well, thanks very much for that vote of confidence.  (A little English irony there.)

How did I manage this remarkable recovery?

  1. I fully accepted that I had a problem, and that it was most likely Borderline Personality Disorder.
  2. I fully accepted that booze wasn’t helping, and I stopped drinking, got sober, and became completely abstinent from alcohol.
  3. I fully embraced honesty in all my dealings, being determined to always tell the whole truth to myself and to others, (when I needed to tell others anything at all that is, which isn’t all the time).
  4. I did not take any mood altering drugs, neither prescription drugs nor street drugs.  Obviously my doctors offered me everything, starting with Prozac.
  5. I got physically fit.  (Mens sano in corpore sano.  ~  Juvenal)
  6. I continued with formal counselling, from professional therapists, and with informal counselling from a trusted and knowledgeable friend.
  7. I embraced self-help techniques from getting lots of fresh air, to meditation, to reading appropriate inspirational books.  (I did not use inspirational videos, or group therapy, and I never will.)
  8. I became completely willing to recover from the debilitating, life ruining, destructive symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder.
  9. I looked at my past in an honest, open, and dispassionate way.  I learned from my past, but I did not go back there, and I didn’t let it hurt me again.
  10. I learned to to completely accept, understand, care for, cherish, and love other people ~ no matter what.

segovia-castleAnd things got better.  My life got much better, my relationships with others improved.  I was sleeping well.  I felt fit, strong, and healthy in body, mind, and spirit.  And I felt empty inside.  I felt imprisoned in the dark and forbidding fortress of my own mind.  All was not well, and even though a psychiatrist and professional counsellors were telling me that I had made a remarkable recovery, changing my whole life and attitudes around, I felt unfulfilled and empty inside.

It seems that what I needed was an awakening of spirit, an epiphany, an understanding of life’s ultimate questions as they applied to me.  Then, and strangely, out of nowhere, I had a spiritual awakening.  Suddenly I was filled with genuine self-belief and a vision of the future for me.

I will not tell you how it happened, or exactly what happened, or why I am now a completely different and much better man than I could ever have hoped to become.  You need to find your own spiritual awakening, and I strongly believe that each man and woman’s connection with ultimate reality will be different, personal, powerful, special, and moving.

I can tell you that I now understand The Divine Mother, my place in the Cosmos, and how to completely love and accept other people.

Alcoholics Anonymous, and other proponents of 12 step recovery programmes probably have it right.  The first step to recovery is fully accepting that you have a problem

Step 1.  We admitted we were powerless over alcohol ~ that our lives had become unmanageable.  ~ Alcoholics Anonymous

I substituted  ‘feelings’ for the word ‘alcohol’ because that was the problem making my life a complete Hell, and I had the first step on the long road to recovery.

I admitted I was powerless over my feelings ~ that my life had become unmanageable.

There is a road to recovery, and it begins with admitting we are ill.

~

P1030116these opinions are mine and mine alone

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

21 ways to save money

Easy Lifestyle Changes Could Save You A Small Fortune.

Red_RoseThere some very basic things you can do which, added together, will save you a great deal of money.  These changes to the way you live your life are not difficult, they’re not complicated, and they will not take up a lot of your time.  In fact, all of these things are what my granny used to call; ‘basic common sense’.  Get on with it, smell the roses, save yourself some money, and live a better life.

  1. Pay off all your credit and store card bills.  The average interest rate on credit card debt is around 16%, with some banks charging as much as 79.9% per annum, this is just extortion and usury.  Far better to borrow elsewhere, at a cheaper rate, and pay off your plastic.
  2. Use the internet and find cheaper providers for your gas, electricity, water, mobile phone, (cell phone), land line telephone, internet, cable television, and car insurance.  Switch to the cheapest provider because customer service will always suck, no matter who you are with.  And, by the way, do you really need all those rubbish TV channels?
  3. Lower the temperature of your heating, and raise the temperature of your air conditioning by a couple of degrees.  We all pay far too much for heating and cooling our homes.
  4. Lower the temperature at which you wash your clothes.  There is a 30C setting on my washing machine, (about 90F), and most of the time that’s what I use.  This gets rid of most dirt and stains, but it does not get rid of germs, and it’s not hot enough to get whites clean.  So, I still always wash my bed linen and whites at 90C, (about 200F).  Mind you, I always use biological washing powder which works well at lower temperatures.
  5. Always make a shopping list.  Far too many people go into a store and come out with a whole bunch of stuff they don’t really want or need, while forgetting the important thing they went in for.  Make a shopping list and never, ever make impulse purchases.
  6. Try own-brand goods.  Very often the own-brand products are just as good as the more expensive named-brands.  Quite often own-brand products are made in the same factories and on the same production lines as named brands.  Stores always try to make you buy the most expensive, premium goods.
  7. Never buy ‘designer labels’  ~  don’t be a logo whore, and who wants some other guy’s name on their clothes and shoes anyway?  It’s pathetic.
  8. Learn to do DIY.  I hate contractors, repair men, decorators, gardeners, with a passion.  If it needs doing then 90% of the time I do it myself.  Learn to decorate, put up a shelf, fix a leaky tap, (faucet), and save yourself an absolute fortune.
  9. Make your travel arrangements early and do it on the internet.  Always shop around for the cheapest deal.  Always pay by credit card.  Get a brochure from the travel agent for information and to give you a comparison.
  10. Learn to drive properly.  Almost everyone I know is a crap driver, especially women.  Almost everyone I know drives too fast, races between the lights, uses the accelerator hard and the brakes hard, and sits in the wrong gear.  Drive a little slower and learn what anticipation means and you will not only use less petrol, (gas), there will be much less wear and tear on your car.
  11. p1020966Don’t always buy the newest, top-of-the-range car.  A low mileage used car, or the basic model in the new car range can save you thousands.  Remember, the biggest cost of owning a car is depreciation.  Most cars will lose between 50% – 60% of their value in the first 3 years.  (Just don’t buy an Edsel ~ people will laugh.)
  12. Walk, don’t drive.  If you don’t have far to go and don’t have much to carry, don’t drive, walk instead.  That won’t only save you money, walking will do wonders  for your health and fitness.
  13. Give up smoking / vaping.  Both will seriously damage your health, both can kill you, and both will cost you a fortune.  A pack of 20 cigarettes will cost you about £7 in the UK and about $7 in California, (USA prices vary by state).  So, a 10 a day habit will cost you about £1,300 per annum in the UK and $1,300 a year in California ~ a lot of money for a disgusting habit that’s killing you.
  14. Cut down on your drinking.  Too much booze will make you fat, ill, and temporarily or permanently stupid ~ it will eventually kill you.  How much booze is too much?  If you drink  a bottle of wine a night, or 4 bottles of beer, or a quarter of a bottle of spirits, then you are drinking far too much.  Decent booze is hellishly expensive.
  15. Cincinnati KidSTOP GAMBLING.  Gambling is exactly the same as throwing your hard-earned money in the trash.  Gambling is an addiction, and all gamblers lose heavily over time, always, with no exceptions, (not even the Cincinnati Kid).
  16. Never, ever, join a gym, and if you have gym membership, then cancel it.  Most people with gym memberships don’t go often enough to get their money’s worth.  Gyms are poor value for money and bad places for most people to exercise ~ you’re breathing stale air, being made to listen to loud music, and you’re indoors under artificial lights.  Nasty.  Exercise for free instead.
  17. Plan ahead and buy stuff in the sales, at discount stores, and in thrift stores.
  18. Claim all your tax and other benefits.  Use the internet at learn what you can really claim.
  19. Never use pay per view TV or TV services such as Netflix ~ this is just stupid.  Do you really need to dumb down so much as to sit in front of the TV, and pay extra for the privilege, over and above whatever stupid cable subscription you are already paying for this crap?
  20. Never, ever buy extended warranties on things like a car, new washing machine, or television.  These warranties are scams, not worth the paper they’re printed on, and cost a fortune.
  21. Stop buying expensive pre-prepared, ready meals.  Learn to cook instead.  ‘Ready meals’ are full of unmentionable crap, and are terrible value for money.

Remember, when you want to save money, when you want to stop wasting money, the internet is your friend.  You may think you don’t have the time to spend on internet research, trust me, you do have loads of spare time, it’s just that you waste that too.  Stop ruining your mind by watching hours of drivel on the TV, stop ruining your health by spending time in your usual sleazy pub / bar, and stop making excuses.

Never, ever, sign anything you don’t understand.  Never, ever, trust a salesperson.

Take back control of your own life, and take control of your finances, it’s a lot easier than you think.

~

Wall Streetjack collier

jack collier7@talktalk.net

Food on Friday ~ 2017 Cleansing

How many of us overindulged a little over the Holiday Season?

In some parts of the world the holidays began with Thanksgiving, November 24th 2016, and in some other parts of the world the holidays continued until Epiphany, last Friday, January 6th 2017.  Most of the people I know partied and overindulged on food and booze right through December 2016 until January 1st this year.  A lot of the people I know put on a little weight, and have New Year’s Resolutions to eat better and exercise more.  Good Luck with that.

However, perhaps to help a little, here are some nutritious, simple, cleansing dishes to tempt our jaded palates.  As far as exercise goes, in addition to my usual long walks, this year I’m checking out something called PiYo, which is an amalgam of Pilates and Yoga ~ allegedly.  (There is no way I’m spending any money on video courses / programs ~ but take your choice.)

All of these easy, cleansing dishes would make a great light dinner and something fabulous to take to work for lunch.

First up this week, from Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower, we have a simple cilantro and lime rice, (please, it’s called coriander in England).  Andrea says this would go well in a burrito, but that’s really missing the point, isn’t it?

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Cilantro and Lime Rice

Found for us by Jessica at how sweet it is, I am seriously going to make this fabulous looking winter salmon salad.  I would strongly encourage my friend in SoCal to give this the once over as it also contains radishes and avocado, along with salmon another couple of her favourites.

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Winter Salmon Salad

A very healthy vegetarian recipe from Kate Taylor at Cookie + kate we have chickpea salad with carrots and dill.  This is crisp, fresh, sharp, and protein rich ~ if you want a change make it with cilantro instead of dill.

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Chickpea Salad with Carrots and Dill

And now, from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest we have these wonderful looking spicy brown rice seared tuna roll bowls.  As well as tuna this dish uses lots of cleansing superfoods; mango, cilantro, garlic, radishes, and avocado.

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Spicy Brown Rice Seared Tuna Roll Bowl

Recovering pastry chef, the Bojon Gourmet, has a great recipe for a winter salad; beet citrus and chicory salad with ricotta salata and pistachios.  This is a seriously low calorie dish, (when it comes to the calories you can actually use), and beets are one of these superfoods we hear so much about.

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Beet Citrus and Chicory Salad with Ricotta Salata and Pistachios

Next from Heather Christo we have a 3 day soup cleanse, which looks a lot nicer than some ‘cleansing recipes I’ve seen.

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Three Day Soup Cleanse

Finally this week, another great collection, this time from Delicious; 50 fast recipes to kick start that winter cleanse.  One of the 50 featured recipes is this nice and easy sweet miso steak with ramen.  What’s not to like?

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Sweet Miso Steak with Ramen

~

dscf0002a big thank you to all the great cooks featured in this week’s Food on Friday

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

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