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.
I’ve been awol for a while. Sorry about that. I’ll be back soon.
Meantime he’re a song I’ve been playing.
You like your potatoes more interesting?
If you’re unlucky side dishes can be really boring, even when the rest of the meal is fabulous. None of these sides are anything less than interesting, and some of them are good enough to make a tasty snack all on their own. So, what’s not to like?
I love the look of this recipe from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest; crispy oregano smashed potatoes with feta and lemon ~ wow! Such a fabulous side dish that you could just eat this as a super-filling snack, (and oregano is such a great herb).
Crispy Oregano Smashed Potatoes with Feta and Lemon
Chungah at Damn Delicious gives us these great slow cooker cheesy scalloped potatoes ~ she says this crockpot dish is so damn easy. Well, it does look so damn good for something that only takes 20 minutes to prepare, and then can be left to cook while you’re doing something else ~ like going to work. It would be a great accompaniment to Chungah’s bacon scallops too.
Slow Cooker Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
Another potato dish, this time from Amanda at Chez Le Réve Français; cheese and onion potato cakes. This very, very easy 20 minute dish would make a tasty supper as well as a much more interesting side dish than ordinary mashed potatoes.
Cheese and Onion Potato Cakes
Something different from Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower; cheesy cauliflower mash. Allegedly this tastes like mac and cheese but has the texture of mashed potatoes. Weird but nice. Looks good for a 20 minute dish that would be an interesting side, snack, or something to take to work the following day.
Cheesy Cauliflower Mash
Do you want something spectacular made with potatoes? Then what about these Tahini whipped potatoes with cilantro chili sauce from Heather Christo? I bet these are some spicy potatoes. I’d like to choose Heather’s Peking cranberry lacquered turkey to go with this.
Tahini Whipped Potatoes with Cilantro Chili Sauce
This is a spectacular dish for a romantic dinner for two. From the lovely Alina at Passion Cook we have salad tulips, (aka devilled cherry tomatoes). Pretty, or what?
Salad Tulips, (aka Devilled Cherry Tomatoes)
If you like green beans, then you will love these loaded skillet toasted green beans from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet It is. Allegedly, these are the most unboring green beans you can get. Not bad for a 30 minute dish. Would go well with Jessica’s unboring bourbon fig + gorgonzola stuffed pork tenderloin.
Loaded Skillet Toasted Green Beans
thanks ever so to all the great cooks featured in this week’s Food on Friday
all of these dishes be nice at a Champagne Sunday Brunch, say in Long Beach
solitary hopefulness in the midst of blackness
do not condemn me to Stygian darkness
lonely abandonment in unhappiness
shine over me with watchfulness
care for me in mindfulness
lift my hopelessness
my shining star
words and pictures by jack collier
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.
Procrastination is the foundation of all disasters.
You can grasp the important essentials of effective time management in 20 minutes ~ living with it, really using your time wisely and to your own best advantage, well that takes a little more work.
So, just what is this time management thing? Effective time management ~ it’s all about making a little go a long way. It’s about improving the way in which you use the 86,400 seconds you get every single day. Time management is about doing away with; displacement activities, delay, deviation, distractions, hesitation, indecision, indulgence, procrastination, repetition, sloth, stress, tardiness, and waste.
I am definitely going to take a course on time management… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule. ~ Louis E. Boone.
Effective time management is all about doing the important things, at the right time, and spending the right amount of time on them. Like everything good and important in life, effective time management is also about control, restraint, and self-discipline. What time management is not about is making certain that you are doing the right things ~ that’s something else entirely, something we will talk about at a later date.
You already know the basic techniques for effective time management, it’s just that you never use them. So here’s what you should do, from now on, every single damn day.
- Make a list. Start with a to-do list. These are the things you should / must / want to do today. (Actually, tomorrow, because you should start writing your to-do list the night before.) You can even buy a ready-made to-do list App, packed with colourful features and supposed benefits. Don’t bother to waste your time and money. Get a notebook, or just some sheets of paper, and write down what you need to do. You can use different colours for different categories or importance of tasks if you like. Personally, I merely number things, in order of importance.
- Cross tasks off your list only when they’re completely done and tangibly, measurably delivered, and then forget all about them and move onto the next task with a clear mind.
- Do the worst / most unpleasant / most important things first. Getting the nasty stuff out-of-the-way early in the day makes the rest of the day both easier and much more enjoyable.
- Make more lists. These extra lists are for sub-tasks. For example your to-do list may say ‘do grocery shopping’ ~ so you need a shopping list, (never, never, ever go into a store without a list of what you want / need / would like to buy).
- Break big and unwieldy tasks down into smaller and more manageable bits. This is called chunking, and it can be used in all kinds of situations.
- Keep a journal. As well as writing down what has happened and how you feel about it, you can also use your journal as a detailed day planner, and as a place to plan and manage future events / tasks / projects. Properly used a journal will stop you turning up for things unprepared / on the wrong day / without your passport.
- Avoid meaningless distractions. These come in all kinds of shapes, but the most insidious and pointless time-wasting evil right now is social media. If you use social media at work, or first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, or during your lunch break, then stop it. You are just wasting time while turning your brain into mouldy dough.
- Take regular breaks. Just sitting at your desk for 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 hours a day is not the way to be productive. Worse than that, sitting at your desk for long periods is literally killing you.
- Get plenty of good quality sleep. If you are tired and irritable you are also unfocused and unproductive.
- Develop good regular habits. If you can run part of your day on auto-pilot, if doing some routine essential tasks becomes a habit, you are saving a hell of a lot of time and mental energy for the really difficult stuff.
- Learn how to say NO! Agreeing to things that are unimportant / meaningless / we don’t want to do anyway, uses up a huge amount of our time, mental effort, and spiritual energies. Along with that, drop people who waste your life and suck up your energies.
- Multi-task the routine stuff. For example, prepare dinner while the bath is running, and let it cook while you’re soaking away the aches and pains of the day. But be wary, multi-tasking doesn’t work for important stuff.
And then there is the tricky and oh so important number 13.
13. STOP DICKING AROUND. There a billion things you could do instead of actually doing the stuff you really want to do, should do, need to do, absolutely must do. Recently I read where a guy got sacked for spending all day at work looking at internet porn on his cell phone ~ if that’s not a definition of dicking around then I don’t know what is.
All of this is pretty much common sense, actually you knew most of this already, so why aren’t you using these good practices? Probably because you’ve been lazy, lacking in self-discipline, or you think that ordinary rules and good advice don’t apply to you. Well, let me tell you, little sister, you’d better shape up if you want that good quality, rewarding, spiritual, healthy life you’ve been promising yourself.
Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. ~ Pablo Picasso
Procrastination doesn’t cut it.
There is a warrior’s path to the end of suffering.
In my life I have been lost, often alone, and sometimes in pain. I have been down and disappointed, I have been beaten by misfortune, I’ve been so tired and despairing I could not eat or sleep, I’ve been crushed by unrequited love, I wanted things that were always out of reach, and I was so lonely I cried bitter tears. Then I found a guiding star to wish to, and that bright star led me to a good place of freedom from pain and suffering. Now I can cross broad oceans, climb tall mountains, see the far horizons.
Now I can experience true friendship and real love.
Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards, and leads us from this world to another. ~ Plato
You too can find your star to wish upon and to follow, if only you are prepared to search both the heavens and deep within yourself.
In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a supercomputer reveals that the ultimate answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything is 42.
The answer to the Great Question… Of Life, the Universe, and Everything… Is… Forty-Two. ~ Deep Thought
This was meant as a joke, 42 was just a random number picked out of thin air by Douglas Adams, the author of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Allegedly. However it turns out that the number forty-two has symbolism and special meanings in a whole raft of philosophies, religions, and magical convictions. Forty-two is a highly symbolic number slipped into a work of fiction, seemingly by accident, or coincidence.
However, despite what some may say, there is an answer, a simple answer to Life.
If we are to believe numerology then 42 is an Angel Number, and the energies of this number bring us an inner-wisdom to help us pursue our Life Purpose. To pursue your Life Purpose, then first you must realise that the true purpose of your life is to live and to grow ~ to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually, in health and happiness. That may be a long, long way from where you find yourself right now.
In order to get to where you want to go, you first have to know two things;
- Exactly where you are right now.
- Exactly where it is you want to get to.
You don’t need to know the road in-between, that will become only too apparent on your journey to your ultimate truth.
If you are anything like I used to be, then where you are right now could be unhealthy, unsatisfying, and depressing. There may be no real joy and happiness in your life. You may see no way out, even though you have sought relief and escape through religion, inspirational books, motivational speakers, support groups, counsellors, psychologists, doctors, medication, booze, street drugs, gambling, casual sex…
None of those escape routes will work for long, and the consequences of some methods of escape from hard reality just make things much worse. I know, before I found my own ultimate truth, my own warrior’s path, I tried just about every quick fix there is.
There are more false prophets than there are those inspired by an ultimate truth.
Taking the wrong road through self-destructive behaviour leads to one rock-bottom after another, and each new rock-bottom is worse than the one before.
There are no quick fixes in Life, and nobody can fix you but you.
The Ultimate Truth is this; Life is Difficult and Painful.
Once you are prepared to recognise that truth, once you are prepared to accept, appreciate, and understand that Life is Difficult and Painful, then you can transcend all pain and suffering. You can take your first step on the warrior’s path to freedom from desolation and misery.
The first step in any journey is always the hardest. It will mean uncertainty, leaving your comfort zone, doing things that seem unnatural, and at first it may seem just as painful as the misery you’re trying to leave behind. But, you have to know this ~ follow the warrior’s path and things will get better. Your life will become even better than you could ever have imagined it could be.
The first step is to recognise and accept that you are the cause of your own unhappiness. Whatever the proximate cause of your misery and unhappiness, be it alcoholism, gambling, an abusive relationship, or whatever is your personal purgatory, the ultimate cause of your pain is your own need for instant gratification. We must to accept that the causes of all our problems and unhappiness are our own cravings, desires, wants, lusts, needs, and our blaming of others when things don’t go the way we want them to.
Self-discipline is hard, it means not taking that next drink, not having that next cigarette, not overeating, not placing our happiness in the hands of another. Self-discipline means turning up for work on time, getting enough good quality sleep, getting enough fresh air and exercise. Self-discipline means not blaming others for our misfortunes, not spending money we don’t have, not allowing ourselves to become infatuated with someone who will never truly return our affections. Self-discipline is what will free you from pain, misery, and the teachings of false prophets.
You don’t need the hurt anymore, and you don’t need the pain in your life. I promise you that if you accept and understand that you can’t ever change what happens to you, but you can change what you do, then your shadows will turn into warm sunlight. Don’t ever allow yourself to give in to your craving for instant gratification, have the patience to appreciate, accept,and understand yourself, trust in yourself and not in others, and your life will get better. Your whole life will improve very fast, and it will be better than you have ever dreamed possible.
Night Sweats, Night Terrors, Nightmares, Sleep Terrors.
Night Terrors are not Nightmares ~ typically a nightmare happens when you’re in deep dream sleep, whereas night terrors wake you up, so the experience of a night terror is one of wakefulness. Night terrors are also different from Sleep Terrors, because a night terror will wake you up, whereas with a sleep terror you will have all the symptoms of extreme fear, but you will stay asleep. If you are awake, or partially awake, and terrified in the night, then the chances are you are suffering from night terrors, (which are a recognised psychological disorder).
Nightmares usually occur in the early morning during REM sleep when our dreams are at their most vivid. More often than not we can remember all the cinematographic details of a long, scary nightmarish dream when we first wake. On the other hand, night terrors usually happen during the first part of the night, aren’t part of REM sleep, and we won’t remember anything much other than waking up / being awake in a terrified state.
Typically, night terrors are caused by a previous psychological trauma, (such as an abusive childhood), or by stress, or by substance abuse, (such as drinking too much just before bedtime). However, as one of the causes of drinking too much before bedtime is a mental illness like Borderline Personality Disorder, which is itself probably caused by a previous psychological trauma, it’s fair to say that if you suffer from night terrors you’re probably drinking too much and suffered some severe disturbance / abuse / trauma in your past. Chances are if you’re in that situation you’re also feeling very pressured right now, and suffering from the symptoms of undue stress. It’s an illogical Catch-22 situation.
If you suffer from night terrors it’s likely that you wake very suddenly with an intense fear of something unknown / a nameless dread. Your heart will be beating fast, you will be breathing hard and fast, your blood pressure will be elevated, your eyes will be wide and staring, and you will be sweating. This is different from night sweats, which is severe and excessive sweating, without the associated terror. The common causes of night sweats are medical, and some of them are very nasty, such as cancer. However, one other cause of night sweats is drinking too much.
What night terrors will do to you is prevent you from getting the 7 to 9 hours of good quality sleep that most adults need every night. As well as making you feel tired, lethargic, and irritable, not getting enough sleep can cause lots of nasty illnesses such as; high blood pressure, strokes, and heart disease.
The most likely advice if you have night terrors when you get beyond your teens is that you should see a doctor. Good luck with that one, because the only real cure for night terrors is to treat the underlying problem(s). That will mean doing something about the effects of any psychological trauma in your past, and cutting out whatever drug you’re taking too much of late at night ~ including coffee, booze, prescription drugs, street drugs…
There are some very common-sense things you can do if you suffer from night terrors, sleep terror, nightmares, and / or night sweats ~ without resorting to medication and a long period of talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy. None of these are easy, or likely to give you a quick fix, but you should consider;
- Giving up booze completely, or cutting down a lot, and never drinking late at night.
- Quitting smoking ~ and if you smoke do not have a cigarette last thing at night.
- Stop using street drugs, and talk to your doctor about any prescription medication you are on.
- Late at night don’t drink coffee, and don’t eat a meal within 4 to 6 hours of bedtime.
- Stay hydrated. The average person needs 3 litres / 6 pints of water a day ~ but tea, coffee, wine, and beer don’t really help you to stay properly hydrated.
- Do not take a nap during the day, especially don’t take an afternoon nap.
- Go to bed at the same reasonable time every night, (if you need to be up at 7 am you need to be in bed at 10 pm), and get up at the same reasonable time each morning. Stick to this sleep schedule, even at weekends. Changing the time you go to bed, and the time you get out of bed, wrecks your internal body clock.
- Wind down in the evenings. Don’t use social media late at night or first thing in the morning. Instead practice a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as meditation and listening to relaxing, classical music.
- During the day get at least an hour of fresh air and moderate / vigorous / strenuous exercise.
- Make sure your bedroom is right for sleep. Your bedroom should be clean, tidy, quiet, very dark, still, and fairly cool, (between 60 and 67 degrees F). You really do need to sleep in total darkness and quiet.
- Make certain your mattress and pillows are comfortable for you. If your mattress is good quality it should last 10 years, after that, get a new one.
- Keep a sleep diary.
An episode of night terror can be brought on by worry, stress, emotional tension, fatigue, conflict, and especially too much alcohol late at night, (or more likely a combination of factors, including booze). How much is too much alcohol? Actually, too much booze is however many drinks puts your health and well-being at risk. For me, one drink is one too many.
After suffering night terrors you are likely to be utterly inconsolable, grown women, (and men), may cry, and the event may be so disturbing that your mind will wipe most of it from your memory. The next morning you won’t be able to remember what terrified you.
In adults, it is most likely that night terrors, sleep terrors, and nightmares have an underlying cause of previous severe stress, trauma, mental and / or physical abuse, and subsequent mental disorders and generalised anxiety. In fact, the underlying causes of sleep problems can be very similar to the underlying causes of addiction.
Not getting enough good quality sleep is a serious matter. The consequences are severe, up to and including death. If you’re suffering from night terrors, sleep terrors, nightmares, night sweats, then you really do need to take action right away. Start with the tips I’ve given above, but if you have to, go and see your doctor.