Browse Category: Health

stress-reduction, exercise, diet

The Stress Factor

Cardiologist who worked with me a couple of months ago wrote that, “The biggest killer of men over fifty is ‘freaking ourselves out’.”

Stress. Kills more men over fifty than any other preventable condition. Obesity, obviously, is increasing in the population and will soon supercede other causes of death.

Obesity and stress, especially in combination, are already the biggest killers for women. Nearly all women with a BMI greater than 34 after their 40th birthday will be dead before their 60th birthday.

It’s becoming clear that, within just a couple years, obesity will be the leading cause of death for people older than forty-five. Obesity is “the new smoking” epidemic. It has already surpassed smoking, as a leading cause of death, by nearly 300% !!! That’s a 3x increased risk of death, over and above the risk from smoking, perpetrated by the new American “obese lifestyle”.

Heart Health update

My Cardiac Ejection Fraction (EF%) has now fallen to a point where it can no longer be measured in an echocardiogram. We can measure it accurately with the Nuclear Medicine scan but that’s an expensive test and it’s sort of a moot point. The cardiologist estimates my EF is somewhere around 5-6%.

My last CPX was good, though, and the internal pressures in my heart – measured during surgery last year – were pretty good.

I was at elevation yesterday, though, down in the Magdalena Mountains, and had some definite troubles above 7k feet. Dizziness, mainly, and developed a bad headache. I don’t really believe I have lost a thousand feet of elevation-tolerance; but I am certainly not handling rapid elevation changes as well as I was last Summer.

Regardless I’ve packed up my climbing boots and trail shoes, and plan to go camp/play in the mountains for the next week. I’ll do totally primitive in the Malpais for two nights, then head into the high country around Quemado where there are lots of good camping areas.

I will FINALLY get to see the Walter De Maria lightning farm, though it’s too early in the season to see much in the way of lightning.

But then I plan to go way South into the true Chihuahuan Desert, much lower elevation, where I’ll be “hot and full of breath”! Hehe.

RCCLA rocks!

We have camped much of the Summer on land in far northern New Mexico that is managed by Rio Costilla Cooperative Livestock Association (RCCLA).  From what I’ve seen over the Summer, this organization does the best job in New Mexico of managing and maintaining the vital habitat and wildlife of the Sierra Sangre De Cristo.

It’s pretty cool to see that a for-profit organization (private ranchers) are doing a better job than ANY of our national forests of preserving ancient grasses, protecting one of our country’s most delicate wild trout habitats, and operating a truly magnificent campground facility; all within the context of an obviously well-run ranching enterprise.

It’s increasingly difficult to find a pristine, clear, mountain river full of multiple species of wild trout – without going to Alaska or off the continent – let alone such a place with domestic cattle and elk being co-managed so well by a local cooperative enterprise.

Seriously.  If you want to camp, fish, hunt in the most beautiful wilderness in New Mexico or Colorado, and you want to see what old-world private ranchers can do when put in charge of precious natural resources, the you owe it to yourself to go stay a few days.  It’s easily the best outdoor experience you will have in New Mexico.

Unfortunately, I don’t do well above 8,500 ft. elevation – and much of this wilderness area is above 9,000 ft.   The highest and best scenario for me is to go up to that altitude with an understanding that I won’t be able to do much more than a 1/4-mile slow walk, and to come back down within 24-36 hours.

I love the serenity, though, and the extraordinary alpine meadows with their creeks and mountain seeps running through spruce, pine and aspen.  Stewart Edward White and Teddy Roosevelt both wrote of hunting expeditions into this region (private ranches then) just before the 20th century.

Important BTW::   I love Mia!  She’s the most awesome girl I’ve ever known.  I’ve never even MET anyone with values like hers.  She’s taught me more than I ever bargained to learn… and she’s really really cute!  I don’t really know if I can survive a winter where she lives but – I think – we’re to a point in our partnership where we are both wanting to move South in Winter and back to Taos in Summer (with ample commuting as necessary).

It’s a little strange, I think, that so many people think of the Sierra Sangre De Cristo as if it’s a New Mexico area/culture.  If you’ve not been to San Luis CO (the oldest settlement in the state of Colorado) and looked back into the Sangres from the Northwest, or you’ve not driven South from San Pablo CO to Amalia NM and realized THAT is the original land grant from Spain which defines this region’s cultural and natural heritage, then find a way to come visit!

Just remember to leave it better than you found it, and to be respectful of an ancient ranching culture that is the nation’s best example of entrepreneurship without greed – and without compromise of natural and human values.

God acted with Grace when He gave us each other and this planet.  So our only logical response can be gratitude; but gratitude is meaningless without the actions of love, tolerance, forgiveness, generosity, and service.

 

 

Most Scenic Place in New Mexico?

I beg to differ with the travel guides who call the Lower Hondo Valley the most scenic place in New Mexico.  It’s indubitably a beautiful little valley where I live, but our state has some mighty scenic places – like the Rio Costilla Canyon Southeast of the town of Costilla.

We spent the weekend exploring the high country of the Northwest Sangre de Cristo range – mainly places in the Questa Ranger District – and had a wonderful time camping in the high meadows surrounding the Rio Costilla.  The drive up through the Rio Costilla Canyon is simply spectacular – and doesn’t seem to have been “discovered” by too many foreigners.  The river – with its wild cut-throat and brook trout – is a “best kept secret” of local fishing fanatics and it’s easily the most beautiful little river in the state!

We also visited Cabresto Lake and found it overrun with jeep’sters and foreigners gone fishing in the stocked reservoir.  We also found it’s no longer maintained for camping, dirty and trashy, and too high for me to get along safely.  The altimeter said we topped out at 9600 feet before dropping only a couple hundred feet to the lake itself, and it was obvious if I stayed for long I’d not be able to do much of anything.

So we headed on North, thinking we might go to the Latir Lakes (which turned out to be closed) and discovered the Rio Costilla Cooperative Campground on the road up the canyon.  It’s an excellent place to camp, and one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been.  One helluva beautiful little river!

We camped just below 9000 feet and I was able to get along pretty well.  I can tell, above about 8500 feet, that my heart barely keeps up and my muscles fatigue and cramp easily – a sign of the oxygen deprivation – but I’m probably safe to stay 2-3 days.  Above that altitude I start to lose so much function it’s not worth trying to stay long, and it’s likely dangerous for me.

We’re off to camp and fish on the Rio Chama next week, then I’ll bet we go back to Rio Costilla to fish and stay longer!

Obesity kills!

Even young women die from the heart complications of obesity.
Even young women die from the heart complications of obesity.

Obesity is now the leading cause of heart failure, and the leading preventable cause of death among women over forty.

The problem with obesity is that, as a society, we have not learned to treat it the same way we treat all the other addictions.  Obesity does not carry the stigma that comes with most addictions; but it needs to.  All the behavioral issues associated with other addictions appear in obese people, too.  So we need to move quickly to identify the intense denial, control, family codependence, and insidiously harmful priorities of the obese person.  They’re just as sick, probably sicker, than the alcoholic or heroin addict – and when the disease has finished destroying everything else in their lives, it will kill them.

In fact, far more people (especially women) die from obesity than from alcoholism and drug addiction combined.

But addiction is addiction.  When you hear a fat person blame their condition on people or circumstances beyond their control, then you know you’re dealing with irreversible addiction that can only end in one of two ways: abstinence or death.

Yet we continue to tiptoe around the “elephant in the living room” instead of being blunt and calling a spade a spade.  We gotta stop doing that!

How many times have we heard a non-smoker walk by a smoker and emit the little false cough, scowl at the smoker, or even say something derogatory about the smoking?  We need to treat obesity the same way.

So if you see someone obese, you might be saving their life with a bit of ridicule.  Remind them their obesity will kill them – and that you’re tired of paying high insurance premiums that come from the enormous medical cost of their obesity.

If you’re fat, lose weight.  If you’re not, then find someone who is and tell them to lose weight.  Now.  The more blunt you are, the greater the chance they will actually get help and lose weight before it destroys their lives.

 

 

Alive in Chamisaville!

It’s like a dream come true to be able to say, “I live in Taos.”

But now I do!

Taos is one of 3-4 places in the US where I’ve traditionally driven out of town wondering, “Why am I leaving?”  So it’s soooo awesome to finally live here!

I actually live in a small community outside Taos on the Rio Hondo. It’s not far, though.  Everyone works and shops in Taos.

Based on the characters I’ve seen or met so far, this little community is a dead ringer for Chamisaville in John Nichols’ New Mexico Trilogy!  Very cool!

While Taos is a beautiful and historic place, it’s really the Taoseño culture that’s drawn me to live here. It’s almost an underground culture, in that visitors see mainly a tourism-driven community of shops, inns and restaurants; but behind the scenes, there’s a wonderful community of people who live by the same drop-out starchild values that I do.  And unlike the rest of the state, the spanish-speaking people here answer me in spanish!

A few other things I’ve noticed:  lots of genuine artists living close to the edge on solely the proceeds from their art; there are magpies all over the place and they really ARE drawn to investigate shiny objects; Cid’s market is way better than Sprouts or TJ’s; there are more charitable organizations per capita than anywhere I’ve ever lived, and if you want to keep your house warm you better know how to operate an axe!  Oh, and the pecan sticky buns at Michael’s Bakery are to die for!…

The most significant reasons for choosing to live in Taos, though, are spiritual reasons.  There is a strong sense of love, tolerance and generosity in the community – and a remarkable feeling that Taoseños share my values.  The same types of young people I find at raves down in Albuquerque – starkids who’ve abandoned mainstream culture and run for the hills.  Plenty of people who don’t vote, could care less about politics or government, and who feel real change occurs at a grassroots local/personal level.  A strong sense of “we” being far more important than “me”.  I have to admit, too, that I feel a pronounced sense of spiritual retreat when I’m home on the Rio Hondo.

And when you live in Taos you quickly learn to avoid that damn stoplight east of the plaza!  In fact you learn to stay off the main thoroughfare through town entirely!  Traffic at that main stoplight is how we know there are lots of foreigners in town!

But I’m duly impressed by the demarcation between the Taos which tourists see and the actual community of Taos.  Peace.  We either live by our values or we don’t.  I’ve found that, home on the Rio Hondo, we live by our values.

Here are some pictures….