Healthy Aging: Physical Resiliency “The older the house more the maintenance.”

“The Older The House, More The Maintenance” | Healthy Aging Series: Part 13

(Read the last paragraph first!)

I remember sitting in a classroom at Portland Community College, Portland Oregon (pronounced aw-ruh-gun, not aw-ruh-gone). It was 1979. The Class was Lifespan Development. The instructor was John Lawrence. The first words out of his mouth were, “The older the house the more the maintenance.” Since then, I’ve owned an older home for twenty years. I know exactly what he meant, except of course, he was talking about the aging process and, yes of course, he meant our bodies. Drive by any abandoned home. Anywhere. Roll down you window and stare at it for 5 or 10 minutes. Now, think about this: That’s you if you don’t take care of your body.

I can predict your future.

What you eat and how much you exercise will determine your future physical resiliency. What you eat and how much you exercise will determine almost everything about your future. Don’t delude yourself. You cannot escape the consequences of bad diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

Exercise: The Silver Bullet.

I’m going to write several blogs on fitness and health and aging, so this will be a brief explanation of the benefits of exercising. Having an active lifestyle is the best gift that you can give to your future self. One of the more important books I’ve read over the past five or 10 years is a book entitled, “Younger Next Year,” by Chris Crowley. It’s a book that promotes a good diet and regular exercise. Read it!

If there’s one thing you can do to improve your resiliency it’s, start exercising. Here are some of those benefits: 

  1. Exercising helps control weight. It helps prevent obesity and accompanying diseases.
  2. Exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of premature death. 
  3. Exercise helps manage blood sugar and insulin. 
  4. Exercise improves our mental health which enhances in mind-body connection. I’ve written about this in an earlier blog. 
  5. Exercise improves your brain functioning, see future blogs and the aging brain. 
  6. Exercise reduces the chances of falls. See future blogs and fall prevention. 
  7. Exercise helps to maintain muscle mass. Losing muscle mass is a big problem as we age, and dramatically impacts our physical resiliency.

Diet: You Can’t Outrun a Bad Diet

Michael Pollen writes, “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The purpose of a resiliency-based diet is threefold: 

  1. Helps maintain weight and muscle mass. I don’t believe this means starving yourself. It means portion control. Most Americans eat too many calories and not enough protein for muscle mass maintenance. But there is a caveat to promoting muscle growth. You must also couple protein intake by or with exercise.  Muscle mass equals stability and mobility. 
  2. Provides needed natural micro and macro nutrients. Your body was engineered to extract needed micronutrients from real food. If you’re eating real food, unless your doctor prescribes supplements, you don’t need to take them. I was taking zinc because I was told that “it enhances your immune system.” I told my doctor and she advised me to stop. She said that it could interfere with my ability to absorb copper. Some people take a daily vitamin for insurance but if you’re eating right, you don’t need them. Eat real food, to include lots of fruits and vegetables, which provide vitamins and minerals that boost immunity and lead to enhanced resiliency. 
  3. Maintains good gut health, both pre-and probiotics. Never forget that you were eating for two: you and the colony of bacteria or microbiome that lives in your gut. Feeding the micro biome means eating lots of natural fiber, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lots of fermented food . This includes kombucha and yogurt.

Here are the benefits of a healthy gut:

  • Improved food digestion.
  • It helps regulate your immune system which promotes resiliency
  • It produces vitamins, which includes B12 Simon and riboflavin.
  • A healthy gut enhances weight control.
  • It improves your mental health by enhancing the brain gut connection. A heathy gut improves cardiovascular health by helping to control cholesterol.

How do we improve our microbiome?

  1. Eat fruit and fermented food to include yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir. Be mindful that sauerkraut often is not fermented but simply stored in salt brine.
  2. Eat a wide range of real food. Vegetables, beans, fruit, fiber, whole grains. Eat foods that include polyphenols. Red wines, green tea, dark chocolate, olive oil. Limit your use of antibiotics.

Physical resilience is the result of good diet and exercise.

Make no mistake. You cannot eat junk food and neglect fruit and vegetables, on top of living a sedentary lifestyle, and expect to be a physically resilient person. Your ability to bounce back from viruses, broken bones, exposure to chemicals or other toxins, and from genetic minefields, if you do not take care of your body. That’s as simple as it gets. It’s about taking care of your body. If you take care of your body, you will be a more resilient person now and in years to come.

Don’t do what I say, do what I do!

I’ve just finished editing this blog. I’m visiting my granddaughters in Colorado. I’m leaving my room in a few minutes for a 2-hour hike in the mountains. I had a high-fiber, high protein breakfast with some fruit. I work out every day, most weeks. I eat food, not too much, mostly plants, most weeks. 

This is part thirteen in the Healthy Aging Series, written by Mark Neese, LCSW, BCBA. To see more entries in this series, click here.

Healthy Aging: Psychological Resilience 10 Practices to “Keep Your Head in the Game” of Life!

10 Practices to “Keep Your Head in the Game” of Life! | Healthy Aging Series: Part 12

I’m on a Southwest flight 31. Headed to Chicago and then to Cancun, Mexico. Vacation mode. With my wife. We work hard at helping others. We give a lot of ourselves. Often, times we see a lot of pain and suffering. I see broken families. I see men and women in despair, and yes, I see hopelessness. All of this takes a toll on us on us. That’s what life does.

Life Can Be Messy 

Throughout our lives we experience the loss of  jobs, of first loves, or the loss of money in the stock market. We live through the stress of a spiteful supervisor, the stress of an irrational neighbor, the stress of living in a partisan country. We carry the burden of wayward children and grandchildren, the burden of an ailing partner, the burden of a dying parent. We endure the disappointment of unfulfilled dreams, unrequited love, and undeserved betrayals. Life can be a mess.  How prepared are you for those messes, the mental and emotional upheaval‘s? How psychologically resilient are you? How quickly do you rebound from the disappointments, from the unexpected adversities, and from unwanted changes?

What is Psychological Resiliency?

I have written in an earlier blog about resiliency. In some ways it helps to understand that physical resiliency is the opposite of physical vulnerability or physical fragility. Psychological vulnerability and  fragility are similar in many ways. Psychological resiliency acts as a buffer between us and our adversity and helps preserve our emotional balance or what some call homeostasis. Why is this important and what can we do about it?

Psychological resiliency is important because of the body-mind connection. If we are fragile psychologically or physically it affects our mental resiliency. People that are physically frail often suffer emotionally and psychologically  and vice versa.

If psychological resiliency is that important,  how does one become more psychologically resilient? How does one develop emotional stamina, mental strengthen and endurance? The mindfulness community teaches the phrase “What we practice grows stronger. The AA community refers to the 12 steps and encourages its members to practice the principles in all their affairs.

Becoming and maintaining our psychological resilience takes practice.

In the same way that you need good nutrition and exercise for physical resilience, you need good mental nutrition and mental exercise for psychological resiliency. Becoming resilient and maintaining our  psychological resilience takes practice. Much like you need good nutrition and exercise for physical resilience you need good mental nutrition and mental exercise to grow your psychological resilience. It’s all about diet and exercise

Living My Life by Slogans (Practices)

I have based much of my own psychological resiliency on slogans and  mottos that reflect resiliency practices. What follows are a number of those slogans that I encourage you to practice. 

1. You have to adjust to the things that won’t adjust to you. I believe this means living life on life’s terms. There are a lot of stressors and things that happened to us throughout our years and our expectations of life, and these events can create a reactivity to the stressor that takes its toll on us both mentally and physically. Excepting the things that we cannot change is part of the process of developing resiliency.

2.  Easy does it. I have learned to not push so hard when pursuing my wants and needs. As a therapist I’ve learned that working with families involves being a change agent. I use the Easy-Does-It approach when is work with families. This means taking it slow and not pushing so hard for change.

3. The golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If there is any guiding principle in life that I use, it’s the practice of treating others the way that I want to be treated. Practicing this principle eliminates conflict in relationships.

4. Memento Mori: “Remember that you will die.” I think about dying every day. There’s a lot to be said about this. Stoics believed that life only has meaning in light of dying. Resiliency grows as you make the most of each day, and that comes as we appreciate the meaning of each day.

5. “I treat everyone like my peer.” A few years ago I was watching an interview with Norman Lear, the creator of “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons.” At the time he was 93 and his interviewer asked him how it was that he seemed so youthful. His response was, “I treat everyone like my peer.“ There are practices that can alleviate resistance and difficulty in relationships. This is a practice that helps people or puts people at ease when they are with us and allows us to create it environment for them and promotes your resiliency.

6. Do the Next Best Thing. Life can present us with difficult decisions to make in the future. We fast forward at times into our future and think about all the things that we might face. We become overwhelmed by what “might be.” Doing the next best things means focusing on the here and now and dealing only with the problems that you face now. The future can rob you of your serenity and contribute to your loss of resiliency.

7. Build a Repertoire of Positive Sentiment. I go places with my wife to build a repertoire of positive sentiment. I hike for the same reason. I backpack for the same reason. I read and listen to new music for the same reason. I spend time with my sons and granddaughters for the same reason. This repertoire is a protect bubble that protects you from the hardships of life.

8. Balance Giving and Receiving. I know you’ve heard the slogan: It’s better to give than receive. This is BS. You must be a receiver for someone to be a giver. I love giving, but only being a giver ensures that you will become cynical and burned out. Learn to be a receiver.

9. Balance Work with Play. If you are going to be resilient you must play. You must have fun. You must be a little boy or little girl and play in the mud and make mudpies. You must make playdough cookies. You must laugh. You must tickle and be tickled. 

10. Spend Time Alone in Your Head: -reflecting -creating -using active imagination. There is the saying in the religious world, “Let go and let God!” I prefer, “Let go and let the wonderful, hidden thoughts that you’ve repressed and suppressed express themselves in those quiet moments that you spend by yourself.” I often do this while hiking by myself in the Jefferson Memorial Forest. I also suggest one of the Parklands of Floyd’s Fork parks. Reflect on the day. Reflect on the year. I love thinking back on the old year each New Year’s Day. Not all the memories are good but reflecting in them is necessary. 

These are my life-affirming practices. What are yours? What’s working for you? What gets you through the hustle and bustle of life? What helps you decompress from the stressors in life? What you practice is growing stronger.

This is part twelve in the Healthy Aging Series, written by Mark Neese, LCSW, BCBA. To see more entries in this series, click here.

Trust Based Relational Intervention, TBRI, explains an alternative way to handle siblings in a conflict.

A Way to Manage Sibling Conflict

Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) explains an alternative way to handle siblings in a conflict. The main goal of this intervention is to have your child:

1) stop telling on their sibling to promote healthy relationships, 

2) teach your child accountability, and 

3) manage conflict healthily.  

Now how do we get there?

  1. The caregiver says, “I want to know what you did” or “What did you do?”
  2. Repeat that phrase as many times as it takes until the child tells you what they did, not their sibling.
  3. After the siblings have both shared what they did, the caregiver responds with, “Thank you for telling me what you did; now, how can we do this better? Can we try again?”
  4. Have your children “redo” the situation.
  5. Move on.

There is no “punishment” or “consequence” – we prompt children to redo situations in a healthier way.

Additional options and concepts: 

  • You may need to remove the children from the space to a neutral or different setting. 
  • You may try prompting everyone to take a deep breath before the conversation. 
  • You may separate children and go from one sibling to the next, then bring the sibling unit together for a redo. This ideally is immediately after a fight, argument, or incident. 
  • Prompt with choices if necessary. “You can ____, or you can _____”. 

Siblings have conflict, and this cannot be avoided. But how your children learn, grow, and respond to these experiences matters. Stay connected to both children when using this intervention. Try speaking calmly and maintaining eye contact. If you need help managing sibling conflict, additional ideas could be looking into family therapy! 

This blog was written by Meredith Edelen, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate, LSW. Learn more about Meredith and her work here

Personal Relationships Virtual Class Session at True North Therapy of Louisville

New Adult Personal Relationships Group Therapy Session Starting September 13, 2022

We’re excited to announce another virtual group therapy series here at True North Counseling: Personal Relationships!

This class is open to adults ages 18+. Classes are online every Tuesday, from 12-12:50 pm. They will run for 10 weeks, beginning on September 13th. Classes are $15 per week.
These classes are for adults seeking guidance concerning friendships, romantic connections, and other personal relationships. Each session will focus on learning about new skills to use in different types of relationships. Expect to learn about boundaries, consent, and other important relationship skills.
If you’re interested in joining or have any questions, please reach out to jennifer.kendrick@truenorththerapylouisville.com.
You can also contact us by visiting our Contact Us page or calling 502-777-7525.
See the flyer for the session here:
Personal Relationships Virtual Class Session at True North Therapy of Louisville
Resiliency in Aging: What is it and 5 Things You Better Know as You Age (And Yes, You Are Aging)

Resiliency in Aging: What is it and 5 Things You Better Know as You Age (And Yes, You Are Aging) | Healthy Aging Series: Part 11

To understand the meaning of a word, sometimes it helps to know what it’s not. If you’re not resilient, it’s likely that you’re vulnerable. That’s a word we’ve heard a lot during the Covid Pandemic. 

The CDC prioritized vulnerable people as the first to get Covid vaccinations. These people included older adults (65+ years old), individuals with compromised immune systems (usually the results of chemotherapy), and people who suffer from Diabetes, Hypertension, heart disease, and obesity, just to name a few. 

Genetics and bad luck have contributed to some people being more vulnerable. A car accident can change a person’s life and affect their resiliency. That happened to my very good friend, Jeff. He had a car accident in his early twenties. Years later, as he approached his sixties, he could barely walk and was in constant, severe pain. Some people can go from resilient to vulnerable after exposure to something in their environment like toxic chemicals, or a virus, or a traumatic loss. Some folk simple inherited genes that have made them more vulnerable. People born with autoimmune disorders struggle with vulnerabilities throughout their life. 

For many, being vulnerable is due to no fault of their own!

There are, however, behaviors and lifestyle choices that people practice that eventually contribute to their lack of resiliency. Some choices include smoking, excessive drinking, isolation, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, poor sleep hygiene, self-induced stress or lack of calming strategies, and in general, poor self-care strategies. I could go on, but you get the point. 

We spend our whole life practicing behaviors and making lifestyle choices that either lead to or prevent our resiliency.

What is Resiliency?

Resiliency is the ability to recover or bounce back from difficulties. It means having a mental and physical toughness. Resiliency acts as a buffer between you and the difficulties that you are going to face in life. It’s very important especially as you age and approach old age. 

I want to share five things that you need to know now about resiliency and aging:

1. Start Now!

Start practicing behaviors and making lifestyle choices now that will lead to a  more resilient life. I started this many years ago. I remember reading a book that my father had given me. It was “Dr. Bob Arnot’s Guide to Turning Back the Clock.” He challenged me to develop an “Athlete” mindset regardless of my age or activity level. I was lounging in my bed on a Sunday morning. Reading Arnot’s book. I was probably 25 pounds overweight. Inactive. Poor diet. I made the decision at that moment to change my behaviors and make good lifestyle choices. I became a runner, a cyclist, a hiker, and backpacker. I’ve kept reading. Years later, I became a Certified Personal Trainer and have added several supporting certifications. 

2. Make a Plan!

You need to make a plan and set goals that will affect your behaviors and lifestyle choices. Be purposeful and intentional. Schedule yourself in the gym and set goals for resistance training. I choose to set hourly and minute goal instead of volume goals. I try to spend 2-3 hours a week in my gym, stretching and lifting. I measure my cardio by hours and not miles (4-6 hours hiking or walking). 

Set a goal for the number of books that you want to read or set a goal to read so many hours per week. Buy books and put them on your bookshelf. It can be your reading que. Set a goal to listen to a certain number (or hours) of podcasts that appeal to you. 

I schedule time off each year. It’s amazing how many people never schedule a vacation. I just finished a trip to Utah for a backpacking trip. It was scheduled several months in advance.

The thing is, resiliency doesn’t just happen. You must be intentional about becoming resilient. For some people it intuitive, but not for me. I purposely and intentionally practice in behaviors and make lifestyle choices that promote my resiliency. 

3. Practice Addition and Subtraction!

Fill your life(addition) with people, places, things, and activities (behaviors and lifestyle choices) that will promote resiliency, and then get rid of (subtraction) the things that don’t. Toxins come in all shapes and forms. The same is true of resiliency promoting agents. I’ve had to leave people, foods, activities, and organizations that were not good for me. I’ve held onto those agents that were beneficial to me as if they were life preservers.

4. Be Hard on Yourself and Forgive Yourself.

Ignore your inner demons that tell you to quit working on yourself, and then forgive yourself for not being perfect. 

Years ago, I was sharing my workout regimen with a good friend. I was attending the gym 3-4 times a week, sometimes 5-6 times, sometimes for up to 2 hours each time. He responded with a caution that I was becoming addicted to working out.  I responded, not so politely, by asking him to keep his opinion to himself and that I already had to deal with my own inner demons that tempted me to stay in bed and overeat because, after all, hadn’t I just worked out, and didn’t I deserve to eat more. 

We need to be hard on ourselves and push ourselves to practice behaviors and make good lifestyle choices. 

But we also need to allow ourselves to be human and enjoy life. The truth is that we do only live once. Have a sweet. Take a morning or even a week off and recover. Waste some time doing nothing purposeful, or piddle, as I call it. A life full of regrets never promotes resiliency.

5. Enjoy the Journey!

Know this: A lifestyle that promotes resiliency is a coveted lifestyle. Aging doesn’t have to mean decline and deterioration. It can be a playful exploration, where you write your script. The lifestyle that you craft by your choices will become an exciting journey that leads to resiliency. The things that you do to promote resiliency provide a wonderful menu of activities, friends, foods, places, and experiences that will enhance your life. So, enjoy your journey.

I am going to spend several upcoming blogs providing a road map for that exciting journey.

This is part eight in the Healthy Aging Series, written by Mark Neese, LCSW, BCBA. To see more entries in this series, click here.

Healthy Aging Series: Grandparenting 2 Lessons I learned about Grandparenting from My Grandparents

2 Lessons I Learned About Grandparenting From My Grandparents | Healthy Aging Series: Part 10

What did you call your grandparents? I called mine ‘grandma’ and ‘grandpa,’ and then use their first names when talking about them: Grandpa Jim and Grandma Louise, my maternal grandparents, and Grandpa Pat and Grandma Lulu, my paternal grandparents. 

If I asked you to recall the most vivid memory of each of your grandparents, what would it be?

Here are mine:

Grandpa Jim: taking us fishing in a creek that ran past his home in Terre Haute, Indiana. 

Grandma Louise: making cinnamon and sugar crisp. She always baked us  a cake for our birthdays. 

Grandpa Pat: riding on top of his John Deere tractor when I was elementary age.

Grandma Lula: taking me aside when I was 29-years old and telling me she had prayed us out of the Catholic Church.

Religion played an important part in my family during my formative years. My mother was raised Catholic, and my father was raised by a Pentecostal mother. My father converted to Catholicism when he married my mother. My grandmothers were always feuding about with us and each other about religion, and it seemed like the grandchildren were caught in the middle. 

My parents were practicing Catholics until I was eight years old. We left the Catholic Church due to disagreements they had with their Priest and my Catholic grandmother disowned us for five years. 

Score one for Pentecostal prayer.

During those next years, we were Lutherans, Methodists, and Unitarians, but never Pentecostal. 

Score one for open-mindedness.

 I could share more about my “faith“ development, but this is about grandparenting, not religion, even though religion and grandparenting we’re completely intertwined in my family life. Make no mistake, I learned a lot about grandparenting from my grandparents. 

What were those lessons? I want to make a point as I share these lessons. These lessons are the things I learned from MY grandparents. Many of us have very diverse experiences with grandparents. Some people were raised by their grandparents. Some people lost their grandparents when they were young children. My Grandpa Pat died when I was 13 years old. I didn’t have a lot of exposure to him as a teenager and adult. So, these are the lessons that I learned from MY grandparents.

Lesson One: Mind your own business!

Listen to me, those of you who have adult children and are anticipating or already have grandchildren! Mind your own business. 

You don’t like the politics of your grown children? Mind your own business!

You don’t like the way you’re grown children parent your grandchildren? Mind your own business! 

You don’t like the way your children spend their money? Mind your own business you don’t approve of their choices of friends, or choices of occupations, or even their choice of partners? Mind your own business! 

You don’t like the tidiness or lack of tidiness of their home and  think they should be getting along better with your other adult children, their siblings,  or they get divorced. Mind your own business. 

If you don’t approve of their choice of pets or the number of pets they have, keep your opinion and your advice to yourself. Even if you don’t approve of their choice of religion, denomination, or the church they attend, mind your own business!  

If you want to have a loving caring, nurturing, supportive relationship with your grandchildren, then accept their parents, your grown children, for who they are and mind your own business.

This includes giving unsolicited advice. Never do it! Giving unsolicited advice is a subtle form of disapproval. I always felt alienated and  the disapproval of my grandmother‘s because they disapproved of my parents’ choices.

Lesson Two: Spoil your grandchildren with your time and attention.

Hug them. Kiss them, even when they don’t like it. My older granddaughter is at that stage, but I hug her when I see her and kiss her on the forehead and tell her that I love her! My granddaughters live in another state, but I see them every three months. Before I go, I visit bookstores and other stores where I can pick up small things to make a grab bag for them. I love watching them open the grab bags. Later during my visit, I take them on a shopping spree to H&M or American Eagle, or Charlotte Russe.

I love going camping with them and their parents. We love going to a state park in Colorado called 11 Mile Lake. On my last visit we went out on the driveway and played basketball with their mother. My granddaughters have three other grandparents that are actively involved with them doing all types of things. I see them fishing with their other grandfather often on Facebook. One of their grandmothers is constantly encouraging them to go hiking with her. We all tell them that we love them, and we hug them, and spend as much time with them as we possibly can.
We all think about leaving our grandchildren money for things like college or a down payment for a house. And if we can, that’s an important form of inheritance that we can leave them.

I believe the most important things that we can leave our grandchildren are the memories and experiences we had with them.

In the business world, investors make a distinction between tangible and intangible assets and investments. Tangible investments are things like buildings and equipment. Intangible assets are things like a company‘s brand, their goodwill, and intellectual property.

In parenting and grandparenting, we can make tangible and intangible investments in our children’s and grandchildren’s lives. Leaving a college fund or down payment for a home or car can be helpful for our grandchildren. Those are tangible investments.

The way you make intangible investments in your grandchildren is by spoiling them with your time and attention

Making an intangible investment in your grandchildren isn’t being proud of them! It’s telling them that you’re proud of them. 

It means encouraging them to follow their bliss. It means telling them that you love them.

What did you learn about grandparenting from your grandparents? Think of ways you can learn from them. They made mistakes. We all do. I have. I hope that I’ve been a good grandparent and set an example for my granddaughters when it’s time for them to be grandparents. 

This is part ten in the Healthy Aging Series, written by Mark Neese, LCSW, BCBA. To see more entries in this series, click here.

true north therapy is now offering a teen zoom talk therapy group on july 28, 2022

New Online Teen Group Therapy Session Starting July 2022

Does your teen struggle with their emotions? Are you a teen who wishes they could communicate better?

At True North Counseling, we are now offering a Teen Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) Skills group! Join us weekly to practice coping strategies, emotion regulation, and communication skills.
This class is open to ages 13-17. Classes are online every Thursday, from 3-4 pm, beginning on July 28th. Classes are $15 per week.
If you know of a teen who would be interested/appropriate for the group, please reach out to admin@truenorththerapylouisville.com.
You can also contact us by visiting our Contact Us page or calling 502-777-7525.
Your Body is a Temple

Your Body is a Temple | Healthy Aging Series: Part 9

Part 1: My Parents

The last 10 years of my father‘s life were very difficult. He died at 82. At 72 he had quintuple coronary artery bypass surgery. Then he received an Aortobifemoral Artery Replacement. And then he needed a small section of his colon removed because of cancer

The doctor performed the heart bypass surgery gathered us around in the surgery waiting room and told us that there were signs of emphysema. This was not good. He recovered from his surgeries but over the next 10 years suffered from COPD which was caused by the emphysema. 

It would not surprise you to hear that my father was a lifelong smoker. Most of my father‘s health problems were lifestyle related. My mother fared better but her last 10 years were challenging. Mom was physically unstable. She walked to Hardee’s every morning about 2/10 of a mile. I had coffee and socialized with her peer group. I do not remember mom ever exercising. Beyond mild cardio and I never remember any resistance training. Consequently mom fell at least twice she was lucky because neither fall resulted in a hospitalization but she short suffered a shoulder injury and her face was black and blue. She also suffered from atrial fibrillation or a-fib. It can be genetic but more often it’s a lifestyle related disorder. My mom‘s instability and a-fib were due, in large part, to lack of cardio training and mobility stability training. My mother‘s death was caused by symptoms related to the a-fib. She had difficulties with it a month prior to her death. She was hospitalized and most likely contracted an opportunist virus.

I tell my clients, “You have to prepare for the last 10 years of your life.” I tell them that these are in all likelihood going to be the most difficult years of your life because those are the years that you are more vulnerable and susceptible to opportunistic illnesses and injuries related to instability and lack of mobility

Mom and dad were examples of just how important it is to take care of yourself.

Part 2: Practicing What I Preach

I’ve been very fortunate in my 40s, 50s, and now 60s. I’ve been doing the Grand Canyon since 2001 almost every year. I’ve backpacked Rim to River to Rim (R2R2R) 15 times or more.  A few years ago I did R2R2R2R2R in a period of three days. 

I can do the Incline, in Manitou Springs Colorado, a 1 mile in distance but gaining 2000 feet of elevation, in 75 minutes.

I’ve done some hellacious backpacking trips in California to include Mount Whitney the highest peak in the continental United States. I have backpacked in the Tetons in Wyoming, Canyonlands National Park in Utah, and many 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado. I’ve run several half-marathons and two marathons and countless of 5Ks, 10Ks, and 10 Miler‘s, 

I’ve ridden my Cannondale 613 across the state of Indiana, 161 miles, the day before my 55th birthday, all in one day. I rode across the Golden Gate bridge, ridden the Mount Vernon trail to DC, and along the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I’ve kayaked a 20 mile stretch of the Green River through Mammoth Cave National Park. 

I recently rebooted my interest in orienteering, and have been running through the woods. I lift weights almost every week. Tristin, my Personal trainer from my 50s asked me what I wanted for my goals and I answered: I want to be a badass at 60

I spent my 60th birthday on the top of Mount Bierstadt.

I’m not in perfect health. My kidneys don’t filter like they used to. Most likely due to taking too much ibuprofen. My thyroid doesn’t work anymore. I take level thyroxine. I’m 5 pounds heavier than I want. I walk or hike 3 to 5 miles 4-5 times a week. I still lift weights 2 to 3 times weekly I use intermittent fasting control my weight. Monday through Friday I don’t eat until noon. I avoid sugar during the week.  I limit my alcohol intake to one or two drinks daily. I like getting “Misty“ in the evenings much like Gus McCrae confessed in the novel “Lonesome Dove,” by Larry McMurtry. I think sugar is the scourge of our modern era. Did I say that I think sugar is the scourge of our modern era!  I’ll be 66 this year and I want to do a feat of strength like Jack Lalaine did every year but I’m learning to be more gentle on my body.

I take more break days. I cut back on my mileage. I’m getting older. There, I said it. When I was in my mid-50s I started to think about aging  so I concluded that I needed more information. I started reading. And I got certified as a Personal Trainer with a specially in Senior Fitness. A few years back I read everything I could about nutrition. Now I’m reading everything I can on healthy aging and fitness.

Part 3: How to Prepare for the Last Ten Years of Your Life

Here is what I’ve learn about preparing for the last ten years of your life:

1. Move!

Never stop moving! Walk, skip, jump. Lift, carry, transfer! Park as far from the entrance of the store as you can. Lift as much as you can and of course lift with your legs. Walk in the parks, walk in your neighborhood, walk after dinner, walk on walking paths, walk on trails, and of course lift weights. Do squats, do step ups, and move in any way that you possibly can! Never stop moving. 

2. Incorporate instability in your movement!

If a doctor tells you to use a cane or walker and follow those recommendations. Otherwise incorporate as much instability in your workouts as you possibly can. Walking on level streets is good but walking on unlevel surfaces is even better! I typically run into hikers doing day hikes in the Jefferson forest and see them using trekking poles. This is providing a level of stability utilizing their arms and trekking poles and upper body that is preventing their legs and lower body and core from strengthening the muscles that they need to increase their stability. The more unstable your surface the more likely that it’s going to create stability in your core and in your legs! This is very important!  I recently became a Functional Aging Specialist and this is absolutely the most current information that you can have on becoming more stable as you age.

3. Build Muscle Mass

One of the conditions that begins in mid-life that affects most people is something known as Sarcopenia. This is a loss of muscle mass. Hormonal changes in middle life, such as decreasing growth hormone, contribute to this loss of muscle mass. You can, however, counteract this process by maintaining a moderate level of resistance training and consuming an adequate amount of protein. Researchers have been studying protein supplements with and without exercise and have overwhelmingly concluded that an increase in protein supplement without exercise contributes very little muscle growth. If you want to maintain or grow muscle mass then do resistance training. It’s one way to ensure that you don’t suffer from Sarcopenia.

4. Fitness and the Brain

One of my concerns as I age is my brain. I’ve read numerous books on developing a healthy brain or maintaining a healthy brain and here’s what I’ve learned: the two more most important things that you can do are: eating lots of fruits and vegetables and exercise. It’s that simple. You maintain a healthy brain by exercise and good nutrition.

I titled this blog, Your Body is a Temple. One thing is very certain: you only have one body that is going to get you through until the day that you pass on. You have to take care of it, and you have to start taking care of it now. In a sense there should be some amount of reverence that you show towards your body. Take care of it. Nurture it. Exercise it. Ensure that it’s getting the absolute best fuel that you can give it.

Preparing for the last 10 years of your life means preparing now.

Exercise and eat well!

This is part nine in the Healthy Aging Series, written by Mark Neese, LCSW, BCBA. To see more entries in this series, click here.

How Can You Tell If a Therapist is the Right Fit? by Meredith edelen

How Can You Tell If a Therapist is the Right Fit?

The goal is to feel comfortable with them.

Here are some good signs the fit is present…

  • You are able to be honest with them
  • You feel safe with them
  • You trust them
  • They do not cancel sessions on you often
  • They take and ask for feedback about how sessions are going and your preferences
  • They do not tell you what to do but instead help you discover what the best choice is for you given your current situation
  • They validate your feelings or experience
  • You don’t have to re-explain things to them over and over again

Here are some signs this therapist might not be the right fit…

  • You feel uncomfortable.
  • You feel judged.
  • You don’t see the possibility of changing comfortability level.
  • Your therapist over shares about their personal life or problems (and it feels odd).
  • They call you names or use condescending language.
  • They try to be your friend or form a relationship outside of therapy office.

For some people, they might know if the therapist is a fit after the first session. For others, it might take 2-3 sessions to see comfortability or trust. Does it take you some time to connect with others? It might be the same for your therapist.

The therapeutic relationship is sacred and important. You as the client have the right to fire your therapist if the fit isn’t right. One therapist cannot be the right fit for every client out there, so don’t give up hope! You will find a therapist right for you.

This blog was written by Meredith Edelen, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate, CSW, MFTA. Learn more about Meredith here

Healthy Aging Series written by Mark Neese

Living Is Dying, Or Is It The Other Way Around? (Part 3) | Healthy Aging Series: Part 8

There is a very thin line between living and dying, in much the same way that there is a thin line between fiction and non-fiction. 

I wonder what Mom would say? 

As a Jungian-Inspired Psychotherapist, I spend time doing “shadow work.” James Hollis, a Jungian Analyst, suggests that we do this by having conversations with our diseased parents, in order to explore our Parent Complexes. In his book, “Hauntings: Dispelling the Ghosts Who Run Our Lives,” he asserts that we are living out the unfulfilled dreams of our parents. So, I’m curious. I talk to her and I ask her questions. 

Most of my conversations are done when I’m hiking. “What were your dreams, Mom?” I ask while hiking the Mitch McConnell Trail in the Jefferson Forest. “What did you want when you were a young woman and a young mother?” I want to ask about her father, but I don’t yet. 

I want to ask her what she thinks of me. Maybe she would ask me what I think of her, as a mother. I would listen as she recounts her joys and sorrows. I would smile as she tells me how cute I am and how I’m her little pixie. 

She would ask me questions about theology and now I listen and answer. 

I ask her what it feels like to be old, and she gives her standard answer. “I would never want to be any age other than what I am right now.” I’m convinced.

I tell her about my belief that living is dying, and she says, “Oh no Kimmer, living isn’t dying.”

I respond that we’re all dying. “I don’t know if we begin to die at birth or at fifty or sixty. But yes, we’re all dying,” I say. But in her overly-optimistic way Mom explains that some people spend their life living and some spend it dying. “Living isn’t dying, dying is living,” she says.

I don’t know if Mom ever watched “Shawshank Redemption,” but in my “shadow” talks she has. She reminds me of the quote from Red, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” 

I tell her how the boys are doing. I tell her that Harper and Sophie, her great-granddaughters, are well. I tell her that I’m happy despite the virus. I’m happy. I can tell from her voice that she is happy too. 

I tell her that I love her and that we will talk soon.

As I hang up, I still feel the warmth of her hand as she was fading in that dim hospital room. She wasn’t dying. She was living. 

And now, I’m living too. 

This is part eight in the Healthy Aging Series, written by Mark Neese, LCSW, BCBA. To see more entries in this series, click here.