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Long healthspans mean happy lives

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There is only time for loving – Harvard study predicts good health at 80 with good relationships at 50

18th June 2017

There isn’t time — so brief is life — for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. there is only time for loving — & but an instant, so to speak, for that.
– Mark Twain (letter to Clara Spaulding, 20 August 1886)

A 75 year Harvard study found that “good relationships keep as happier and healthier.” The study follows two groups of men (724 total). One group studied at Harvard just before WW2. The other group were poor teens from Boston.

Some main points:

Social connections to family, friends, and community = more happy, more healthy, longer life.
Loneliness = less happy, less healthy, shorter life.

How content people were with their relationships at 50 predicted their health at 80. Health factors (like cholesterol at 50) did not predict happiness. Closer relationships seem to hold off memory loss.

Quality matters. High conflict marriages are bad for your health. Bickering is fine if the people can really count on each other.

Throughout life, lean into quality relationships.

After retirement, you should replace work-mates with play-mates.

Here is the TED talk:

Posted in Health news, Inspiration, Stress | No Comments »

Anybody frequently get dizzy or lightheaded?

4th June 2017

Reader question: Anybody get dizzy or lightheaded as a matter of course?

Before we get started, I had multiple trips to the nose/ear specialists and had am MRI of my head already, and nothing really came up.

I’m 40, and for the last year or so, I’ve noticed that when my head moves position, from vertical to horizontal or vice verse (like rising from bed in the morning), I generally have to go through a brief period of lightheartedness or light dizziness.

Anybody else have this?

Possibilities (but of course you need a doctor to check you out):

Vertigo. Terrifying if you get a full-on episode but easily correctable at home. Google Modified Epley Maneuver. It may help. Also, number one cause of vertigo is stress, which might be the root cause. My mother had that once and it became severe. Turns out there was some kind of crystals or something in our inner ears and hers were out of balance and she went to a specialist and they did some kind a maneuver to balance them and it helped a lot.

Arteries: Get a full cardio workup. My 45 year old sister in law had these symptoms. Went through the ear nose etc checkups. Then her doctor said you’re young but let’s see if you’re having bloodflow issues. She had a serious blockage in a main artery to her heart. She was getting dizzy from lack of oxygenization. She had an angio and a stent put in and all is good.

Micturution syncope. It happens to a friend every other month, always happens in the early morning after waking up or right after taking his first piss of the morning. Will sometimes pass out entirely. My doctor said that it’s a condition caused by a rapid drop in blood pressure after waking up and rising rapidly and typically after urinating. Only happens in males.

Posted in Conditions | No Comments »

How to use a treadmill to get back in shape

17th May 2017

Reader question:

Looking for a good treadmill workout so I can get back into shape before I run the track outside. Hope to be doing a 1.5 mile run without embarrassing myself too much.

Thanks for the question. First, be careful with sprinting on treadmills. Second, don’t do too much jogging – running fast is good for you. Third, here are a few workouts you can try:

1. You’re going to have to work up to it, but…

Start with a .5 mile warmup at 7mph then increasing the speed by .5mph every .1 mile to end at 9mph

Do this…take a break of 2min between each sprint.
2 quarter mile sprints at 9mph
2 quarter mile sprints at 9.5mph
2 quarter mile sprints at 10mph

Finish up with 1 mile jog at about 7.5mph

I do this (but a little faster for each sprint) to get ready for my PFT and CFT. I haven’t ran a 3 mile straight (other than for my tests or trail running) in years.

2. Sprint at 14 mph for 45 seconds, jog at 5mph for 45 seconds. Repeat for 4-5 sprints and call it a day. less than 7 minute workout and it works.

3. 5 min walk 3.5 mph
5 min walk 4.0 mph

2 min run 7.8 mph
1 min walk 3.0
2 min run 7.8
1 min walk 3.0

2 min run 8.1
1 min walk 3.0
2 min run 8.1
1 min walk 3.0

2 min run 8.4
1 min walk 3.0
2 min run 8.4
1 min walk 3.0

2 min run 8.7
1 min walk 3.0
2 min run 8.7
1 min walk 3.0

2 min run 9.0
1 min walk 3.0
2 min run 9.0
1 min walk 3.0

Cool down – It’s a killer – up the incline if it gets easy

In general:

I would set the treadmill incline level to 2%. This will equate to running outdoors as it essentially emulates the act of body propulsion and wind resistance from running outdoors. You’ll appreciate it when you hit the track.

And finally, here’s what a friend of mine actually did and the results he achieved:

Here’s what I did to go from not running at all to running 10k every day under 54 minutes at around age 34. Hopefully you can learn from the mistakes I made.

I started by picking a distance and tried to run it. First, I ran 1/2 mile downhill. I was exhausted and needed to call my wife to come pick me up, because there was no way I was running back uphill.

I then started trying to run for a fixed period of time – I wanted to be able to run for a short period, like 20 minutes. This sucked and for a long time I was unable to run the duration. I had to keep going shorter and shorter – bottom line, it was ineffective.

Finally, after several weeks of trying, I went running in the hills behind my office. The hills were difficult and rocky, and I was unable to run but had to go slowly, not even running really but barely jogging and at times just walking/climbing slowly. To my surprise after 90 minutes of running in the hills I still had energy to keep going.

So I decided that my problem was that I was running too fast. I slowed my pace down and was able to go as long as I wanted to. I finally had hope that I could become a distance runner.

I then tried improving my pace. At first, I just tried to improve my pace. So I would get on the treadmill at say 4 mph and jog it for an hour. After several days I tried going to 4.1 mph and found I could do that okay. This is when I ran my first 5k.

Gradually I increased the pace, but still found that 6 mph was too fast for me to run for a whole hour. The good news was that I was now easily able to run a 5k, the bad news was that it was taking me like 40 minutes (give or take) and I wasn’t really improving like I wanted to.

So I went back to running for distance. I set the distance on the treadmill for 10k, which was the distance I wanted to run for my next race. I could run it just fine at about 5.5 mph, and sometimes maybe I could get really close to 6 mph, like 5.8 or 5.9.

I started keeping track of how long I could run 6 mph for, and before long I noticed I could run about 90% of the way at 6 mph before I’d have to slow down. I’d finish the 10k run by walking. The next few times I’d run about 90% of the distance, then I’d walk for a bit, then run again. Each time I ran I’d increase the speed I ran at for a while.

For example, I’d run 5.6 miles at 6 mph, then walk for a couple of minutes. Then I’d set the treadmill for 7 mph, run that for maybe 30 seconds, then walk again. Then 8.5 and walk, then 10 and walk.

Within a week I tried running the entire distance at a fixed speed. This time I was able to run the entire distance at 6.3 mph. I signed up to run the “Bolder Boulder” and to my delight ran it in under 1 hour!

Now, four days a week I run 90% of the distance I want to run, and the remaining 10% I run a series of sprints and walks. A fifth day I run 100% at a much faster pace. The sixth day I set it slower again (around 6.5 mph) and run for a whole hour. The seventh day I rest, then start again the next week.

I have also trained for and completed a 1/2 marathon. That training was different and my post is already too long as it is, so I won’t post it here. There are lots of good marathon prep programs you can find online if/when you’re ready for it. I’ve thought about running a marathon but have yet determined to dedicate the time I’ll need to prep for it.

I know my program may not be ideal, but it works for me and running is all about finding a mental space where you can achieve your running goals. I’m pretty pleased with my running accomplishments now as a 47 year old.

Posted in exercise | No Comments »

EpiPen – why so pricey?

2nd March 2017

Epipen isn’t a drug, it’s a drug delivery system that delivers $1 worth of Epeniphrine, commonly known as adrenalin. It is derived from the Mark I NAAK ComboPen, which was developed for the U.S. military for treating exposure to nerve agents in the course of chemical warfare. That’s right–the original version was developed by the government, not by the patent holder.

Nevertheless, Mylan charges $540 for an Epipen (after a $100 rebate). And the FDA has seen fit to reject two other drug delivery systems that might have competed with Epipen–I assume because of flaws that showed up in testing.

There are alternatives, but not everyone can access these DIY options and not everyone knows about the generics.

Posted in Drugs | No Comments »

Should I be wearing a back brace at the office?

22nd May 2016

Reader question: I’m a pretty fit guy but long hours at the office has done a number on my back and core. I’ve been strengthening my core muscles to compensate but I’ve felt something has to be done for the 8+ hours I’m sitting at my desk in the office. So today is the first day I’m wearing a back brace under my shirt. It’s pretty uncomfortable so far, I guess I have to get used to it, but has anybody had any long term effects to wearing a back brace? I’m wondering if I’m going the wrong route here.


1. You may try Better Back. It looks goofy, but I love the damn thing. I wear for 15-20 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon. Although I work from home office so I don’t have to worry about annoying co-workers asking about it.

2. About 6 years ago I had this routine: Renovate house at night, wake up and go to chiropractor 3 x per week, go to work and repeat for 2 or so months. My back was in bad shape–disc/sprained. I wore a smaller sized lifting belt under my work clothes (business casual) and it saved me. It puts a lot of pressure on your stomach but it can help. I’ve also seen people with back issues use one of those big exercise balls as desk chairs.

3. Also look into standing desks, Work on your posture, sit on an exercise ball or have your doctor write you a note for a standing desk (every place I work at will do it, HR has to I believe). Wearing a brace all day seems like a bad idea unless its a temporary fix for a fresh injury.

4. Try to get up every 45 minutes or so. Bathroom, water, whatever. I get up a ton every day while others sit for 3-4 straight hours.

5. I wouldn’t use the back brace long term, your body may get used to needing it. Work on your posture, sit on an exercise ball or have your doctor write you a note for a standing desk (every place I work at will do it, HR has to I believe).

6. I wear one every day. It gives me better posture while sitting and helps me avoid disc problems. I do core exercises and play basketball as well but I still have sciatica issues at times.

7. I had issues sitting at work all day. I’m a short guy, so this may not apply to you, but the first thing I did was get a foot stool so that I can press down on it and it forces me to sit up straighter with my shoulders back and my head back and aligned with my spine. I would also do these “microbreak” exercises that my chiropractor recommended. I felt that it relieved tension in my lower back, neck, and shoulder –

But the best thing I did was get a standing desk that can be raised or lowered easily. I have an Ergotron and this allows me to stand most of the day, and then sit when I need a break from the standing.

Posted in Conditions | No Comments »

KETOSIS lifestyle

16th May 2016

A friend of mine is trying out Ketosis and I thought it was pretty hardcore / worth sharing what he does:

Wake to 20oz of water with a pinch of Himalayan Salt and a few drops of lemon / lim (organic, squeezed).

Make organic low acidic coffee with grass fed butter, mct oil, creatine, collagen and a dash of a turmeric / black pepper herbal mix. Blend with ice and drink.

Eat first meal after later morning weights workout: a protein smoothie made with purified well water, organic grass fed whey, Osteo Powder, a Scoop of Youngevity 90 essentials multi-vitamin and an Osteo Scoop. Blended with a couple goji berries to enhance some insulin release for protein uptake. I usually do some yoga after my workout to relax my muscles and stretch.

I eat organic grass fed beef OR salmon OR chicken 6x a week, mixing it up, with a very mixed salad. Staples are avocadoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, beets and plucked from the garden parsley.

My last meal is about 6:30pm so I pretty much eat in a 7 hour window only.

Another friend did the Keto diet a year ago:

Kept my carbs down to about 20g /day. 140g protein and filled the rest of my calories with fat.

It was an excellent tool to keep my hunger levels in check. I wasn’t really overweight at the time (5’11 and 180 lbs) but I slimmed down to 162 lbs.

You feel full most of the time and my biggest hurdle was getting enough calories. Many days I’d find myself only eating 1200-1400 calories and just not being hungry at all.

Posted in Nutrition | No Comments »

Anyone ever done Whole30 program/diet?

1st May 2016

I did it / am doing it (on day 29 of 30) in preparation for a hard core workout/diet plan I wanted to do in preparation for some longer runs and bike rides I want to do working up to a triathlon and found the results to be great.

just curious if anyone has done this, and what they did when it was over. Short-term and long-term (to re-introduce certain foods like dairy, carbs, and alcohol) and lifestyle type changes.

The only thing I craved the whole month was booze, and not going to lie, I work at home and my bar is close to my desk and most days before this diet I ended it with a glass (or two) of scotch or bourbon, sometimes vodka on the rocks in the summer, and I drooled every day staring longingly at the bar.

Those looking for a paleo like temporary diet I lost 19 pounds in 30 days (and weight loss was not even a goal of mine – and I think it was mostly booze) but it is a good program that I recommend. Very similar to paleo, but more restrictive in a lot of areas about what you can eat.

Off the top of my head, no dairy, no added sugar of any kind in anything, no legumes (peanuts, peas, etc.) no alcohol, no complex carbs (no breads, grains, wheat, pasta, etc.), no MSG, no sulfites or carrageenen (which rules out almost everything).

Basically I ate chicken, steak, fish (and of course they prefer grass fed (livestock) or some specially environmentally safe fish (but I did the best I could there) and vegetables and some fruits and healthy fats (olives, non-peanut nuts, avocado). Three meals, no snacks.

Pretty strict, but I lost an inch off my waist (again not one of my goals), and feel better.

My workouts initially suffered, because I don’t think I was getting enough protein and just didn’t have the energy, but if you work out you can have a pre-workout or post-workout “meal”. which helped. By the end I didn’t need it, my energy level was through the roof.

Posted in exercise, Nutrition | No Comments »

Is It Just Your Imagination Or Could It Be Andropause?

5th March 2016

As men age, it is not uncommon for them to experience a gradual drop in their testosterone levels. This is called andropause and is often referred to as male menopause. There are a number of symptoms a man suffering from andropause can experience. This includes everything from diminished sex drive to swollen breasts, anemia, depression, decreased muscle bulk and more. There is a natural way for men to bring their hormones back into balance and lessen the symptoms of andropause. It is hormone therapy for men called bioidentical hormone replacement therapy


In the 1930s, bioidentical hormones started being used for relief from female menopausal symptoms. James Collip was a Canadian researcher who developed the method for creating the hormone. During the early 1980s, bioidentical hormone therapy was developed by physicians Jonathan Wright and John R. Lee. Their goal was to help a body obtain a natural hormone balance.

Importance Of Testosterone

Testosterone is the hormone that influences most aspects of a male’s body. It assists them in producing important proteins that impact bodily functions. It is believed testosterone regulates things such as bone mass, production of red blood cells, muscle strength, libido and more. Men start losing testosterone in their early 30s. Experts estimate the loss of testosterone with an average male is one to two percent annually. Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show that between 4 and 5 million men experience symptoms of decreased levels of testosterone every year. It’s also estimated that less than ten percent of these men will request treatment to alleviate these symptoms.

Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)

When a man’s body starts decreasing its production of testosterone, it may also cause levels of another hormone to increase. This is known as sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). This hormone will take usable testosterone from the blood. A decrease in testosterone has shown to trigger an increase in SHBG. What ultimately happens is the only usable testosterone available in the body will be bound to the SHBG hormone.

Bioidentical Hormone Therapy

This is often called natural hormone therapy. The reason is that bioidentical hormones behave in the body exactly like the hormones produced by a man’s body. They are made from compounds that are in plants such as soybeans, yams, and others plants. At the beginning of bioidentical hormone therapy, a highly trained physician will perform tests to determine a man’s current hormone levels. They will need to know a man’s medical history as well as any medical issues in his family. Saliva, blood as well as urine samples will be taken and analyzed.


When an individual gets a prescription for bioidentical hormones, it will be custom-compounded. A person’s individual diagnostic results will determine what they are provided. This makes the bioidentical hormone more effective and safer than synthetic hormone treatments. People who have had bioidentical hormone therapy report having various levels of success. Everything from improved sleep to improved cholesterol levels, improved libido, better moods, memory, concentration and more. This form of therapy is never given as one-size-fits-all.

Quality Of Life

One of the main reasons physicians recommend restoring testosterone levels with hormone therapy for men is to improve their patient’s quality of life. This improvement can be mild and in some cases dramatic. Men with normal testosterone levels have more energy, vitality and are healthier than others who have low testosterone levels. Studies have shown that men with acceptable testosterone levels get the best performance from their brains and hearts. It is testosterone that provides a man’s body with the necessary anabolic function. In many cases, a customized fitness and nutrition programs are part of the therapy. Patients are able to see the symptoms of their low testosterone levels slow go away. As their testosterone levels are returned to normal levels, they experience a feeling of health and well-being.


Millions of men have been helped with bioidentical therapy treatment. Professional athletes, celebrities as well as the common man have all had their life improved. According to studies that were done by the National Institute on Aging, this therapy treatment is safe and effective. When this is done by trained and experienced medical professionals, the results are impressive. It is able to help older men or any young man experiencing a decrease in their testosterone levels.

Posted in Conditions | No Comments »

What did I do wrong? Exclusive Provider Organization & preauthorization question

17th February 2016

Reader submitted question below. Please reply if you can help.

This is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with substantial medical bills, so bear with me. I’m attempting to figure out what exactly was my fault, the doctor’s fault or the insurance company’s fault.

Three months ago, I was in a bad accident, which included broken bones. I was referred by the Emergency Department to hospital’s outpatient orthopedic clinic for follow-up care. I called them, I gave them my insurance information, they recommended a doctor, and I booked an appointment. I checked the provider directory and called the insurance company to make sure the doctor was in my network and he was.

I’ve had three appointments since then, and my insurance’s website updated my claims section. They covered the office visit, but they did not cover treatment of fractures, which was placed under alternative codes. I called the insurance company to obtain an explanation. They stated that they consider the code they used for fracture treatment (23500) as a surgical procedure, and since surgeries require preauthorization and I wasn’t preauthorized, they will only over 50% of that amount (or up to the contracted amount) since it was medically necessary.

1) I thought I was already being meticulous by reading over my contract and benefits, and making sure providers were in-network. Was it my fault for not calling the insurance company prior to seeing the ortho? I was under the impression that it was an office visit, which should be fully covered except for a co-pay/deductibles and such. I had no idea that what I was doing was getting an office surgery, but perhaps I just wasn’t meticulous enough.

2) Was it the doctor’s office’s fault for not getting preauthorization? When I had a shoulder MRI, they got preauthorization for that. From my internet research, the 23500 code seems to be a typical code used for “global fracture care” and is considered a surgical procedure…don’t doctor’s offices need to get preauthorization for such procedures? Should I call them for help and what can I say?

3) Or is this just my insurance company screwing me over? It does say that surgeries need preauthorization in my contract, so it doesn’t seem I have much recourse. They told me I can file a grievance, but I don’t know what my stance would be.

4) As an aside, I got balance billed by the ED doctor, since she wasn’t in my network, sigh (even though the hospital is). Is this worth calling up the hospital to get it reduced via discount, like if I pay up front? I don’t qualify for any financial assistance, though.

I should add that my visits consisted of taking x-rays, seeing the doctor for 10 minutes for explanation of said x-rays, and advice on what I can do to improve, like physical therapy.

According to documentation, the Plan Type is EPO. It has a $0 deductible, and does not require a referral or permission to see a specialist. What is an EPO plan? EPO stands for “Exclusive Provider Organization” plan. As a member of an EPO, you can use the doctors and hospitals within the EPO network, but cannot go outside the network for care. There are no out-of-network benefits.

The ED doctor was out-of-network. That I’m willing to let go of. The ortho is a provider within my network, though. I looked him up in the directory and called the insurance company to make sure prior to seeing him, and that I would be covered under my plan if I went to visit him.

Posted in Doctors & hospitals, Health insurance | No Comments »

Looking for multiples

28th September 2013

Whenever I go to Costco, I see people reading labels to find a daily complete multivitamin. The one I’m linking to here has 5 stars. It has a complete profile and then some.

To me, the biggest extra is reishi. I first learned about reishi years ago when some network marketers were trying to sell a resihi supplement. I read a few studies and gave it a try. It was a big decision because resihi is expensive (one reason it’s impressive to see it in a multiple). Anyway, I took it for a couple of years and my immune system got way stronger and my allergies got better. I like reishi.

More recently, I tried Cordyceps Sinensis. It was being touted as something for bodybuilders and exercise gurus when I bought it – supposed to improve overall health and muscle. I didn’t have the amazing experience with Cordyceps that I had with resihi, but it’s another expensive supplement that you would not usually see in a multivitamin.

CoQ10 is another one that people often buy separately, but is included in this daily vitamin. Every cell in your body likes CoQ10 and the best ways to get it through diet are by eating heart, liver, and kidney. I don’t eat those things so I like the idea of putting it in a little pill. Again. pretty impressive to see it in a multivitamin instead of sold separately.

This viatmin also has the usual vitamin A, B 1-6 & 12, C, D, E, and so on. I’m not going to run through every ingredient in the vitamin, but I encourage you to check it out for yourself – the link is right at the beginning of the post.

Posted in Nutrition | Comments Off on Looking for multiples