Archive for the ‘Health and wellness’ Category

You know how you’re supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day, but almost nobody does it?

Well, I do it, and have been for the past several weeks.

Why, you ask?

I was at my massage therapist, getting a massage. I have a lot of crunchiness in my back and shoulder muscles, every time I get a massage the therapist comments on it. And after every massage, they tell me to drink plenty of water. Of course, everybody says that.

But this time, the therapist told me something that made me change my behavior – drinking plenty of water helps with the “crunch, crunch, crunch” of my muscles. Or rather, it helps to make the fascia (the layer of tissue surrounding the muscles) more malleable and less crunchy.

That made me think.

I have back issues, like everybody else in America (okay, only 80%). If drinking more water was going to help fix things, then I would give it a try.

I started by actually measuring how much water I drink per day, and it turns out that on average I was already drinking 7 cups. If I have a cup of water at work at lunch, the paper cups are actually two regular size cups of water (that is, 8 oz + 8 oz = 16 oz). I have a glass of water at dinner, which is another 16 oz (two cups). For breakfast, I was having a cup of coffee (which counts towards your water content) and a smaller glass of water, and that added up to three cups (24 oz). But often that would be all the liquid I would consume during the day.

I decided to bump up my morning glass of water to two cups (16 oz) and a cup of coffee which is 12 oz; so, altogether, on an average day I would be at 7.5 cups of water and would only need to have an additional 1/2 cup (6 oz) to fill up my quota. That’s manageable, so usually at work I’ll have a cup of green tea or in rare cases, another cup of water. That puts me at my daily minimum.

I haven’t noticed any health changes yet, but I haven’t been back to the massage therapist either. I’m curious to see if it helped.

I better not have drank all this water for nothing.


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I’m currently writing this on a Tuesday, and two weeks ago on a Wednesday, I got sick. That means it’s been 14 days. It started as a sore throat, and then a stuffed + runny nose the next day, and then a cough two days later. The sore throat and stuffed/runny nose went away the same day.

The cough has lasted 11 days so far.

When I first get sick with a sore throat, nobody notices. And when my nose is stuffed and runny, because I’m at home or at my desk at work most of the time, no one notices. But I’m feeling pretty miserable. However, after the sore throat and runny/stuffed nose go away and the cough moves in, that’s when people start getting concerned about my health because that’s when they notice. But I’m feeling much better in this state despite having a cough.

I get offered cough candies, tea, and other home remedies now that I have this cough. I could have used those before, actually. I’m not convinced they help, either. When you get sick, your body responds by lining your throat and nose with lots and lots of mucous. That’s why your nose gets stuffy and runny. After the virus has been killed, your body is still producing it in lower quantities, but it all runs down the back of your throat and makes you cough. It’s your body’s way of responding to its own defenses.

But it’s still annoying.


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Well, this is a brutal truth I am now facing.

I’ve had some clothes in my closet for years. Shirts, shorts, pants, you name it. I’ve been proud of the fact that I can still wear clothes from years ago.

Or, rather, I used to be able to.

About a year ago, I went to buy a new pair of jeans. I discovered I had to buy 32×30, instead of 30×30.

I wasn’t sure whether or not I had put on weight or if pants sizes had changed. I understand that cuts and styles change over time, so a size small today may not be the same today as demographics shift (people get older, more immigrants, etc.) and stores can’t just important five dozen different sizes.

But today I went into my closet and tried on a few pairs of black pants that used to fit quite nicely. None of them fit.

Sure, I could get them on, but they all felt tighter around my waist.

To be honest, I knew this was coming. I’ve noticed my waist is bigger now than it was 1 or 2 years ago. I’m not sure what’s going on, I exercise my stomach every day. I measure the amount of fat on my stomach using calipers and it’s the same. And all of my shirts still fit fine. I even use a measuring tape above my belly button and write the down the results, and it’s the same from a couple of years ago.

Yet my pants require a bigger size.

No use denying it. I have to go up in size, I am officially 32×30.

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A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a podcast about a writer who has written a few books, one called War and the other called Tribe. The writer, Sebastian Junger, was originally a war reporter. During the podcast interview, he described that after his time covering the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s (or perhaps the second Iraq War), after he came back to the US, he experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

During the podcast, Junger describes the time when he was waiting in the New York subway and suddenly had a panic attack where he seized up and was overcome with a sense of dread. He had to go hide out in a corner and wait for it to pass.

When I hear these stories, I think back to my own time. I identify closely with people who have this because I, too, have had it. 10 years ago, while I was hiking in Fiji, I had a hiking accident where I nearly died. The day after my accident, I found I had trouble with my memory. I couldn’t remember people’s names whereas I was usually good with them. Days later, I kept forgetting where I would put things like pens, pencils, and even my shoes when I walked in the house (I also lost a blue recycling box somehow). I had trouble focusing and concentrating, and I also lost interest in some of my favorite activities like sponge hockey.

What sealed my self-diagnosis is a series of panic attacks I had when reading a comic in the newspaper. It was about a cartoon dog who got lost from his master, fell into a small ditch and started yelling that he was trapped and stuck. It was a joke because it was such a small ditch and he was exaggerating to get attention. But when I read that comic, I suddenly had a panic attack where my heart started racing (the same flutter you might get on a roller coast, except worse). I had the same experience watching the movie Cliffhanger when a character fell into a chasm, and a third time watching a movie and some characters were just walking through a waterfall, no danger involved. All that anxiety was real and it came over me automatically, no thinking about it involved. How does reading a comic or watching a movie give you panic attacks?

I looked up my symptoms online and it seemed clear I was experiencing PTSD.

As time passed, my symptoms started to go away. My memory returned, I could concentrate again, and I didn’t have panic attacks nearly as often. However, I still have a fear of heights and I don’t like driving along a ledge that has no railing. I freeze up when that happens. When I think about skydiving out of a plane and actually visualize it, I do start to panic a little bit. I have no idea how I went skydiving in Turkey; I think because I had dirka I was distracted.

So, yeah. PTSD is real. It sucks.

It’s mostly gone now, but I feel bad for the war veterans who suffer with it. It has entrenched my aversion to war as being mostly good for nothing.

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I found this website today that calculates how many people are older or younger than you, given your age.

I tested myself and there’s 49% of the people older than me, and 49% younger than me.  The other 2% would be the same age as me. I think this is only in the United States and not the rest of the world.

So, I’m almost over the hill, but not yet. But I will be in 7 more months!

That doesn’t bother me that much, though. I just consider myself experienced. 10-15 years ago, my ideas were narrower, I didn’t have as many life experiences, and there were a ton of things I hadn’t tried yet. The only thing I miss is not having the minor aches I have now.

But other than that… not much.



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On jetlag

A few months ago, I was talking with a friend of mine about jetlag. He was saying that in his younger days, he had no trouble with jetlag but as he got older, it started to affect him more and more

I’ve been thinking about that because we’re currently in Germany and suffering from it. You know the symptoms – awake at 5 am and fast asleep by 9 pm. Or, in my case, taking a nap at 6:15 pm and up by 9 pm, and then looking to go back to bed at 11:30 pm and up again at 6 am.

Looking back over my life, I think to myself – do I deal with jetlag worse as I have gotten older?

I first remember getting it when I went to England at the end of 2000 when I went to check the place out, as I was moving over there at the end of year. I remember laying on my hotel bed, staying awake all night because I couldn’t sleep.

That was my first experience with jet lag (6-hour time zone shift).

My second experience I can remember was when I went to Singapore traveling from England in early 2002. I remember getting off the plane and thinking to myself “Man, I feel pretty good!” but by 10 am, I thought to myself “Oh, I need to go back to my hotel room to sleep.” I did, went back and slept for six hours, and felt better. This was a time-zone shift of 8 hours or so.

Every time since then, whenever I head over to Europe, I have a hard time with jetlag. I can’t stay awake past a certain time, and it’s usually quite early in the evening. And, it’s always been this way, it hasn’t gotten worse as I have gotten older, it’s the same.

My cure for jetlag – not fighting it. I just accept the fact that I’ll be getting up quite early and going to bed quite early for 7 days, and then I will adjust. Until then, I make sure that my schedule will allow for me to get back to my hotel room so I can fall over on the bed late at night.

So, in a way, because I now come to expect the time zone spreads as an inevitable part of traveling, I deal with it better. My body gets over it in due course, and then I feel fine. But until then, I simply adjust my schedule.

Who says you have to feel worse as you get older?

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It’s been a few weeks since I got my braces off. Below are some before-and-after pictures (after = two weeks after, not today which is three months after).

You can see that the top ones in front were angled out and have been straightened, while the bottom ones which were completely crooked have all been straightened out as well but they are still not the same size which makes them look weird. Even the top ones are not the same size, either. There’s not much I can do about that unless I get more cosmetic work done.

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The wife also said that it changed the shape of my face, too. Did it? Let’s see:

April 2014

January 2016

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That’s the best comparison I have when looking straight on into the camera. It’s hard to tell, but from what I can see it appears like my jaw and face is a little narrower, and my chin is a little “flatter” whereas before the left side of my chin came down a bit lower than the right side. Overall, my face is even less round than it was before; or rather, it’s a bit more oval now.

Of course, some of it is natural aging. Our faces grow longer as we get older, and the pictures above are 21 months apart. So that’s part of it, too. The lighting and shading is also not identical.

But yeah. My teeth have changed for sure.

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