25 ... err, 31 ... easy steps to a better me
As a rule, I’m a big fan of lists — as long as it’s accepted that, while making lists, they’ll simply get longer as time goes on, and the likelihood of reaching every goal or completing every task you set down has two chances for success ... slim and fat.
Speaking of which, a friend and I took time out from our busy schedules to see each other for only the second time this year — whereupon he checked my heart rate and gave me a list.
Now, by “friend,” I also mean doctor — or as all the cool kids say these days “Primary Care Physician”; although PCP meant a decidedly unhealthy thing back in the Stone Age when I was a cool kid.
He handed over what he called a list of 25 rules titled “Lifestyle Advice For Better Health” — although it’s a good thing he didn’t check my heart rate after I read what turned out to be 31 rules.
No bones about it, he’s a doctor ... not a mathematician.
Our human engines go from zero to 60-plus in the blink of a farsighted eye, so most of us need all the lifestyle advice we can get — especially when it comes in a handy-dandy list that can tell us whether we’re on the straight and narrow, or if we’ve veered off onto some questionable side roads.
OK, that’s more than our prescribed dose of meandering metaphors for the day, it’s time to buckle up and jump-start our motors.
1. Do not use tobacco
2. Limit alcohol consumption
3. Drink water throughout the day
4. Limit sweet-tasting beverages
5. Avoid non-medical use of THC
Right off the bat, I feel good. I’m five-for-five ... although that would not always have been the case.
Take No. 3 for instance. Returning home from school as a kid, I had a parent-approved regimen of pre-dinner eating — a half-dozen Oreos, a tablespoon of peanut butter, and a few pickle slices — all washed down with a bottle of soda.
In case you’re worried ... I no longer eat pickles.
6. Avoid supplements not recommended by a PCP or specialist (Exception: Unless you have an in-law who sells them as a side job and you want to avoid family strife. See Rule No. 18.)
7. No aspirin for prevention (Not even the sweet-tasting orange ones?)
8. Maintain healthy diet and eating habits
It’s here where my PCP hallucinations kick in, the blubber hits the road and my engine screeches to a halt. I swear this list says, among other things, to limit salt and sugar; limit beef, pork and bacon; and to limit fast foods.
I already have given up alcohol; now I’m being told that the other four essential food groups — salt, sugar, grease and fat — need to be replaced by a “mostly plant-based diet? (Green stuff!!!)
Speaking of fat ...
9. Maintain healthy weight
I watch my weight; I’ve watched it since I was at 123 points when I first met the woman who would introduced me to green, plant-based foods.
Now, she watches my weight and, 40 years later, says I’m twice the man she fell in love with ... oh.
10-13. Exercise, spend time outdoors, avoid artificial environments (like visit another planet?), perform stretching exercises; avoid prolonged sitting
I’m grouping those together because they’ll be answered in ...
14. Stay socially active
I do that by taking my laptop outside, sitting in a comfy chair, stretching my fingers and exercising my freedom of speech. Five-rules-in-one action, right there!
15. Volunteer your time and talents
I do that twice a week: Once in Tempo, the other time here. You think I’m getting paid for this? I can't help you with the "talent" part, though.
16. Less “screen time” and more “people time”
17. Engage in a new hobby, interest, or class
18. Maintain relationships with family and friends
Now, wait a gosh-darned minute. If I limit my screen time, I won’t be able to accomplish advice points Nos. 10-14. That seems counter-productive. And I’ve been thinking of finding a class on ending procrastination.
As for family — well, there has to be something in this list about avoiding stress. There it is, No. 25 ... I’ll follow that one.
19. Keep a regular routine for sleep, meals, exercise
20. Get adequate sleep
Note to self: Give the cat to my PCP.
21-22. Attend to your spiritual health — religion, meditation, reading, quiet time; listen to music
I wear a colander religiously on Sundays when I pray for the success of my football team as I hum the NFL theme songs. ... Wouldn’t call it quiet time, though.
23. Avoid violent media; limit negative, argumentative TV/radio/internet programs
So much for the NFL. ...
24. Engage in activities that make you laugh and smile often
... but you said I couldn’t partake in negative, argumentative TV/radio/internet programs
25. Be creative to avoid stress
See answer to No. 18.
26. Maintain hope and optimism; do not dwell on negative things, or be critical or judgmental
Doc, we’ve been friends for 20 years ... and it’s like you don’t even know me.
27. Maintain good hygiene
Maybe he does know me.
28. Appreciate each moment of your day
OK, you’re going to have to be more specific here: Which day is my day, because I’m looking forward to it.
29. Be skeptical of fads, diets, supplements and health claims
Well, his pretty much eliminates Nos. 1-28.
30. Remember and practice the Golden Rule
As soon as I get the gold, I’ll remember to rule.
31. See your doctor once a year
Absolutely ... I might be stuck for another column idea by then.
Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin doesn’t care if pickles are green ... he’s not eating them at email@example.com