fitness

A Poem and a Few Words About Mental Health and Walking

I have often wondered if the people who get to run these machines are just older kids at play. Seeing these big machines also makes me think about modern labour and how it changes so rapidly. I often wonder what some of my students do without computer skills-what anyone without computer skills can do. It leaves us so marginalized. But that is a discussion for another day. Please remember to scroll down past today’s poem for today’s blog.

 

The Forgotten Book

 

On my floor forgotten lies a book

Its cover bent all it seems to do is gather dust

The dismal hum of the summer fan

Licks its pages until it seems alive

This book once had been my hopes, my dreams

To take me places I never dared to go

This book was more than mine it was me

It was written by my hand inspired by my soul

I poured everything into its pages

And now at 5:00am as the sky brightens

I haven’t got the energy to pick it up

I should file the thing; get it out of sight

But I’ve grown accustomed to seeing it

There on my floor

I may be a hermit to some

Old books covering my furniture and floors

Old junk filling up the spaces in between

But among all that will be that book

Hopefully long after I am gone

To tell my story

To somehow let me live on

If only on a page that few will read

Leif Gregersen

 

Mental Health and Walking:

I have always been a fan of endurance sports. I suppose it started as far back as the second Rocky Movie which I saw on TV. Everyone knows that Rocky Balboa is going to accomplish his goals when he goes running through the streets, thousands of children run with him as that amazing music plays. One thing I really like about the Rocky Movies is that Rocky doesn’t win all his fights. Like many of us, he does everything he can, fails, reinvents himself or finds new inspiration and then moves on to the next level. Rocky can’t always triumph, but he can always show he has heart, or perhaps more accurately as he says in his movies, he at least proves he is not a bum.

Walking is something that I have been taking up instead of playing difficult sports, jogging, even cycling. There are so many advantages to it. Perhaps the top one for me is just the time I get to spend on my own with my thoughts. Sometimes I will walk up to 2 hours a day and I can work everything out. I watched a video today that quoted some interesting studies on walking that I hope you won’t take at face value from me but research on your own. One of the studies they talked about was one that discovered a marked increase in mood for people with depression who walked 30 minutes a day 3 to 5 times a week. I can honestly say that I do feel a lot happier after I walk and that now that I have been doing it for a few years I wouldn’t want to stop for any reason. I may have to slow down or take days off, but walking is so rewarding (in the happiness and in the feeling of fitness) that I hope I can keep it up for a long time to come.

For a while I didn’t like the idea of walking long distances though I often did as a boy. My Mom had lost a good deal of weight one time and looked amazing from walking about 5 miles a day. The problem came in when an incident, possibly connected, hopefully not, happened where she developed a crushed vertebrae in her neck and needed surgery. She gained her weight back soon during her recovery period and never really got back to the same levels of fitness before she passed away.

One interesting thing I have been noticing is that people with mental health issues seem to be at much more risk of diabetes. Perhaps because they are more sedentary, perhaps it has a lot to do with weight gain on psychiatric medications. Many people are told that their medications will cause them to gain weight, but also asked if they would prefer to be in active mental distress or psychosis or would they prefer to be slimmer. Almost anyone would prefer to be mentally healthy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It may be extremely difficult, but there are ways to still lose weight, and I have found walking to be at the epicentre of the solution despite the effects of medications I take.

I have been walking five plus miles five times a week now as well as watching my calorie, sugar and fat intake. I should mention that I was diagnosed with type two diabetes a month ago despite thinking I  was active and fit. What I didn’t realize was that I was obese and I needed to make some changes. Walking was something I already did, so I just tried to ramp it up a bit and find excuses to walk every day like to go for groceries or even just to go to the pool to sit in the hot tub and weigh myself. The other thing I did was try to eliminate red meat, and anything with large amounts of fat or sugar. My Doctor also put me on Metformin, which is a very helpful medication. The results? I feel way better, people say I look slimmer, and since I have started monitoring my blood glucose levels, I seem to be in the healthy range a lot more of the time and I have lost nearly 30 pounds. I hope some of this is inspiring to you. My suggestion if you have a few pounds to lose or if you worry about diabetes is to load the Survivor song “Eye of the Tiger” into your music player of choice, get some good walking shoes (I love my new sketchers!) and go out and enjoy the sun! (Unless you are in the Southern Hemisphere). Best of luck and please post any questions or comments!

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Mental Health Issues and Insomnia (Sleep Hygiene)

DSCF1002My Roommate, Daniel, who is one of the nicest, kindest people I know

     Well, good readers, it is now 3am and for some reason I feel compelled to write about insomnia.  Just about everyone gets it, especially people with mental health issues.  A lot of questions pop up, like is my medication making me sleep too much, should I go on sleeping pills, and on and on.  Personally, I have one pill, called a PRN which basically means I can take it as needed, called Rivotril or Clonazepam.  If I ask for it, I can get a 0.5mg little orange pill and it often relaxes me enough to sleep.  One of the most important things I have to remember though, is that if I don’t get out of bed at a reasonable time, I will have problems sleeping even with the pill.

One of the things I like to do is swim laps and sit in the hot tub at my local fitness facility (thank you Edmonton city government for making these facilities accessible for those with low incomes!)  If I get in enough laps and don’t sleep too much, I find that I am more than ready to get a good sleep in that night.  How much exercise is right?  Hard to say.  I try to get in the pool and do laps until I’m tired, and if I have any energy left over I take off my flippers and swim a few regular laps and even add in push-ups and chair dips afterwords.  Whether or not it helps my sleep to sit in the hot tub is hard to say, I do like to sit in the hot tub for a few minutes before a swim just to get all my joints warmed up to lessen impact on them from going right into an exercise.

Along with my PRN Rivotril, I also have the option of taking a hormone you can get over the counter called Melatonin.  I cleared this with my Doctor and I think the only thing I really have to note about this is that I can’t take it every day.  If I take it too much I find that I get an almost painful restlessness through mostly my spine that often makes it impossible to sleep.  Now and then, when I have taken my pills and it is getting late at night or early in the morning and I can’t sleep I find that sometimes turning upside down in bed or even going downstairs to sack out on the couch helps.

One of my problems is that a lot of my life focuses around laying in bed.  Most Doctors will tell you that all you should do in bed is sleeping and intimacy, but I write letters on my iPad, make phone calls, read, listen to music and many more things that I am sure don’t help.  Another thing that I think doesn’t help my insomnia is that I take naps.  I haven’t discussed this with a Doctor, but I have heard information that I can’t confirm that it is very bad for a person to sleep a little here and a little there.  Sleep can be such a nice experience, as I mentioned before when I take my Prozac in the morning and go back to bed I have the most wonderful dreams and general feeling of well being for a few hours.

So what are the solutions?  I will try to recap.  One would be to get exercise, a good idea for anyone.  Even if you just get out and go for a walk or go up a few flights of stairs it will be beneficial.  The second is medication.  Sometimes I find myself needing Tylenol or Advil or even Gravol or Robaxacet and sometimes cold and flu medication.  These things can help me sleep but I am very concerned about getting dependent on them so I use them only when needed.  It seems I often need Advil just about every day due to headaches, but that is a bit of a different situation.  I have noticed that when I take an Advil I can take a nap and have a very peaceful and happy feeling.  The next step is to try not to nap, then to try not not to lounge around in bed if you can avoid it.  One other thing about staying in bed I should mention is that simply from your orientation against gravity, when you lay in bed too much, especially when you take medications, you can get acid reflux.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to avoid this malady, it can be very painful and disturbing of a person’s natural cycles.  My Mom had acid reflux so bad she required an operation at one point to increase the size of her wind pipe just so she could breathe and eat properly, she had been bedridden for her last five or six years.

So what have we got-use drugs sparingly.  Don’t nap.  Exercise.  Try to fill up your day.  Only sleep in your bed.  Avoid sleep aids that cause dependency.  Getting the right amount of sleep each day is good for your well being, your feeling of healthiness, and almost definitely your moods.  When I pull an all nighter, I often find that my temper gets much shorter than normal and I even get a little paranoid and angry.  There are some good sleep aids out there like Melatonin, I have also had some good results just from taking a multi-vitamin, which, at least in me, seems to keep me from having nightmares, and also by taking what is often labelled stress vitamins which contain some B vitamins among other stuff.  Above all though, these are things that you should clear with your Doctor, I can only speak from my own experiences and everyone’s body chemistry is different.  I hope all of you can have a good rest, and as I say often, Good Night Sweet Princes and Princesses, and may a thousand angels sing thee to thy resting place.  I kind of stole that from Hamlet, the final scene, but still a nice thing to think of when you are on your way off to dreamland.

 IMG_4867One of my favorite things to do, taking pictures in the

park with my favorite person, my Dad

Happy 2015 To All My Readers!

DSCF5457

Well, an entire year lay ahead of us and there are so many new chances and new ways to renew and enrich our lives.  Today’s poem focuses on love and renewing, which I think kind of go hand in hand.  My main plan for 2015 is to lose 20 pounds.  My Doctor said I should lose 60 but I have been trying to lose for some time and I only go up or down a couple of pounds.  I figure 20 is a much more realistic goal.  In high school I was 145 and incredibly fit, I ran for miles every day and played all kinds of sports, worked out and had a physically intensive job.  Now I still work out, but I seem to be locked into a weight of 250 pounds and it feels awful to a person who once was attractive and slim.  When I was younger, I was in a circle of friends that smoked and drank and didn’t play sports.  Some of my friends were nerdy and some even hated jocks, and for a while I felt the same way.  I was a bit of a peacenik for a while and I had the mistaken assumption that people only worked out and played sports to do violence to each other.  I learned many more reasons later, the two that especially stood out for me were the healthy feeling a person gets from pushing themselves to their limits, and the second was simply that I realized that athletic people have better sex, which was a major incentive to a teenager.  I never did have sex until I was nearly 21, and I was so glad I waited until I met someone I truly cared about, but ever since I was 17 I have wanted to keep myself fit physically and mentally.  I learned some interesting information about meditation, that it actually not only helps a person’s focus, but it also actually helps your brain regenerate old cells.  I am not 100% up to speed on the topic, but I want to research this more and I will write more about it then.

A couple of really great things have happened recently, one being that my niece came to Edmonton with my sister, another was that I had a message sent to me from a young woman I used to care very much about that she is alive and doing well.  Christmas was amazing this year, I got some incredibly thoughtful gifts and had a chance to give to some people in my family things they seemed to appreciate.

As you may know from the website name, I am and Edmonton writer from Alberta, Canada and we have had a terrible tragedy happen.  A case of domestic violence in the extreme has lead to the biggest mass murder in Edmonton’s history, 9 people dead, two of them children.  I feel a bit in shock that this happened, it wasn’t even in an economically depressed part of town like the one I live in where there is a high crime rate, it happened in some of our nicest suburbs.  It kind of makes me think back to when I grew up and the cliques that I heard of, young people who sold cocaine and did a lot of break and enter crimes.  I don’t know personally how I ever stayed out of jail myself.  As some may have read in my book, “Through The Withering Storm” (look up the link on my ‘books’ page) when I was younger I committed an assault in school and was arrested and assaulted the police officers that arrested me, but because of my mental illness I was never charged.  The closest I got to being in serious trouble was one time when I was 18 my Dad had me arrested for trespassing and I was taken to the RCMP detachment in St.Albert.  The only way I avoided being charged was by telling the policeman that if my Dad wanted to lay charges on me I would pursue charges of assault and child abuse and more on him and I was told quickly that I was free to go.  It was a really bad experience, I had to go and stay in a shelter and then a welfare hotel and soon after I ended up hitch-hiking to the West Coast.  I don’t have many regrets though, but I have a feeling that if I had ever been sent to jail I would have a lot of them.  Anyhow, as the day and time suggests, this is a much better time to be thankful for the new chances and opportunities the year 2015 has for us than to worry about things in the past no one can control.  Happy New Year everyone!  Please feel free to post feedback on anything you find here.  As usual, my poem for the day is below the following photo.  The first person who can message me at viking3082000@yahoo.com as to where “Maggie” is from wins a free poetry book which I will sign and mail right to your door.  Contest closes in one week.

IMG_8041

 

Maggie

 

Janine when I first looked at you

I thought perhaps it wasn’t true

 

No one could be so radiant and beautiful

You in your flying jacket, all leather and wool

 

Your soft, white skin and raven black hair

Made me stop and gawk and stare

 

At first I thought you and I would never meet

But somehow you were so lovely kind and sweet

 

You took a chance and walked up to where I sat

And I wanted to pounce on you like a feral cat

 

That first time we met and talked far into the night

I went home electrified with pure delight

 

I got your number, held it close to my heart

All life before was gone, you were my fresh start

 

 

Later something stole the love we had

Left me lonely, warped and sad

 

Inspiration hid from me then for quite a time

After I learned you were no longer mine

 

In two rhyming lines I now call to you

It’s not too late to start anew

 

I swear one day these words will pay the bills

And that in time there will again be thrills

 

Forty-three life’s not over yet

We were a perfect matching set

 

You with your little plane and me with my pen

Janine I need you back again

 

Kiss me deeply now as the midnight bell rings

Imagine all the joy the New Year will bring

 

This new dawn will bring love and hope

I need your love to survive, to cope

 

My darling please let me dedicate to you

The 15th millennium year by all that’s good and true

 

Come home with me now and never leave

Grant this two time loser one last reprieve

 

 

Leif Gregersen

January 1, 2015