Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 221 Stay Healthy

My old friend Mac McGiver attributed his good health to smoking cigars and having a good wife. I accepted the part about Mary, his wife. But the cigars? Many of day as he sat on his back porch in an old funky chair positioned just right to capture the sunshine I stopped to chat while he listened to the Seattle Mariners games. He was a loyal fan. He was also loyal to those cigars.

The last few years of his life he refused to get out of the chair to walk around the corner of the house and across the small road to where he could sit and gaze out over Bellingham Bay. "I've crossed that road for the last time," he told me. Other people came regularly to enjoy the beautiful sunset over the water and mountains in the distance. Not Mac. The doctor told him he needed some exercise and he (Mac) figured the cigars were going to have to do. The doctor told him if he didn't get some exercise he would die. Mac agreed and added that he would die if he did and die if he didn't.

One day before she left for the store Mary asked if he needed any cigars. Mac said, "Yea. Might as well pick up a couple of boxes". When Mary returned Mac seemed to be dozing. As she went by she said, "Got your cigars". He never responded. She put the groceries away and came back out and touched his shoulder and asked if he was alright. He never responded. He was 85.

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

What is the key to keeping healthy in life? There are about as many theories as there are people. The older I get the less attention I pay to all of these "secrets to a long life". What I like are ideas that fit in with what I am already doing.

I've read all about the benefits of having a glass of wine each day. I follow that rule. Not because of the promised longevity but because wine tastes good with food. Sometimes it even tastes good without the food. The idea that it might actually contribute to my good health is a bonus. We started having a glass with dinner forty years ago and have rarely missed. And then it was only because we were guests in other people's homes.

Exercise is another elixir that promises longevity. It seems like that one keeps popping up in almost every study that rates the third section of the newspaper. This is another easy one for me. There are few things in life that are more fun than playing. As a young boy I was always up for running, jumping, climbing or just flat out messing around outside. Some things never change. Today I have many of the same interests. It still feels good to move around outside and sometimes even inside.

We seem to always include some sort of exercise into every day. Yesterday it was biking, today it was biking, tomorrow we will life some weights and so it goes. Tai Chi starts everyday for me and then there is a little round of shooting some baskets. Not many but I continue to enjoy throwing the old ball up to the hoop. I guess it qualifies as exercise but for me it is just plain fun. If something is fun and it helps keep you healthy I can't imagine not doing it. We always get at least one daily dose.

Then there is all of the advice concerning diet. There are more articles, books, radio shows and I suppose TV shows on eating and health than there are meals to be eaten in a lifetime. I don't even know the name of any of them that are current. Our information concerning healthy eating comes from Brenda's historical knowledge of what we should eat and from Nutrition Action a thin publication put out by CSPI(Center for Science in the Public Interest}. It is monthly, thin and understandable.

Over the years I have heard of low carb diets, high protein, low fat, vegetarian, vegan, and even a basic chocolate diet. I'm sorry to have left your favorite out but you get the point. There are lots of choices when it comes to promises of good health through eating. I guess our diet is pretty much regulated by the bathroom scales. We have weighed the same for maybe forty years.

We like to eat. Brenda is an enthusiastic and excellent cook. She likes to spend time in the kitchen producing different type of meals. I swear that is when true happiness descends upon her like a shroud. Her meals are works of art and I am just lucky to have to enjoy the results day in and day out. Her repertoire seems endless. She always says that all you really need to cook well is to be able to read. Well, I can read but I would think a long time before I asked someone else to eat my cooking.

Just a year and a half ago we jumped to a vegetarian diet. That is after 66 years of including meat in our meals. What has happened? Did it make us more healthy? I'm not sure. We didn't all of a sudden get sick. And we did stay healthy. Of course, we were healthy when we started.

Health concerns did enter into our decision to become vegetarian but it wasn't the only reason. This is a topic that deserves more than just a glance. In future episodes I will continue this inquiry into maintaining good healthy.


This is Retirement Talk.



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