Categories: Kristin's Earlier Blogs, About Kristin
We honored a family tradition this past Sunday. On the afternoon of the Superbowl, come rain, snow, or shine we always go hiking. This tradition started almost 20 years ago when I noticed that it is one of the few days that the trails are predictably vacant from almost all human visitors. Living in a state that has an NFL team is also helpful and I rejoice the years that the Bronco’s are doing well. On those wonderful years, it is the whole season that is blissfully free from crowds anywhere on game days.
So, I dragged the whole fam out to “celebrate” and yep, there was nary a soul out. I was the only one who actually hiked though. The menfolk romped through the snow like a pack of wild dogs... such is life with boys. The cañon was pristine in its stillness, still lots of snow in the shaded northern areas while the southern exposures skirting the hogback I was on were almost bare of snow. Typical Colorado sun influence... and the reason why all the ski resorts have their ski runs on north facing slopes.
OK, so I DID make chili on Sunday... consider that my contribution to the Superbowl! I use ground turkey and cannellini beans - one of the only compliant beans for all blood types in my family - sans tomatoes, of course. I also like to add onions, carrots and bell peppers (green and red) to my chili - too bad for the A’s, I guess. I figure they can pick out the peppers if they don’t want them.
I also was able to see some wonderful Afro-Cuban drumming this weekend at two separate performances. Attending live performances is the part of my job that I love the most. Both shows were excellent and reminded me once again of the incredible talent I am so fortunate to be able to bring to audiences of children.
There is something tangible in the air now... the faint suggestion of a Spring to come.
The trees have begun pollinating... I noticed the crocuses poking up in the garden today... the birds have gone crackers around our bird feeder...
And, about this time of year, I start craving greens... spinach, chard, watercress, mustard, kale... steamed, raw, in casseroles, you name it.
As my green craving approached this year, I tried having greens for breakfast - not something I do very often except as leftovers. The suggestion of sautéed greens was from a member at the forum, and it sounded so delicious I just had to try it. I am so glad I did! I had sautéed greens for either breakfast or lunch every day this week. My current favorite combo is Bright Lights swiss chard - oh so pretty - chopped stems and leaves lightly sautéed in olive oil with shitake mushrooms and sprinkled with Herbamare - an organic herb seasoned salt. What a delectable, and beneficial, treat it is! I highly recommend experimenting with greens and other veggies for breakfast.
Today was such a gorgeous day, and being that I haven’t spent much time outdoors lately, I decided to go on a short hike around Garden of the Gods. We recently had a very heavy, wet snowfall, but I reasoned that most of the snow would be melted by now and I was anxious to feel the uneven ground beneath my feet once more. Wrong on that one! The trail was a morass of slush and sticky thick mud. I slipslided my way along as best I could, having to do more bushwhacking than I feel comfortable with in a heavy-use park. My legs turned to jelly and I soon was covered in sweat.
But to be out in nature again... ah, such bliss. The arroyo’s were filled with snowmelt and the sound of trickling water was everywhere. Such a welcome treat in the high desert. The crystal blue sky, red rocks, white snow, and the lovely, lovely green of the juniper, piñon and ponderosa pine. What a feast for the eyes and lift for the soul.
I have been trying to write this blog for almost two weeks now. You see, that Frankenvirus that took my family down finally got to me too. I thought I had mastered my escape but noooooo, it was not to be. I had a much easier time with it than the O and A’s did ~ a short-lived head cold but the tiredness seemed to last forever. I am feeling much better now, thankfully, but missed out on a long stretch of fabulous hiking weather. C’est la vie!
OK, now where was I?... oh yes, writing about a trip to the dentist...
I just love it when I receive an unexpected health benefit from the ole blood type diet. This one came from routine dental check-ups for myself and my sons.
Recently, we all visited the dentist. I am usually quite good about getting dental check-ups/cleanings for the family. But it had been two years since our last visit. In the past, a wait of several years between cleanings usually meant extra dental work was needed. So I was a little anxious and somewhat anticipating bad news in at least one of our mouths.
How pleasantly surprised to hear that all were dental caries free! Even the boys! Wow, when I was their age I always had cavities. Now, as a secretor, I am supposed to have somewhat more protection from cavities than non-secretors. But, that certainly isn’t true for me. And certainly not when I was growing up. I think all the sugar and soda consumed when a youngster wreaked havoc in my own mouth, and probably my immune system as well.
I remember a colleague many years ago telling me about this most interesting study that had come out on the relationship between dental cavities and sugar consumption in children. In this study, there were 3 experimental groups: one group consumed sugar, another group did not eat sugar, but received sugar intravenously, and the third group received no sugar whatsoever. The group that received no sugar had lower rates of dental cavities than the other two - no big surprise there. But the group that consumed sugar and the group that received sugar through intravenous injection had almost identical rates of dental cavities. The results of this study point to the possibility that perhaps it is a weakening of the immune system that leads to the development of dental caries, and not the sugar coming into contact with the tooth enamel itself as had been previously believed. I have no idea where this was published, but I would love to get my hands on a copy of this study. Not just from the results produced but, gosh, how the heck did they carry that out!! How intriguing to find out how the researchers managed this one.
My sons do not come by cavity-free naturally from either side - my husband has many dental problems as well, some of it, alas, from poor dental hygiene as a teenager and poor quality repair as a result. Almost every dentist he has seen as an adult takes one look in his mouth and says, “You must have lived in California in the seventies”. Yes, the proof is in his mouth. Back then, there was a popular new repair technique that, as time would soon tell, weakened the structural integrity of each tooth repaired. My poor husband has several such “repairs” that have cost him several teeth.
For my sons to need no dental work is truly a joyous occasion. My oldest has had only one or two cavities in the last several years, my youngest none. And they have never had the “coating” dental caries prevention therapy, nor use fluoride toothpaste, nor drink unfiltered fluoridated water. It is all in their diet, in eating and living right for their type.
The proof is in their beautiful, dental cavity-free mouths.
The... sickness in the family goes round and round, round and round, round and round...
It seems that every 3 or 4 years my family goes through a continuing cycle of illnesses where one or more members of our family is sick for a stretch of several weeks to even over a month. It seems like forever before we are all well again. Fortunately for us, it is only once in a blue moon. I know some families where continual sickness during the winter months is accepted as a norm.
So, as all family members are taking their herbs, vitamins, and supplements to get through this time, I begin to take stock as to where we fell off the wagon. Of course the first thing I think of is food choices. I know in macrobiotics, the explanation for family sickness is that family members eat the same foods and therefore develop similar imbalances that lead to illness. Well, since there are 3 blood types here, we rarely eat the same foods so that one doesn’t work. Could it have been food choices from the holidays? Perhaps... but I did all the cooking this recent holiday season which makes compliance so much easier, and I can’t think of any gross imbalances there either. In fact, most family members have been exceptionally compliant lately with food. Hmmm....
The thing that comes to mind is... stress. December was extremely stressful individually for all family members, add the holidays on top of that and there is a lot of collective stress to contend with. Time to
S L O W D O W N, take several deep breaths and regroup. We have had the boys stay home from school for the past few days so they can get some added rest, which has helped. Also took them to our naturopath who is great with our kids. She places the responsibility for their wellness squarely on their shoulders, instructs them on not only how to take their medicines/treatments but why, and involves them directly in all phases of treatment. Learning how to take responsibility for your own health and wellness is an invaluable life lesson in and of itself, and one I am ever so grateful to her for encouraging.
But, underlying it all, a key element that has contributed to my sick family is that when stressed, we lose contact with one another. I can’t remember when we last participated in some activity together. We are a very close family and enjoy being with each other. My oldest son will be leaving the nest in a little over a year, so any time spent as a family is precious and dear, as we also prepare and make room for the inevitable changes and transitions to follow.
In addition to slowing down, breathing, relaxing, and taking a break from daily routine and expectations, I think a quiet, but fun family activity is in order to bring us back into healthy balance once again. My husband remarked that we still have a large chunk of clay recently purchased for a school project. Hmmm... perhaps even though it is winter, we can still play in the mud. Togetherness and creativity... that’s the best sort of fun! And very healing, I might add.
If you have read any of my blogs you know that I am an avid hiker, more like a passion for it really. It is so much more than exercise for me but that is another blog. I have known for some time that the benefits of hiking are many. So, how pleased was I when I found an article on the results of recent research into the health benefits of hiking at CNN.com.
An interesting study was conducted in the Austrian Alps on hikers that showed how ascending and descending steep mountains had different effects on fats and sugars in the blood. In this study, Austrian researchers tested 45 healthy people who rarely exercised prior to the study. The study participants took 3 to 5 one hour long hikes each week. For two months, they only hiked uphill. For another two months, only down. This was accomplished through the use of a ski lift. Their diets were not changed or altered for this study. Their blood sugar and cholesterol levels were checked before the study started, after each two month segment, and they were also given tests to see how quickly and efficiently their blood removed fats and sugars after each exercise phase.
The researchers were surprised to find that hiking downhill removed blood sugars and improved glucose tolerance, while hiking uphill improved levels of triglycerides. And hiking either way lowered LDL levels (“bad” cholesterol).
While the researchers in the study thought the results were good news for diabetics: to hike downhill to improve glucose levels as they can have difficulty with aerobic exercise and may be better able to tolerate downhill hiking, very few people hike only one way up or down. I do know of hiking groups that carpool to trailheads and destinations so as to only hike up or down a particular trail, but most hikers do hike both ways.
And why not? Hiking both ways will improve glucose tolerance AND clear fats from the blood faster AND reduce LDL levels, according to the research. Hiking uphill is a concentric exercise which shortens muscles, although you can get a lovely stretch in your Achilles tendon if you keep your heel on the ground when traversing up a steep slope. Hiking downhill is eccentric muscle work, extending the muscle. There it is, that lovely balance B’s are so fond of.
It is also an exercise that all blood types can engage in. You can go as fast and as far as you care to. With the 3 blood types in my family, we have very different hiking styles/temperaments. My O son plows up the steepest slopes with joy and ease, my A son likes to stop and look at plants, rocks, and makes sure that we will stop for a snack somewhere along the way. My A husband hikes maybe 1/2 to 2/3’s up the trail and then finds a nice comfy rock to sit on and read while the rest of us go to the end of the trail. And me?, I figure I have the speed of an A with the endurance of an O. Sure, I like to look at all the wonders along the way, but let’s keep it moving, please! I think I do enjoy hiking solo most of all...
Knowing the research results has deepened my appreciation of my favorite form of exercise and how it contributes to my overall health.
I think I need to take a hike... ;-)