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How Gardening Has Changed My Life #1: The Numbers Don't Lie

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Blog entry by justjoel posted 211 days ago 355 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Gardening has enhanced my life in so many ways that it is difficult to fully quantify, so I’ll not count the ways, but I will chronicle them. And here, in this series, I’ll bring gardening in to the fullness of my health and social awareness through my life-journey, in the Emersonian way (see poem “Success” here, as sometimes maybe miss-attributed to R.W. Emerson).

In my blogs each season regarding the state of my gardens, part of the title always includes the word “Journey,” and this is for a very good reason. I believe that living and learning give meaning to life, not some long-term goal or destination. Yet it is true, and maybe obvious if you’ve read any of my other blog postings, that I’m big on planning things. And one could say with complete justification that that is just another way to state my short-term goals. Guilty. But here too it is carrying out those plans, successfully or unsuccessfully, that is the real fun, where the real learning comes in, no matter how much enjoyment or fulfillment I get from completing a plan as planned. I mean, if that weren’t true for me I’d go nuts what with all of the things I don’t accomplish, and the plans that don’t go as planned.

As I just hit the half-century mark a couple of years ago, I was a good boy and went to the doctor for those check-ups (which of course eventually included that uncomfortable one where they take pictures of your digestive tract, up close and personal, beginning with the end). Though I was in fairly good health, like too many people (Americans at least) my cholesterol and related numbers were too high, and I carried around enough extra pounds of flesh to keep Antonio out of trouble with Shylock for, like a year or more, I sweareth.

With these high marks on my tests, the doctor threatened to medicate me (and not in a fun way), if I didn’t make some lifestyle changes. It took a couple rounds of these warnings to kick my butt in gear, but in gear it is now. In the six months since my last tests, I’ve dropped from 212 to 174 for my overall cholesterol count, my pretty good blood pressure got better, and I lost 21 lbs (so that Italian merchant of old will have to look elsewhere for help, and me-knoweth that my belt no longer protests too much). All I did was eat better. No extra exercise or athletic activity, other than the full-contact gardening and yard work that one participates in this time of year.

But the real point here is that it didn’t take a “diet;” or any store-bought, low-cal, low-fat, low-taste, JennyWatchers crap in cardboard, with some plan for a measured amount of time. Just real food and easily sustainable changes to my eating habits, that’s all it took.

I replaced most of the empty carb junk with fruits and veggies that I like, mostly from my own garden this time of year. And I didn’t force myself to eat something I don’t like in replacement of those foods. I greatly curtailed my intake of processed sugars and of all overly processed foods in general. And though I wasn’t bad before, I no longer drink sodas or sugar infused drinks (okay, maybe a little root beer with pizza once in a while, and I still take my coffee with cream and sugar). And there too is part of the point, I still eat most anything I want (pizza, bacon, cheese, or pizza with bacon and cheese), I just watch the portions and frequency of the bad stuff, and eat mostly the good stuff.

None of this was rocket science; I think most of us know what is good for us and what isn’t, and which of our habits are healthy and those that aren’t. But my journeys into the world of gardening, and the actual gardens, have helped me so much in my efforts to be healthier. Through this site and the wisdom you all have imparted, and what I’ve soaked in through other social media and other research, I’ve learned what to pay attention to, what kinds of foods do what, how bad processed food is, what is happening in the world of food and to our food in the world.

As to those test scores? They’re better, but still too high, so journey on I must. So now I need to add in some exercise beyond the full-contact gardening. Maybe a bit of walking, or, shall I say, “marching?”

-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell



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justjoel

1042 posts in 1852 days
hardiness zone 7a

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8 comments so far

View daltxguy's profile

daltxguy

882 posts in 1569 days
hardiness zone 4a

posted 211 days ago

Amen, brother.
And the picture of your daughter is the greatest reason of all to be on the journey.
Shylock is in trouble now.
But we are blessed with your presence, ideas, creativity and journey.

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14620 posts in 2472 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 210 days ago

ditto what Daltxguy said!!

you are an inspiration—now, not only your creativity and your gardening successes but your “life journey” as well…

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View jroot's profile

jroot

4986 posts in 2102 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 210 days ago

You hit it right on the nail. PORTIONS is the key. ... as well as striving to avoid all those excessive sugary drinks that are making the producers so rich … at our expense.

Well done.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View sharad's profile

sharad

1608 posts in 1689 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 209 days ago

The account of your journey was an interesting reading with a touch of humor. You say most of us know what is good and what isn’t and in spite of that you went wrong. But it is never too late and your efforts to change your eating habits and full fledged gardening have started to show better results. You need more exercise which should include yogic postures and pranayam(breathing exercise). Yogic postures take care of each and every part of the body unlike walking or gym. They are very soothing and reduce stress which is one of the main causes of disease. Imagine four compartments of your stomach and reserve two for food, one for fluids and one should be kept empty for the gases. This will avoid over eating and resulting illnesses. Don’t be too fussy about not eating this and that but have restraint on whatever you eat. Music comes out of stringed instruments because the strings are under restraint. Make them loose and the music is lost. Same thing applies to our lives. Excuse me for giving unsolicited advice but it has come from my long experience of maintaining good health. Coming January I will complete 78 and so far all my pathological tests are excellent. I wish I get a chance to meet all of you to prove my point. I endorse the comments made by Daltxguy and Jroot.

Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14620 posts in 2472 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 209 days ago

you are a wise man, Sharad

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View justjoel's profile

justjoel

1042 posts in 1852 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 207 days ago

Indeed, Sharad – I welcome your advice. And you, sir, might be keen to know that of the two supplements I take, Turmeric is one of them, and I know your country is famous for this spice. I take it for its purported multitude of health benefits, one of which for the potential of averting any future dementia type problems that might come my way, as these illnesses seem to run in my family on my father’s side. I also take Krill oil, for the Omega 3 fatty acids. My doctor suggested the Krill Oil, but I found and did the research on the Turmeric myself, and began taking it after my latest round of blood tests, but before I visited the doctor, and she now approves of it.

I have thought about yoga, and will consider it still, but my family is so very busy after my work hours, and this makes classes of any kind are very difficult for me to attend. I know this because I’ve looked at returning to school and could attend almost for free – I work at a university, have many years of college to my credit from many years ago, but have no degree, and this is something I need to correct.

I have, however, increased my amount of sleep and relax a bit more, even at the expense of not getting as much done around the house or in the garden. I know proper rest is a key to better health and therefore to weight loss and stress management.

Since I began all of this, I’ve also notice that the bursitis-like pain in my left hip, and just the overall “joint issues” I had in the spring (like getting up and back on my feet from kneeling while pulling all of those evil weeds), have all but gone away. I don’t know if this is from nearly ridding my diet of junk and the other changes there, from the weight loss itself, or if it is from the supplements (as Turmeric apparently has arthritis fighting powers as well, though I’ve never been diagnosed with that ailment). It is likely a combination of all these things, as they are of course related to each other. If anyone reading this has arthritis, then I would recommend trying Turmeric supplements for a month and see if they do anything for you (though you should do the research yourself and check with your doctor first, especially if you are on any prescription medications). I know all of these changes have lead to an overall decrease in inflamation throughout my body (and blood vessels), and therefore I receive multiple health benefits from this.

-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell

View sharad's profile

sharad

1608 posts in 1689 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 207 days ago

Thank you Jj for your response to my comment. I was a bit worried that you may not like what I said but I am now relieved. The importance of turmeric is now well established and I am glad you are taking the supplement. You may take one teaspoon of turmeric powder with one glass of milk with little sugar to taste before going to bed as an alternative. It will give you sound sleep. This is just a suggestion you may continue with your routine if it suits you. Whatever improvement you are getting in your health problems is certainly due to the combination of all you are doing and keep it up. I can understand your constraint in getting time for attending yoga class and I have one suggestion. There is a book by Peter Kelder titled “Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth” Book 1 published by Doubleday a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group. Inc. 1540 Broadway, New York 10036. ISBN 0-385-49162-X. If you can get this book you will find it very interesting and you can do those postures easily yourself in less than half an hour at its best. Of course you have to go slow as suggested by the author. You can get information on this book on the internet as well. We are practicing them every day in our class and the results are astounding. But you must do it regularly with devotion. Once you detoxify your body by this regimen you will feel very energetic to do your gardening and other duties. Do the above for at least six months and I will tell you about Pranayam which will do wonders in your life. Believe me I am telling you with long experience and am convinced that “Health is Wealth”. Pl be free to ask me anything about the health aspect and I will try my best to satisfy you. By the way I will be completing 79 in next January and not 78 as stated wrongly in my earlier comment. Wish you happy gardening and good health.

Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4251 posts in 1735 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 205 days ago

Enjoy the journey, Joel.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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