Why lose?

17Aug07

Every person trying to lose weight or commit to a generally healthier lifestyle has their reasons and motivations. The reasons and motivations vary as much as the individuals behind them.For me, it’s a combination of vanity, health and a desire for change in my life. But there is one reason that goes beyond all that – my Nana.

When I was getting ready to go home at Christmas last year, my parents broke some news that they had been withholding from me while the semester wound down; they hadn’t wanted me to worry during finals. My Nana, my dad’s mother, had been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

When I had that conversation with my parents, I had no idea what it meant – for my Nana, for our family. I knew that Alzheimer’s affected memory, but I didn’t know the extent of it. Within just a few months, my Nana packed up her life, moved across the country, and into a senior’s residence in my hometown. Months later, she’s settled in, making friends, enjoying being closer to our family, going on weekly bus trips to explore the city. She is still vibrant, still loves to shop and talk about the amazing things she’s accomplished in her lifetime. But she repeats things and forgets names with greater frequency.

My Nana has had a pretty amazing life. She was a WREN during WWII, moved with my dad and my granddad from England to Canada when my dad was only six, worked for a college, worked in theatre, television and radio for years, had an active social and church life, and so much more. She reads voraciously, does crossword puzzles daily, and loves clothes. Sure, she drives me a little crazy sometimes, but that’s family, isn’t it?

When my Nana got diagnosed, and I started reading up on Alzheimer’s, it was like my eyes opened up to my life and my lifestyle. Researchers don’t yet know exactly what causes Alzheimer’s, how to prevent it, or how to cure it. What they do know is what you can do to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer Society of BC outlines the following six risk factors: diet and lifestyle, social interaction, stress and emotional wellness, mental agility and capacity, smoking, toxins and alcohol consumption, and head trauma.

They also outline eight steps you can take to lower your risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

  • Feed and water your brain
    • Eat foods that rich in omega-3 fatty acids and in anti-oxidants
    • Drink at least 6 cups of water a day to hydrate your brain.
  • Connect your brain with others
    • Keep up relationships with friends and family.
    • Make new friends!
    • Spend more time with people who have a positive attitude.
  • Have brain health goals
    • Encourage fitness!
    • Exercise at least 3x a week for 30 minutes, and vary your exercise routines.
    • Watch your calorie intake and moderate your saturated fat intake.
  • Challenge your brain
    • Learn new skills or new ways to do old activities.
    • Read about things you don’t normally think about.
    • Do puzzles.
  • Rest your brain
    • Make sure that you are getting adequate sleep.
    • Take a yoga class and/or spend time in quiet, peaceful rest or meditation.
  • Keep your brain clear of toxins and chemicals
    • Moderate your alcohol consumption, don’t smoke, and avoid drugs.
    • Wear a protective mask when using chemicals or solvents.
  • Protect your brain
    • Wear a helmet when cycling or playing sports.
    • Wear a seat belt when driving.
    • To prevent accidents, check your home for potential hazards.
  • Save your brain by monitoring critical health numbers
    • Monitor your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose.

A lot of these suggestions are good for overall health, as well as lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia. These suggestions are what guides me as I try to change my lifestyle: I don’t count calories because it makes me a crazy person, but I pay increasing attention to what I eat and how much I eat; I drink lots of water; I try to maintain positive relationships and build new ones; I am working on increasing the amount of exercise I get regularly; I read voraciously and do the Sudoku or crossword every day; I try to get at least 7h a night; I am cutting down my alcohol consumption (ohhh Jello shots, I will miss you!); I’m increasingly proactive about staying on top of my blood pressure and other health measures. It’s exhausting, though, trying to change that many things all at once, so I don’t aim for perfection in all of them, just a constant dedication to progress.

So, that’s my motivation at the core – lowering my risk.

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4 Responses to “Why lose?”

  1. Very interesting post and well written. I had a nana too. I miss her. I have taught health and fitness over 30 years and I agree with the “core – lowering my risk” statement. You are motivated(and constant dedication is urgent too). The biggest downfall with students over the years has been a lack of motivation. Saying they wanted to change-but doing nothing about it. You rock! Thanks for all the good information and I will bookmark your blog now!

  2. 2 practiceliving

    Thanks for stopping by Marsha!

    I agree – it’s hard to get the ball rolling and KEEP it rolling. For me, it’s all about the baby steps, changing habits bit by bit.

  3. I’m sorry about your grandmother.

    I’ve heard these tips in the past. I’m doing pretty good with most of them. I justh have to figure out how to squeeze in time for more sleep!


  1. 1 NaBloPoMo: A « Practice Living

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