ONE HEART 5 HABITS – A BELATED REVIEW

Here is the One Heart Five Habits book review that never finished the editing cycle back in March 2021. Re-edited for brevity and its new context.

Upon turning 40 my doctor diagnosed me with hypertension. This is bad news as hypertension is known as the silent killer. It is a major contributor to cardio vascular disease, the number 1 attributed cause of death globally.  

I ordered a smart blood pressure reader and flummoxed my doctor with unusually high readings for  someone so seemingly healthy. 

We experimented through trial and error with some meds and found one that worked. My blood pressure readings  improved but remained too high. My diet didn’t seem problematic to me, I thought to myself, I don’t eat fast food, I don’t add salt to my food… we eat fresh vegetables and fruit… we walk for exercise… anywhere from 3.5 – 10km excursions… I didn’t understand how my diet could be the problem. My doctor recommend the Netflix show Gamechangers and a few other research and inspiration activities but nothing struck me. I didn’t do much in terms of followup, other than take my meds. 

I am not entirely sure what caused me to search the internet  but I came across a book I hadn’t heard of, called One Heart Five Habits and added it to my virtual library. I devoured it. It was an exceptionally easy and inspiring read. What struck me most about it?

Despite the fact that I was pretty convinced that the salt issue didn’t apply to me, the book convinced me that it did… Eating out, even at a fancy restaurant, you’re going to get more salt than dining at home. Tips for looking at the labels of packaged foods to assess salt content, resulted in realizing that even my organic, premium choices for home were still, quite often, too salty. 

I felt like I ate plenty of fruit and vegetables… until I took the challenge of eating 8 servings of fresh fruits or vegetables in a single day… ditto for water. That’s a lot! I was no where near that level, and still struggle to fit that much in over the course of a day – even while working at home! 

One Heart Five Habits was also super encouraging, setting  and reinforcing a tone of “every little bit helps…” it’s not an all or nothing equation. Each alcoholic beverage you skip, helps. Each extra walk, each serving of fruit, veg or water… it all contributes. I found this motivating. 

I enjoyed the book so much I was happy to pay the $6 for the app to track my progress. The app was super basic, there was a couple of rough edges in the user interface, and I think I even spotted a typo. Its privacy details weren’t updated in the app store at the time of writing, and it didn’t integrate with any of your other heath apps, so you’re manually transcribing your weight, blood pressure, minutes of exercise etc. That said the UI is pleasant, gives positive feedback when you tally yet another fruit or vegetable consumed, and I found it quite effective for tracking my progress.

So, how were my results? 

After 3 months (Jan – March 2021) I was trending down both with respect to weight and blood pressure, despite suffering through some stressful life circumstances. However, I struggled to maintain the regime and after making a career move I proceeded to gain back more than I’d lost. I gained a total of 26lbs between May 2021 – April 2022.  I was the heaviest I’d ever been. Which was also no good for my blood pressure.

As I mentioned in my last post, A Skeptics Interrogation of A Skeptics Guide to Stutz, it’s at this point April 17th 2022 that I made the internal commitment to speed walk 8k (meters) a day and thereby proceeded to lose all the weight I put on and more. And more importantly I’m not done! Next week I’ll share more on how I landed on this commitment and why I think I’ve been successful keeping it for more than 9 months. 

Pick a theme and shape your year

2020 was like no other… At the macro scale we had Covid-19, the horrendous death of George Floyd, and other unarmed people at the hands of law enforcement, and the world’s most powerful democracy in a state of unbelievable dysfunction with a people divided seemingly beyond reconciliation. On a micro level a death of a close colleague, a tragic accident befalling another… in a multitude of ways 2020 has been a shocking year. 

Focusing on the USA and those injustices may seem hypocritical from the north, as Canada has its own historical and current injustices relating to Indigenous people and First Nations. I can only say that both collective struggles are real and totally unacceptable. Our species collective treatment of “other” is shameful. Though there were certainly stories in Canada’s press illustrating our ongoing and tragic fumbling of this critical issue, the headlines from the States seemed an unprecedented and relentless torrent. A tragedy, a tempest and a teapot. 

And yet on macro and micro levels there are things to be grateful for. There are lessons, reasons for continued hope, and things we can bundle together to forge a better year in 2021. In an effort to be intentional with respect to the year ahead, this post reflects on personal, admittedly insignificant, things that I am grateful for from 2020, and articulates my theme and areas of focus for 2021. I encourage readers to consider their own theme and areas of focus for a better new year. 

Before we move on I would like to briefly celebrate each individual who;  showed up or mailed in, (totalling record numbers), to vote in the American Federal election, participated in peaceful protest in support of Black Lives Matter, and/or donated to the same, or similar. While the work is far from done, it’s a relief that there will be a change of leadership in the USA. And while this is not a silver bullet in addressing what ails us as a species, it’s a step in the right direction.

With recognition of the global current affairs out of the way, let’s get on with it.

What am I grateful for on the micro? 

  • Covid has strengthened my key relationships, and I’m thankful. My marriage has been one of the lucky ones. The challenges and sadness of not being able to see my parents, brother, close friends… illustrates which relationships are most important. It hurts, but it also helps. 
  • My friend of 30 years, who I’ve been sharing a renaissance of computer, turn based, gaming with – because neither of us are as busy socially and it doesn’t require us to be physically together. 
  • My e-sports community. 
  • Technology despite its challenges, in 2020, was pretty grand. 
  • Thank you Apple, Taylor Swift for your two albums, Conway, Sony, Dell and yes you, Wings and Horns for giving me comfy threads that I feel great in and can wear everyday… even workdays. 
  • “Marie Kondo-ing” my closet. 
  • Thank you Dolphins Resort for hosting my smaller than expected 40th birthday, socially distanced, each guest with their own bathroom, during the relatively quiet Covid period in the summer, on our relatively isolated island. 
  • I’m starting 2021 more than 12 pounds lighter than I started 2020. My average blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic were on average down 11 points in 2020 compared to 2019. Working from home, in comfy clothes, has allowed me and my wife to get out during the lunch hour, if there were no meetings booked, to get in an aerobic walk… a replacement and improvement on the steps we’d typically get moving between meeting rooms and various stakeholder locations. The data suggests my health is improving and I am grateful; however, there is more work to do. 

A theme for 2021

If shocking was the theme of 2020, then my theme for 2021 is resilience. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we must be stronger, we must have the ability to more firmly affix our own masks first, such that we can better manifest Dr. Bonnie Henry’s call to be kind, be calm and be safe. And if we could do that, to quote Louis Armstrong, “What a wonderful world it would be…” My strategy in support of building personal resilience in 2021 is to focus on three things; health, savings and self-care. 

I’ve got some leads on these areas of focus and maybe I’ll write more about them in future posts. Happy New Year! What’s your theme for 2021? 

2013 is over.

2013 Insights

School:

My 3rd calendar year of courses at Uvic is now complete. This year I successfully transitioned from a Fine Arts Diploma student to a Creative Writing Undergraduate student (2nd Degree program). In total I’ve engaged in seven semester equivalent classes, 4 of which were in Writing, and I’ve learned that:

  • I’m energized by creative writing
  • despite my enthusiasm, creative writing is harder than it looks
  • 2 classes every semester, on-top of everything else, is ambitious
  • I quickly grasp concepts – but always require more practice
  • (Critique) Workshops are essential to improve as a writer

Blog:

In an ode to irony, while my interest in writing has skyrocketed, my posts on exploring-art.com have plummeted. Only six posts in 2013, but I’ve learned that people like:

  • Pictures (select, not too many)
  • Cocktails (or maybe that’s just me)
  • Concise observations on writing (and life)

Looking Ahead:

2014 is going to be great! I’m registered in two classes next semester, I’m committing to at least one exploring-art.com post a month (including either a picture, cocktail, or concise observation), and I’m going to play more squash this year (this shouldn’t be hard I’m pretty sure I didn’t play any squash last year).

Happy new year’s – here’s to the year ahead, and turning over new leaves. Cheers!