Altitude Sickness, Column

Healthy choices: fitness, food discipline, and sleep!

Things have been alright. My back has been alright, weightlifting has been alright, work has been alright, the skiing has been alright (we keep getting these little surprise powder days, nothing on Killington Road, but really nice turns up on the mountain). Things have been alright.

Winter climbing league has started down at the climbing gym in Rutland, and if you have ever wanted to climb, you should give it a shot. There are teams that need folks, and there is a really good handicap system so that even a truly novice climber can climb with the best of them, and have fun and gain a competitive number of points.

But my asthma has been really bad this year. I got my first inhaler since 1998 two springs ago, and it took me a year and a half to go through three quarters of it, but this fall I roared through the last quarter of it and half of another. It has been bad enough that I have been neglecting my aerobic activity in favor of easier things … but I am going to have to get my legs moving sometime.

What I really need to do is find a pool to walk laps in so that I can try to work the kinks out of my spine, knees, and ankles. That was the best rehab I have ever done. No good for wind or aerobic respiration, but really great for constant pressure on ligaments and tendons, working out scar tissue, stretching them out, and putting non-shock strain on them.

After what I like to call my “fat season,” I have been getting really disciplined with my food, trying to stick to nuts, homemade soups, stir fried vegetables, and (of course), enough bacon to kill a pig. (Well, I suppose even a small amount of bacon kills a pig, but you know what I mean.)  Lots of bacon. Hopefully soon I will get back to making jerky. I am eager to make a new batch of bacon and eye of round jerky, but also I very much want to try ground beef jerky, (regular jerky is too lean for keeping a ketosis metabolism.)

For an old addict like myself (of any type), it’s really good to keep healthy choices at hand so that I am less tempted to stop at the store and buy almond milk Chunky Monkey.  I like to make two or three weeks’ worth of food at a time, so there are very few gaps in my supply.

Sleep is another area where I am trying hard to be more disciplined. I have

sort of a weird sleep thing. If I go to bed at 11 p.m., I will get seven hours of sleep.  If I go to bed at 12 midnight, I will get six hours of sleep, and so on. Going to bed after 3 a.m., I never achieve more than three or four hours of sleep. That said, I can function quite well on that much sleep, especially with a square of dark chocolate every hour. Metered doses.

If I get to sleep at 10:30 p.m., I get eight hours of sleep. On the dot. I will literally fall asleep looking at the clock, and wake up eight hours to the minute later. Oddly, though, if I go to bed before 10 p.m., I am back to 6-7 hours of sleep. This is a frustrating cycle for a person who likes to get lots of things done.

However, it is rare that an insomniac (at least vaguely anyhow) person will know the formula for their sleep cycle, so there is that. That is an undeniable plus.

On the rare occasions when I sleep nine, 10, 11, or even 12 hours (at 12 hours we are looking at twice in my life), I find that my next few nights I sleep very little, like I have used up my sleep reservoir. Furthermore, I honestly believe if I had been a person who slept eight hours a night all his life, I would be president by now. It makes that much difference.

For most of my younger life I slept four, maybe six hours a night no matter when I went to sleep (dropping gluten made a huge difference), and I genuinely believe that lack of sleep completely destroyed my ability to make a sound decision in any aspect of my life. When I started sleeping, I started making better decisions.

As it is my often stated goal to make better decisions in life, it is now my stated goal to make a sincere effort to get better sleep.

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