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Tibetans Get the Idea

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A Happy Heart

My niece’s husband had a heart attack this week. He is 42 years old. Doctors implanted two stents in his arteries, patched him up, and sent him home the next day. Amazing. We are so thankful for the EMTs and doctors who saved him.

happyheartThis incident happened to coincide with my yearly health check up. I am a bit older than 42. And I’m not exactly committed to exercising. So, of course, I started wondering how my own ticker was doing. My dad has had serious issues with high cholesterol for years. My mom has had almost every artery in her body pulled out and scraped. Honestly, the way she smokes and eats fried food, we have been surprised by her longevity. With that kind of healthy heredity, who knows what can happen?

That is why I thought maybe I should start cutting my contributing factors in half and doubling my chances of a long, healthy life. Someone needs to be around to show awkward photos of my kids to their eventual spouses and children. Since I already had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for this week, it was the perfect time to ask some questions. Happy serendipity.

I asked my doctor what I needed to do to get started with better heart health. He suggested a simple, non-evasive test called Cardiac Calcium Scoring. It is inexpensive, quick, and a good indicator of heart health for someone my age with low to moderate risks.  (And, I’m not going to lie, it looks a lot like a pod racer.) Dr. Johnson says knowing my score is the first step. It isn’t covered by insurance, but it only costs $49. I’m waiting for the results….

CT Technician Theresa Caton, R.T. helps Patient Ernext Bensley who is about to receive an advanced CTA scan of his heart at The Johns Hopkins Hospital

The scanner used for my calcium scoring was similar to this. It took about ten minutes to get hooked up and scanned. They only scan your chest area. Unless your heart has dropped to your feet like this poor sap.

In the meantime, I am actually contemplating regular exercise. I am lowering stress by halving my worry and doubling my prayer time. I am attempting to get sucked into TV less so I can sleep more. And I am giving up smoking. Just kidding. I only smoke meat and that is not going to stop any time soon.

But most of all, I am taking for granted half of what I used to (like ambulances, diagnostic tests, and yearly physicals) and doubling my gratitude for second chances. I am very, very thankful.

 

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Cinnamon Rolls and Missing Sandwiches

So my first week of trying to half and double was about half successful. I did take more steps, but probably not double. I did halve some of my food, but there was a LOT of food. So it wasn’t too much of a reduction for the week. In my defense, it was a big week of eating out for work (and for lack of grocery shopping). And then my coworker, Mr. Kyle, brought these babies to work.

0914160804.jpgLord have mercy.

I swear I only ate one fourth of one. Of course that was probably four hundred calories. I get bonus points, however, for walking by them fourteen times and not taking more. Those pastries were calling to me like the Sirens calling to Odysseus. I maxed out my self control for the day.

The hardest part for me is not halving and doubling. It is remembering to do it. I am not accustomed to halving my food, or walking up and down the corridors at work every time I leave my desk. I need STOP printed on the inside of my glasses or tattooed on my wrists so I can be reminded all the time.

I did remember when we went to 3rd and Lindsley for a fantastic night of music. These amazing musicians were raising money for their friend who is struggling with his second round of cancer. The headliner was Vince Gill and he was, shall we say, larger than life. (Someone suggested that he may want to think about this half and double thing.) There were performers from Lyle Lovett’s band, from the Doobie Brothers, from…a variety of groups and musical backgrounds. Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn. Victor Wooten. My ears were happy.

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We had dinner at the show. I had a lovely prime rib sandwich and promptly put half of it off to the side to take home and eat for lunch the next day. Later, I realized the sandwich was gone. Poof. Usually my son is the culprit. This time, however, he had filled up on an enormous Rueben. All signs pointed to the waitress as the villain. Behind her sweet little smile was an evil mind waiting to destroy my dreams. Or not.

I’m all for halving, but I felt cheated. I paid for a whole sandwich, wanted a whole sandwich, lusted for it. With great restraint I put it aside. Then it was gone. Does that sound like the lyrics to a country song? Luckily for me, the banjo and bass guitar duet began about that time and I forgot about the missing sandwich.

So the moral of the story today? Hang on to your halves. Or at least put them in a to-go box right off the bat. Or eat while listening to fantastic music so you don’t care so much that you only have half. And stay away from Kyle.

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How it works

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Mistakes

You said you wanted to be around when I made a mistake, well, this could be it, sweetheart.

-Han Solo

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Welcome to Half & Double

0905161335One weekend my husband and I went on a road trip to a couple state parks. Lots of food and snacks and hiking. Well, some hiking. When we returned I made the huge mistake of stepping on the scale. The number that blinked up at me was not a welcome sight. Not. At. All. How can it be that I was eight pounds heavier than when I was at full term with my first child? That can’t be. I gained forty pounds during that pregnancy. The number glaring at me was absurd. I got off the scale, gave it a good shake, and got back on. Got back off, changed the battery. Got back on.

Same blasted number. Honestly, I was tempted to throw the crazy thing out the bathroom window. I just stared at it. If looks could melt metal, plastic, and glass, that thing would have burst into flames and burned through the floor all the way down to the crawl space. I took a moment to visualize that. It would make a lovely fire. Toasty. Perfect for marshmallow roasting. Marshmallows! That vision made me smile and hungry.roasting-marshmallows

Then I had to turn to the mirror and confront the reality that was an ever-expanding me. I could live with it or do something about it. Two simple choices. I decided to do something.  I’ve done enough diet and exercise plans in my life to know that I’ve lost the sort of discipline where I can drink vinegar, honey, and peppercorn shakes three times a day and act like it’s tolerable. Bleh. That’s so 2010. But I had heard of people who divide all their meals into two equal parts and save half for another meal or share it with a friend. I can cut a hamburger in half. Surely. Or eat half a piece of pie. Or drink my tea half sweet/half unsweet. I can do that.

And to take it one step further, what if I also doubled the healthy eats or the exercise or the water drinking? Or all of that? Whoa! That seems like a Jedi mind trick to keep myself from feeling like I am completely giving up my favorite stuff. Half the chips; double the carrots. Half the donuts; double the oatmeal. Half the social media surfing; double the walking. Half the things that are taking me to the dark side; double the things can propel me toward liking the scale again.

Do this, I can. (Yes, I hear the Yoda voice in my head.) yoda-star-wars

How hard can it be? Simply eat half of my normal intake and double my exercise?  The food part could be tough—I like the food. A lot. Better than I like most people. But I probably eat twice as much as I need. Definitely. And the exercise part should be a piece of cake (oh, I wish—cake!). I don’t exercise now, so doubling it shouldn’t be too hard, right? Just double any activity I am doing. So when I walk to the bathroom, I will make the trip twice. When I go up the stairs at work, I will go up, down, then up again. When I forget my phone in the car in the parking garage, I will go to the garage and back, and to the garage and back again. (It would be too embarrassing to say how often this happens. But on the bright side, it may be enough to be considered a workout strategy.)

So that is how Half & Double began. Just a way to trick myself into taking better care of my health and making sure that I don’t end up having only one pair of yoga pants and an oversized shirt that fit. Because, unfortunately, that would not pass for dress code at the office.

And then I started thinking, why stop there? I can take this half and double idea to all areas of my life. Half the worry; double the prayer. Half the criticism; double the praise. Half the frustration; double the patience. Half the waiting for things to happen; double the making things happen. Half anything that is bad for or hurting me; double anything that is good for or helping me. Pardon me, but this is brilliant! Half and double. An incredible simply concept. Even I understand fractions and multiplication enough for this.

What would you like to half and double? What is stopping you? Join Yoda and me. Start a revolution, we can. Are you ready?

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