Regarding Health

Yumbox Tapas Bento Lunch Box

Recorded on January 24th, 2017


I usually don’t eat too terribly at lunch at work. Lots of salads, a tuna wrap about once a week, and cheese pizza slices every so often. But if I take the nutritional high road, it’s expensive and a pain to assemble your plate from the same tired salad bar every day. (First world problems, yes, yes. Lots of people don’t know where their next meal will come from, and/or don’t have clean water.) But the temptation to throw money at the lunch problem every day is great, especially when you’re pressed for time.

This has all changed! Sarah discovered the Yumbox, a bento box that comes in all kinds of sizes and configurations. It’s leakproof-ish, with a fancy rubber gasket on the top lid that seals all the food compartments off from each other. It’s expensive (about $30), but it’s made well and if you amortize that cost over all the cheaper lunches you’ll be making at home in advance instead of buying them every day, it quickly saves money.

We got the Tapas “adult-size” model. It looks small, but when you open it up at lunchtime you discover how huge it is and how much food it holds. The little compartments encourage me to pack more healthful food in a bigger variety than I would otherwise, and I end the meal feeling totally full but never bloated.

You have to get one of these. Or not. Again, no affiliate links for me on this one.

Proper Brushing Technique with the Sonicare Toothbrush

Recorded on January 10th, 2017

I went to the dentist the other day and the hygienist noted the amount of recession in my gums. I had always heard that flossing prevented that, but she said that brushing too hard can contribute to receding gums, as can not wearing your night guard. Oops.

I have majorly fallen off the night guard wagon, but am now re-pledged to keep up with it. I know the drill there. Clean it and wear it — every night.

The brushing, though. The hygienist blew my mind when she said, “Don’t brush too hard with the Sonicare. Lightly press it against the part where the gums and teeth meet and slowly move it to each tooth, leaving it still along the way and letting the brush do the work.” Huh? I thought that brushing up and down with it like with a regular toothbrush would be correct. I figured the extra motion provided by the motor would be even better.

Not so. The video above really drives it home. Also note the recommendation about angling it up or down. I’ve been doing it wrong for about 15 years!

The Need for Sleep

Recorded on December 29th, 2016

Ignore for now how I’m up way too late and robbing myself of the sleep I know I need. I saw this thread from @UrbnHealthNP on Twitter today and I saved it in a bunch of ways so I’ll always have a copy:

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): A really odd feeling to read about the sudden deaths of so many 50 and 60 year olds while having a patient roster full of 90 year olds.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): I don’t know anyone’s medical history but one thing I do know is stress is the precursor of every disease. Cellular stress. Mental stress.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): I tell people all the time, there’s a whole LOT that doesn’t show up in the numbers (lab reports, blood pressure etc) until it’s too late.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): Stress is a silent killer. If people do absolutely nothing else in 2017, mitigating their stress would be more than enough.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): And what’s crazy to me is that people wear stress and that “hustle/grind…I’m so busy” like a badge of honor. Don’t believe the hype.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): Nothing sexy about the cellular stress of insomnia all for the sake of hustling and grinding. Nope. Nothing.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): My goal is not to get more done but to have less to do. Productivity through rest, nutrition, and good, radical self care is my playbook.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): And here’s the other thing: just because you’ve always done a thing doesn’t mean it was always the right thing to do.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): Just because you’ve always “survived” on four hours of sleep doesn’t mean it was always the best thing to do at the cellular level.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): There’s a thing called “stages of sleep.” Best to know what that’s all about & find out whether you’re really sleeping (ie resting) at night

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): Folks have NO idea what an assault it is to their entire system, at the cellular level, to have night after night of no real sleep.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): By the time stress shows up in your numbers - blood pressure, labs, weight, etc - the cellular level assault has already taken place.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): And this is why, from my perspective, every single clinic visit should include a discussion abt how the person is coping with stress.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): Eliminate stress? Not gonna happen. Stress is a part of life. For everyone. All the time. The question is how are you coping.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): Coping: managing, mitigating, warding off, setting healthy boundaries, acknowledging limits, setting realistic expectations.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): And a word about the very last one: realistic expectations. I find that to be one of the main sources of personal stress.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): Large majority of us are literally doing too damn much. Too much for too many with too little. And running on fumes.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): Boundaries work great for other people. But what about the boundaries we need to be setting for ourselves, like a decent night’s rest?

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): What about the boundary of health as the very FIRST wealth?

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): Real talk: being downright honest about your stress and learning how to cope with it is literally money in the bank.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): Do NOT normalize the sudden deaths of 50 and 60 year olds when folks are out here playing tennis in their 80s and 90s.

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): Poor Sleep May Be Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

Angel, NP
(@UrbnHealthNP): Lack of Deep Sleep May Set The Stage for Alzheimer’s Disease via @NPR

Waterlogged App for Water Tracking and Reminders

Recorded on June 30th, 2016

screenshot of Waterlogged app

I finally caved and bought one of the million water-tracking apps for the iPhone. I’ve never been good about drinking enough water regularly. One of the main reasons I want to get better at it, other than just the need to not feel like a dried-out husk, is that I don’t want to ever deal with a kidney stone (knock-on-wood100).

There seem to be many decent water-tracking apps, but the one that I liked the features and looks of the best was Waterlogged. It’s good at making it super-fast to log any kind of container of water, and the amount filled in the virtual water bottle in the screenshot above actually sloshes around when you move the phone. I’m easily entertained. So easily.

I downloaded the free version, knowing that I’d soon pony up the $3.99 to unlock the “Smart Reminders” feature. If you haven’t logged enough water intake at certain points throughout the day, it’ll give you a gentle reminder to drink another 8 oz so you can reach your milestones and eventually get to whatever daily goal you set.

screenshot of reminders in Waterlogged

I like the Smart Reminders, because most daily reminders to do anything on my phone get quickly ignored as background noise. These somewhat random pings to stay hydrated have more novelty for now, and somehow don’t seem annoying (yet).

How I May Eventually Make Smarter Food Choices

Recorded on April 11th, 2016

There are 606 files in my “text files” folder. They range from one-off snippets about favorite beers and LPs to buy, to model numbers for things like printer cartridge refills. There are also dozens of notes on restaurants around town. If I find a dish I like, I’ll write a few words about it so I don’t have to re-invent the wheel next time.

I just started adding a new angle to those restaurant notes: before-and-after details about cravings we have, and then the resulting regret that comes from having given in to those cravings. Because what usually happens with us is we think, “Ooooh, let’s go to Ye Olde Local Mexican Restaurant, yeah, and let’s PIG OUT on chips and salsa and beans and rice and burritos and beer and it’ll be awesome and I don’t care if I feel bad later this time it’ll be different let’s do it okay okay I’ll drive.”

And then we do all of the above, and as soon as we get in the car after the pigging out is over, we say:

“Ugh, I don’t feel so good.”
“Why did we do that? This happens every time. Are we stupid?”

I’ve often thought it would be a good idea to capture the way we feel before we eat and drink, when we have a crystal-clear hankering for something salty, heavy, savory and delicious, and then write down the sensations and associated quotes that happen after we’ve done our damage. It seems like if you do this enough, you could see some patterns emerge that could tell a thinking person that no, this time will not be different, and you’ll be as sorry for over-eating this time as you were last time.

This morning I followed through on that brainstorm because my joints were in actual pain following some severe pizza over-indulgence at one of our favorite places yesterday. (No, it wasn’t Pizza Tonight, but I’m not going to name the one it was, either. Our bad habits aren’t their fault.) I scribbled some thoughts down in Drafts while the bad-stomach feeling was still fresh. Here’s what I added to the text file for “Pizza Restaurant X”:

2016-04-10, 2:30 pm:
"I want a savory lunch. Let's get a small Sicilian pizza and fries at You-Know-Where."
"Yay! I'll drive!"

[We eat the fries and half the pizza for lunch, then Phil eats 3 more leftover slices for "dinner" at 10 pm.]

2016-04-11, 10 am:
"I still feel like a bloated, dried-out husk, like when I drink too much beer. And my now joints are stiff and they hurt."
"Are we stupid?"

So, there’s my cautionary note-to-future-ravenous-self. If I can keep this up and populate more restaurant files with enough quantitative evidence, I may have a prayer of preventing untold episodes of heartburn and bloat in years to come. This is why we have tiny computers in our pockets all the time!