All posts by Teton Valley Health Care

Good Choice, Bad Choice: Where Did I Park My Car?

Ann Loyola

Ann Loyola

As worried as I am about my physical state of being, I have to admit that I worry equally about memory loss. Like everyone, I forget the occasional name or place or appointment or child, etcetera. Lately, however, I’ve wondered if I should be more concerned.

For example, we all forget where we parked the car, right? Not all the time of course, but sometimes that’s normal, right?

I worry, though, when I come trotting out of Broulim’s grocery store and just as I roll my cart onto the pavement, I realize that I have absolutely no recollection of even parking the darn car. I don’t know what quadrant, what longitude or latitude I should even be considering. It’s as if I was dropped off by flying monkeys whilst I was sleeping.

I’ve developed a location strategy that does seem to work. I simply stride confidently right up the center of the lot pretending to be a woman in complete command of her mental faculties. Behind my sunglasses, my eyes scan for a familiar luggage rack or my trademark dirty rear window as I surreptitiously click my remote door opener and listen for a honk.

It’s no surprise, then, that I was front and center for a recent workshop about Memory Loss taught by Carol Taylor, MSW and counselor at St. John’s Institute for Cognitive Health. Carol discussed the varying levels of memory loss; when it’s normal and when it may be cause for concern. There’s normal memory loss, mild memory impairment, and dementia. Alzheimer’s disease falls under the dementia category and it was interesting to learn that there are upwards of 80 health issues that are considered forms of dementia and that many are treatable.

It was a relief to self-diagnose myself as having normal memory loss immediately after Carol told everyone that stress and multitasking can affect our ability to recall. My goodness, that was an easy fix. Then she answered the question that was on everyone’s mind: How can we retain good memory health?

  • Don’t smoke or drink a lot of alcohol.
  • Learn a new skill: take up a musical instrument, learn a new language, etc.
  • Exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times per week.
  • Make healthy nutritional choices.
  • Surround yourself with caring friends and family.

As I left the workshop and scoured the parking lot for my car, I was struck by the similarities between retaining good mental and physical health: exercise, eat wisely, keep learning new things and make time for friends and family. If I continue making good choices for myself, I’ll benefit all the way around.

Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.

More

Good Choice, Bad Choice: That Stage in Life

Ann Loyola

Ann Loyola

I was so thrilled.  I could feel the tightening of my quads and the firming up of my gluteus maximus after six bike rides.  Then I broke every rule known to womankind and asked my children if they noticed the change in my physique.  I turned my back to them to help them assess the improvements.

My daughter raised her eyebrows and looked sorry for me.  My precious son said “Mom, you’re at that age when no one cares about your hiney.”

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth …  Remaining calm, I explained to him exactly how long he was grounded.  Then I rushed to my bicycle and took off down the road, determined to noticeably tighten my derriere immediately regardless of the 13 years it had taken to get it to this magnitude.

I was panting and getting a good sweat going when a blaze of red passed me, slowed down briefly to say “Hi! Gorgeous day, isn’t it?” and then rode off.

He was in his late sixties.  Nicely clipped beard.  Very nice legs. He was wearing “can’t pinch-an-inch” lycra from top to bottom, a direct insult to my shapeless cotton tee shirt and baggy shorts.

Gorgeous day, indeed.  I was reminded of something our orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mo Brown, told me about the senior citizens in our Valley.

Dr. Brown said he takes care of sports-related injuries in our seniors; torn ligaments from skiing, broken arms from rodeoing, hurt shoulders from bucking hay, bursitis from rockclimbing.  In other words, these people aren’t falling out of their rocking chairs. They’re riding mountain bikes and breezing past younger bicyclists while wearing bright red lycra.

I breathed some lingering dust and resolved to care deeply about my hiney and the rest of me.  I’ve made a promise to myself that I would reach my BMI goal by eating healthier and exercising wisely; no excuses about my age, chronic issues or love of chocolate. While I understand that it has taken years to get to my current BMI level, I’m having a hard time being realistic about how long it should take to get back into noticeably better shape.  I’ve decided to meet with a registered dietitian and my physician to set a goal with reasonable expectations.

I made a bad choice asking certain teenagers about the size of my posterior.  I’ve now chosen to base my motivation on the fine examples set by our active senior residents rather than the teens in my life.  And that’s a good choice.

Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.

More

Good Choice, Bad Choice: Gonna Climb That Mountain

Ann Loyola

Ann Loyola

Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.

Last week, I was riding my bike at a sure and steady pace as my teenage children shouted words of encouragement from their positions at least  46 miles ahead of me.  I noted the upcoming hill and geared down. My kids were perched on top of the hill and looked concerned.  My son shouted that I should get off my bike and walk up, perhaps fearing that he and his sister would be unable to drag me home when I collapsed mid-incline.

Hah. Watch this, nonbelievers!

I made it to the top of the hill by furiously stomping on the pedals.  After some fist pumping and Rocky-like chest pounding, I glided downhill.  The wind rushed against my cheeks, the leaves on the trees were fluttering.  What a great feeling to be back on my bicycle!  I had a total ankle replacement last October and although my surgeon had told me I’d be able to ride a bike again, I had been worried.  Not anymore.

Over the next four days, I walked like a first-time bull-rider.  Apparently, my big push up the hill mountain resulted in various pulled muscles between my lower abdomen and upper thigh.  (Okay, it’s my groin area.  It’s not funny.)

I spoke with a physical therapist from High Peaks Physical Therapy, Michelle Christensen.  After hearing my tale, Michelle suggested that I should have progressed more slowly and eased into my hill-climbing activities; plan a warm up and a cool down. She was pretty certain that my adductor muscles had been strained, and the lower abdomen pain showed weakness in my core muscles.  A cyclist herself, she also recommended that I avoid zipping straight to the lowest gear on my bike and instead try higher gears with more efficient revolutions for incline cycling.

“Hills first, then mountains,” she said gently, not realizing that truthfully, my “mountain” was a slight incline.

It occurs to me that portion control – or lack thereof – has contributed mightily to my health decline.   When I apply portion control to my recent wellness adventure, I can see that I took too big of a portion of bike riding. I understand the benefits of pushing myself and getting sore muscles, but I don’t need to injure myself in the process.

I think that portion control has a lot to do with quality, too.  I can choose to eat three milk chocolate Lindt truffles or a grilled halibut with green beans and the calories may be the same but the benefits to my body are quite different; not that I’m giving up on Lindt truffles.   Similarly, exercising appropriately for one hour has to be better than overdoing it.

I know that riding my bike was a good choice, and I have another trip planned this Saturday as long as my strained muscles heal.  (Not funny, folks!)

Meanwhile, I’ve lost a pound.

More