Me just a few years ago. Lots of changes since then

A recent metabolic test provides important news and demands more adjustments

Dear Reader: I am writing fewer of these lately in part because I am taking more time to research, put more links in and make the content richer. This one in particular was tough to write because after the last five years of some pretty interesting challenges, I get to take a look at the cost of stress on the body. I hope this is worth your time.

Looking healthy isn't enough.

Thin is a lie as a measure of health, despite so much blather to the contrary. Having boundless energy is great, but could be as much a measure of too much caffeine or simply a high level of anxiety in need of expression.

Or a lot of other things.

Therein is the lie of appearance as the primary way to gauge overall health. The body at any age can hide its truth; there's so much going on inside us that we often can't see or feel until it's too late.

I used to think that being thin was the be-all, end-all; even today there are times that I wish I could drop that stubborn ten. That stubborn ten isn't going to make a damned bit of difference in my life quality. It's all a mirage.

A recent blood test revealed that despite my presenting as very healthy, there were issues going on inside me that weren't good trends. As a result, dietary changes. Oh hell, no matter how hard I try to do this right, inevitably I'm going to find out that there was too much of this or too little of that.

The challenges weren't huge and I'm not sick. It's also true that had I not had good lifestyle habits in general, chances are I might be in serious trouble right now. As it is, I'm not.

I've written extensively about the last five years in particular and the events which have been a little challenging. Car accident, surgeries, bad relationship, move to a new state, blah blah blah. Most of the time I've done my best to make fun of those things, develop perspectives which allow me to get value out of the experience.

That doesn't always release all the stressors, however. Helps a great deal, but the body is still subjected to considerable stress. About the only thing I can do at this point is learn from it.

What I do need to do is change how I eat, and how I manage current and future stress. That statement could likely be applied to pretty near all of us, right? These are course corrections, not major life overhauls. In that, I'm fortunate.

In one test, my uric acid levels were a bit too high, among other readings. This was a surprise because I present as very healthy. So did Jim Fixx, and Fixx died young from heart issues. Some of that was genetic, some because he had been a lifetime smoker and obese. We do ourselves no favors in our youth.

Even though similar to Fixx I'd transformed my body, like many of us I'd done my body some damage from years of bad habits.

But I looked healthy.

Therein lies an issue. That we can look so healthy and yet, inside, something may not be right, because we're focused on the external without knowing what's up inside us.

That is the fundamental lie of thin=healthy.

Or, musclebound=healthy.

Let's discuss that, since I'm also a musclehead, at least to a point.

There have been quite a few deaths of high-profile influencers who made their bones by being in extreme muscular shape. To that, and to all those folks who honestly believe that these muscleheads (and I have spent fifty+ years around them) are healthy, please see this perfect example:

Controversial Bodybuilder Rich Piana Has Died at 46 After Being Placed in Medically Induced Coma
Bodybuilder Rich Piana has died at 46 — just two weeks after being placed in a medically induced coma

From the article: “Is this a road I think you should take? Absolutely not. But in doing this for 25-years of taking anabolic steroids, obviously I know what the f— I’m doing,” he said in a December 2014 YouTube video. “Why do I have a full head of hair? Why do I have no acne scars? Why do I have a flat waist? Cause I know what the f— I’m doing. I’m not abusing this s—.”

“You need to be aware, educated, and willing to do whatever it takes to remain healthy and keep the body healthy. Remember this is longevity. We want to be doing this in our 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s,” he continued. “I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life. … It’s important for me to live a long life.”

He added: “Bodybuilding is not my main objective in life. It’s just something I do on the side. So I would never in a million years risk ruining my health or ruining my future do to bodybuilding.” (author bolded)

Police found twenty bottles of testosterone in his home. Here's a guy who inhales all manner of substances barking to his followers about how he's got this, right, and he dies at 46.

The Liver King? Same thing. And many more young, externally-gorgeous but horribly unhealthy people. They are all selling extreme health. When the autopsies come in, the results are appalling.

I've been guilty of plenty of denial in the past. That I didn't have an eating disorder. That incest didn't happen. Neither did the gang rape. The mind will play all kinds of tricks to keep its equilibrium, often at terrible cost.

It's all too easy to drink your own Koolaid. Long as I look healthy and have lots of energy, we're all good. No, we aren't necessarily all good.

It's been a minute since I had specialized lab tests to tell me what was really going on inside what otherwise appears to be a healthy body.

This is also a great lesson that just your basic numbers, your blood pressure and heart rate, for example, aren't everything you need. They are helpful, but other numbers, especially in a society that eats the way we do and eats us alive the way we let it, are even more important.

The most important are those which speak to how well our kidneys are functioning.

Kidney Function Tests: Types, Results & Follow Up
Kidney function tests measure how well your kidneys are working. Kidney tests usually involve a blood test, 24-hour urine test or both.

Even when we do our level best, there are things which shift and change. We can't always feel them. We may read the symptoms as "just getting older," which is rarely true and utterly disregards the conversation the body is having with us. Symptoms are taps on the shoulder.

In fact, high blood pressure, which I don't have, is called the silent killer for a reason. All too often, as Tina Turner found out, by the time you realize that real damage has been done, you've likely lost some 80% of your renal function. If you're fortunate, you have a relative or a kind friend who can donate a kidney. If not, you're one of 93,000 people waiting for a donor.

This is so common and widespread that it's just one of the reasons that specially-developed pigs are being bred for their kidneys.

First human transplant of a genetically modified pig kidney performed
Surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital said they transplanted a genetically edited pig kidney into a living human for the first time. The 62-year-old recipient has end-stage kidney disease.

Fighting the VA last year for care was one of the stressors, which helps me better understand the average person's medical battles. I finally got the referrals, the doctors promptly did tests, and the tests had some surprising results. Not what I expected, and not good news. But not terrible news.

Those recent lab readings have caused me to do far more research into their implications and the dietary changes I need to make in order to deal with them. These aren't a big ask.

For example, I love dairy; dairy is out the window but for a single cup of tea or coffee a day. There are a lot of foods right now that I either need to stop eating or reduce significantly. These are the prices we pay for greater health, in response to a changing body.

The biggest red flag was my uric acid level. Uric acid has been receiving much more attention lately in its role in metabolic disease, diabetes and so much more. This article makes that reading even more important:

Here is a selected quote which underscores the importance of our taking the uric acid seriously:

...people in the group with the lowest uric acid had a 4% chance of turning 100 while in the group with the highest uric acid levels only 1.5% made it to age 100.

Even if the differences we discovered were overall rather small, they suggest a potential link between metabolic health, nutrition and exceptional longevity.

Like all studies, you read them, take what is useful and move on. I had just read David Perlmutter's Drop Acid, which went into detail about the uric acid issue.

That's why I shared this article- I was ignorant of my own levels and what they meant.

I felt just fine. Appeared just fine. If ever there were an argument that appearances can be deceiving, this is it. We put an inordinate amount of emphasis on how we look while ignoring, to our detriment, what's going on under the skin.

I've done it myself. The older we get the less we can afford to be fooled by the external, the appearance of glowing good health, when long-term stress or other issues can be ticking time bombs like they were for Tina Turner and are for so many of us.

Mika approves my new tent

I adopted my new rescue pupper Mika to help the stress load. She brings her own stressors as do all young things with teeth, but they are minor compared to the love she showers on me every day all day. As I slowly get my right foot working again, we go on longer walks. I might not run distance again, and my hiking days may look different, but I will still adventure.

Those activities will be different, just as my life has to change to accommodate a growing girl.

We could all likely benefit from more love, more company, more walks and more wags.

My realtor stopped by last night just before I headed out to dinner with a friend. She finally removed the lockbox from my front door, where it has sat, telegraphing my intention to sell and force my life into upheaval again, since July 2022. I'm still pondering the implications of that.

Interestingly, it was symbolic on multiple levels. Just the presence of a lockbox implies that I might have to pack up and head out all over again. Nope. That stress is gone. Others will come, but I'm staying, as long as the Universe supports my being here.

More on that later, but for now, I get to settle in, relax in the greens and gorgeous blooms of my garden, tend to my puppy's training and all that comes with a new life. All of that is reducing stress, and with that, healing the body inside out.

Whatever you do and wherever you are, I hope you have access to good health care and get those key tests done regularly. It was unfortunate that I had to fight the VA for nearly a year to get seen, but that was a great lesson in being my own advocate.

Thank you to all for seeing me through these last years.

Off the Internet

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