A walk around the hilly neighborhood…My new form of exercise…Maintaining health while in Tuscany…The simple things…

Lisa and Luca presented us with this basket of cherries from the tree growing in our yard, after they’d seen us admiring the tree.  Lisa, speaking no English and us, no Italian, it was impossible to explain my restrictive diet that forbids any fruit sugars. Tom, fortunately, may have a few each day, while I’ve merely enjoyed their beauty.We thanked them profusely, impressed by the thoughtfulness they have shown each day since we’ve arrived.  For more information on Lisa and Luca and their properties, visit them at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/casasottolatorre.villabasilica?fref=ts
It appeared that this house may be occupied, one of few dilapidated entrances in the area.

Without a health club within an hour’s drive from Boveglio and certainly not carrying any exercise equipment in our limited space for packing, I was in a quandary arriving here 10 days ago.

This hill is much steeper in person than it appears here.
Many individual houses are attached, a common occurrence we’ve observed in certain areas of the world, such as Dubrovnik and Mykonos.

Having worked out most of my adult life, the thought of not having access to a facility and equipment for my twice-weekly High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) worried me. Some time ago, I changed my workout routine, as I’ve mentioned here in the past to concur with the research presented in Jonathan Bailor’s Smarter Science of Slim, a profound life-changing book of both healthful diet and exercise.

Rushing by this flowering plant to avoid the hovering bees, I caught a whiff of pure heaven.
Obviously, no cars fit between these narrow pathways to the houses. Its no wonder that the Italian people appear slim and fit.  The parking area, as for us, is a bit of a hike from the house.  Add the hills to the walk and it becomes quite a workout on a regular basis.

With a medical condition that has since been resolved after almost two years of a strict adherence to my diet, combined with exercise, not being able to do so, is a big deal to me. After days of becoming familiar with our house and the neighborhood, a solution to this dilemma presented itself. 

More blooming flowers.  In a few days, the many lavender bushes in our yard begin to bloom.  Photos to follow.  I wish we could do online “scratch and sniff” for the sweet smells in Tuscany.

HIIT required excruciating workouts at the maximum possible energy expenditure for 10 minutes twice a week, utilizing as many muscles as possible, working to the point of exhaustion. This has been easily accomplished at a health club by performing a series of specific exercises, working for the major muscle groups. 

Ah, a flat stretch on which I can catch my breath.

In conjunction with HIIT’s strenuous short bursts of exercise is combined with a commitment to expending approximately 10,000 steps per day, one can maintain an excellent level of fitness.  The steps per day, in part, are accomplished by walking in this lengthy house along with going up and down the many flights of steps indoors and outside all day.  

Add a daily walk in the steepest neighborhood I’ve ever seen, walking briskly up the hills, twice a week, while on a more normal walk the remaining days and I’ll almost be where I need to be. 

This is my favorite hill (yea, right!)

I recently found two identical weight logs for the fireplace in the wood pile which I’m using for my twice-weekly HIIT arm exercises. And, I’ve instituted the dreaded lunges twice a week.

The weight lifting logs, the perfect weight, considering my bum shoulder which seems to be improving.
Maintaining a sure footing on this walk is more important than the exercise factor.  The stone walkways are rugged and uneven inspiring me to keep my eyes down as much as possible.

The hills? The most difficult of my routine. Walking down is easy. It’s the trip back up that pushes me to my limit, exactly what I need.  Tom prefers to lounge at home while I’m on this twice-weekly mission. But, he will walk with me on the less strenuous days. 

Good grief. He’s walking, something he swore he’d never do. I’m thrilled about that! He’s now back down to his 45-pound weight loss after dining-at-will on each of our eight cruises and now eating mostly what I do for the past 10 days.

Nothing like stopping for a sniff along the way.

Yesterday afternoon, alone on my strenuous day walk, I took these photos on the way down, many of which don’t fully illustrate the intensity of the walkways. On the way back up I stay focused and stop only for a moment to catch my breath if necessary.  My goal is to be able to make it back up without a single breath-catching stop which I should be able to accomplish within a week or two. 

Tom quit smoking for hopefully the final time shortly before we left Minnesota in October. He now walks several times a week, mostly when we are exploring. He’s rid of 45 pounds of belly fat. He’s relaxed and relatively stress-free (except for hauling luggage on moving days) and most of all, like me, happy. 

This old tracker and trailer occupies a spot in the shared parking area.

Perhaps, we’ll be lucky that all of this attention to health will ultimately pay off with long and healthy lives. All of our efforts are, by no means, a guarantee that we’ll avoid illness or injury, not for us, not for anyone. But, somehow, it may prove to be instrumental in our continued enjoyment of the quality of our lives into our old (older) age.

An inviting doorway.  Wonder what’s on the other side?

Also, when a basket of cherries can offer so much joy, even if they are “to look,” not “to touch,” it must have a positive effect on our well being. It’s the simple things in life, isn’t it?

Soon, I’ll climb up to our “terrazzo” on the dangerous steps over the stone stairway, hang a batch of laundry that is currently in the washer and pick a big batch of basil for tonight’s dinner of boneless chicken breasts topped with the finest locally made mozzarella cheese and my own homemade pesto, a huge side salad with homemade dressing and a platter of steamed veggies.  Yes, it is, the simple things…

Medicine from afar? Refill our prescriptions? Annual checkup?

As a health and fitness buff most of my adult life, I have made every effort to stay healthy by eating good homemade food, exercising regularly and avoiding toxins in every way possible.  

Many of my efforts have failed me and I have been forced to succumb to traditional medicine and take a few prescriptions each day, as does Tom for a variety of conditions.  

Yes, I have tried over these past years to gradually reduce these few medications with the hope of stopping them entirely. For example; days later, my blood pressure sneaks up to a dangerous level, prompting me to begin the tiny dose once again, fearful of the consequences. 

For me, it appears my genetics is the culprit. Otherwise, there is nothing in my lifestyle, that I could discover from my years of research as to why I would be plagued with these few ailments. Its frustrating. 

Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t drink soda. I consume only organic produce and grass fed beef, avoiding all grains, wheat (inspired by Dr. William Davis’ book, Wheat Belly) starches and sugary food.  I haven’t had a sweet treat of any type in almost a year.  
Each day and night I wear a BodyMedia armband to ensure I get in 10,000 steps a day.  It tracks thousands of measurements including how much time I spend sleeping each night which s usualiy about 7.5 hours.  
I have exercised most of my life, regularly, faithfully and with vigor while currently obsessed with HIIT training as recommended by Jonathan Bailor, backed by 1100 medical studies, 10,000 pages of scientific research, endorsed by some of the top medical professionals in the world, many from Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic.  A great read!

We miss doughnuts.  Years ago, on occasion,Tom and I experienced what we called “MD days,” meaning “multiple doughnut days” whereby we’d eat many doughnuts, watch movies and lounge all day. No more.  We haven’t done this in fifteen years.  I can no more imagine, lying in bed all day and eating doughnuts than going to the moon. (Actually, space travel is on my wish list).

A fast food item hasn’t crossed my lips in 25 years!  And what has it got me:
hypertension, thyroid disease, joint and bone problems and borderline diabetes, the bane of my ancestors, most of them inflicted with these conditions, many of whom suffered and died from these conditions!  
Am I sick? No!  But…I am a slave to these few prescriptions.  Am I slim, physically fit, strong and without any memory issues at my age?  Yes. So, I faithfully take those few little pills each morning, hoping for the best, hoping in time that I will discover a way to toss them all away.

Today, I called our prescription medication plan explaining that when we’ll be traveling for no less than 949 days (so far) asking if they can provide us with at least one year’s worth of the prescriptions to take with us when we leave in 5 months and 19 days.  (We’ll figure out something for the remaining period).  The answer was “no.”They will only do what they’ve always done: if the doctor writes a three month prescription, we only get three months of pills at a time!  I asked, “Are you willing to mail our prescriptions to: Kenya, Africa or maybe Marloth Park, Kruger National Park, South Africa?” There again, the answer was “no.” No mailing outside the US.
Will our prescriptions be mailed to Africa? No.

Tomorrow, I have an appointment with the family doctor, a great guy, who will most likely try to help us figure out a solution.  Yes, we will have a mailing a mailing service with our own address where any important mail will arrive and can be scanned and sent to us by email.  

The service will forward packages to us wherever we may be. However, some countries do not welcome prescription drugs entering the country.  We shall see what transpires and post the solution to yet another dilemma.

Oh no! Yellow Fever side effects hit…

Yesterday, I felt great, optimistic that the potential side effects of the Yellow Fever Vaccine had bypassed me.  One in six, especially in patients over 60, experience some side effects: general malaise, lethargy, aching joints, low grade fever and flu-like symptoms.

When I awakened this morning at 5:45, my legs felt heavy when my feet hit the floor, so  heavy that I wavered momentarily before standing. I dismissed this uncommon feeling, attributing it to a poor night’s sleep or from arising too quickly.
Making the bed seemed an insurmountable task; the normally light and fluffy covers feeling like lead in my hands.  Preparing my usual mug of coffee, the normally inviting smell sickened me. I turned off the coffee machine instead guzzling a huge glass of ice water.

Of course, running through my mind was every possible Yellow Fever Vaccine side effect I’d discovered perusing through the CDC’s website. Yes, I was experiencing side effects, my worst fear.

There’s no doubt that I am a worrier when it comes to medical procedures. After a several unpleasant reactions over the years, I am  skeptical about any invasive treatments.  One could easily surmise that I am overly cautious.
The biggest problem is my continual desire to be educated about health and wellness in an effort to maintain the highest possible level of fitness. Each week, I read a multitude of scientific studies from reliable resources which include Harvard Medical School, Mayo Clinic and major universities.  
In the past several weeks, I have be reading and re-reading The Smarter Science of Slim by Jonathan Bailor, based on 1000’s of scientific studies surrounding a healthful diet and the HIIT exercise protocol which I have since incorporated into my routine. 

Many may find these topics tedious and boring.  For me, as my friends and family will attest, its more fodder for my guarded manner of approaching traditional medical by occasional musings on Facebook.
Information is power. Medical information is vital to maintaining one’s long term health objectives.  
But…its a double edged sword that wields a sense of apprehension and mistrust by the continuing contradictions handed us via the media, over and over again.
Are vaccinations safe? Did we really need a Yellow Fever Vaccine to go on a week long safari in Kenya (no Yellow Fever is documented in South Africa) while living in a guarded ocean side resort community? Probably not, but “they said” and “we” believed them, myself included.

Today, I took Ibuprofen every four hours, which greatly reduced the achy fluish symptoms. The onset of the worst of the side effects may occur on the 5th day after vaccination. Tomorrow is day #4. Hopefully my feet firmly hit the floor tomorrow and Sunday morning!  I’ll keep you posted!