Doing Life Together

older coupleI have no idea what it is like to be aging into my 80s or even 90s. But in so many conversations with aging people, the aches and pains of aging seem prominent and dominate discussions. So often I hear, aging as a curse to living. I know how different my body reacts at my age, add another 20-30 years to the process and it must be difficult. It can’t be easy to grow old.

Yet, I also notice that my almost 95-year-old father rarely talks about his physical ailments. Is he on to something? Could we learn from his embrace aging attitude?

Researchers say, YES. Attitude towards aging matters. Negative stereotypes are connected to poor health results.

And yet we live in a culture that basically puts you out to pasture when you get to a certain age. We have bad feelings about aging. Becca Levy, an associate professor of epidemiology and psychology at the Yale School of Public Health, calls our negative stereotypes about aging, “a public-health issue.”

The mind is powerful when it comes to impacting the body. Thinking matters. If you focus on the decline, the disability and what you can’t do, you feel worse. But if you see aging as new opportunities with growth, your body responds in kind. In fact, studies have shown that negative attitudes show decline in handwriting, memory, recovery from disease, and more.

This doesn’t mean we should deny the effects of aging and live in a fantasy. The effects of aging are real, but where you choose to focus matters. When we change our focus from the negatives to the benefits of aging, we feel better. Add exercise and eating well and we make changes that are in our control.

Perhaps we should apply Philippians 4:8 to the process of aging: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

God, not just my dad, is on to something!

couple eatingA friend and I were looking at old wedding pictures. “I was skinny as could be when I got married. But look at me, a year later, I am packing on the weight. What happened to me?” she asked.

The same thing that happens to most women when they marry!  Women do tend to gain some weight once they marry. But the reasons may surprise you and may not be in your awareness.

According to a 2011 study at Ohio State, people tend to gain an average of 20 pounds once they marry. The happier the couple is, the more likely they will gain–more so than unhappy couples.

And what if the spouse if a fantastic cook? That makes it all the harder to say NO to those cheesy hash browns on a lazy Saturday morning.

But here is one reason I want you to be aware of when it comes to wives gaining weight.

Getting married and being with that man you adore tends to change your eating habits. Eating with a guy who is packing in more calories due his size and weight encourages wives to match their eating. So we eat more because we are eating with someone who is eating more.

Think about it. My spouse can snack away in the evening with little impact on his weight, but if I indulge in the same manner, it shows up on the scale. At mealtime, husband portions do not work for me. But I find myself taking a larger portion of those potatoes because, hey, my portion looks tiny compared to his.

The key here is that we women must be mindful of how we eat. We can’t go head to head in the portion or calorie count and not gain. So wives, while we help men eat healthier when we marry them, they help us gain weight if we aren’t mindful of our eating habits. Equality eating packs on the pounds.

Seems a little unfair, but biology matters!

HalloweenAs Christians, we have to decide what to do with Halloween. Do we ignore it, participate with our neighbors, do our own thing, go to a church harvest party, or what? Is it better to engage the culture, have a voice in the festivities or retreat?

To decide, research the roots of Halloween in order to understand what the holiday is about- this is how you inform yourself with facts. I was surprised to learn that Halloween had Celtic origins related to sacrifices made to summer gods in Druidic tradition.

Then, pay attention to what you believe the Lord is telling you to do, and talk as a family. Pray for wisdom and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, not other people. When you decide what to do,  help your children understand the position you take and why.

Other people should respect your decision, especially if you have had any personal encounters with the dark side of the spirit world in your family or through the generations. And if your decision is simply based on the idea that you don’t like what Halloween stands for and do not want to participate, you don’t need the approval of others.

My caution is not to judge others. Many use this holiday to engage their neighbors and have conversations about spiritual things. Others feel, they can dress up and had out candy because as Christians, there is nothing to fear. Still others see this as an opportunity to talk about the spiritual world, a chance for cultural engagement.

One of the best things that comes out of deciding what to do with Halloween is that it awakens us to the reality that evil exists and isn’t some Hollywood fantasy.

So no matter what you decide, know this. Jesus overcame all evil so we don’t have to fear. He overcame the darkness (1 John 4:4) and triumphed over death and evil. And every day His overcoming power works in us when we are one of His.

Assure  your children that no matter what they encounter, they are covered by the precious blood of Christ (not scary, but comforting) and greater is He that is in us, then he that is in the world.

footballBad news for the NFL. In September, a study was released that looked at the brains of deceased NFL players who had donated their brain to science due to suspicion of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Of the 91 players tested, 87 had signs of CTE. That is 96%.

A larger and more diverse sample of American football players (high school, college, semiprofessional or professional) were also studied. Researchers their also found evidence of CTE in their brain tissue. 131 out 165 players had CTE in their brain tissue. And just last spring, the NFL paid approximately 5000 former players 765 million dollars to settle a lawsuit over health claims.

The brain takes a beating when a person is hit over and over. In football, especially if you are a lineman, you are repeatedly hit. According to new research, this repeated hitting may cause more of a problem than even concussions.

Genetics and past injuries, along with repeated blows to the head, appear to play a role in who will develop CTE. And we also know there is a connection between brain trauma and depression. 

Now I realize this is a skewed sample since the donated brains of players were the ones suspected of having brain trauma. The study doesn’t mean 96% of players will develop CTE, but the high number is alarming. In order to really know how at risk football players are for CTE, we would have to study the brains of all players or a representative sample. And the problem is that you can only diagnose CTE after someone dies.

Even thought the NFL is doing what it can to reduce injury and concussions, you can’t stop the hits from coming because contact sports are just that-contact. In fact, the University of Pittsburg neurological surgery department estimates that an athlete in a contact sport has as high as a 19% chance per season of experiencing a concussion.

So am I being an anxious mom by questioning if my kids should play sports that allow them to be hit in the head a number of times? The younger the athlete, the more vulnerable the brain is to injury, leading to cognitive problems.

When should a child quit or should he or she even play contact sports at all? This is a personal decision for every family, but at least we can make it being informed.

For me, basketball is looking good!