Don’t Be a Costanza

Lengthening my Telomeres by not being like a Costanza

 

This is my very first blog post.  This post, along with those that follow, will chronicle my efforts to reverse my biological age by lengthening my telomeres.

So, since I posted this website a few days ago, much has happened.  First and foremost, I have discussed my impending endeavor with many people.  Most people’s initial reaction is something along the lines of: “That’s insane!”, or “That’s not possible.”, or “You’re an idiot!”, or “You’ve really lost it this time, John.”  However, most, but not all, of those very same people seem to come around to a comparable point of view after I explain my mission in detail.  A couple of those early skeptics have even grown quite excited and passionate about my undertaking.  Their passion is as contagious as it is inspiring!

My primary objective for this past week has been to run around going to different doctors to get blood and urine drawn for testing and to begin making arrangements to get myself healthy in preparation for the coming year.  My efforts have been semi successful.  I managed to get referrals to other doctors (Radiologist, Dermatologist, and Podiatrist) from my new primary care doctor.  I had blood and urine drawn and will receive and post the results on or about August 15th.

I went to get an MRI of my left knee because I have what I believe is a calcium deposit on my knee cap.  I have had it for most of my life, but it has recently begun to cause me pain.  I believe it makes sense to get this issue resolved before subjecting myself to a rigorous exercise regimen.

I have flat feet.  I decided that I should get custom orthotics considering how much exercise I am facing.  After receiving a referral from my GP, I called the podiatrist’s office and made an appointment explaining to the receptionist that I am flat footed and would need orthotics.  The receptionist asked what insurance I had and I provided the details.  Upon arrival at the doctor’s office today, I filled out paperwork in which I explained the purpose of my visit (orthotics for flat feet).  The doctor instructed the receptionist to call my insurance company to see what was covered.  I was not privy to that conversation.  Ultimately, the doctor saw me, told me I was flat footed and needed orthotics.  He said my insurance doesn’t cover orthotics unless I am diabetic (???), but he would do it for me for the low price of $400.  He indicated he normally charges $500.  I said, “No.”

As I was walking out the door, the receptionist stopped me to demand a co-pay.  I immediately felt my blood pressure begin to rise, my heart rate speed up, and I am quite certain my skin became flushed.  I barked, “What for?”

She replied, “For the consultation you just had with the doctor.”

I said with steadily rising volume, “I have known I was flat footed since I was a child and came here for one reason: to get orthotics.  I told your office that once on the phone and again when I got here.  You knew the entire reason I was here was not covered by my insurance before I saw the doctor.  Yet, you sent me in anyway so that you could mug me for a copay and bill my insurance company for a pointless three-minute consultation.  You’ve wasted my time.  You should be paying me.”

The receptionist insisted that I pay and the doctor began to get involved, blaming the entire situation on my insurance company.  I actually felt kind of bad for the guy.  I begrudgingly reached into my pocket for $25, while proclaiming, “This is so crooked.”

The receptionist scolded me saying, “Please, we have other patients!”

Much to my delight, a woman with a baby, the sole other patient said, “Don’t pay them anything!  I sure wouldn’t!”

I paid anyway, got a receipt, and left feeling like I had been beaten.

The moral of this story is avoid dealing with doctors and insurance companies unless absolutely necessary.  It’s really not the doctors’ fault.  The system in which they operate is fundamentally broken.  Fortunately, I believe you can avoid them for the most part by living a healthy, clean, lifestyle (more on what I think that means, specifically, in the future).  The only exception to this rule is if you can afford to not use insurance companies when utilizing the services of doctors and/or have a trusted family member or a friend that is a doctor, then by all means, you want a good doctor on your team.

The second, equally important, moral of this story is that I likely have very short telomeres.  We will find out for sure soon enough.  The reason I believe my telomeres are short is because somewhere along the path of my life, I seem to have developed a George and Frank Costanza like temperament.  I do not think I was always this way.  Nevertheless, I automatically react to situations like that which occurred today at the doctor’s office by getting all fired up.  It’s simply not worth it.  So what?  I got beat for $25.  It’s an inconsequential amount of money in the whole scheme of things and certainly not worth the telomere length I lost.  In the coming year, I must learn to change and control this aspect of my personality.

I ordered a Fitbit Charge 2 that just arrived tonight.  I have not had a chance to open it or start messing with it yet, but certainly intend to tomorrow.  I believe it will be an incredibly useful tool to track, log, and store all kinds of valuable data associated with my quest.  It will track the following:

Steps, heart rate, breathing exercises, standing, stair climbing, weight, body fat, weight loss, nutrition, water intake, cardio fitness score, BMI, running, cycling, simulated VO2 max, and sleep.

I will sync it with additional apps including Strava, My Fitness Pal, Lose It!, and Lumosity, using my Fitbit Charge 2 as a centralized storage tool for all of the associated data.

I have not yet figured out how, but I intend to make all of my daily and historical data available to anyone who wishes to access it via this website.

I made a few minor changes to this website.

I added a link to a fantastic, informative TED Talk on the Mind Food Page.

I also added a few informative links to websites, also on the Mind Food Page.
www.ewg.org/skindeep
www.ewg.org/consumerguides
www.silentspring.org

I also added Earthing Therapy to Alternative Therapy pages.  While it sounds absolutely ridiculous, it’s free.  I will likely try it.

And finally, I added a couple photos of myself to the Gallery Page so you get a general idea of what I look like.  More humiliating photos will follow as we get closer to the actual start date.

I am flying to Hilton Head tomorrow night to spend a week with two sisters, one brother in law, two nieces, and one nephew.  Though it is not in my nature, I will make an effort to behave like a “Model of Loving Attachment” in an effort to nurture my telomeres.  During my vacation, I intend to read a couple of books, listen to an audio book, make arrangements to get custom orthotics without the need of a podiatrist, order DNA Fit, and improve the website.

I find this looming journey very truly exciting!  I hope you enjoy reading about it and I encourage you to comment, ask questions, and/or make suggestions.  I need all the help I can get!

Comments

  1. BK

    Very interesting, I’m excited to follow your journey and learn from your experience. What do you think the length of your telomeres has to do with your anger issues and short temper? Is it the same theory as why people seem to get grumpier and more impatient as they get older?

    1. John Loehr

      BK,

      Thank you for your comment and excellent questions!

      One of my guiding principles of this endeavor is “Everything matters.” I genuinely believe that, not only with respect to overall health, but also more specifically, to telomere length. It is not so much my “short fuse” or “anger issues” that are problematic, rather it is what happens inside my body when I have a meltdown. Toxic stress unquestionably shortens telomeres. When anyone experiences a toxic stress episode, his or her brain dumps cortisol into the bloodstream. Cortisol can be good, like when one is being chased by a lion (fight or flight mechanism), but chronic toxic stress associated with elevated cortisol levels is bad. Excessive levels of cortisol are associated with a significantly weakened immune system, difficult to get rid of belly fat, elevated glucose in the blood stream, insulin resistance, inhibits uptake of amino acids in muscle cells, elevated blood pressure, decreased blood flow, digestive problems, infertility, and lower testosterone. You get the point. Stress is bad.

      I believe stress issues and the way in which I perceive and interact with the world is where I will face my greatest challenges in the coming quest to lengthen my telomeres. The diet and exercise components, while difficult, will be manageable. I am far more concerned with the mental aspects such as teaching myself not to sweat the small stuff and that pretty much everything is small stuff.

      I don’t think it is a given that elderly people get grumpier and more impatient as they age. There are as many temperaments as there are people and I believe temperament is relatively fixed. I have met many elderly people with sunny dispositions. That being written, you may be right in that I think I have encountered far more grumpy, impatient, and miserable old people.

      It begs the question, “If elderly people are more likely to be impatient and grumpy, why is that the case?”

      The answer seems quite clear to me. In my view, it is because they are losing, or have already lost, their vitality. That must be incredibly frustrating! If I lost my vitality, I would be in a near constant meltdown state, which would only serve to further aggravate my loss of vitality, shorten my telomeres, and speed the aging process.

      THE ELDERLY NEED NOT LOSE THEIR VITALITY! It is a fact that the muscles of elderly people are just as responsive to weight lifting as young people. Sarcopenia (muscle wasting in elderly people) is not only preventable, it is reversible. Why does our medical system let the elderly waste away? Instead of prescribing drugs, why aren’t doctors prescribing weight lifting or nutrition?

      A fit 90-year-old is likely to be a very wise and happy 90-year-old.

      I hope I have adequately answered your questions and I hope you continue to comment and make intellectual contributions to this effort.

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