The Silver Bullets to Aging

So as I soar into Medicare age, people have been asking me lately, ” McCloskey- have you lost weight?” Others, who are not active friends, have said,” How do you keep yourself in shape” ” What are you doing?” ” Is it too late for me to get started?” My active friends know because we all do the same things together. We ride mountain bikes at least 4 days a week all year long and we ski. I am usually one of the oldest guys in the group but as Scot Nicol of Ibis Bikes once told me……” Pat- don’t think about it – just keep doing it.” So I do. But there are some things that have helped me along the way so that I don’t just wither away into old age. The grays are coming on strong, the face is starting to resemble a catcher’s mitt, but my purpose is always to encourage folks to be active and don’t let age be a factor. Let me share some pretty basic nuggets.

I was listening to the Rich Roll Podcast and he always has the most interesting guests including Dr. Dean and Anne Hornish who were touting the benefits of replacing the NAD cellular component as we age. Apparently, NAD ( Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) is a component responsible for energy, cellular reconstruction and has sleep benefits. We lose this component as we age and there is a new supplement that is available called Tru Niagen which seems to work. I have been sleeping better and I do have a lot of energy. My wife Janet says taking this is like adding gasoline to a fire but for the most part I feel a difference. I can’t tell you much more about the research, but maybe listen to Rich Roll and the Doctors Hornish to find out more.

The second thing I have done for a while is take fish oil pills. Not a big secret as it has been known that taking a supplement with Omega 3 is good for your joints and can help lower cholesterol. I don’t have joint problems so maybe this is working too? Again, I will not go into the science because there is a lot of that out there.

Third- I use one tablespoon of MCT Oil in my coffee every morning. I have heard that if you combine this pure coconut oil which is a medium chain triglyceride along with the animal based fish oil at night, you maximize your energy output and can keep your weight in check. I get it from General Nutrition Centers and they have all the information. Again-it seems to work for me.

A fourth component is diet. I am basically back to a diet that I ascribed to 40 years ago while I was a runner. Chicken, fish, fruit and vegetables. I stopped eating junk. The muffins for breakfast, desserts, pies, cakes, cookies,ice cream, etc. I used to think I was invincible and that my body was a furnace with exercise. But as my cholesterol numbers started to trend in the wrong direction, I made up my mind that I needed to watch what I eat. I am not perfect. But amazingly I lost 10 pounds and that was not my purpose. I feel better eating cleaner and the lighter I am, the easier it has been for me to exercise.

Fifth- get a good doctor. My mountain bike pal, Syed Hyder, is also my doc. He is not only a good friend and fun to be with on rides and social outings, but he is a good doctor. But the best thing is that he knows me. He has said, ” Pat- you are the only patient that I have on Coumadin ( blood thinner) that skis and mountain bikes. But you have done it for years and I am comfortable with that.” The caveat is no blunt force trauma but I am careful on the slopes and the trails. Well sort of. I had an incident years ago with a DVT in my leg ( look it up) and also a pulmonary embolism in my lung( look that one up too- it will scare you.) But I have been taking Coumadin for 30 years without incident and I tell folks all the time that are new Coumadin users, that you can be active and still be on that drug. I am a living testament to that. There are caveats but I encourage folks to contact their doctor for the medical opinion and contact me for the layman opinion from someone who has been very active and used Coumadin for years. Glad to answer any questions with the disclaimer that I am not a doc.

A 6th component is products from Hammer Nutrition I use their energy gels and also their electrolyte replacement tablets( FIZZ) in my water bottle to keep me hydrated and to replace lost electrolytes during exercise. I would encourage the use of these products and to read their monthly publication that will come to your house in the mail. Tons of informative articles on health and exercise.

A final factor is Ray Vactor the Chiropractor. LOL!! I love that. Ray is an old friend and my chiropractor. But I have been a believer in the re-alignment of the spine for optimum performance due to a steady flow of energy in the nervous system. Ray has kept me healthy in this area of holistic health for over 30 years. I do the recommended stretches after my morning showers and with monthly adjustments, I have been pain free for a long time. Research your potential visits to a chiropractor, but I can tell you Ray Vactor the Chiropractor has helped me. for those in the Pittsburgh area.

The fact of the matter is there really is no silver bullet that will let you drink from the Fountain of Youth. But there are some simple things that you can do as you age that help the process of feeling good for as long as the good Lord lets you feel at all. Positive attitude, healthy clean eating, some supplemental help along the way, and regular exercise can rocket you along in life and age is only a number. Again- just my opinions. Thanks for reading.

Please enter your email in the sidebar and be a follower if you like these posts. All you will get is a message that I have posted another musing for your enjoyment. Thanks. Facebook friends- please do the same. Appreciated.

Cycling the Miles for a Cause

IMG00227-20100731-0812IMG00375-20110730-0915DSC00468 A number of years ago my next door neighbor’s son came to me and asked me to do the MS150 Bicycle Ride to Erie. It was dubbed the “Escape to the Lake” and it was a benefit for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society It was a lot of fun and especially for a young 8th grader who had never ridden much outside of our local North Park. This ride is always well attended and supported and the fun thing that year was staying overnight in my freshman dorm up at Allegheny College in Meadville,Pa. As I walked around campus and stayed in the dorm, I thought to myself,” Did I really do this” It seemed like the distant past.

As time went on, I opted for the camp out at Allegheny and also at Edinboro State University because I enjoyed the down time in my camp chair and sleeping under the stars in my dome tent. Always liked camping but I am the Lone Ranger when it comes to that sort of activity with my family. The neighbor kid eventually grew up and got married but I still kept up on the MS 150 until AAU Basketball got in the way of those weekends and I had to make a choice between being a good father in the stands at courtside or riding the MS. Fatherhood won out. But the MS Rides live on and they benefit research that is finding a cure for a very debilitating central nervous disorder. The money you raise goes to a worthy cause and you get a wonderful ride in the country with a well organized event as your reward.

Moving on, I had the opportunity to ride some events with my friend Scott Weiner down in Maryland at the Catoctin Challenge. The Maryland events were fun and organized by a really funny and good guy, Phil Heffler, who made a habit out of heckling his riding friends. He painted” last hill” on the road for miles even though there were many killer ascents ahead of us. He painted lanes for his riders and then a separate lane for a girl who was riding. Those signs read,” this lane for good riders.” Then he had the separate lane for his lady friend right next to it. Really hilarious stuff and Phil roamed the course having fun berating his friends and supporters. Phil organizes rides every year from Frederick, Maryland to Pittsburgh and if you want to take part in his hilarity and well orgnized rides, contact Phil-

Several Maryland rides benefitted the 1-6 Organization for men who were abused as children. This organization was supported by the Roz and Marvin Weiner Foundation as title sponsor with the honored guest being none other than our 3 time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond. The interesting thing about riding with LeMond was that he is a very engaging person. The funny thing is that most of the people on the ride either did not know much about LeMond or had their own agenda on the ride so about 6 of us got to ride both days with the former Tour champion. The stories that he told on the road were amazing and the development of a lot of current companies involved in cycling equipment had their seminal influence from LeMond. Scott time trial bars, Giro Helmets, and countless others were entrepreneurial and research endeavors by LeMond. You learned a lot about world class cycling and the development of product by riding weekends with Greg LeMond. These were also camping events and my fix for the outdoors under the stars was satisfied in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland.

My friends Pete Hilton, Eric Durfee(the local) and Mike King and I rode in “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride” in Lake Tahoe one year which benefitted the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Riding a road bike around the most beautiful lake in the country surrounded by the Sierra’s is indeed breathtaking. This ride also supports a very worthy cause and riders come from all over the country to these events. My friend Tim Hamburger is very involved in this organization and if you are inclined to ride or support this organization, Tim would be appreciative. His countless hours of training riders for this event is exemplary and his volunteering spirit is appreciated by all of his riders and event organizers.

Sometimes, these events hit close to home. My friend Jim Pottinger is riding an event in Vermont to beneft the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in honor of his son who has T1D juvenile diabetes. Becket is a cheerful little guy but the stress that he goes through with daily testing of his blood and the disruption to his young life as well as his parents is something that the JDRF addresses on a daily basis. Please consider supporting Jim on his ride.

This weekend, Maggies Marauder’s go into action at the MS150 Keystone Ride up in State College,Pa. Pete, JR, Cyndee and Barry, Don, and a bunch of my pals will take part in this ride that benefits MS. Maggie Schneider is dealing with MS and this group rallies around her as she rides to raise money for the issue that she deals with on a daily basis. Consider supporing the Marauders who are led by team captain Bob DeZort and the memory of our friend Chip Kamin who helped found the group that rides in this event.

Riding the miles for a cause is not only worthwhile and a really fun event to benefit a particular organization, but it is amazing to see the folks who can ride those kinds of miles. You have the experienced cyclists who ride a lot of miles and these events are not much of a challenge. But you see most of the people on less than adequate bicycles riding with a smile and making it to the end with folks scratching their heads and saying,” How could that bike and that person make it 150 miles?” You see the same thing at marathons and ask the same question. But the heart of individuals who have a goal not only physically but the goal to support their favorite cause is impressive. Please consider supporting these organizations, riders, and I encourage you to take part in these events if you have never done so. A worthy cause, riding a lot of scenic miles, camping under the stars( or hotel room if you prefer) great entertainment, good food, all make for an exciting weekend. Now that I don’t have the AAU Basketball excuse anymore because my baller is headed to college, I may have to make a return to the roads of the cause. Thanks for supporting and reading.

The Adjustment

content_rayvactorspinal-cord-anatomy-diagram-en_medical512 A number of years ago, I was standing in line at the K chair at Killington,VT and I bent over to tighten my boots. The day was sunny and warm and I was a little hot and as I bent over, a cold wind blew over the snow and up my back and locked me up like a safe. I couldn’t move and my friend Eric had to physically help me out of my bindings and as I hunched over in pain, we made our way to the car and eventually I took a flight home in absolute agony. I had a little history of wrenching my back and also my neck as I toweled off in the shower sometimes. My neck would lock up and I would walk around for three days with no movement other than a grandiose rotation to the right or left from my torso. Same thing with my back. Very akin to Frankenstein movements. I would do something physical, and all of a sudden an intensifying spasm would incapacitate me for another three days. Not that I was out of shape. Quite to the contrary. I was riding a road bike, running and skiing whenever I could. But I had this chronic situation occur out of the blue at the most inopportune times. I had a heck of a time getting out of bed and the only relief I had was to get a hot shower and take Advil. Better living through chemisty as DuPont espouses. Somehow, I had to address this problem.

Enter my good friend, Ray Vactor…….the Chiropractor. I had known Ray when we were younger and I found out that he had a practice near my home. We were skiing buddies and when I went to Ray, he took x rays, gave me an assessment, and explained how a spine subluxation was not a good thing. Just like a car drifting sideways down the highway, if your spine is out of alignment, you will not function properly. Ray explained to me that a spine out of true will impede nerve impulses to the muscles and the nerve system and muscle system will not function. Pain ensues and often there are other consequences that subluxation will affect. Basic functions of the organs of the body can be affected by a spine that is out of alignment. So, I participated in Ray’s personal improvement program and allowed him to manipulate or adjust my spine and neck. I did a lot of investigating on the internet about chiropractic adjustment and a lot of it made perfect sense. Sports teams have chiropractic medicine as part of their wellness programs. Legend has it that John Smoltz, the famous reliever for the Braves, went into the dugout after every inning that he pitched for an adjustment. Imagine what the delivery of a 90 MPH fastball or a sinking curveball can do to you spine? I was a believer and I did all of my stretching exercises that Ray prescribed faithfully first out of fear, and then from the realization that stretching between adjustments was part of the healthy chiropractic regimen that is required for me or anyone who wants to be in good health and participate in the sports of their choice for a long time.

I am here to tell you that all these years later, I am still a patient of Ray Vactor………..the Chiropractor. I have been pain free for 25 years or more and faithfully get a monthly adjustment and do my floor and doorjam stretches every day. I feel good, I am able to ski without pain. I can run trails and mountain bike over variable terrain without any issue and I credit Ray for saving my spine and my eventual overall well being. One other benefit to chiropractic care is that most chiropractors are well versed in holistic health. They can tell you about vitamin therapy and also make dietary programs that make a lot of sense in overall well being. My son Jack had great difficulty breathing during exercise as a young kid. The pediatricians at the time had him take Albuterol because they claimed he had athsma. Janet and I had a long night one time in Children’s Hospital because of Jack’s breathing and they kept giving him Albuterol and he was not getting any better. We took the inhaler home and used it but as I mentioned it to Ray, he said that he noticed on Jack’s chart that we had done an analysis on his allergies at one time. He noiced that Jack was allergic to mold. He suggested that we take Jack off of dairy products because cheese, for instance, is basically mold. Almost instantly, Jack began to breathe more easily and never had any issues again with any of his sports. I threw the Albuterol inhaler in the trash can after a period of time and we never used it again. Jack began to get chiropractic adjustments and has been in great health ever since. He had allergies…not athsma!!! I credit Ray Vactor……………the Chiropractor for that call.

If you have any spinal issues or if you have ever been curious to how a healthy spine could aid your general well being, I would encourage you to read about chiropractic care, especially if you are athletic. Investigate who the athletes in your neighborhood are using and anyone else who has had good experience with a chiropractic physician. If you are in the Wexford area of Pittsburgh, look up Ray. He is very professional and caring. And,he can still turn em both ways on the ski slopes. Thanks for reading. Be healthy.

Mountain Biking can be……..accelerated Hiking.

photo Our friend Lisa asked me the other night what I thought about when I was riding my mountain bike. She knows I ride a lot and wondered what I was thinking as I bounced over the rocks and roots in the woods. I flippantly answered,” Nothing!” This is somewhat true in that if I am riding with friends or a fast group, I usually only can think about what is ahead of me, the person ahead of me, and the person behind me. More concentration than thought. With faster groups, I am trying to keep up as the 58 year old kid so there is not much going on in the gray matter other than concentrating to stay upright and not getting dropped. Racing was kind of like that too in that you were trying to hold your position or move up as well as maneuvering through obstacles. You really don’t think about much you just concentrate on your line.

I usually ride with a group of guys on Saturday morning and we do think a little bit more in that we try to solve the world’s problems on our rides. We have some interesting conversations but when the pace picks up, the conversation ceases and we just ride. But during the week, I mostly ride alone. It is here that I do think a lot more. Riding in the woods by yourself can be an enjoyable time and not necessarily a strenuous workout. I like to hike and mountain biking is a lot like hiking in these situations only you can cover a lot more ground. Whether I am traveling with my bike and seeing new places or riding on my standard trails at North Park or Seven Springs, I try to take the time to see things that I would not ordinarily see if I were riding with a group. In the spring for instance, I can see the new growth in the woods- wildflowers, ferns, etc. You can spot fawns trying to make their way in the world. All kinds of wildlife is visible if you just take the time to look- like hiking, only seeing more trail. The summer is fun in that you can run into friends. Like tonight. I ran into my friend Art walking his dogs. I stopped and chatted and we caught up after his winter teaching skiing in Vail. The fall is really great in that the leaves are starting to turn and the woods come alive with color. The weather is a little cooler and it is really enjoyable to just take your time and enjoy the spectacle of seasonal change in the mountains or your local forest. This is also the time to start to take your lights out and put them on your bike for the winter. Usually in the fall, you have to use your lights to finish your weekly rides afer work and when the time change comes, you definitely need them. Again, if you take your time on these weekly rides and don’t kill yourself on each ride, you can really enjoy the trails as they are illuminated. Riding at night is different but it is very enjoyable and can be done at slightly higher speeds than hiking.

I use mountain biking as a viable form of aerobic exercise. It is also challenging with the rocks, roots, climbs and descents. After a long day at work, sometimes it is good to blow out the cobwebs and ride hard only thinking about how to execute that next turn. But on other nights or evenings, maybe slow it down a little bit and enjoy the fact that there are no cars to deal with, not a lot of people, if any, and the peace in the woods can be enjoyed. Stop for a minute and appreciate the silence. The workplace can be noisy, classic rock can be overbearing, and the general stress of everyday living can be alleviated by a hike or accelerated hiking (mountain biking.) An interesting statistic is that 90 percent of all mountain bikes are never taken off the road. They are comfortable to ride and most people don’t use them in the mountains or the woods. So if you venture out on to your local trails or if you ride on a trip on the available trails, congratulate yourself. You are in the minority in that you ventured out of your comfort zone and hit the trails with a bike. If you are a expert racer or a rider who pushes himself or herself all the time, SLOW DOWN ONCE IN A WHILE! Chances are you are not going to the World Cup or the Olympics so enjoy the trails, the mountain scenery, the wildlife. Life is too short to kill yourself looking at the guy’s shorts in front of you all the time. Do a little hiking- do a little accelerated hiking. You will be toally relaxed when you get home and the problems from the day just vanish. Try it you’ll like it. Thanks for reading