Author Archives: leejohnson22

About leejohnson22

Author Biography Lee Johnson(1954-) was born in Leavenworth, WA, but relocated when two years old to San Francisco, Ca. He was raised and influenced during the cultural movement of the 1960s and 70s. His interest in psychology developed out of a curiosity to understand the colorful street people of that era. This resulted in receiving a Bachelor Degree in psychology from San Francisco State University. He graduated from Fresno State University with a Masters of Social Work with a psychiatric focus in 1978. He published A Pilot Study of Personality Type Change that was a result of thesis research in 1980. This began his counseling career that led to becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in 1981. This licensure allowed him to conduct psychiatric therapy and marriage counseling in a private practice setting. He graduated from the Biofeedback Institute of Los Angeles and began treating psychophysiological disorders on both an out and in-patient basis. A transition to medical social work on cardiac and medical-surgical units required conducted bereavement family counseling. This led to death and dying counseling for a home health care hospice. He credits the hospice experience for enlightening him to the end of life issues. After that, he established a workers compensation private practice treating and advocating for injured employees. He became an instructor/counselor for a diet clinic advising on mental heath issues and eating. He established a stress reduction and anxiety management program for the diet center. After relocating to Arizona, he continued his practice of psychotherapy for hospitalized patients.   Due to broad interests, Lee began to study business investments and became a registered representative or stockbroker. Combining this with an insurance license allowed him to offer annuities for 401k and 403b tax deferred retirement plans. He then applied stock market knowledge to the real estate markets in four different states as an investor. But, missing the depth of human contact, he returned to counseling. He has been retired from the formal aspect of this work since 2008 after 30 years of practice. He continues to do volunteer counseling and enjoys continual research and study in gerontology and retirement areas. The cumulation of all this diverse experience is evidenced in his current work for women. He was motivated to write Creative Retirement for Women as a solution oriented guide for successful retirement.

Wings of Retirement (poem)

Wings of Retirement

Starting on the path of novelty

Contemplating new means for new ends

The style of unforeseen and unexpected is now

As you question your questions

As you doubt your doubts

You realize you are not who you thought you were

A lonely sense of freedom

An exciting sense of bewilderment

Celebration is worn like a scarf in the wind

Obscuring the past for the future

Amnesia affords a new integrity

Beckons now the artistic and creativity

Flying over green pastures of flourishing hope

You swoop into themes of intent

Collected from the dark corners of the id

Wisdom and character awaken

Imagination soon sprouts wings

Dawn of design begins

Conductor of your symphony

Dance of future score

Ballet of dreams forever more

©Lee Johnson

Emotional Wellbeing and Catharsis

CATHARSIS is the process of releasing or cleansing oneself of emotional tension. It’s recognized as a form of healing in many cultures and is a common technique used in psychotherapy with conversation. It is this combination of catharsis and personal insight that can bring about positive change and provide emotional wellbeing.

For example, crying after the loss of a parent is a healthy way to release emotions and a great form of catharsis. The tears from crying contain cancerous substances that are flushed from the body.  The cause, of course, is the end of a close relationship. The positive change may be to expand your social network so you are not reliant on too few people in the future. Emotional wellbeing occurs because spreading your emotional bonds to many sources may help you not over react to the loss of one in the future.

There is a theory in psychology that repressed(unexpressed) anger leads to depression. This is a trap that many people get caught in because the culture doesn’t accept outright anger expression and it’s inappropriate in many situations like work. Depression also effects your physical health by reducing your immune response, your social and sexual interest, and disrupts your sleep and appetite. Depression impairs your mental sharpness and is significantly correlated with obesity. So, finding a way to release anger in a healthy manner goes a long way toward our mental and physical health.

Your emotional wellbeing and physical health are so connected that we can treat them as one. That means we all need various emotional outlets like talking to a friend, a sports where you hit something(ball), writing in a diary, acting in a play, artistic expression, volunteering, or helping others in some way. When I’m angry, I walk around the house cussing out loud when no one is around. Then I look to go out for some exercise. I never feel depressed when I do that and I’ve improved my emotional wellbeing and health instead.

Catharsis is a coping mechanism that helps us manage life better and is even a trait for longevity. Having healthy coping skills not only reduces stress and improves health, but also increases self-esteem. That’s right, you feel more confident about yourself when you cope with life effectively.

To maintain our good health, we need regular catharsis on a daily basis.  I actually feel that following your passions socially, at work or in sport is a form of catharsis.  Yes, it’s okay to get angry and expresses it when appropriate. I personally find that a verbal and physical outlet works best for me. But, don’t forget those dependable friendships and a positive attitude to increase the range of your coping skills.

L. Johnson from creativeretirementforwomen.com

Photo: virturalworldslets. net

Reverse Fructose Damage

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP damage causes diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.  A UCLA study shows it changes genes in the brain which impair memory and ability to learn. More importantly, this study also reveals some amazing new research that shows the ability of certain fatty acids to reverse damage to your genes.

These fructose induced changes can also lead to Parkinson’s, depression, bipolar disorder and other brain impairments. It  increases your glucose and triglycerides levels which lead to obesity, inflammation and related diseases.

Fructose is found in most baby foods, if you can believe that, while adults get it mostly from sweetened drinks and packaged foods. Americans consume 27 pounds of fructose in an average year. We are unknowingly altering our genes and health while the FDA is missing in action to regulate it.

The UCLA study(1) seems to have found the antidote. It’s an omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic or DHA which reverses these negative changes.

“DHA changes not just one or two genes; it seems to push the entire gene pattern back to normal, its remarkable,” said Dr. Yang(professor of integrative biology and physiology).

DHA does this by increasing the strength of the synapses(the connection between two nerve cells). They warn that it is not a “magic bullet” and should be combined with a healthy diet since the body doesn’t produce enough DHA on its own.

HOW TO REVERSE THE EFFECT   The researchers view food as a pharmaceutical compound that nourishes the brain and body. Besides avoiding high fructose corn syrup, try avoiding sugary drinks and desserts and generally eating less sugar and saturated fat. In terms of what to eat, Omega-3 fatty acids and DHA are found in many fish like mackerel, tuna, wild salmon(not farmed), walnuts, flaxseed, as well as veggies and fruit.

Fruit also contains fructose, but also has vitamins, minerals, carbs, and fiber. Its natural while high fructose corn syrup is processed from corn without the healthy ingredients.  Corn syrup itself is just glucose and not as damaging as fructose which is glucose and fructose combined. The scientists recommend avoiding both since they are unnecessary sugary supplements.

Besides a healthy diet, some people take supplements of omega-3. You sometime see EPA/DHA on the bottle which are both fatty acid compounds in omega-3s. Always research the best absorption rate on any supplement you decide to take to get maximum benefit.

Now that I have been reading food labels to avoid fructose, I’m really shocked at how many foods contain this. It’s mainly a phenomenon in the United States and is slow to catch on in the rest of the world. So, in addition to avoiding fructose and eating omega-3 foods,  I personally have been using Krill oil that has EPA and DHA. Krill oil has the omega-3 fatty acid and tends to have better absorption and is easier on the stomach.

L. Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)Originally from: EBioMedicine.com.  Retrieved on 4-22-16 from: http://www.medicalnewstoday. com/releases/309479.php

EXERCISE TYPE and LONGEVITY

We know from various studies that you can actually increase your longevity with exercise. But, which ones are the most beneficial? A study(1) divided 2613 Finnish athletes into three groups: 1. ENDURANCE ATHLETES (runners, cyclers) 2. POWER ATHLETES (boxers, weights) and 3. TEAM SPORTS (soccer, basketball, hockey). The results, when compared to Finnish non-athletes are that 1. Power athletes live 1.6 yrs. longer. 2. Team sports produced 4.0 extra years and 3. Endurance sports resulted in 5.7 extra years of life.

The key here is V02 max or the maximum amount of oxygen needed for exercise.  Activities that require you to breath the hardest are the best. Jogging has other advantages in that it’s the best calorie burner per minute of exercise. It will strengthen you knees and bones. It improves brain function including memory. This and most exercises improves mood and helps prevent depression.

You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from aerobic exercise even as we age. Most seniors I know become involved with distance walking, cycling or aerobic classes. We lose muscle mass as we age, so I believe that some weights should be involved in your routine for a balanced workout. If you are running, the baseline for benefits are 30 minutes 3 times a week. If you’re walking for your exercise, then it is 30 minutes 5 times a week.

(1) Serna, S. et al. “Increased Life Expectancy of World Class Male Athletes” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Vol 25, #2. Feb 1993.

INCREASE YOUR METABOLISM

Did you know that you can increase your metabolism and burn more calories with every activity. We know it becomes more difficult to lose weight when our metabolism slows down as we age. But, we’re not going to sit around and let that happen. Here is what you can do about it.

1. EXERCISE — This is certainly the most effective boost to your metabolism by far. Studies show(1) that vigorous exercise can increase the calories you burn by almost 200 a day in the 14 hours after your workout. Vigorous means breaking a sweat. Aerobic and anaerobic both work as long as you include periods of intensity. Weights are intense and if you walk for exercise, you want to include bursts of running for best results.

2. BREAKFAST — Eating breakfast jump starts metabolism and keeps energy high all day(2). Not only should you eat breakfast, but be sure its high in protein. This provides better glycemic control for your blood sugar for the entire day. So, you won’t get as hungry. Try eggs and greek yogurt topped with fruit.

3. GREEN TEA vs COFFEE — Both increase your metabolism, but tea helps you burn about 100 extra calories over the day while allowing more fat to be burned. It appears to be due to the combination of tea catechins or antioxidants paired with the caffeine.

4. DAILY ACTIVITIES — Your activity level does make a difference not only to burn calories, but for longevity too. Walk errands rather than drive. Do you own house cleaning. Stand up and move around every hour if you have a sedentary job. I even stand to watch TV if I’ve been sitting over an hour.

5. DARK CHOCOLATE — In a study(1) where subjects ate about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day for two weeks, their metabolism became more regulated. This also reduced stress hormone levels. Women who have more stress hormones had a slower metabolism.

6. AVOID PROLONGED HUNGER — Starvation diets with less than about 1200 daily calories for women actually slows metabolism(2).  This is less than needed for biological functioning and throws your body into survival mode–burning less calories. So, eat healthy and consistently throughout the day–but don’t over do it.

7. GET IRON AND PROTEIN — Menstruation causes women to lose iron each month. Iron is needed to carry oxygen to muscles to burn fat and must be replaced. Studies also show that protein can increase the after meal calorie burn by as much as 35%. Notice that the graph above with 15 metabolism foods are high in iron, protein, and antioxidants.

In conclusion, it becomes more difficult to lose weight as we age because our metabolism naturally slows. So, we’re determined to compensate by adapting to an active lifestyle and a proven diet. These healthy behaviors will also extend our longevity by keeping our weight down and our activity level up.  L. Johnson  of  www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Photo: flatbellybible.com                                                                                                                              (1) Migala, J. 4-20-2015 10 Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism In just One Day. Retrieved from prevention.com on 3-16-2016                                                                                                                   (2) Yeager, S, 11-3-2011 Eating Rules to Rev Your Metabolism All Day Long. Retrieved from prevention.com on 3-16-2016

Longevity Secrets of People Over 100

What can we learn from longevity secrets of people over 100? First, we exclude genetics, but assume this must be in their favor. Second, we look for diet and lifestyle similarities to form a behavioral pattern for healthy aging. Third, we condense these behavioral patterns into major lifestyle themes that led to increased longevity.  Here are their lifestyles.

A study(1) starts with 122 year old JEANNE CALMENT (1875-1997) who actually smoked for 96 years, but only two cigarettes a day. She poured olive oil on all her foods and applied it to her skin. She drank port wine, ate two pounds of chocolate a week and rode her bike until 100. Her cigarette habit may be too little to be significant and she may have been protected by olive oil and other antioxidants.

SARAH KNAUSS(1880-1999) was 119 years old and considered the oldest person from the United States. She worked as a manager of an insurance agency. With little accounts, we have to rely on her daughter for an explanation. “She’s a very tranquil person and nothing fazes her. That’s why she’s living this long.” However, this explanation is not complete and I’m sure there is more to it.

EMILIANO M. DEL TORO(1891-2007) a man of 115 years who was born in Puerto Rico and worked in the cane fields until 81. He claimed that funche, a corn, codfish and milk dish saved him. He also felt that humor played a key role and continued to tell jokes until his final days. He was not as open about his love or social life, but admitted he attended bordellos up to 82 years old. His retirement years after 81 are not well documented, but we know he never lost his libido.

BESSE COOPER(1896-2012) who lived to a healthy 116 was a college grad in 1916 and became Georgia’s oldest resident after working as a school teacher.  She had four children and always loved to read. She was quoted, “Mind your own business and don’t eat junk food. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated, work hard and love what you do.” Besse had respect for others, ate healthy, had a work ethic, and found her passion in education.

BEL KAUFMAN(1911-2014) who passed away at 103 was the Russian author of Up the Down Staircase.  She came to the U. S. at 12 years old and earned a masters degree at Columbia. As a dedicated teacher, she understood the importance of laughter in life. “You can survive by seeing the humor in everything. Thumb your nose at sadness; turn the tables on tragedy.” This is a great attitude for managing stress which is important. She claimed, “I’m too busy to get old” and continued to write until 101 years old.

DR. LAILA DENMARK(1898-2012) enjoyed life as an American pediatrician until she was 103 years old. She was the third of 12 children and passed away at 114. When she turned 100, she refused her birthday cake because it had sugar in it. Her first advice is to eat right and be sure that what you do in life is what you love. She thought employment that you love is really a form of play and she never felt she worked because of that positive attitude.

In conclusion, here are the italic words: olive oil, port wine, chocolate, bike, tranquil, codfish, humor, busy, bordello, respect for others, eat healthy, work, love, humor, love, work, positive attitude.

The most common dominant themes in this order:

1.  A HEALTHY DIET  This seems like the most common of themes for most of the aged. Despite a lack of dietary details, its clear that a healthy diet is part the foundation for longevity. 

2. HUMOR When used as a form of coping and stress reduction, humor can be very effective. If you’re having trouble being funny, I find that a joke book helps.

3.  LOVE OF WORK It doesn’t have to be employment so much as to find something that you really love doing. This one is really about finding your passions to guide you.

4.  PHYSICAL ACTIVITY  Being active and involved seems to take a bigger role than actual exercise. But, the prior generations didn’t have access to gyms and the fitness movement is a recent phenomena that we can benefit from.

5.  SOCIAL INVOLVEMENT Although relationships were not directly mentioned, there would be a lot of social contact though following the love of work and activity themes above.

(1)Heyne, A (no date) “23 People that Lived to 100 Spill Their Secrets of Longevity” Retrieved on 2-19-16 from modernhealthmon.com/23-secrets-of-longevity/                                                  Photo: Huffingtonpost.com

LaLanne’s Diet and Exercise Routine

Francois Henri LaLanne(1914-2011) famous diet and exercise routine paved the way for him to become an American health icon. He opened the first public gym in Oakland, Ca and is best known for his TV show on fitness. But, he started out as a junk food addict as a kid until he was embarrassed by a failure to pass a routine physical exam in school. This upset and motivated him to attend health lectures that re-directed his life.

WORKOUT: LaLanne’s workout routine began with a series of stretches in bed as soon as he woke around 5am. He then went to one of his weight rooms, one had free weights and the other had weight-lifting machines. He worked the lower body one day and the upper body the next and the entire routine was changed every 30 days. After 90 minutes of weight lifting, he went to the pool for swimming and water exercises for another 30 minutes.

DIET: He ate only two meals a day. The first meal was at 11am after the workout and the second around 7pm usually at a cafe with his wife. His breakfast consisted of fruit, oatmeal, broth, and four egg whites.

His restaurant dinners began with a salad of 10 raw vegetables and four hard boiled egg whites. Fish was consumed almost every night and roasted turkey occasionally. He ate no other types of meat and did not snack between meals. His juicer became popular because Jack just couldn’t eat that many raw vegetables. He found juicing made it easier to consumer the large amount of veggies he wanted.

VITAMINS: In addition to a disciplined diet, Jack took 40 to 50 vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. It’s too long of a list to print here, but can be found on his website. However, he never relied on supplements to replace any foods, he just view it as an “insurance policy.”

ALCOHOL: Being a Frenchman himself, he believed in drinking wine because he noticed that the French tend to live longer in their wine culture. He allowed himself this pleasure apart from his discipline and was even know to get drunk at times.

He published his last book when 95 years old, Live Young Forever that influenced me to change my breakfast to oatmeal and raisins–his favorite. He passed away a little more than a year later at 96 years old from pneumonia.

CONCLUSION: There are areas of contention in his routine. It’s true that Jack placed weights ahead of aerobic exercise. In his diet, he derived most protein from egg whites and fish rather than more diverse sources. His heavy vitamin consumption may have not helped much as absorption rates were lower then. And he probably drank a bit too much at times. But, it’s his long term devotion to a healthy diet and challenging exercise that set him apart.                            L. Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Allen, R. 4-8-15 Jack LaLanne Workout Retrieved from muscleprodigy.com/jack-lalanne-workout/

Our SALT Addiction

Table salt or sodium chloride is a mineral mined from salt deposits in the earth. Sea salt, considered healthier by some, is procured through evaporation, but has the same basic sodium value. The side effects are similar in both sources. The CDC reports that 90% of Americans consume excess salt beyond recommended limits. This is what happens to your body:

1. Your brain reacts in a similar way as it does to heroin and nicotine, with an addictive effect(1).

2. Death from stomach cancer in both men and women is correlated with high sodium intake. It can cause stomach ulcers as well because of its effect on the stomach lining.

3. Sodium increases your blood pressure by overloading your kidneys. High blood pressure is a symptom of cardiovascular disease. It is also key in causing kidney stones.

4. Osteoporosis increases because the body takes calcium from your bones to make up for that lost in your urine.

5. Salt increases the risk of cognitive decline even when high blood pressure and poor diet were not present.

6. Your skin may be effected with edema or swelling due to fluid retention.

WHAT TO DO:

1. EMBRACE A LOW SODIUM DIET  You may not have to change everything if you eliminate the high sodium foods like TV dinners, cold cuts, smoked or canned meats and entrees. Salt hides in many foods, so be sure to always check the nutritional facts on the package.

2. START AN EXERCISE ROUTIN  Exercise is proven to be one of the best ways to sweat out your sodium. You get a lot of other health and social benefits too.

3. SWITCH TO POTASSIUM CHLORIDE   Potassium is a mineral in foods needed for vital physical functions like the beating of your heart. Some studies even show it reduces blood pressure. But, check with you doc first since kidney problems can interfere.

4. DON’T SALT AT ALL  Since sodium occurs naturally in most foods, we don’t need to salt. About 70% of all sodium we consume comes from the salt shaker. I personally don’t salt my food at all. On my dining table, I only have a salt substitute which is potassium chloride and available in most grocery stores.

5. IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE  If you have high blood pressure in the family like I do, you can control it. My sister is 57 years old and has been on blood pressure medications for over 25 years. In contrast, I have embraced healthy diets and exercise for most of my 62 years of age. I enjoy a Mediterranean diet which eliminates the packaged and processed sodium foods. I have an exercise routine since I was a kid because I find it enjoyable. As a result, I have never taken any medications for any chronic medical condition and have no current illnesses. My sister and I have the same genes, but a different outcome.  L. Johnson

(1)Dovey, D. 4-28-2015 “Too much salt: How a diet too high in sodium can affect your health, brain, and even bone health.” Retrieved on 1-29-2016 from medicaldaily.com.

FAD DIET DANGERS

Quick weight-loss or fad diets don’t work. These usually come with dramatic promises of weight loss in a set time. The weight you lose at the beginning is mostly water, not fat. This does not result in long term weight loss. In fact, some of these diets are actually harmful to your health. If you are evaluating diets now, be aware of these sales pitches and stay clear:

1. Guarantees you lose a certain number of pounds per week, especially more than two pounds.

2. Recommends supplements to make up for loss of vitamins and nutrients.

3. Omits a whole food group like a no carb diets. Remember fruits and veggies are carbohydrates.

4. Rationalizes its diet is healthy according to a new or complicated theory.

5. Suggest a daily caloric intake of less than 1200 calories unless you are under the supervision of a doctor.

Everyone wants to loose weight as fast as possible with as little effort as possible–that’s human nature. But, everyone who has lost weight just to gain it back is aware of how frustrating and complicating it can be.  You certainly don’t want to risk malnutrition or short term weight loss that quickly returns from dieting. You certainly  don’t want to set yourself up for failure anymore.

When I was teaching the psychology of eating at the weight reduction clinic, weight loss was introduced as a healthy lifestyle change, not a quick fix. This involved evaluating your entire life to see where unhealthy behaviors occur. Some people had foodie friends or family that needed to adapt to healthier ways. So, they became involved in the support part of the program even if they don’t diet themselves.  Our diet program encouraged a mind set for positive adaptability to a new diet, an exercise routine, and social support from friends and family. The team approach proved to be much more successful than going it alone.

My two favorites diets are the Mediterranean and the Okinawa diets because of the longevity qualities–a particular interest of mine.  But, today’s diets are designed for your individual physiological needs. Nutritionalists construct diets to address cancer, cardiovascular illness, diabetes, and even things like anemia.  So, the best diet for you is not whats in vogue today.

Your diet should be based on your ancestry of medical illness passed down, your current physiological needs (i.e., high blood pressure, etc) and your individual health goals for the future. Some people just want to lose weight while others may want to control diabetes or cholesterol. If you’re serious about dieting the healthiest way, then make an appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist and let them recommend a plan based on your personal needs.

Read more: The Psychology of Eating Less blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/eat-less/

Microwave Update

Some studies claim microwaves leak, ruin your food, and even cause cancer. Many of these studies are old and are not very scientific. So, lets take a look at the latest studies and recommendations.

Microwaves work by emitting electromagnetic radiation. These energy waves cause water molecules to rotate rapidly which creates heat that cooks your food.  This low level of energy is not strong enough to cause ionization which would break down your food.

LEAKAGE The Federal Drug Administration has requirements that limit the amount of leakage. This limits radiation to about two inches from the machine itself. This radiation also dissipates fast. So, as you move further away from the microwave, the waves rapidly diminish.  Just stand more than two inches away and it has less effect on you than your cell phone.

EFFECT ON PROTEINS Some old thought is that microwaving will break down proteins in food and make them toxic. However, new studies(1)show that, “all of the amino acids in the protein are still bonded together.” The nutritional value is not compromised. They concluded that if breakdown does occur, it is more likely from overheating. Cooking food at high temperatures or for too long will reduce the nutrients in that food and produce cancer causing agents. Barbecuing,  for example, is one of the worst ways to cook. Please see my other blog post on how Over-Cooking Causes Cancer http://blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/over-cooking-causes-cancer/.

EFFECT ON NUTRIENTS  I’m referring to minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. The general rule here is that nutrients are always lost when cooking. More are lost when the temperature is higher or when the food is cooked longer. The microwave results are that nutrient retention was actually higher in some foods and lower in others. It depended on how hot and long its cooked and if its in water. Food microwaved in water tends to lose nutrients into that water.

IN CONCLUSION The study finds, “There’s no evidence that microwaves adversely affect the nutrient profile of foods.(1)” The protein also stays intact and the leakage from the machine requires only a two inch buffer. Some have even claimed that  cancer is caused by microwaves, however, I couldn’t find any studies to support this. I generally use my microwave to reheat drinks or food for short time periods. I’ve never used it to cook an entree outside of TV dinners when I was in college many years ago. So, unless you are using pressing your face against the microwave while its cooking, you are just fine.

L. Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)Kresser, C., 4-7-2015, “Are Microwave Ovens Safe?” from chriskresser.com/are-microwave-ovens-safe/