Friday, February 27, 2015

Oh Mr. Blues, please go away

About 20 years ago, I self-diagnosed a condition caused by the lack of exposure to the sun.  I had no idea there was an actual name for it.  All I knew was when the sun didn’t brighten my eyes for a couple of days; everything took on a dull and gray appearance reflected in my attitude.

Way back in 1971 when I was stationed in Great Falls, Montana and serving the US Air Force, I went through two long winters.  That is when I first noticed this gloomy condition called S.A.D. now known as seasonal affective disorder and then the real kicker came; it usually affects women.  Can’t I get a break here?

With the continued absence of warm rays, I become sullen and unproductive.  All it takes to snap me back is for a bright ray of sunshine to poke through the clouds and I am instantly cheerful.  Simply knowing that the sun is out is enough to make me happy and I love to go out in the heat of the day and exercise.  “Good day sunshine!”

“I need to laugh and when the sun is out
I've got something I can laugh about
I feel good in a special way
I'm in love and it's a sunny day”

There are other triggers that boost my mental well being though, thank goodness.  The good Lord knows a warm church service can boost my spirit and it does.  We have an aspiring young minister named Tuan who delivered the message this past Sunday that is still bouncing around inside me.

About a week ago, right in the middle of some grayness, Mr. and Mrs. V of KPFT’s radio program “Blues on the move” came by the house.  They are a delightful couple to visit with and my friend Buddy “Love” Brewer recommended I repair their computer and I did.  That was a bright light in a dull week.  Mrs. V has a very infectious laugh.

The gym named after the clock remains my mainstay to fight the blues though.  Karate, running, and general exercise has always been a big part in my mental health.  If you believe you are too old to start working out, let me say this about senior citizens and the gym.  In the morning, it is quite possible that the bulk of the people there are over 40 and some near 80 or older.  Yea, that’s right.  Old people exercising to keep what they got.

It is a myth that you can go through life pain free and when you get old, you will suddenly rein in and die.  The truth is, you begin getting painful signals early on and they just get worse until you need surgery and a ton of pain meds.  Exercise does more than build muscle.  It gets the blood flowing.  It increases your lung capacity and if you do load bearing exercise, it thwarts osteoporosis.

All those years I put in at the Plant didn’t stop me from losing one inch of height and when I discovered I was no longer 5-11, I knew I must begin lifting weights or continue to lose bone mass.

“We take a walk, the sun is shining down
Burns my feet as they touch the ground”

Aside from the fact that the exercise releases a hormone akin to an opiate to stave off pain, there is an actual gym culture or mentality amongst the exercisers.  One of the best known people who visit there is a sunshine fellow named Joe.  Everyone knows Joe and Joe knows them.  Joe’s my friend and I jokingly tell him he needs at minimum a 3 hour workout just so he can make his rounds.  It’s actually true though.

One of my favorite people to talk to is a retired educator named Al.  Al’s a most interesting man and up in years.  Al comes in using a 4-footed cane and usually hits the stationary bike before using the resistance machines.  I dearly love chatting with him and like Joe, a ray of sunshine to me.

I get tips on working out from Michelle, who I call Michelle Fitness.  Her fitness blog is here:  I do believe she is one of the strongest people in that gym and I’ve seen her lift weight most men wouldn’t attempt.  As I’ve said before, don’t joke about women being the weaker sex, especially at the gym.  You will just let everyone know you are either ignorant, bigoted, or a jerk, or maybe all three.

The biggest mood booster I do every week, regardless of rain or shine is the Spin class.  It is 45 minutes of stationary cycling and burns 600-800 calories. Throw in the 15 minute pre-cycle we do to get ready to stand on the pedals or sprint and you have one plus hour of heavy cycling.  Must I say it is about 95% female dominated?  Most men take one look at the class, shake their head, and say, “Heck no!”

The subsequent effect of this exhausting exercise is a feeling of well-being that lasts the rest of the day.  Our instructor‘s name is Page and she is a drill sergeant with a smile and a pixie haircut.  When two people left the class early this past Wednesday, I jokingly told her she had killed them off.

S.A.D. affects a lot of men and women and there are things we can turn to, to relieve the symptoms besides over-eating, which all of us do time to time.  When it comes to the Blues, the only ones I want in my life are the type that come from Mr. and Mrs. V’s radio program.

* Lyrics Good Day Sunshine – The Beatles


Anonymous said...

Dandy Don Cunningham‎:

Great column in The Baytown Sun this morning, Bert. What you were saying is very true. I sure appreciate your columns and viewpoints. Your positive attitude is inspiring to me and many others, Have a great weekend.

deb said...

Such an entertaining and informative article today. These are great tips on staying cheerful in the winter. Keep them coming Bert!

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Lutz: Great article Bert -- thanks!

Anonymous said...

Deb Hearn: Wonderful tips Bert. Very entertaining and helpful to those that get SAD in the winter.

Buddy Brewer said...

Great article Bert !!! Your next big adventure will be a move to radio. I can see you spinning Cds and giving advice !!! You do have a face made for radio and not TV !!!

Anonymous said...

Stan Roby: I look forward to
" Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see."

Anonymous said...

Wanda Waters: Great article Bert...makes me want to get up and get out!! As soon as all this snow melts.

Anonymous said...

Bert, you're inspiring me! My arthritis in my back, knees, and hands is getting worse each year. We joined the Rec Center and I have started swimming! Hopefully the snow melts here soon and we can start walking outdoors.

Garry Miller

Anonymous said...

Alan Dempsey: Great article, Baytown Bert.

Anonymous said...

Melvin Roark: So true, seems everyone is writing articles about the SAD weather

Anonymous said...

Great article! EB

Anonymous said...

Sandi White: Bert, you're a great inspirational writer! How about some videos to back up your text?

Anonymous said...

I didn't read it on Facepage . . . but it's still a very good article.

Good write Bert!


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