My Trip to Scotland

Upon returning from Scotland on a 9-day trip (don’t vacations go by fast?), I have had time to reflect on those 9 days and have come up with the following conclusions:

  1. Scotland is a beautiful country.  The landscape looks like a quilt from the air, and you can see it up close when on the ground.  There are fields of green grass, brown fields of wheat and they mesh together in a beautiful grid.  The green covered glens are breathtaking and the rugged mountains and hills in the northern country (Highlands) are majestic.  It is worth going just to see the scenery.
  2. Just about everyone in Scotland is friendly.  It may be because there are pubs and golf courses just about everywhere, I mean, who could be in a bad mood with those two things so prominently displayed throughout many Scottish cities?  Seriously though, people are genuinely nice, workers provide great customer service, and the local folk are just plain polite, something that has been a bit lost for the most part in America.
  3. The weather is typically dismal.  They say there are two types of weather in Scotland, raining and about to rain.  That is pretty much the case.  Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east, weather patterns come and go virtually every 15 minutes.  We were quite lucky on this trip as we had 7 straight days of relatively warm sunny weather in a row.  That changed abruptly our last two days, but all in all I cannot complain.
  4. The food is different.  Actually, just about everything is different but I will get to that in a moment.  Bacon is really ham.  Eggs are kept on a non-refrigerated shelf in the grocery stores.  Haggis is well, haggis, although I find it quite tasty.  Breakfast sandwiches are primarily bacon, I mean ham, on a while roll with butter (I’m not sure, but the idea of a heart smart diet seems to have not made its way to Scotland).  Pork and beans (without the pork), are served in a traditional Scottish breakfast.  Fish and chips are one big piece of fish, which was delicious by the way.  I did see one McDonalds and two Burger Kings, of which I’m told was basically the same quality and taste we have here in America.  There are many subtle differences, but all in all the cuisine was fine.  You could get just about anything you wanted there.
  5. There is different terminology as well.  The bathroom is the lieu.  You don’t watch your step, you mind it.  A golf cart is a buggy.  A pull cart is a trolley.  A shot of scotch is a wee nip.  The accent makes it hard to understand what our Scottish friends are saying, but it is the use of words we typically don’t use and/or associate that also can add to the difficulty in comprehending their speech.
  6. The golf is different.  You probably have watched the British Open, now officially called The Open, on TV.  You can see the landscape is different, few trees on most courses, and gorse bushes sprinkled around.  The ground is brown and firm.  The heather aligns the fairways and on many courses is quite penal.  The fairways and areas around greens have bunkers in which the backhoe operator was just plain evil.  Lastly, there is a rumor that they bury dead elephants on many of the greens.  The weather comes and goes quickly, so you are constantly taking off and putting on rain gear, and you walk.  Very few courses have “buggies” and they are typically reserved for “disabled” people.  Their word for handicapped.

All in all, Scotland is a place that you could say was lost in time.  The architecture is old.  Bricks, stone, rock, make up many of the buildings walls and some of the streets.  Rock walls are prevalent throughout the landscape, making me wonder if that is more amazing than the building of the pyramids in Egypt.  The people are polite and proper, and the appliances and plumbing seem like they are from the ‘50’s.

There is endless charm, beauty as far as the eye can see, and a culture that is worth studying.  It was my third trip to Scotland and I don’t know if I will get another chance to go back, but I sure hope so.

It Starts with the Heart


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Healthy Eating

How much does eating right mean to your cardiovascular health?  Well according to many experts, it means a lot.  Everything you put into your body does something.  It either provides nutrients that are used as fuel, provides value in terms of health, or is detrimental to your health if it contains the wrong ingredients.

A fast food hamburger does have some nutrients.  There is protein of course, which is an essential component for muscle health.  However, it comes at a cost.  There is also a fair amount of fat in hamburger, and of course these days it is all about grass fed beef.  What we eat, eats, is important too, as we are learning.  Hormones, chemicals, insecticides are all ingested by the animals that we call food.

We like to say “eat clean”.  That means monitoring the fats, sugars, and carbohydrates.  Making sure the food you are eating is pure from the bad things mentioned in the last paragraph.  It takes time and education to know how to read a product label, but it is very important.  Know what you are putting into your mouth and understand how it fuels your body.  

In terms of being heart smart, moderation and portion size are important, maybe as important as what you are eating.  There is so much more that we can discuss.  Set up a consultation with our Director of Nutrition for more information and to develop a meal plan.  Email us at info@walkforthebeat.org.

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Afflicted? Nah, not me!

53 years old, healthy, good diet, lots of exercise and bam, and I am diagnosed with heart disease.  The cardiologist asked me how it got so bad while shaking his head.  Am I a dead man walking?  Seven stents later to clear out the widow maker artery, a kidney, and both legs and I am good as new, or am I?  

What does it mean to be diagnosed with heart disease?  It doesn’t have to be a death sentence, does it?  How much do you think about it?  What are your limitations?  How has your lifestyle changed?  All very good questions and here are my thoughts, along with answers to these questions and more.

The word afflicted came up in a recent conversation.  I used it.  I said that a year after I received a stent to open the left anterior descending artery (the widow maker), which by the way was 95% blocked, I don’t feel afflicted.  Am I though?  Probably, but I choose not to look at it that way.  I look forward to each day and the next chapter in my life with optimism and happiness.  It is a choice you know.  

Sure, I am lucky.  I was young enough and fit enough to resume most of my usual activities, mainly golf.  I walk a lot, bike ride and things like that.  My days in the weight room are over basically due to time and choice.  I am not really sure that lifting weights is good or bad for me and my arteries, and I plan to get back to that in some form or fashion.  I also plan on adding swimming to the activity plan (the pool is about 8 miles away).  I guess the thing is that you have to start somewhere.  Start walking and tracking your steps.  Set goals.  Increase your distance.  Talk to your physician and find out what you can and can’t do (should or shouldn’t do), but don’t let it stop you from living.  We can all get stronger and healthier with a little work (and some fun).

So, how much do I think about my issue?  Everyday.  It becomes the new normal, the new lifestyle.  Not necessarily in a bad way.  Sure, I have to remember to take a couple of pills a couple of times a day, and I have to be cognizant of what I eat and drink, even more so than before, but that’s not a big deal.  I tell myself not to stress over work or get too worked up.  It really is all about coming to the understanding that you are going to live and enjoy life.  I know one thing for a fact, which is that none of us get out of here alive.  The key to me is having a good quality of life now in my 50’s and do the things that will allow me the same luxury in my 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and who knows, maybe even my 90’s.  Create a system, work it, and let the other stuff take care of itself.

Talk to your physician, figure out what you are both comfortable with doing from a physical standpoint.  I approached it that I am going to remain as active as possible (within reason).  Heck, I’m not 20 anymore, heart disease or not.  But that is what I enjoy.  It is more a frame of mind than anything else.  Heart disease is not a death sentence.  Today’s medical advancements are unbelievable and are only getting better.  If your heart is strong, as I was told mine is, then why not work it?  Mind over matter, if you don’t mind, then it doesn’t matter.  

Walk For The Beat now offers fitness and nutrition counseling from trained and certified experts.  Send us an email at info@walkforthebeat.org and we will be happy to provide you with the details.

“It Starts With The Heart!”

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