November is COPD Awareness Month

A photo of the author’s father
My dad, Dennis, who lost his life to COPD.

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  COPD is an umbrella term that encompasses both emphysema and chronic bronchitis.  It’s the disease that led to my father’s death this summer and that made him struggle to breathe for years.  According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 135,000 Americans each year.  More than 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, and many more are likely unaware that they have the disease.

Read more

Feeding Ourselves: Thoughts on Cooking and Convenience

Drawing of a bowl a fruit and a pear and orange on a table

I came across this article yesterday that reported the findings of a study showing that “[o]nly 10% of consumers now love to cook, while 45% hate it and 45% are lukewarm about it.”  The 10% number surprised me, as many people in my social circle cook most of their meals and seem to enjoy making their own food.  I’ll admit that I tend to fall into the lukewarm category, though it’s more accurate to say that my desire to cook ebbs and flows.

I know that cooking my own meals is generally healthier and more cost-effective than eating at restaurants.  Cooking can be a lot more satisfying, too.  I don’t live in a big city with an endless number of restaurants, and sometimes I’m just not that excited about my options for eating out.  On occasions when I want a specific dish, my chances of satisfying the craving are sometimes better if I make the dish myself rather than trying to find the precise offering at a local restaurant.  I also imagine that for families with kids and hectic schedules, eating at home is probably easier than going to a restaurant.

Read more

The Bar Exam: Perspective and Self-Care

A stack of law books

Across the United States, recent law school graduates have begun studying for the bar exam, a two-day (sometimes three-day) test offered during the last week of July and also in February).  Each state gives its own version of the exam, which usually includes a day of tricky multiple choice questions and a day consisting of some combination of essay questions, short answer questions, and a closed-universe performance test.  Intensive test-prep courses usually begin in late May, and many test-takers study full-time and then some.

Read more

Exploring Acupuncture

A calm lake with mountains and blue sky

At the suggestion of a friend, I recently tried acupuncture for the first time.  My friend is a long-time acupuncture patient and enthusiast.  She’s used acupuncture to treat various injuries and ailments and has seen results from it.  I’m undergoing treatment for a medical condition, and she suggested that acupuncture could help.  After doing a little research, I decided it was worth a try.

I tend to be skeptical of alternative medicine.  The world is full of snake-oil salesmen who want to sell us pseudoscientific treatments that seem too good to be true.  Though Western medicine has its flaws, I generally trust doctors and research scientists.  When someone starts talking about things like adjusting the energy flowing through the body, I raise an eyebrow.

Read more

8 Good Reasons to Take a Hike

Lush scene from a hike in the Pacific Northwest

I’m lucky to live in a beautiful place that offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation.  This year, my husband and I made a New Year’s resolution to go hiking at least once a month.  We felt like we hadn’t been taking full advantage of the landscape around us, and we thought the resolution would be a good incentive to spend more time together and work our way through our guidebooks to local trails and waterfalls.  We’ve really enjoyed our hikes so far and are looking forward to exploring a new spot this weekend.  If you need some inspiration to hit the trails, here are eight good reasons to get outside.

Read more

How to Lengthen Your Telomeres So You (Hopefully) Live Longer

Pineapples and mangos in a bin at a market

I want to live as long as possible. That may seem like a sentiment shared by all, but some people would rather not go beyond 75. Not me. I love living, and I want to live as fully as I can for as long as I can. I believe humans can meaningfully contribute to society even very late in life. 125? Sounds great. More years to do all the things I want to do!

Given my attitude toward aging, I’m interested in research that studies longevity. I find the concept of telomeres fascinating. Telomeres are “the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes,” and they shorten as your cells divide. When they get too short, the cells die. If you are genetically predisposed to suffer from heart disease, for example, you’ll likely develop it sooner if you have shorter telomeres.

Read more

Let’s Talk About Sleep

A koala sleeps in a tree

I recently heard an interview of Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep specialist and author of The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype — and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More. That got me thinking about sleep.

I need 7-8 hours of sleep a night to function well. I can occasionally get by on 5 or 6 hours if necessary, but generally only for one night. When I don’t get enough sleep, I’m not just sleepy and ineffective; I get physically ill. Sleep deprivation is a reliable precursor to a headache, and as a lifelong migraine sufferer, headaches can be bad news for me. When I chronically get less sleep than I should, my immune system takes a noticeable hit, and I’m likely to come down with a cold. Therefore, I prioritize sleep. Even during law school and while working demanding private practice jobs, I almost always got 7-8 hours of sleep each weeknight. (I didn’t sleep very well last night, for no apparent reason, and I know I’m going to be feeling the effects of that poor sleep later today).

Read more

The Weekend Listen

A pair of wireless headphones for podcast listening

I listen to a lot of podcasts while driving, working out, and doing chores around the house. In this weekly feature, I’ll tell you about one episode I particularly enjoyed that week. (I do not receive any compensation for these recommendations.)

I had a hard time choosing a podcast for this post because I listened to several this week that were so good.  The one I initially selected is pretty short, so I decided to pick a second bonus episode this time.

Read more