Category Archives: Health and Wellness

My Thunderous Rumbling Stomach

It seems like just yesterday, I had a stomach made of steel. When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I had a pretty fast metabolism and could eat anything and everything, any day, any time.

Where I used to be able to pack away large quantities of food and still remain technically underweight, today, a handful of potato chips is enough to have me retaining water like a sponge.

But the tide can turn from time to time. For me, all it takes is the return to a regular exercise regimen, like the one I have successfully incorporated into my routine last year.

When that happens, not only does my metabolic rate go up, but it’s like revisiting my teens and 20s all over again as I seem to be hungry… ALL THE TIME!

While logically, it should just be a case of finding an extra snack or two to tide me over until the next meal, it’s a little more complicated than that.

As much as you would think I could take advantage of the situation to indulge myself in the goodies I only consume in moderation (since I’m not technically underweight anymore), in reality, I don’t crave them when I work out regularly. The empty calories leave me hungry and wanting something else soon thereafter.

I tend to crave healthier snacks that sustain me better. If I don’t, I get so hungry that my arrival home is like a scene from “Animal Planet”, as I demolish leftover roast chicken like a lion devouring its prey.

The trick for me is to try to stay ahead of the hunger with convenient and nutrient-rich options.

I am lucky that because of my wheat intolerance, batch cooking has been part of my routine for almost 15 years. It just takes a little time and planning to prepare large quantities of food, store them in the fridge or freezer in individual reusable containers, and to take them out as needed throughout the week.

And for snacks, I maintain a selection of options on rotation like hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, and cheese with gluten-free crackers. Plus, I always have my favourite protein bars and protein powder on standby.

And yet, there are still days when there doesn’t seem to be enough food to fill the bottomless pit of my hungry stomach.

When that happens, the rumbling sound starts… that embarrassing, thunderous rumbling that is loud enough to set off motion detectors.

Fortunately, it’s not like a passing gas kind of sound, but the notes range from “haunted house moans” to “Swiss Alps avalanche”.

The most embarrassing occurrence was about 25 years ago, in the middle of a face-to-face meeting with a client… on their premises. My stomach was rumbling so loudly, I had to apologize and ask for a glass of water to literally drown the noise. It actually took three glasses of water to quiet things down. It was so loud I couldn’t help but make jokes about how something may soon pop out of my tummy like a scene out of the movie “Alien”.

In that case, I think I was actually suffering from dehydration, after a long drive, on a hot summer day, in a car with no air conditioning. But that was the first time that my rumbling tummy caused a disturbance. I was very lucky that my clients were good sports about it and took it in stride.

In the early 2000’s, when I was working out regularly, I went through a phase where every afternoon I was getting a rumbling stomach right around 2 o’clock, to the point that I dreaded late afternoon meetings. If it was in a large boardroom involving many people it wasn’t too much of an issue, but if it was a meeting with a captive audience in a small boardroom with bouncy acoustics, I knew to approach the meeting on a full stomach.

If I had back-to-back meetings through the afternoon, I had to excuse myself at 1:50 from the first meeting and grab a bite to eat before my 2:00 meeting to prevent my stomach from sounding like a volcanic eruption waiting to happen around 2:10.

There’s nothing worse than trying to deliver a compelling, professional viewpoint on a serious business matter, with the sound effects from an “Avengers” movie playing out in your stomach. If the sound effects are properly timed, the argument can be pretty effective, but sadly, it really is out of my control.

With my most recent regimen of fitness activities, my rumbling stomach seems to be an almost daily occurrence. The problem now is that the time isn’t as predictable as it used to be, so grazing throughout the day and making sure I have portable food and a large cup of water or tea is essential.

This works most of the time, but my colleagues and I have learned to laugh about it when despite my exhaustive precautions, the stomach still roars.

On the bright side, I absolutely love conference calls because I can attend meetings and keep my finger on the mute button to edit out my rumbling stomach when I don’t need to speak.

The irony is that when life gets in the way and I am not able to work out regularly, I can get by on three meals and the occasional light snack and I never hear a peep out of my stomach. But when good habits prevail, working out regularly, eating right and ensuring proper hydration, my stomach can’t help but share in its joy of a life well-lived.

All I can do is chalk the situation up to being human and life’s weird moments. I can try my very best to prevent the rumbling, accept it when it happens anyway, excuse myself when the tummy noise is really distracting, and to laugh about it when it does.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Filed under 50+, food, Health and Wellness, Humour, Running

The Bad Back and the Broken Movie Seat

I have found it quite fascinating how movie theatre chains have been stepping up their game to try to enhance the movie experience.

Not only do we have VIP experiences where we can enjoy a yummy meal during a movie, but in certain theatres, even the non-VIPs can watch a movie from comfy recliner seating.

I also appreciate the option of buying tickets ahead of time, and to not have to worry about last-minute availability, back-up plans or getting booted out of my seat by some self-entitled Mr. Bossy Pants who arrives ten minutes after the movie started and insists on disrupting an entire row of people to be seated with his friends.

But for me, the comfy recliner seating alone has been the incentive to return to the theatre more often, to the point of nudging me to get a cozy recliner at home to level the playing field.

That was until a few weeks ago when these wonderful enhancements to the movie theatre experience backfired on me.

On the day in question, the moment I sat in the movie theatre recliner, my sensitive back could feel it right away. The recliner was broken. The seat was leaning to the left.

Anybody who has ever experienced back issues can tell you that sitting in a chair that is leaning just a few degrees the wrong way is a recipe for disaster. Continue reading

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What the 2010s Meant To Me

New Year's festivitiesIn recent weeks, not only have we been bombarded with retrospectives from the last year, but as with any year ending with a “9”, we’ve seen our lives flashing before our eyes with scenes from the last decade as well.

One evening, as I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic (again!), just for fun, I asked myself what were my own favourite moments of the last decade.

It was a fun activity that completely took me out of the drudgery of traffic. My spirits were lifted as I rattled off a list of great memories. When I got home, I took out the iPad and started noting them, one-by-one. In the days that followed, more ideas kept coming to mind and the list continued to grow.

Just like everybody else, I experienced personal and professional highs and lows. But it was because these experiences that I will remember this decade fondly as the one where I experienced the greatest and most significant personal growth.

Despite what I thought was a pretty good tool kit for handling stress, this past decade offered a pressure cooker of situations that tested my tool kit to its limits when anxiety took over. With the help of a psychotherapist, I was able to establish better boundaries which not only contributed to enhancing that tool kit, but also helped to prevent some situations from festering into anxiety in the first place. Continue reading

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My Struggles with Sunscreen

After an Ottawa winter that seemingly never ended, there is no greater pleasure than the feeling of the sun’s warmth against our skin. But as some experts tell us, we can enjoy that feeling but we should be protecting that skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

I am no stranger to sunscreen. I have been wearing it pretty faithfully over the years, and stepping up the SPF number at the urging of my dermatologist. Because I am pretty fair-skinned and can burn pretty easily, it makes sense.

But much like I have described in other blog posts, shopping for a sunscreen is another never ending episode of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”.

A few years ago, I was introduced to a brand of sunscreen that I considered “just right”. It had a nice light fragrance, it didn’t feel sticky, and it held up well when I was out running. Basically, it felt like I wasn’t wearing sunscreen when I had it on. I could even reapply it throughout the day and not feel like an oil slick. To me, that was the gold standard.

But I wonder if they changed the recipe because it doesn’t feel “just right” anymore. By my schnoz, the pleasant scent now seems to present notes of chemicals (which makes me a little apprehensive about meetings in small boardrooms) and the texture seems stickier than before.

Even if I wrote to the company with my questions, would it change anything? Probably not. And there is a chance that it could be my body chemistry changing, as opposed to the product. Some colognes I wore a decade or two ago smell very differently on me now, so I wouldn’t rule out that a sunscreen that was once perfect, might not behave the same on my approaching-geriatric skin.

And so began the auditions for a new sunscreen. Continue reading

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Running: The Slow Road to Recovery

NOTE: This blog post is not intended as medical advice, nor do I represent myself as a medical professional. Please consult your doctor or health care professional if you feel pain, fatigue or discomfort when practicing any sport.

It is a blow to the ego to know that in 2014 I was able to run 21 kilometres as I prepared for a half-marathon, yet in the years that followed my distances kept getting shorter and shorter.

In those years, I was frustrated with myself when instead of shaving seconds from my personal bests, the durations of my runs were steadily getting longer. I often asked myself if this was what it meant to be over 50.

For someone who isn’t a jealous person by nature, I admit I felt envy in seeing my Facebook friends sharing their athletic accomplishments and their new personal bests.

For someone who was an active participant in a running club, I felt like I was letting down the team when I just couldn’t keep up… or even to make it out to a get together because I was too embarrassed to admit I had slowed down so much, compared to what I was able to do.

When someone would ask “How is the running going?” after years of saying I was sidelined due to injury, it felt like I was making excuses when my body just wouldn’t cooperate, no matter how many times I tried. Continue reading

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Which Book to Read Next?

Over the last couple of years, I have been making time to enjoy one of life’s sweet yet simple pleasures: I have reconnected with my love for books.

Where I used to reserve books for bedtime reading, I have since rejigged my schedule to allow time in the morning to slowly sip my coffee, to listen to some relaxing music, to read for a bit and to gently ease into my day.

After decades of going from 0 to 60, hitting the ground running as soon as my feet swung out of bed and hit the floor, this new routine has become a welcome and preferred approach to start the day off right.

It offers me the time to slowly wake up, to breathe and to reconnect with my positive energy. It seems to gently nudge the brainwaves into action rather than a speedy immersion into worrying about what the day ahead holds.

In making reading part of my morning routine, rather than taking six months to finish a book, I have been averaging one book per month, although I have impressed myself by finishing some in a matter of days when I just couldn’t put them down.

In the last couple of years, I have filled my mind, my heart and my soul with fascinating biographies, I have read some classics that I missed, I have explored some books on personal growth and new ways of thinking, and I have devoured books that will help me grow as a writer and as an artist. Continue reading

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My Progressive Journey Toward Progressive Lenses

Eye GlassesAs someone who has been wearing glasses since grade 10, it was no shock to hear over the years that at some point in time, I might need progressives or bifocals.

What was more difficult was admitting when that point in time was here. I knew it was time when my arms were officially not long enough to hold something at the right distance to read it. And unfortunately, getting longer arms was not the answer.

Technically, I do not need glasses to see things at close range, but I do need them for distance. The smaller, rectangular framed glasses I wore for years allowed me to get the correction I needed for distances, as well as the freedom to look below the frame to see things at close range. From that perspective, everything was pretty sharp.

But as styles changed and I chose larger framed glasses, I couldn’t peek under the frame anymore. I was seeing things at close range through corrective lenses, which made close items blurry. The solution was to hold the item away from me. Continue reading

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