I Cracked My Better Health Code and Feel Like Me Again, So can you!

Please note that the following is a general overview of some of the substances and activities that have helped me regain my general health and wellbeing as a desk worker. Please consult your General Practioner and/or Naturopathic Doctor before indulging or participating in what is mentioned herein and also to find a Health Code that works for you!

Links to purchase some of the products mentioned in the article are below:

The Healthy Programmer: https://amzn.to/2JOhsFV

L-Citrulline: https://amzn.to/2YdZEI5

L-Arginine: https://amzn.to/2ybdlgw

Nitric Oxide Strip Testers: https://amzn.to/2JNmOkC

Epic Xylitol Gum: https://amzn.to/32LS4Id

I’m no doctor, but recently with the help of my own research and a naturopathic doctor, I have been able to demystify my health issues, which seemed to increase in my 30s and now in my early 40s. Although I showed no outward appearance of being unhealthy (I was/am physically fit and besides shaving my thinning hair, my appearance is fairly youthful for a man now in his early 40s) as I began to work more in Web and Multimedia Design and Developing, I began to sit for longer durations of time without breaks—including, and most importantly, breaks with some physical exertion like walking or pushups—and it was taking its toll on my digestive and cardiovascular systems.

I did start to exercise again, and my digestion improved somewhat and my blood pressure would return to normal after a good workout. And I even spent a whole spring and summer working for a landscaping company to earn extra money. My hypothesis was that my health would greatly improve during my work as a landscaper, and for the most part, it did! I felt less anxious, more grounded, and generally happier. I did still have strange digestive issues like excessive belching and a little bloating, but I did feel better. I believe this was from the mostly light physical labor and also the increase of sunshine I was exposed to, which in turn increased the Vitamin D in my system.

See this great Healthline article for more information about the importance of Vitamin D: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-vitamin-d-to-take

However, just like I am no doctor, I am self-aware enough to know that for me, being a  landscaper would not fulfill my own goals of working as a Web and Multimedia Developer—producing video, audio and also content for the Web. There had to be a way to work at a desk off and on for 8 to 12 hours a day and stay healthy. And for me, these are the activities and natural substances that have returned me to the health I felt in my teens and 20s.

Nitric Oxide is your BEST friend

Seriously. Nitric Oxide is a vasodilator, which basically means it relaxes and widens blood vessels. Vasodilators affect the muscles in the walls of your arteries and veins, preventing the muscles from tightening and the walls from narrowing. As a result, blood flows more easily through your vessels.

What does this mean? You guessed it: lower blood pressure and blood pressure regulation. Which is awesome! It also means that it takes longer to get gassed during workouts or just general activity.

Click on this rad Healthline article to learn more about what foods have it and also the benefits of Nitric Oxide!  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-increase-nitric-oxide

As mentioned in the article, besides certain foods, two supplements that are great for getting more NO in your system are L-Arginine and L-Citrulline. I also buy test strips to check my NO levels at least once a week. This morning before taking my L-Citrulline supplement, my NO levels were a bit low as indicated by my Berkeley Life nitric oxide test strip readings. However, after taking 1000mg of L-Citrulline, I measured my NO levels about 3 hours later and you can see the results on the test strip on the right.

20190724_143529

TestStrips

Replaced using Mouthwash with Chewing Xylitol Gum

There are many paradoxes in life, including health paradoxes. One of which is that although most mouthwash prevents cavities by killing unhealthy bacteria that feed on plaque, it can also kill the bacteria that helps create Nitric Oxide in the body, One way to avoid this paradox is to consume Xylitol, which is a sugar-free sweetener that is not only healthy, it actually prevents cavities and gum disease without killing the bacteria that creates Nitric Oxide in your mouth! For more information about Xylitol check out this informative Healthline article. I mean it, check it out! https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/xylitol-101

See a Naturopathic Doctor and Get a Food Allergy Test! 

So back to my weird belching and bloating. Well…it turns out that after taking the advice of a Naturopathic doctor and getting a food allergy test, that I have high food allergies to gluten, wheat, and dairy. At first, I was pretty bummed about this, but food allergies can subside with time. After pretty much cutting out all or at least a significant amount of the aforementioned food categories (I still enjoy at least a beer every week) after about a week I began to notice that my bloating and belching decreased significantly! I was also told to take Ashwagandha in the morning and Nattokinase at night for both better stress management and also better circulatory health. I also take CoQ10 and Omega 3 fatty acid supplements. However, as mentioned earlier, please consult an ND or General Practitioner before taking any herbs or supplements that are included in this article!

Eat a Healthy Diet

There are a lot of diet and exercise fads out there (e.g. Paleo, Mediterranean, Dr. Gundry, Vegan, etc.) however most health experts agree that not just one diet is right for everyone. According to most health organizations (including the CDC, the World Health Organization, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Health Service of the UK) a person’s daily diet should be composed of roughly the following:
30% Fruits and Vegetables
30% Grains and Starches
16% lean protein(meat, fish, eggs, beans)
16% Milk and Dairy
8% fatty and sugary foods

If you like me are trying to limit your intake of gluten, dairy, and eggs, this article might help you achieve this while maintaining a healthy diet: https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/getting-nutrition-dairy-gluten-eggs-1143.html

Be Active!

Do you know your max heart rate bpm? It is basically 220 – yourAge. Therefore a 40-year-old would have a max heart rate of 180 bpm. Most health experts agree that the best intensity level for walking or any other activity is roughly 60 percent of your max heart rate. Therefore, with the example above, that heart rate would be roughly 108 bpm. However, there is a range as seen in this article. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/target-heart-rates
For the example above that would be 90 – 153 bpm. (I usually try to keep mine at about 120-140 when doing cardio and about 90 – 110 when lifting or playing basketball).
Did you know that just walking 20 min a day can decrease your risk of premature death by 20%? A good goal for steps per day is 10,000. You can track your heart rate and steps (and much more, including sleep quality and caloric intake!) with this gadget that costs less than $100.00. Check it out!

Fitbit: https://amzn.to/2JRI4WF

So what do I do to stay active? Thankfully, even at 42, my knees and ankles are healthy enough to play basketball. I am no MJ, but I can play fine and I love the game. My advice is to find a sport that requires a general amount of physical activity, and if you are able, participate in it. Join a league, or just head out in the sun to the local outdoor courts.

I also lift weights on average about 4 times a week for at least an hour every workout.

This summer, I am going to get back into bicycling and am really stoked about that.

But all in all, if you don’t have the time or money to go to the gym, I would recommend staying at home and simply doing pushups and situps along with jump roping and jogging or bicycling. Honestly, just by taking breaks every 30 minutes or so and maybe taking a five-minute walk or other light physical activity during that break, you can stay reasonably healthy.  Oh, and use a Pomodoro clock so that you make sure to take breaks. Here is one I created a few years back. https://codepen.io/BrianBrain/full/egxRVd

Self Care – Reducing Stress and Increasing Feeling of Wellbeing 

I remember I had a boss once whose dentist told her she needs to get a massage. Apparently, this boss’s stress was showing in her dental health, possibly because of teeth grinding or TMJ. My favorite modalities of self-care are acupuncture, craniosacral treatments, and massage. These treatments can add up in cost, so although I get them every-so-often, to me, they are not as big of a part of my health equation as diet and exercise, but they are a great way to reduce stress and thus increase overall health.

Other forms of self-care are Yoga and Qigong. I participate in the latter and find that the breathing techniques and meditative movements of Qigong, particularly Yi Ren Qigong, have reduced my stress quite a bit. In fact, and this is for another blog entry, Yi Ren Qigong is probably the single most important self-care activity that I practice.

Find a Form of Spirituality that Works for You! 

Speaking of Qigong, I am a Taoist, and Qigong is related to the Taoist form of spirituality, along with other practices like Taoist Yoga and Tai Chi. However, find a system of spirituality that works for you. You might even find that just by attending church regularly that your mood and outlook will improve. Spirituality is so important for health and is often neglected in our lives.

Be Sure to Get Good Quality Sleep

This is different for everyone, but I try to get about 8 hours of sleep every night. Here is another great Healthline article. This one addresses the importance of sleep: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-why-good-sleep-is-important#section1

You Must Check out this Book

So yeah, this has been the first blog I have written on this site for quite some time. However, I do plan to make it at least a weekly occurrence, but we shall see. I mean, life can get so busy that it is hard to create routines that don’t directly have to do with work or family.

So in order to optimize my health as a desk jockey I wanted to find a fairly short and informative book that would guide me in living a healthy life. That book is The Healthy Programmer: Get Fit, Feel Better, and Keep Coding by Joe Kutner. If you only buy one book about how to keep healthy while maintaining a sedentary vocation, this is the one I highly recommend.

You can find this book in the link at the beginning of this entry, and I would also recommend checking it out on Google Books. Take care and Be well.

Yours truly, Brian Kidd:

Ths Holistic Programmer

theHealthyProgrammer

 

Multimedia Developing

This week was a week of finding patience in refining my crafts. I decided to give Mobirise a chance as a way to build lightweight websites on the fly. These websites are supposed to be mobile friendly, and they are, for the most part. That is if you stay within the framework of the templates and do not customize them too much. My workflow for Mobirise is as follows: 1. Insert all of your blocks first (edit those blocks using the block editor) 2. edit your code with the Mobirise HTML editor (if you have that extension) 3. Publish your project locally to your computer so you have access to the website’s directories (For instance, now you can add images to the image directory and, using HTML, enter those images into your website outside of the confines of the Mobirise site template.) 4. add images to your site (<img src = “…”>) in a text editor such as Notepad++ or Dreamweaver 4. polish your code up to make any changes to the HTML and CSS 5. use an FTP client to export the site to your host for public-facing website publication.

Within that workflow, I have been working on tweaking the website with Notepad++ and using CSS Media Queries to make the site responsive so that it looks good on all devices including desktops, laptops, tablets, phablets and cellphones. I am having a bit of a struggle tweaking the welcome page within the Bootstrap framework that Mobirise utilizes, but am coming along slowly, but surely. Right now I am having issues at screen sized width 768px, I think because there is a conflict between the bootstrap framework and my media query customizations. I plan to resolve this issue next week.

On the music front, I am still developing beats. Today I wanted to concentrate on making custom drums from scratch, no loops. I was inspired to make a beat with a syncopated sound similar to what John Bonham might program if he was an electronic music producer. The following beat was inspired by his work on the song “No Quarter.”

I am most happy with the simple yet poignant drum fills I programmed. You can see the drum roll in figure 1.2 .

figure 1.1BonHam Trance

figure 1.2

BonHam Trance Roll

Recording Basic Beats in Garageband

About one week ago I made my first ever beat in Garageband. It was a simple homage to a friend of mine who also produces beats in Garageband, with a early hip hop era beat complete with a bass and handclap, a la 1982. I am using Alesis MULTIMIX4 USB mixer as an interface for the vocals and used an aggressive hall delay. Listening to the vox, I can tell that they need to be smoothed out a bit into the mix, but this was my very first beat and I was basically messing around, experimenting. One thing I was proud of is the fade out at the end. Although I am not sure if this affects the normalizing of the beat when you export it. It is hard to adjust the normalizing feature in Garageband, as I think it automatically normalizes the track on export as long as you set it up in the applications preferences.  You can hear this simple, crude and somewhat humorous beat here.

For the second beat, I got a little more serious. I added reverb to the bass and snare and only used those two drums to create a sort of Joy Division-esque, simple beat simply by playing the drums with my computer keyboard. In Garageband, by pressing Command K on a Mac you can pull up the virtual piano and manipulate the sound of the instrument you selected. I was really stoked about a pad I found in the program called the Warm Arp Pad. The arpeggiated pattern it creates is very Bladerunner-ish and the notes I used are C and B flat  and C an octave higher in tandem and D Flat and A Flat and still hold the same higher C note as the previous pattern.

The piano sound used on this track was Steinway Grand Piano. As you can see from illustration 1.3, I tweaked the settings a bit and added some moderate reverb and echo to the piano’s default setting. The piano notes played are C C-octave-up A-Flat B-Flat G. I feel this piano sound gives it the classic NIN feel with a simple melody and lots of sustain.

For the bass, I simply used a sub bass setting and played an A note an octave apart. I did not tweak the bass settings. I also used a sort of arp bass when the grand piano comes in called a Tube Bass.

All in all, I am pretty satisfied with this being my first serious beat in Garageband. The next beat I create I will attempt to demystify how complex drum patterns are created. I am not sure how complex drum patterns can get in Garageband, but I will see what I can come up with. Eventually I will upgrade to Logic Pro, which is a more complex derivative of Garageband, with better plugins and overall sounds. I will say that I am pretty impressed so far with Garageband as a free Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). It is definitely a good DAW for the hobbyist, or a beginner who wants to start simple and see if making beats is something he or she would like to eventually take more seriously.

Garageband setup with virtual keyboard 1.1GbandSetup.png

Drum Reverb 1.2LiverPoolReverb.png

Piano Setup 1.3

PianoSetup.png

 

 

Getting into Music Producing

By trade, I am a Web Developer. However, I am also a musician and own a company called Kylmyys Media. According to some, including Jesse at MusicMakesCash, there is an abundance of money to be made by licensing your music for television, radio, movies and commercials—an abundance. As part of the music act Kylmyys, I have been involved in recording ambient/electronic music for nearly five years, although three of those years, 2013 – 2016, were a bit inactive as these were the years I went back to school. However, after taking a year to contemplate life a bit after the death of my father in March of 2016, including a trip to Cambodia with my girl friend, I have narrowed down my interest to four things, which will probably be my focus for the rest of my time on this planet: Web Developing, Web Design, Music Production, Music Performance.

Out of those vocations, only one, Music Production, is something I have very little experience in. I have recorded guitar tracks by myself for various projects, and programmed simple drum parts using Acoustica Beatcraft, but that is about as far as my experience goes. I know what normalizing is, and how to record live guitar properly.

Not too long ago, I thought it was sacrilege to record music without live instruments, especially drums. But with the advent of Digital Audio Workstations, DAWS, such as LOGIC PRO and Digital Performer, my opinion about using computer generated sounds has changed quite a bit: Gone are the days of the cheesy Casio keyboard drum loops, today synthesized sounds can sound very organic, often analog, and soothing to the ear.

This is one of the reasons why big name production companies such as FOX and the Discovery Channel are buying their underscores and other music featured in their shows from independent artists: Independent artists can now offer high quality production music for much cheaper than large music production companies and/or composers. much much cheaper. The bonus for the musician/producer is that after getting music licensed, the musician can make decent money from royalties. In fact, Jesse from MusicMakesCash claims that he and literally thousands of other independent music producers are making up to a six-figure, yearly income solely by licensing their music for T.V. , film and radio. Of course it took Jesse almost 10 years to get to that point and he had to have both the audacity and especially the tenacity to become such a success in the music licensing business.

However, let’s back up a bit: Kylmyys has just entered into the music licensing business and this is exciting for us. I decided that in order to increase our chances of getting music licensed, that I should learn how to produce music myself, using one of those DAW thingamajigs. Oh man, I am not going to lie: My ego is very vulnerable right now, but I know that I have a decent ear for music. I am hoping my technical prowess will not fail me and more importantly, my passion for music will not falter as I enter into the world of music production. I have signed up for an online course to speed things along and will document my progress on my soundcloud page. I am very excited about this, not only for the potential to express myself musically using a plethora of sounds available on a plethora of audio recording computer programs, but also the potential to perhaps make some extra money. Money that will keep paying me through royalties. It definitely applies to the idea that in order to make money, you don’t work for money, you make the money work for you. Oh snap, that reminds me, I have to check my stocks and bonds today, Whelp, gotta run! Until next time, be well! –BK

“Beet” high blood pressure!

Like many of my relatives my blood pressure fluctuates dramatically at times. It was one day at the eye doctors, after being diagnosed with early onset narrow angle glaucoma and Central Serous Retinopathy in my left eye (both conditions I have gotten treatment for), that the eye tech took my blood pressure. Now, I was obviously stressed by the diagnosis, especially because of my relatively young age, but my blood pressure was very high. 176/96 to be exact. The eye doc told me to go straight to the Immediate Clinic and get some meds. It was lower at the immediate clinic, but still high (155/90). I was really surprised, because a mere year earlier it was normal. My lifestyle had changed a bit, however. I was exercising less, not doing as much Tai Chi and Qigong, eating more randomly and less healthy foods and my screen time had gone up dramatically since going back to school. I would program up to 12 hours a day, sitting the entire time. I had to make some lifestyle changes fast. High blood pressure is not something to ignore, as it can lead to some serious health issues.

After being on a low dose of an ACE in inhibitor for about a year, I decided to look at alternative means to lower my blood pressure. In addition to going back to exercising and internal martial arts, (and also my new love, bicycling) I discovered the power of juicing certain fruits and vegetables and how they can lower my bp. Take today for instance. This morning, I used my Breville juicer  to concoct what I call BK’s Beetlejuice. (Try not to think of Michael Keaton in that horrific makeup while you drink it. Or maybe you like that look, and if so, carry on.) The ingredients in this juice include one large beet, about 4 carrots, about a handful of spinach (as you can tell, I have not created exact quantities and/or measurements for each ingredient) one large green apple, one large Navel Orange, one lemon and the optional half cup of strawberries or raspberries. Then, when all of those ingredients are juiced, I pour about one pint, or sixteen ounces, of coconut water through the machine. The cool thing is, not only does this add tasty coconut water to your juice, it also adds more high-blood-pressure-fighting potassium to the drink AND cleans any excess juice left inside the machine from the other fruits and vegies.

I just consumed about sixteen ounces of this drink about one hour ago. I took my blood pressure about ten minutes ago and it was 110/77. I have been drinking this juice almost daily for about two months now. For more information about foods that fight high blood pressure, including beets, check this out.

Because I have chosen the primary vocation of Web Developer in which I could be sitting up to several hours at a time, I also plan to purchase a desk riser so I can stand while doing much of my work. The health benefits of standing rather than sitting at work have been well-documented.

So there you have it. Just a simple suggestion for those who suffer from high blood or maybe those who just want to try a healthy and delicious drink.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have the sudden urge to go watch Beetlejuice but only because I had a childhood crush on Winona Ryder. She was delightfully, “strange and unusual…”

beetjuice

 

 

 

Working on Personal Portfolio

I have spent the last week creating a rather simple, yet hopefully effective, personal portfolio for my Web Media Development. I graduated from Cascadia College this June with a degree in Web Applications Programming Technology and am very eager to start working on projects. These can be anything from writing short stories to programming an MVC site in Visual Studio. I absolutely love the world wide web and hope to contribute interesting things to this vast and expansive network very soon. In the meantime, check out my website http://www.briankiddmedia.com for a few examples of my past work as a journalist, web programmer and musician. Oh, and as you can tell by my last sentence, I do not believe in the Oxford Comma, no siree.

Cheers!

Brian Kidd