Neal Caine – Health And Wellness Online

Welcome to the new site – Freya and I have recently changed our plans, as you may have noticed!

Previously we were planning to set up a business selling mobile phones, but illness took over and put pay to that idea. Instead, we’re now going to focus on health, as it’s something that’s become very precious to me after a troublesome year.

We look forward to bringing you regular updates on my road to recovery, and both Freya and I are very grateful for your patience in our return.

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Music For The Soul: Saxophone Or Blues Guitar

There are so many different types of music that can be adapted to the guitar or saxophone – it’s hard to decide what type of music you most enjoy playing!

First of all, there is rock music. You might enjoy rock music because it is loud and powerful, and because you might admire those rock musicians that you see up on stage or on MTV.

There are also other different types of guitar music as well, although these are less well known than rock music. For example, there is classical guitar music. There is also folk guitar music.

These two types of music are most often played on the acoustic guitar and most beginning guitarists starry out learning either classical or folk guitar music. However, we are forgetting one of the most important types of guitar music – why not learn blues guitar? It lends itself so well to the sax as well it’s a great place to focus on.

The blues is such an important genre of music, and if you learn blues guitar or saxophone then you will be joining some of the great blues players of all time.

Let’s take a look at blues and the instruments, the history and why the guitar is best suited for blues music. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be inspired to learn blues guitar yourself!

A History Of Playing Blues Music

Many people who learn blues guitar go on to become famous musicians relative to popular music genres. But let’s go back to the beginning, what is the history of the blues guitar?

The traditional European Latin guitar and the Far East/Middle East/African Banjo evolved to become a guitar suited to blues music. The resonator is one popular type of acoustic blues guitar that was appreciated for its loudness.

Before the days of an electric guitar and an amplifier, musicians, including blues musicians, craved a loud guitar so that when they learn blues guitar their music could be heard. Blues musicians who learn blues guitar used the resonator for its loud sound.

Why Is The Guitar Well Suited For Blues Music?

Although you don’t need an instrument to make blues music, musicians who learn blues guitar know that the guitar is one of the best instruments out there for blues music.

It is easy to play and has a four octave range. It also has a versatile tone and is cheap, as well as easy to transport. Most famous blues players have been guitar players who learn blues guitar.

If you learn blues guitar, you will be on your way to an exciting career (or perhaps hobby) in blues music.

The Saxophone Needs More Care Than A Guitar

While the saxophone is a really expressive instrument that you can make your own, guitars are a lot easier to maintain. Saxophones need to be cleaned regularly, whereas with guitars it’s far less important.

If you can commit to caring for your sax regularly, you can make a name for yourself much more easily as so many people are joining the crowded world of guitarists.

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Buying A Salad Spinner: My Review

Since we last spoke, my health has improved dramatically. I’m still struggling a little with certain activities, but am now resigned to the fact that’s just the way life’s going to be. It’s mainly heavy lifting and heavy exercise I have to steer clear of now, but compared to where I was in late 2014 and throughout 2015, I’ll take that every time!

In fact, I’m healthier all round. While most of my improvement is down to the wonderful professionals I’ve had access to via the incredible NHS, I’ve also made a lot of lifestyle changes too.

For example, I’m doing a lot more gentle exercise and whereas I used to avoid walking when I could take the car, these days it’s the other way around. It’s amazing how I now prefer the option I used to despise – probably because I’m now feeling so much better. The much touted daily 10,000 step target is now something I like to be a bare minimum rather than something that used to be somewhat of long term goal.

What started as a tough baptism into exercise at the gym, and later on the cross trainer, I’m now converted to the importance of a bit of effort each day to stay in better condition.

More importantly, I believe, is my diet changes. No longer am I a frequent visitor to the golden arches, and contrary to my years of joking, they appear to be surviving just fine without my custom. I’m not saying I never succumb to a Big Mac or the temptation of a McMilkshake, it’s just a lot less common these days.

The key to improving my diet has been avoiding the temptation to change everything. I’m still enjoying most of my favourite foods as part of my main meal of the day in the evening. What’s changed is breakfast and lunchtime. I used to regularly enjoy a fry up first thing and pull into the nearest fast food drive-through to pick up lunch.

I’m now a big porridge fan – not something I thought I’d ever say, let alone admit to! It’s surprising how a small bowl of oats keeps me on task so much better than my old habits used to.

Lunchtime is now most likely to be soup at weekends, and salad on weekdays. It’s really quick to prepare before work Monday to Friday too, thanks to my recent discovery of salad spinners. It’s not something I knew existed before, but they’re great for preparing the lettuce leaves quickly. If you’re not familiar with them here’s a website that teaches you everything you need to know and is where I found out about them.

My former frequent lunch is no longer a burger, but a salad instead.

The fact that they dry the salad so well means that you’re not going to end up with a soggy mess for lunch, which would likely have driven me (literally) back to the drive through lane at my nearest McD’s.

As you can see, the change of breakfast and lunch was nothing more than a change of behaviour. I can’t say I really even used to enjoy the heavy fuel I used to throw down my neck. It was just a habit I got into and finally climbed out from.

We hear it time and time again on TV. It doesn’t matter whether it’s people with weight related medical conditions or just those looking to lose a few pounds to feel better about themselves. There are countless adverts on TV for the latest diet or fad, but the simple fact of the matter is it comes down to how active we are and the number of calories we eat. Simply balancing the two means we can maintain a healthy weight – there’s no real magic or secret to it. Yes, there may be other factors at play, but these are the biggest and most important. Get them right, and you’ll be in good shape, in both senses of the phrase.

The fact that I’ve finally seen the blindingly obvious has got me back to my old self, and I’m able to live a generally normal life again. In fact, I’m probably feeling better than I have done for decades, it’s just that I’d not realised how bad things had got until my body told me in no uncertain terms!

I can’t say I’ll never sit in front of the TV all day again, or never binge on junk food, but I’m sure it will be the exception rather than the rule.

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Learning To Work With Power Tools Again

Once again, we’ve managed to leave it far too long between updates on the website, since we talked about my accident which only rectified itself towards the tail end of last year thanks to a back specialist from America who is working with the National Health Service that a friend of mine had been treated by.

Finally I’ve overcome that stressful year (or eighteen months really if you include the full rehabilitation period), and have been getting a little more active again, particularly with fitting out the new shop. I never thought I’d be lifting and carrying out manual work again, and incredibly the sort of do it yourself work I used to avoid at all costs now has a novelty value that’s not yet wearing off simply because I’m getting a second lease of life and able to do it again.

Admittedly, I’m not able to work with huge materials and bulky tools, but a small miter saw and lengths of timber isn’t too much of a problem. Of course, Freya is still keeping a very close eye on me, as she’s not too keen on providing a taxi service to and from the hospital again any time soon, not to mention having a totally useless husband that can’t get around the house quickly, let alone help with the family business!

It’s actually been fairly therapeutic to be able to create my own fittings, and I’m actually quite proud of the results. Unlike my former self, I’ve been quite good at reading power tool instruction books from cover to cover, so for example, I now know all about what bevels are for in those miter saws, thanks to the guide that was included with my Makita LS1040. I’m not claiming to be any kind of whizz tradesman, but even Freya seemed to be pleasantly surprised that the resulting shelving and counters looked like they’d got quite a professional finish.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about those bevels (and don’t have an instruction book for a Makita LS1040 to hand!), here’s a great video covering that exact topic:

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Tips and Suggestions For Beating Chronic Stress

Anyone who is dealing with chronic stress is aware that it’s no small matter to learn how to manage it. You have to understand what’s causing the stress and then find a way to handle it. One problem is that you probably have a certain resistance against letting go of your stress.

You need a certain amount of will power to make positive changes and not fall back into what’s become normal for you. It’s also very commonly confused with symptoms related to spinal injuries, as they manifest themselves in things like headaches, or to put it another way, are easily confused with stress. Of course, you can’t treat a spinal problem in the same way, so its a good idea to consult with a back specialist such as a chiropractic expert.

The very term ‘chronic stress’ gives you a clue about hard it can be to manage. This type of stress isn’t just tied to one event or person, but is often present in every area of your life. Even though it’s a stubborn problem, you have to believe that it can be overcome. It’s critical to have a positive frame of mind and also to change your behaviour when necessary. The right kinds of action will decrease how stress affects both your mind and your body. Stress is also related to your thoughts, and if you can change your thinking about something you can make it less bothersome to you. Many people have learned how to accomplish these things, and you can as well. When it comes to chronic stress, we want to make ourselves feel better whenever we feel bad. Finding a way to do this does not always lead to a healthy choice. Coming to terms with negative and possibly destructive habits can be very challenging. In fact, you can cause your mind and body to experience more stress when you try to abandon bad habits. So this is a personal call you have to make, and it comes down to making choices and decisions. The negative habits will go away much faster if you replace them with positive ones that you will even like better. Drink less and then get busy doing something positive, and that is how you can slowly replace the bad with the good.

Although we do form both good and bad habits, it is the unhealthy habits that catch us by surprise, forming without us even noticing. People sometimes develop unhealthy habits like eating junk food while watching TV. It could happen for five or ten years before they notice how bad things have become. That’s when you need to choose what you want to do or what is best for you. Your goal should be to make a positive change, one that is much more active than sitting in front of the television eating your favourite sweets. You don’t have to be an exercise junkie either. You can choose to do something like expand your mind by reading books, or taking a class or two. More than likely, managing chronic stress will not be easy because it is multifaceted, which will force you to do many different things to get out of this emotional and mental rut.

Learning how to manage chronic stress in an effective way takes real effort and commitment. The goal is to find something that you really like to do, and activity that takes your mind off of your daily stress. If you are able to choose the right activities, you will notice your stress reducing. You will be inspired as you make small successes, which will keep you going in the right direction.

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My Year Of Pain – Look After Your Spine!

Not many people have seen or heard much from me in the last twelve months or so. I took early retirement from the career I loved for so long because things just didn’t feel the same any more. Freya and I had done much soul searching, as neither of us felt ready to retire just yet, but it wasn’t really obvious what either of us really felt we could turn our attention to, let alone agree on!

If you’ve visited the website over the last year or so, you’ll know that we were all set to embark on investing in a Newcastle mobile phone shop, with the primary focus on consumer technology such as mobile phones and sim cards. Sadly, just as we were starting to get everything in line, I was carrying stock from the car into the house and the world literally stopped for me. I’d managed to damage my back, and (long story short) it took a long time to find out why I was in so much pain, and longer still (of course) to find my way to starting a journey to better health.

First and foremost, the NHS were great. My GP referred me straight to a specialist, and even though that took a couple of months to get started, once under way I had all manner of pokes and prods, resulting in massage, manipulation and what felt like everything else under the sun. Over time, it had become increasingly clear that things appeared to be getting worse, not better. I’d been warned that may be the impression initially, but the medical staff were starting to look as concerned as I was after the third or fourth session.

This carried on for a couple of months and it did settle down, but didn’t get anything like back to normal. A friend of mine introduced me to an American doctor who’d been seconded over on an exchange programme, from his normal job as a Fargo chiropractor from North Dakota. It appeared that I wasn’t actually helping myself. I was spending a lot of time horizontal, lying down in bed. Apparently, that can actually compound the problem, and while going to the gym and weight lifting is probably a bad idea with lower back pain, staying gently active can be an important element of recovery. He spent about fifteen minutes looking at things like how I was walking and bending, and a surprisingly short amount of time looking or feeling my back.

Incredibly, the only treatment I’ve needed to really head back to fitness is exercises that I do twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. From what I understand, the change in pain I experienced as I had the previous treatment was probably down to me walking oddly to compensate for the previous pain, and that may well have healed months ago. The real problems have come as a result of my actions since the injury, not from the injury itself! Once I got over that initial phase of special exercises to get moving, I transitioned to a home cross trainer that you can read about here.

I have to say, I’m a little surprised this wasn’t picked up sooner, but as we know, our health system is under immense pressure, so I’m just grateful to be able to get out and about again. It’s amazing how much you realise you take for granted normally when you can’t do it any more, like walking around the supermarket or walking to buy a newspaper in the morning. I’m not fully pain free yet, but very optimistic that the improvement will continue for another month or two and I’ll be back to firing on all cylinders.

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