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Don't forget to take care of you during holidays

Deerfield-Windsor senior Yash Jani, who plans to become a medical doctor, reminds us to eat healthy and maintain our wellness regimen during the holidays.

ALBANY — Following are health/wellness facts from various reputed databases to keep in mind during the busy holiday season, when many of us forget to eat well and lose sight of our overall health plan:

Healthy Eating

♦ Tea can lower one’s risks of heart attack, certain cancers, type 2 Diabetes and Parkinson’s disease;

♦ An apple a day does indeed keep the doctor away. Apples can actually reduce levels of bad cholesterol to keep the heart healthy;

♦ The amino acids found in eggs can help improve your reflexes and fast-twitch muscles;

♦ A banana has nearly 30% of your ideal intake of vitamin B6, which helps the brain produce serotonin, a mood stabilizer;

♦ Although it only requires a few minutes to fully eat a meal, it takes your body hours to completely digest the food;

♦ Vitamin D is just as important as calcium in determining bone health, and most people do not get enough of it;

♦ Almonds, avocados and arugula (the three A’s) can boost your sex drive and improve fertility.

Need for Activity Facts

♦ If you are physically tired, the best thing to do is actually exercise, as it will give you more energy than sitting. Studies have found that when blood and oxygen flow through the body, more energy is produced, improving your mood. The increase in endorphin levels can contribute to a feeling of well-being;

♦ Children nowadays spend more than seven and a half hours in front of a screen daily;

♦ Only one in three children is physically active every day;

♦ Less than 5% of adults participate in the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receives the recommended amount of physical activity each week;

♦ Only 35-44% of adults 75 years or older are physically active, and 28-34% of adults ages 65-74 are physically active;

♦ There are five main components of fitness: the body’s ability to use oxygen, muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and body composition;

♦ Our sweat is composed mostly of water – about 99 percent. How much we sweat is unique to each individual; factors like gender and/or age can contribute to a person sweating more or less.

Health Facts

♦ Recent reports project that by around 2030, half of all adults (115 million adults) in the United States will be obese;

♦ The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are staggering. In 2008 dollars, these costs totaled about $147 billion;

Women below the age of 50 need twice the amount of iron per day as men of the same age.

Miscellaneous Facts

♦ Not only is smoking bad for you, it affects others, too. Passive or second-hand smoking means other people are put at risk by your habit;

♦ Smoking causes premature aging;

♦ U.S. adults consume an average of 3,400 mg/day (of sodium), well above the current federal guideline of less than 2,300 mg daily;

♦ Compared with metro areas, non-metro areas have a higher age-adjusted death rate and a greater percentage of potentially excess deaths from the five leading causes of death;

♦ The newest and most expensive drugs on the market may not be the best or the safest.

Dougherty County package alcohol sales can begin in January

ALBANY – Dougherty County Commission put voters’ will into policy on Monday, approving ordinances allowing Sunday package sales of alcohol and setting an earlier time to begin serving mixed drinks on Sunday.

Beginning in January, Sunday sales of beer, wine and distilled spirits will be legal in stores in unincorporated Dougherty County.

The city of Albany does not allow package sales on Sunday.

A vote on Sunday sales at package stores outside the Albany city limits passed on Nov. 5 with 60% of the vote, 7,449-4,883. Voters who live outside Albany approved moving up the start time for selling alcoholic beverages at restaurants from noon to 11 a.m.

County commissioners voted unanimously Monday to approve both measures.

In other business, commissioners:

♦ Approved two improvements at Radium Springs: Entrance columns at the former golf course at a cost of $23,360 and repairs at Spring Run bridge in the amount of $38,000;

♦ Renewed alcoholic beverage licenses for businesses in unincorporated Dougherty County;

♦ Approved a resolution in support of locally established building design standards for residential dwellings;

♦ Made appointments to various boards and authorities that represent the county;

♦ Declared a wrecked 2019 Ford Escape from the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office as surplus and authorized sale of the vehicle.

Dougherty Commission supports downtown Albany master plan study

ALBANY – Dougherty County commissioners agreed on Monday to provide half of the funding for a downtown master plan, but they expect to be involved in the process of drafting the document.

The agreement to provide up to $37,500 is dependent on the city of Albany successfully winning a grant in a competitive process through the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Some commissioners expressed irritation at having insufficient time to study the issue, which was presented Monday with an application deadline of Friday.

“I haven’t had time to do my homework,” Commissioner Anthony Jones said. “If the citizens of District 6 ask me what you talked about today, I won’t know what I’m talking about. We (should) partner at the beginning, not at the 11th hour.”

Lequrica Gaskins, Albany’s downtown manager, told the group that the city only recently found out about the program, referring to the Renaissance Strategic Visioning and Planning Process.

If Albany wins the grant, it would cover a comprehensive plan for downtown, for which the commission has expressed interest, Gaskins said. The entire cost for the city and county together would be $50,000 to $75,000, depending on the scope of work requested, or $25,000 to $37,500 each.

“It’s an opportunity to do everything you’re saying —streetscape plans, development plans, at a very reduced cost,” Gaskins said, noting that a private company would charge several thousand dollars for the same work.

Commissioner Russell Gray, who was the lone vote against accepting the proposal, said that there have been a number of studies and plans drawn for downtown over a period of years and that none of them has been implemented.

“There are probably $5 million worth of binders sitting on shelves right now,” he said during an interview following the meeting.

“Principle, too many unknowns, and even if we ask for assurances to ensure we’d have representation and we’d be included in the process doesn’t mean we’re involved in the back end, the implementation,” Gray said of his reasoning for his opposition.

Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas agreed there have been a number of seemingly failed efforts.

“There have been a bunch of consultants come in and say we’re going to have a Top golf facility, get people excited (about) things that never were going to happen,” he said.

Ultimately, commissioners decided the plan was worth the cost and assurance that the county staff and elected officials would be involved in the process.

“(That) is not a lot of investment for a seat at the table,” Commissioner Gloria Gaines said.

Rules for living life in the slow lane

Editor’s Note: First in a series of articles.

I am not a hunter. It’s not that I disapprove; it’s just that shooting guns and killing animals is not my thing. I have, however, seen lions in Africa kill an antelope. It is a different experience in person than it is on television. It is more visceral, more intense, and it helped me realize that it is perfectly natural for one animal to die in order to feed another.

I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida where my Dad “hunted and killed” mullet with his cast net in order to feed his family because we were poor. In a rural economy, hunting is a way of life. That’s why, after retiring from a 40-year career working with animals in zoos, I felt comfortable accepting a part-time job driving a mule wagon at a local quail hunting lodge.

During the hunting season, I spend my workdays managing a couple of mules that are the size of draft horses and handling a small English cocker spaniel that serves as a retriever. Most afternoons I sit with my feet propped up on the wagon, my hands firmly on the reins, and a dog standing in my lap waiting for her handler to call her name. I have watched vultures floating in a cloudless sky, felt the breeze as it rustles the pine trees before me, and listened for the call of bobwhite quail in the sea of broomsedge.

It is a job that affords me plenty of time to think. My attention is usually directed toward the job at hand — the mules, the horses, the dogs, and the hunters — and occasionally my thoughts are drawn to the conversations behind me on the wagon. But there are the long periods of quiet that remind me of the quote often attributed to Winnie the Pooh author, A. A. Milne: “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.”

Our operation takes pride in offering an experience that harkens to a bygone era. Instead of jeeps, we use horses and mule-drawn wagons. A typical hunting party consists of four guests, two on horseback and two on the wagon behind me, with a guide and his assistant leading the hunt. Six or eight English pointers are kenneled in the back of the wagon until it is time for them to find the birds.

It is a leisurely experience with a morning hunt, a couple of hours for lunch, followed by another hunt in the afternoon. We ride until the dogs point a covey, we stop to shoot birds when they are flushed, and once the birds are found and picked up, we ride off in search of the next covey. The guests hunt in pairs, usually alternating between the two on horseback, shooting together, and then the two people on my wagon shooting.

As a wagon driver, I find myself in close contact with our guests, and I meet some interesting folks. They are mostly business people hosting their friends, relatives, and clients — often working important deals in an intimate, relaxed setting. Some drive in from nearby cities in the Southeast, and some fly from far away — many on their private jets. Conversations on my wagon often include comments on our Southern hospitality, and I have lost count of the number of times I have heard a guest exclaim, “My gosh, this place is beautiful!” This is often followed by a description of comparable experiences hunting grouse in Scotland, waterfowl in Spain, and doves in Argentina. These folks can afford to be anywhere in the world, and one of their favorite spots is a place of world-class beauty at a quail hunting lodge in south Georgia.

My experience on the mule wagon has given me time to sits and thinks about such things as how the dog handler controls the pointers with a whistle and a “whoa,” why the retriever races out to find a quail with such enthusiasm, and what — if anything — the mules are thinking about as they stand immobile, awaiting my command to “giddy-up.”

It has also given me time to examine my own life and how I might incorporate some of the lessons learned from my hours on the wagon. I have written the most salient points — points that I boiled down to five bits of advice. I believe they might be worth exploring in some detail.

The pace of our hunt is what many people would call painfully slow. It is dictated by the speed of a couple of mules pulling a wagon. Before the turn of the 20th century, that pace — the speed that a grown person can walk — was the normal pace of everyday life. I enjoy the break from my supersonic, microwave, digital world while a pair of mules pulls me along the backroads of life. My job forces me to slow down and smell the manure. It is good for my soul and something too few people are able to appreciate.

As a wagon driver, when I am not wrestling a pair of obstinate mules, I spend most of my time watching the dogs — the pointers that race around looking for birds and the retriever that sits on my lap when she is not retrieving. Their joy for life and their ability to live in the moment is infectious and provides a lesson for humans. Perhaps we should spend less time worrying about the past and fearing the future. Somehow, we need to figure out how to just live in the present or, put another way, to seize the day.

My third observation is a lesson in how we should treat other people. I was raised in the South, where children are taught that when they say “yes” or “no” to a grown up, it had better be followed by “sir” or “ma’am.” It is so ingrained that I still find myself saying it to strangers to this day. When I pass someone on the street or meet someone in an elevator, I nod and say hello, whether I know the person or not. Anything else would be, well, just rude. So it is not such a stretch for those of us who work at the hunting lodge to treat our guests with respect. The world, I believe, would be a better place if we would show kindness to the people around us.

When my wife and I visited Africa in the 1980s, we were struck — and a little unnerved — by the isolation. When we were on safari, we were truly disconnected from the world. Today, there are few places left on the planet that are not connected to the rest of the world, whether through cellphones, Wi-Fi, or the Internet. When our friends recently traveled to Africa, they shared their experiences through social media — live from the Serengeti. I’m not sure I consider that progress. So while we are learning how to better focus on other people, we also need to learn how to put down our mobile devices and disconnect from our fast-paced, digital world on occasion.

The final observation is one that unfolds before me every day. It is the quiet thrill of sitting on my wagon and allowing the sights, smells and sounds of the Georgia woods to wash over me. Sometimes I wonder if we have lost the ability to appreciate nature for what it is.

So, there they are; five rules for living life in the slow lane. It sounds simple. Just slow down, unplug and enjoy the day. But how do we do that in a world that has such a tight hold on us? In my book, “The View from a Wagon,” I look at each of these areas in a little more detail.