Maintaining a healthy weight in our culture is becoming more difficult. Just look at the people around you. Most of us are overweight. As the epidemic of obesity continues to grow, we seem to be less concerned. We seem to be more concerned about the consequences of fat shaming and not on the fact that life expectancy in some segments of the population is declining. Obesity is primarily a disease of excess compounded by a lack of insight.
If we want to change the trajectory of this epidemic, we need first to acknowledge that there is a problem. As I have gained several kilograms over the last few months, I’ve had to confront the trip wires in my life. It seems to me that we all need to honestly evaluate the obstacles preventing us from maintaining a healthy weight.
Let’s challenge our obstacles and surrender to the facts. 1. I’m making poor food choices 2. The people around me are allowing me or encouraging me to eat poorly 3. I don’t recognize appropriate portion size 4. I eat too much and too often 5. I buy too much food 6. I move too little 7. Everything I believe about exercise is wrong 8. Dessert is food 9 Calories matter.
My simple advice, which I should take myself. Stop listening to the people in your life who overeat and are always complaining about their weight. Stop eating out. Eat whole foods. Eat a plant first diet. Remove the highly processed carbohydrates. Eat less often. Count your calories. Sleep better. Stop worrying about what you will look like after you have lost the weight.
Dads, be an example to your family. Be disciplined and eat better.
I can still remember my first time cooking a full meal. It was summer-time and we wanted soup. Soup was what we had for dinner every Friday. For months I had observed. It was mine time to repeat what I had observed. I followed the recipe as I had seen. I made what I thought was great soup. We enjoyed to the last drop. Since then I have enjoyed cooking. I enjoy cooking and would love my girls to have the same joy from cooking. Cooking is an excellent way of learning science and may help us eat better. By better I mean great tasting food with lower caloric density.
Making breakfast for my girls this morning was a wonderful expression of my love for them and my indirect way of passing unto them great eating habits. I suggest we all cook more. We all should eat more home cooking. Eat more home cooking for better health and family unity. I made what the girls requested, one fried egg with two strips of Turkey Bacon and blueberries. What is on your breakfast menu this morning?
I could feel the heat of the morning sun sneaking through the crack in the heavy curtains keeping my room dark and cool. As I tried to hide from the heat the cacophony of bird chirps irritated my ears. I was usually an early riser but I had a little too much fun before going to bed. I dragged myself out of bed and pulled the curtains open and my eyes were assaulted by the brightness of the early morning sun. Ben was still asleep, neither the light nor the audio assault of the many birds stirred him. I could not sleep anymore. It was time to start my day. There was only one problem. My head was paying the price for the excessive of the night before. It came on slowly but I was definitely nauseous and the room was spinning faster and faster the longer I stood. My stomach felt like it was lodged in the back of my throat. My salivary glands oozed increasing quantities of fluid. I had not felt this poorly in many years.
I slowly backed up and rolled back into bed. I closed my eyes tightly, but there was no relief. Suddenly my stomach blew up like a tense balloon followed closely by the release of its contents up my esophagus and through my oropharynx and out my mouth onto the floor. The taste was not as bad as I thought it would have been. The back of my throat relived the bitter taste of the IPA I had had too much of the night before followed by the saltiness of the fries. I was happy not to locate the taste of the fish, it was not that good. It was a very fast review of my last meal followed by another quick reminder. After the third time I had had enough reminders. The bed had collected the last two explosions and the smell had gone from beer to unbearable.
The room was spinning and the light of the sunrise was burning my cornea. I closed my eyes tightly and remained still. I was not rewarded. The room continued to spin and the volcanic activity in my stomach continued. I lost count of the explosions, but the worsening taste did not escape me. I was certain that my stomach was empty but the expulsions continued. It seemed as if my duodenum was collapsing under the force of the attempts to pull the fluids from my small intestine. Closing my eyes did not stop my world from spiraling down the drain. Ben did not move a muscle. I felt as if I were dying a long slow death. I was too weak to get up and was now laying in foul-smelling cold vomit. All I could remember was my grandma, Mama, quoting the bible “Wine is a mocker, he so deceived is a fool”.
Next time, I will not deceived.
The encouragement to take a daily multivitamin continues to be strong. However, the accumulation of data suggests strongly that daily supplementation is not necessary. The reasons for fortification of specific foods with specific nutrients starting in the early twentieth century was deliberate and with good reason. The indications for Folic acid, VItamin D, Iron and Iodine were clear and scientifically proven interventions using prevention as treatment for neural tube defects, Ricketts, iron deficiency and goiter. For these diseases the scientific connection was clear and proven. Forward to today and vitamin and micronutrient fortification is touted as a panacea and treatment for all that ails. The evidence for the addition of most supplements is weak at best. Frankly, it is without merit and almost totally baseless.
The extrapolation that since we need small quantities larger quantities will be better is short-sighted and potentially dangerous. The evidence does not support that view. The industrial production and addition of vitamins to every conceivable food item is primarily a marketing tool. It is a waste of money for consumers. If we look at nature we can see a better paradigm to extrapolate from. The concentration of vitamins and micronutrients are small and very large quantities of whole foods would need to be consumed to approach the quantities in many of the marketed items. If there is not a proven deficiency there is no need to add to our foods. The proven need is for small quantities that is more than adequately supplied by a balanced diet. The evidence for benefit beyond that is none existent.
Although, the evidence for potential harm is small we must ask the question. Will super sizing the quantities we ingest be harmful in the long run? Like with the craze for copious quantities of bottled water we have been marketed a hook and we have bitten and are drowning in a sea of misrepresentation. Improve your diet. Make fruits and vegetables the base of all meals and stop wasting your money on bottles of urine coloring.
The epidemic of morbid obesity engulfing the world is a testament to mankind’s greed and lack of insight. We continue to devour the planets resources without any close examination of the consequences. Some are so greedy that we think we should have a right to plunder without regard for the other creatures that share the planet with us. This gross lack of understanding of the ecosystem that we are apart is expressed as our expanding waist lines.
As we continue to grow later in number and individual size we complain about over crowding and stress. We complain about obesity associated diseases but still have giant food parties at work and home. We want what we want and will not change. This lack of insight to connect our greed with our continuing illness is continuing to kill us. We continue to teach our kids to eat empty calories and expect that they will grow into healthy adults. This gross lack of insight is a reflection of a society devoid of competent leaders.
The good news is that the upcoming generation will in fact have better insight because of the wasteland of a planet that our generation will leave them. I see the seeds already. They will not be burdened with the excess earns that leads to purchasing for purchasing sake. They will make better use of their resources and in doing so will rescue our sick planet from the brink of our self-imposed destruction.
I hope to live long enough to see concrete evidence, but I have seem enough to be hopeful.
One day the greedy self-centered industries that feed the obesity beast will be found out and regulated into oblivion. That day cannot come soon enough, but I will be patient because the patient shall inherit the earth.
Our lives are short and then we die. How are you going to make the best of your experience? Are you going to be conservative and play it safe?
We often worry more about others and are less concerned about how we are using our limited time. Ignore them, because in the long arc of time they do not matter. I say wake up and dream. Dream of your adventures, but make sure you wake up and experience them. Do it now because only you will live the regret. Do it now because there is no better time. Do it now because we hold the keys to our happiness.
Take hold, escape and live it.
Because life is what happens when we are making plans, plan less. Life is in the moment. Make your list and check it off, because time will not wait for you. We have come too far to give up now. We have survived for a reason. We have survived so we can enjoy. We are here because evolution has chosen us. She is a strict master and only those who take hold and grow will succeed.
We have gotten lucky, we have come too far to give up.
We need to raise the bar. We need to go out and take our rightful place. Do not get pushed, go do the pushing. Brush off the dust. Go dancing in the rain because you are a champion and the world is your play ground. We are like butterflies. We have survived a long birth, it is time to explore. The world will hear us. The world will respect us. The world does not matter. It is our world. Hold on, but not too tightly. Enjoy it, do not stifle it. Take hold and make it count. Be a little breathless, but mostly keep your smile on and remember that it is your world.
Having children has changed my life for the better. Having girls has allowed me to see the world through changed eyes. I often do not like what I see, but there is always hope. I am hopeful because I can see strength in my princesses and I can see the world evolving. The change is not as fast as I would like, but change is happening. My princesses have been born into a world where they have access to opportunity and much improved safety. As women of African heritage they have unique challenges and strengths, but mostly they are from a long line imbued with confidence and self-sufficiency.
I continue to be sure of their success because they have great role models. My instinct is to protect them from all that is bad in the world by building a wall around them. My struggle now is to determine the height of that wall. I want them to grow by learning from my successes and failures, but understand they will learn best from their own experiences. All parents have that nervousness, but for a father of a women of African heritage the world is a little different.
My princesses are still innocent to the crazy world and I will protect them from it for as long as possible. They are three and five years-old and their life is changing fast. My five year-old is ready. She is the love of my life and I worry, and I am excited for her. I am ready for her to discover more of what the world as to offer. The world has already expressed their low expectations of her, but like her ancestors before she will perform above and beyond because her corner expects her to be the best. High expectations lead to commensurate performances. I will continue to protect and love her, and be her shield and sword. I am a parent, I am her father and her friend for life. I will always expect more.
I am not big on holiday celebrations. Most holidays have degenerated into a shopping experience. However, like many others I have a special place in my heart for mother’s day. This year more than others I feel the pull of the celebrations. Being a mother is a tough job and the challenges are many. After 9 months physically attach to another human I am not sure how one can ever let go. The challenge of letting go is a skill that nature has had many opportunities to refine. I am glad that the tires that bind are stretched not broken.
I am very thankful for all the mothers in my life. All the mothers that took me in and made me the person I am. Looking back over my very short life I realize that the mother that carried me for 9 months was just the principal of a my “moms” committee. I had an exceptional committee and will continue to shout their praise from the mountain top.
Mothers are special people. Mothers are special woman. Mothers are those special woman who have and continue to lookout for your best interest in spite of yourself. They are the women in your life that have kept you going. They have kept you on the difficult path because they know that the fire of life creates strength for the ages. Mothers do not see genetics, they give love because we deserve it.
Mother’s day is an anti-climax. It is a let down. It is not sufficient to celebrate the depth of love I have for my mothers. In spite of the inadequacy of the day, I want to express a sentiment not said often enough. Mother I love you. Mother I love you because you have been and continue to be my safe resting place. Thanks for the love and the pain. Thanks for the joy and let down. Thanks for the commitment to a better me. Thanks, because you have been my champion and I will continue to be yours.
It was a long arduous climb but I had gotten to the peak. The view of the valley was breathtaking. As I looked around the beauty of the valley below stood in sharp contrast to the plainness of the mountain top. The wide open expanse of green was awe-inspiring. The many hues of the expansive forest reminded me of why I loved the hike. This was a very special day. It was the challenge of my life and I had gotten to the top by mastering my fear of failure and confronted the ultimate question. Was the effort worth it? Feeling the warming of the sun and the cool air placed my challenge into perspective. The risk of my climb would have been in not taking the challenge. I am glad to had taken the climb.
We all have a challenge, will you embrace it? Will you be able to look down the valley of your life and see the beauty of the experience? Will attaining the peak be your prize or will the journey be the ultimate gift to yourself? I want the journey to be the prize. The risk of life is in not living. How we live is in our hands.
The ultimate question is, will your valley be lush and colorful or barren and gray? I want my life to be about the memories created, not the things left behind. I want to turn the tables and do the unexpected. I want always to be hungry for the next challenge. I want to be willing to take the risks since the reward is in the experience and not the contemplation. Once we get to the peak there is no next time. There is only today and yesterday. Live, for the risk in life is not taking the risks as they come.
As a consumer and provider of health care services I am not impressed with the level of service I see. I am disturbed by the lack of empathy and the poor efficiency of the system. Providing health care services can be a very stressful occupation, but if we have chosen to be participants we should put our best face forward everyday. The empathy and sympathy we show are major components in conjunction with efficiency and competence in providing the care that is required and that our patients deserve.
The system as currently constituted allows for wide variance in the quality of the service that is delivered. This is a problem that is often overlooked and under appreciated. We get distracted by the politics of our work environment and neglect to critically assess our function in it. I see providing great care as delivering the correct service in a timely manner. I do not consider giving the patient options as a service to them. Patients want us to tell them what the best choice is and why it is so.
Very few patients are equipped with the knowledge to make great choices. We need to refocus our discussion to providing the evidence that support our recommendations. We need to provide our patients with the option that the best evidence supports. When there is no known best option then we need to use our medical judgment and provide clear direction.
Discussing the best option is great, but only makes a difference if that service can be provided in a timely efficient manner. As a service providers I have the impression that many of us are not as concerned about the efficiency of the service provision. This lack of attention to the details of delivery is poor form on our part. We may think that providing the correct service is the important factor and we would be correct. However, providing the correct service is only as good as how timely that service is provided. We need to deliver quality service with empathy and efficiency.
The current system we have will never be able to provide this type of service delivery as long as providers are not engaged fully. We complain about the rules and regulations that hinder us, but they are not the problem. The problem is us. Instead of saying how can I get my job done, we have defaulted to how am I going to make them see that this rule is bad for patient care. This attitude is detrimental to patient outcomes.
I do not have hope for any improvement in the system. The irony is that the more we protest and passive aggressively resist the more change we induce. Providers are so lost in the echo chamber of passive resistance that we cannot see the good or the bad in the current system. We have given over control to the money changers while we are fighting for the crumbs. We are distracted from the essentials of our service. Let us be reminded that we will be patients too.