Author: David Yochim

No Hill For a Climber, Understanding the Pathology Reports

With a cancer diagnosis it often seems as if for every question that gets answered, a half dozen more will pop up. At times, I’m not too sure if my over active and inquisitive mind is a blessing or a curse. By my very nature, I am compelled to fix problems, and to do so, it requires that no stone is ever left unturned. By obtaining answers to my multitude of questions, it helps me in thinking through further questions that must be asked, even if the answers to them are going to be difficult to hear. I am an optimist by nature, but I am also a realist. I would much rather know uncomfortable truths than to be comforted by gentle sugar coated platitudes designed to make me feel better. Sugar coating fixes nothing, ever.

Loraine and I have been caring for her brother Howard for the last year who also has cancer. He has liver cancer that is now at a pretty advanced stage. There is only one treatment protocol even being considered for him now, and it it damn scary to say the least. On top of this, I have a very demanding  trucking along with my continuous toils on my website. I must be careful in not conflating problems that arise with his illness over problems that have arisen with Loraine’s when I am fatigued. So far, this has not been too much of an issue, but I am often mentally and physically exhausted. I do not have a regular sleep pattern because of my job, plus my PTSD has made me a chronic insomniac for several years now. Actually, I have not had good sleep for a few decades now. It is what it is I guess. We are more prepared for personal battles than we sometimes give ourselves credit for.

Pathology Report

Sentinel lymph node, left, biopsy:

    • Metastatic carcinoma involving one of one lymph node.
    • Carcinoma is 4 mm in greatest dimension
    • Extranodal extension is present.

A few lymph nodes were removed from Loraine’s arm pit area on both sides during her bilateral mastectomy. This was done to confirm if the cancer has spread outside of the original tumor. One small breast cancer mass measuring 4 mm was found to exist in one of her left side lymph nodes. While this was not something we wanted to hear, we are thankful no other cancer was found in any of the other lymph nodes. We already knew from the first visit with Dr. Butler that if cancer was found in the lymph nodes, then radiation treatments were definitely going to happen, with a possibility of chemotherapy too. We will know further treatments once we have seen the oncologist and radiologist on the treatment team here soon.

Extranodal extension simply means the cancer has metastasized.

Left breast, mastectomy:

    • Invasive ductal carcinoma and ductal carcinoma in situ, completely excised
    • Lymph-vascular invasion is identified.
    • Fibroadenomas

My younger sister passed away from adenocarcinoma of the cervix, therefore seeing “adenoma” used in any term associated with breast cancer was terrifying to me. Thankfully,  fibroadenoma’s are  noncancerous tumors in the breast, that could still require some form of treatment for some women. These lumps are actually fairly common, yet they should still be taken seriously.

Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), also known as infiltrating ductal carcinoma, is cancer that began growing in a milk duct and has invaded the fibrous or fatty tissue of the breast outside of the duct. IDC is the most common form of breast cancer, representing 80 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the presence of abnormal cells inside a milk duct in the breast. DCIS is considered the earliest form of breast cancer. DCIS is noninvasive, meaning it hasn’t spread out of the milk duct and has a low risk of becoming invasive. DCIS is usually found during a mammogram done as part of breast cancer screening or to investigate a breast lump.

While there is no good cancer, it is a relief to know that what was found in Loraine’s pathology report is that hers is both an early form (DCIS) and the most common (IDC) and treatable forms. Ladies, never ever forget, early detection saves lives. If you find a lump during self examination, get yourself to a doctor and have it evaluated. Your life depends on it.

Axillary contents, dissection:

    • One lymph node negative for malignancy

Right breast, mastectomy:

    • Fibroadenoma, measuring up to 9 mm in greatest dimension.
    • One lymph node negative for malignancy.

The pathology findings was followed by four or five more pages of medical jumbo mumbo that only a doctor can make sense of. Kind of like legal documents where five hundred multi-syllable words are utilized when only 50 common words would suffice. By explaining in common layman’s language to you what the reports mean, it also helps to bring myself to a more clear understanding of what we are facing.

Loraine and I have humongous challenges in the future ahead of us. We know that by the very nature of cancer there will be a mixed bag of good days and bad. With cancer,  you might find humor in topics that others will not know not know how to respond to. We might laugh when others might cringe. We have even cracked jokes about her getting a variety of prosthetic bra sizes to keep people guessing Loraine’s cup size. I have seen the comeback of a fierce fighting spirit in my dear wife that reminds me of why I fell in love with her in the first place. This same ferocity is how she survived the difficult years of my military career. As tough as my assignments might have been, I can still appreciate the hardest job in the armed forces belongs to the spouse of a service member.

This coming Tuesday, the drains should be all removed and Loraine will be able to begin returning to some of her normal activities. Her faith in God above has kept her spirits high, and it has been a chore to keep her from over doing it during the last two weeks of recovery. Nothing will keep my sweet heart down, we will beat this.

Advertisements

No Hill For a Climber, Pathology Findings

First and foremost, I want to thank God for giving Loraine and I the strength to face the uncertainties of life that we are now facing. Our faith will carry us through this journey.

Loraine and I also want to convey our gratitude to Dr. Elizabeth Butler and her entire staff for their compassionate care through this process. Dr. Butler and her nurses are beautiful souls who I firmly believe are in their profession because of a deep love for helping others to live their best lives under the most difficult of circumstances.

We are beyond blessed with our loving daughters and son in laws along with four beautiful granddaughters who have been a constant source of selfless loving support to Loraine and I both. Nothing has been too much to ask of my lovingly devoted girls.

To all family and friends who have called and checked on us each day, we love you dearly.

Pathology Findings

Tuesday morning Loraine and I drove to the Breast Cancer Clinic at Saint Luke’s for a post surgery follow up visit with her surgeon and to learn what was revealed about her breast cancer in the pathology reports. It was an anxious drive where we were both quite nervous about what would be revealed to us, yet relieved that we would now have answers to our many questions. I will say that our thoughts were that even if we were to hear bad news, it would be much more comfortable than the antagonistic not knowing that we had been living under. At least with the pathology reports in, we could begin planning the next steps in this difficult journey.

The week between Loraine’s mastectomy and the first follow up visit have been tough, yet my sweet wife has pulled through like a real trooper. Her spirits have been high as a result of her faith in God above, and her inner fighting spirit has really come to light. She has shown a true display of intestinal fortitude with this breast cancer, and has not let it get her down.

Loraine has experienced her fair share of pain following the mastectomy, but it has not been as bad as we had anticipated it would be.  Dr. Butler informed us that a mastectomy usually involves a lesser degree of pain than a lumpectomy because all or most of the nerves have been removed, therefore there are fewer receptors if any to transmit pain signals to the brain. Instead of pain, one of Loraine’s biggest issues has been adjusting to having four drains with suction bulbs hanging from just under her arm pits. But these should come out next Tuesday since she is healing really well.

Most of Loraine’s bruising has gone away, but some of the skin around the incisions is turning black and leathery. This looks kind of scary, but it is a result of the skin essentially being  a large flap wound. Because there is not a sufficient supply of blood to a few areas, the skin will simply die and slough off over the next week or so. She was given a prescription for Silvadene to stop the growth of any bacteria that may infect the incision.

After a thorough examination, Dr. Butler went over the pathology reports with us. It turns out the cancer was worse than anticipated, it was larger and has spread beyond the tumor. The tumor itself had grown to 3.8 centimeters which is pretty sizable and the cancer had spread beyond the tumor and into one lymph node. The tumor itself is a invasive ductal carcinoma that had metastasized to surrounding breast tissues and a lymph node. This diagnosis now means that radiation treatments are definitely in the works, and chemotherapy is now a possibility too. None of these treatments can begin until she has is fully healed from the mastectomy. We will now soon be meeting with two additional doctors on the treatment team. One physician is an oncologist, the other is a radiologist. We had hoped and prayed that the only course of action would be hormonal therapy, but I guess that was not in God’s plans. But, at least we are no longer bearing the heavy weight of uncertainty. The burden of not knowing is much worse than knowing. Again, at least now we can plan ahead for the future.

On a lighter note, Loraine was given a prescription for prosthetic bras to wear once she is fully healed. We have kind of laughed that she should get a variety of different cup sizes to keep people guessing if she is actually a B or a Double D

God bless each and every one of you who are following Loraine’s breast cancer journey and who keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

With cancer, there are fears and uncertainties which must be overcome. As with the uneasiness that comes from facing down a bully, the same mindset has to be incorporated when staring down cancer. You cannot allow fear to overwhelm your thinking. The lopsided fight is not one of your choosing, but you have to be prepared to throw back hard punches of your own in order  to defeat this cruel disease.

We are a family of fighters. Together, we will triumph!

No Hill For a Climber, Caretaker Thoughts

It was a week ago yesterday my beautiful wife Loraine underwent her double mastectomy. It has been a week of sleepless nights for a number of reasons such as pain, stress and worry. Later today we will be meeting with Dr. Butler to receive the full pathology reports where we will learn the full extent of the cancer, and it will be determined when she can begin undergoing radiation treatments and possibly chemotherapy too. An appointment will also be made with a different oncologist on the Saint Luke’s team who will be putting together the actual treatment plan. My job takes me out on the road tonight, so I will be writing about the pro’s and con’s of available treatment plans later this week.

I am going to give my best attempt to not get too rambling with this article, but I honestly have not slept more than a couple hours at a time ever since Loraine’s diagnosis, so please bear with me if I do take you through an entire forest of my thoughts just to show you a tree.

Family and friend support.

Loraine and I have received a considerable outpouring of love and support from family and friends since her diagnosis and surgery. There have been daily calls to Loraine from many people, others have delivered food to the house after her surgery in order help us from needing to cook. Our wonderful daughter Jennifer, along with our beautiful granddaughters, have come to the house several times now to help with cooking and cleaning. I have had several people reach out to me as well. There have been people I never would have expected that now contact me regular, letting me know they are there if I need someone to talk to. We love each and every one of these thoughtful individuals.

However, the flip side to all of this love and support is the unexpected silence from the phone when it comes to others.  The silence from some can be quite deafening! Loraine and I do both have a good support network, and I understand that people are busy with life and problems of their own.  I am not looking for long drawn out conversations nor sympathy. But know that sometimes a simple heartfelt message can mean the world to one who is suffering.

I damn sure do not want empty words of promises to be there if we ever need help, only to find the one making promises is conveniently too busy when you need it.

Adjusting to wound care.

Even though a mastectomy is a surgical procedure, the aftercare is still wound care. Loraine has two sets of stitches that are both at least nine inches long with two drain tubes emanating from each incision. Monitoring the incisions is a must in order to identify infection or other problems should there be any. And along with this comes keeping the drains emptied and the contents documented on a log provided by the surgeon.

Loraine’s pain level following the mastectomy has been better than I anticipated it would be. Not saying it does not hurt, but I honestly thought it would be much worse for her. One of the biggest issues for her has been adjusting to sleep with the drain tubes with suction bulbs hanging from her sides. One wrong move in your sleep can have your body painfully tugging at the drains. Should you ever experience this, you need to keep your drains secured to where they cannot be pulled as you roll onto your side during sleep.

Caretakers, stick to your normal routines!

As a caretaker of a loved one it is paramount that you still take care of yourself. You cannot help your loved one if you too become sick in the process.

Now is not the time to let healthy nutritional habits become derailed. Stress eating of unhealthy foods might make you feel good in the moment, but they only serve to damage your health in the long run. If you think it is fine to make an exception because you are tired, hungry and stressed, then those exceptions will become the norm. You could easily find yourself sick and morbidly obese. This helps no one, and especially does not help you.

If you have an established exercise regimen, keep it. If you do not, you might consider beginning one, even if it is only walking.  Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management.  Regular exercise will help  shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do.

If you have activities of any type that you normally do, then stick to them as much as humanly possible. It is perfectly fine for you. While it might be selfless to give up all that you enjoy to care for your loved one, it is also selfless to maintain your own life in the process. You have to take a mental break from time to time in order to not burn yourself out. You need the interaction with others, you need to share a good time and laugh with friends.

Stay on top of your medical bills.

I know this is a tough one for those on a tight budget. Hell, the financial burden is a tough one for all. There has been a quarter million dollars billed already with Loraine’s office visits, procedures and surgery. And we are just in the infancy of this battle.

Make payment plans early with your providers that you can live with. It will do no one any good if you are not able to buy groceries or to pay your utility bills if you are only able to pay doctors and hospitals. Doctors and hospitals will work with you, but you have to stick to your agreements too.

If money is extremely tight, then consult with your doctor and hospital about financial assistance that may be available to you. There is a lot of help out there for you, but you have to do the leg work to get it. There are benevolent organizations that donate millions of dollars each and every year to needy people, but you have to reach out for it, they do not seek you out. That would be a monumental task for any organization, you have to have personal initiative and accountability to find help. This is just a simple fact of life.

In caring for your loved one, do not quit loving yourself too.

Your “Diet” Will Always Fail You

New Years Eve has come and passed, as have a good many resolutions to become a new person by losing weight and getting healthier in the new decade. These personal resolutions that were so heartfelt on New Years Eve, will by and large be empty promises by the time the 2020 swim suit season begins appearing in all the department stores. Possibly even quicker…

How do we know with absolute certainty how fast people with good intent jump off the weight loss wagon? We know this through personal experience of having had our own individual weight problems. We know this because of Brenda Sue’s past employment with one of the largest, if not the largest, weight loss companies in America. We know this because we have readers who privately confide these struggles with us through our  web site contact email.

How many of you might have tried a quick weight loss diet plan beginning New Years Day to find that you have already derailed your diet train right off the side of a mountain?

Have you tried a magical 7 day diet plan to only find yourself feeling even more hopeless when it did not work for you as you frivolously believed it would?

Years ago, in the “Old West” days in America, we had unscrupulous men traveling around the country with horse drawn wagons, selling miracle cures at every town where they were still unknown. These “Snake Oil” salesmen would often get run out of town when the local towns people figured out they were crooks cheating them out of their hard earned money. It would be nice to know these types have disappeared in the dustbin of history, but they have not. The “Snake Oil” salesmen are still among us. You can not turn to any type of media, whether television, radio, internet among thousands of other types of media, without seeing the evidence that these crooked bastards are still here. Except now, they have perfected their craft to be even more deceptive in their scandalous ways. There is an old saying that I think also can be applied to people who are desperate to lose weight as well. The saying is “a fool and his money are soon parted”.

There are a great many weight loss plans or schemes floating around, some good and some not so good. It is down right foolish, or naive to believe a good many of them will give you lasting results. Simply put, it is foolhardy if you have a weight issue to believe that you can just go on a diet and hurry through to get it over with in order to return to your old ways. And, this is the main problem with going on a diet instead of adopting the mindset to entirely change your thinking in regards to losing and managing your weight. You have to get “dieting” out of your mind and instead get your mind wrapped around the fact you have to reverse course and adopt an entirely new lifestyle of healthy eating if you want your weight loss to be permanent.

Not all calories are created equal!

At David’s Way to Health and Fitness, we tell people through our numerous articles, and through personal consultation that it is paramount to track their calories consumed each and every day. If you do not track what you consume, it is far too easy to find yourself stuck at a  weight loss plateau, or even gaining weight. You have to keep yourself accountable to yourself. You have to make personal accountability of your nutritional habits a lifestyle if you want to keep your weight off for good. If you find yourself eating only 500 calories per day over what your body requires for maintenance, you will find yourself gaining a pound of fat back each week. You have to be at a caloric deficit in order to lose weight, and then you have to  remain disciplined with your nutrition for the rest of your life. This is true for damn near every one barring there are not any legitimate health issues that will keep you from losing. But, know this, these type of health circumstances are not the norm. It is not likely there is anything wrong with your body that you cannot lose weight for good. You are not a special snowflake where the rules of nutrition do not apply. This is a painful truth for many. It is not your body that will not shed the pounds, rather it is your thinking that keeps you heavy. I tell you this not to be insulting, but to help you. This would not be my 700th article if I intended to be hurtful to anyone.

There are many ways you can track your calories. We provide a calorie and macro-nutrient chart on our website to assist with this, you just have to do a little of your own math. You can read labels, and you can find caloric information on many internet sources. One day, I will incorporate an app that will track all of your calories and macro-nutrients right here on my website.

But, you need to know that simply tracking calories is not enough because not all calories are equal in their benefit to your well being and health. It would be misleading to say that a calorie is a calorie no matter where it came from. For instance, a package of sugar laden Strawberry Poptarts and 8 ounces of skim milk is 483 calories with 90g carbs (76g of simple carbs), 10.2g of fat and only 12.3g of protein. This package of Poptarts has only 2g of fiber and 32g of sugar. There is absolutely no nutritional value to any variety of Poptarts which are so very popular across all of America.

Now, for roughly the same amount of calories you could have 2 boiled eggs, 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 turkey sausage patty, and a cup of skim milk for 466 calories, 41.2g of complex carbs, 18.7g fat, 34.9g protein, 4.2g fiber and only 2g of natural sugar. This breakfast can be made ahead and warmed in a microwave in about the same time it takes to stick your Poptarts into a toaster. This breakfast will provide you with plenty of protein and fats to keep you satiated longer along with complex carbs to fuel your body longer than simple carbs from sugar will. Calories are not equal.

As you can see, some foods bring you benefit while others bring you nothing but immediate satisfaction of hunger or a craving. Some foods give you absolutely zero nutritional benefit, it is only wise to give these up in their entirety as they only serve to pollute your body and contribute to the onset of disease. Wholesome foods bring you vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, along with trace elements that keep your body healthy. These nutritional properties are not found in refined sugar, and not in sufficient quantities in most foods that are heavily laden with sugar.

Food quality directly influences the balance of nutrients verses pollutants that it provides!

Good peanut butter can be a nutritious source of protein, unsaturated fat, phytochemicals, and vitamins. Yet, cheap peanut butter of low quality will only provide you with a lot of refined sugar and harmful transfats. It pays dividends with your health to buy quality foods. The expense of healthy choices will offset the expense you would otherwise incur through costly doctors visits and medications. Being as many ailments are a direct result of dietary habits, most are actually preventable if you eat healthy and exercise some. You do not need to buy only the expensive organic foods, just use common sense when you shop. Read labels and you will find many medium priced options that offer a good compromise between optimal heath benefits and living on a budget.

 

Cleveland Kraut Beet Red Review

If you like sauerkraut, you need to try the products being produced by Cleveland Kraut. Even if you do not normally care for sauerkraut, you still need to give them a try. I have had three of their kraut products and have loved each one so far. These folks truly have a gift of knowing the perfect blend of ingredients where each come through with none over powering another.

Fresh fermented beets and carrots make the Beet Red kraut earthy & tart. Add a beautiful bite to meat dishes, hot dogs, and salads paired with goat cheese. Cleveland Kraut

Ingredients:

Red Cabbage, Beets, Carrots, Kosher Salt

The great irony with my love of this product is I do not normally care for the taste of beets nor that of carrots. Yet, the earthy sweet flavor of these two ingredients come through to compliment the tartness of the kraut. The beets and carrots provide a superb touch of natural sweetness  and crunch. There is a hint of pickled beets that comes through the flavor, yet it is only a hint. The carrots are also not prominent, but you do know they are there. I can think of many foods I could pair Beet Red with, but this morning decided on pan seared, chili lime seasoned salmon with scrambled eggs topped with habanero hot sauce.

Sauerkraut is a low calorie, genuinely healthy food that is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Its probiotics also help your body absorb these nutrients more easily. It is a food that should be added into your diet if you have never tried it.

Health benefits of sauerkraut:

Sauerkraut is a rich source of immune-boosting probiotics and nutrients.

For starters, the bacteria that populate your gut can have a strong influence on your immune system. The probiotics found in sauerkraut help improve the balance of bacteria in your gut, which keeps your gut lining healthy.

A stronger gut lining helps prevent unwanted substances from  “leaking” into your body and causing an immune response.

Maintaining a healthy gut flora also helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and may even boost the production of natural antibodies.

Moreover, regularly consuming probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut may reduce your risk of developing infections such as the common cold and urinary tract infections.

If you do get sick, regularly consuming probiotic-rich foods may help you recover faster and could reduce your chance of needing antibiotics by around 33%.

In addition to being a rich source of probiotics, sauerkraut is also rich in vitamin C and iron, both of which contribute to a healthy immune system.

In particular, upping your vitamin C intake when you have the common cold may help you get rid of symptoms more quickly. (1)

(1) www.healthline.com

High Fat Verses Low to Zero Fat

In the past few decades, there have been many high-profile claims made in academic literature and other media sources that allege the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960’s to downplay the link between sugar and heart disease. With this downplay of sugar being a culprit, the emphasis was instead directed towards the dangers of dietary fat in our diets.

There are some who stick by the veracity of this claim, while there are other well respected sources who have debunked this rumor as a myth that never occurred. Legend has it,  documents unearthed in historical archives regarding the sugar industry funding of Harvard nutrition scientists in the 1960’s, were identified as “smoking gun” evidence the sugar industry successfully meddled in science and “derailed” the course of governmental dietary policy. Essentially, it is claimed the sugar industry wanted the focus of obesity problems taken off their industry and placed more squarely on the risks of fats such as in butter and beef instead. Allegedly, this shift of focus was also to largely ward off new taxes that were going to be implemented by the government onto sugar sweetened foods and drinks as they were being identified as a part of our society’s early problems with obesity.

Is this conspiracy story about the sugar industry shifting focus to the health issues from fat true? I do not know, I can neither prove nor disprove the veracity of the claims against it. Are there really people in the sugar industry this diabolical? I am normally not one who buys into conspiracies. However, there does seem to be a correlation between the low to no fat craze and our rising obesity epidemic.

However, thinking people know that correlation does always mean causation.

Yet when it comes to thinking people, it seems we have far too many in our midst who have lost their collective minds when it comes to their nutritional habits. Look around you. Everywhere you go, you are now  in the minority if you are fit and trim. Sixty eight percent of our population in America are out of good physical condition by being overweight or obese. Twenty five percent of our population are prediabetic.  This is a sad state of affairs that needs to make a turn around before it gets worse.

Over the last few decades we have watched as our grocery store shelves filled up with many low fat or zero fat goodies for us to eat. We have low fat cookies, cakes, ice cream, yogurts and on and on and on. Low to no fat food items as far as the eye can see.  There has been a monumental push to get fat out of diets, yet people are fatter in America than ever. Even the government has been pushing this foolish idea of eliminating fats from our diets.  Because a diet low in fat has been deemed to be healthy, government policies have affected nutrition programs in schools, hospitals and the military. Yet, we keep getting fatter.

The American Dietetic Association replaced the four basic food groups with the food pyramid in the effort to reduce the consumption of fats. Their intentions were good, but intentions without good results mean jack squat nothing. There has been a tremendous amount of time and resources expended to get people to reduce their fat intake, yet the incidence of obesity and cardiovascular disease is not subsiding in the least. In fact, it is getting worse every damn day. Is it possible all the researchers missed some critical element to this problem?

Maybe not entirely.

There is nothing wrong about researchers and the government trying to get us as a nation to reduce our fat intake as there are many unhealthy fats in far too many foods available to us in this modern world we live in.

There has been a serious misinterpretation of the message to eat low fat.

It has been assumed by a vast swath of our population that if we adopted a low fat diet in order to prevent heart disease, this allowed us to eat as much as we wanted of foods that are low or zero fat. The food industry ran with this assumption and loaded our grocery store shelves full of low to zero fat options, yet people never considered the fact these products began having extra sugar added to them in order to improve the taste lost by fat removal. It has become the norm that instead of eating only a couple cookies they would eat an entire package of them.

What’s the harm? They are fat free!

News Flash!

Fat free is not calorie free!

You cannot just switch to a low fat food and eat with abandon to your hearts content. You still have to use common sense with your dietary habits, or your are doomed to a lifetime of obesity. In the past, I have seen on Weight Watchers social media where people will manipulate their diets to accommodate treats for every day consumption. They will justify their snacking because low or zero fat foods are low to zero points on the Weight Watchers program. This program takes the emphasis away from accountability to calories consumed, therefore a good many are always either struggling to lose weight or failing to lose altogether. At the end of the day, your weight loss or management depends on not consuming more calories than you expend each day. And this is regardless of the fat content or lack thereof.

Look, if you want to eat low fat or zero fat foods, then go right ahead and make yourself happy. But know that this is not helping your health in the least if you are not going to be personally accountable to yourself by managing your dietary habits. If you eat more calories than you burn off, especially if you are sedentary, you are going to be fat, It really is that plain and simple. You really cannot even intelligently argue the point.

The abundance and availability of low fat and zero fat foods has resulted in a fatter society not a thinner or fitter one. Eat healthy fats, your body needs them to better absorb nutrients that keep you healthy. Not only this, but full fat foods taste better and are usually more satiating than their low fat counterparts. Use your head and think about what you are doing the next time you are making food choices. Ask yourself if the choices you are making will actually improve your health or not. You owe this to yourself, you deserve to treat yourself better.

 

Functional Foods

Functional foods.

This is a catch phrase that appears to be gaining in popularity now.

Is not all food functional? Would the function of a powder sugar donut not be to satisfy a craving?

Just what in the world is considered a functional food today anyhow?

A functional food is a food claimed to have an additional function (often one related to health-promotion or disease prevention) by adding new ingredients or more of existing ingredients. The term may also apply to traits purposely bred into existing edible plants, such as purple or gold potatoes having enriched anthocyanin or carotenoid contents, respectively. Functional foods may be “designed to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions, and may be similar in appearance to conventional food and consumed as part of a regular diet”. (1)

The term “functional food” kind of grates on my nerves. Listen, let’s be real for a moment. All food that provides you a nutritional benefit is functional to your good health. Now days, there already seems to be too many with a lack of understanding as to what comprises good nutrition, and then someone creates a term that further exasperates this confusion. If our schools still taught nutrition and health, these kinds of fancy terms along with a lack of nutritional knowledge would be much more rare than they are today. I find it sad we have people here in America that do not understand, and some who do not care, it is bad for their health to live on cookies, cakes, potato chips and soda pop. That is until their weight has become out of their control or has caused them health issues. related to their dietary habits. This is when they begin looking for the latest trends, fads if you will, in losing weight.

I’m going to be a Vegan!

I’m going to start my Keto tomorrow!

Or, one I saw recently:

I’m going to try Keto Vegetarianism…

People who become desperate to lose weight will very often begin looking for the newest fads to get their weight down. Or conversely, they may begin researching how to best lose weight and fall for the plans that sound the most scholarly, hence the term “functional food”. By consuming “functional foods”, I must be going about weight loss or management in the most efficient manner, right?

No, not necessarily.

At David’s Way to Health and Fitness, we promote keeping  your stress down by “making your world small”. I strongly believe in the KISS principle;

Keep It Simple Stupid

I do not condone fad diets, nor do I advocate weight loss plans that allow you to keep doing that which got you fat in the first place. And I find it not in the least helpful when people present plans to the average individual where their terms are getting a little too technical sounding, such as “functional food”.

Without rehashing David’s Way Plan/Methodology in the entirety, I will sum it up in a nutshell. (You can click on the link for my plan in it’s full glory.)

My methodology is simple.

I will not tell you what to eat, though I do tell you to quit eating all sugar, simple carbs, and processed foods that contain simple sugars, unhealthy fats, high sodium and preservatives.

While I am not going to make your food choices for you, I will say to shop around the perimeter of your grocery store and only buy whole foods which you have to prepare yourself.

Meats and fish

Vegetables of all types

Fruits

Dairy

I instruct to only consume the amount of calories your body needs in order to lose weight in a healthy manner at 1 pound per week, or to maintain your weight. You can find your caloric needs on our Calorie Counter Pro. You will find that when you only consume healthy foods, it can be quite difficult to actually eat enough calories to maintain your weight. Be accountable to yourself in what you eat every day. Make nutritional accountability your permanent lifestyle, not a temporary diet.

With each meal, ensure you get a good mix of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Protein repairs and rebuilds all of our cellular structure. Complex carbohydrates fuel our bodies. Healthy fats help your body absorb important nutrients and produce essential hormones too.

I personally go for 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight. I have a target range of 100 to 150 net grams of complex carbohydrates with a minimum of 30 grams per day of fiber which offsets your total carb intake. (155g carbs – 30g fiber =125g net carbs) And the rest of my caloric intake is made up of healthy omega 3 fatty acid rich fats for 2200 calories per day.

If you get a good mix of these macro-nutrients with each meal and watch your calories, the macro-nutrient math will take care of itself.

My methodology is nothing new. It is how my generation grew up eating before our nation’s obesity epidemic came into being.  We had 3 nutritious meals per day with minimal snacking in between. When dinner was over in the evening, the kitchen was closed until breakfast time the following morning. Today, we often hear about another catch phrase, “Intermittent Fasting”, but it too is not new. When dinner was over and you did not eat until breakfast, that is “Intermittent Fasting”. I actually like “IF” on the 16:8 protocol and advocate it for those who are on weight loss mode. It is effective, but does not need the special name. You can just make this a part of your  new lifestyle without feeling as if you are doing something new and special.

“Functional Foods” is only a marketing tool. Do not get caught up in trying to only  consume foods with this label. As long as you make the smart choice to practice sound dietary habits where you eat foods that provide you with all your nutrients and macro-nutrient needs, your health and weight will take care of itself, unless you have let your health deteriorate too far. Even then, sound nutrition can still improve your quality of life. This is something junk foods will never accomplish for you.

 

 

(1) Wikipedia

No Hill For a Climber, What To Expect After Mastectomy

You might be the one actually facing the process of a mastectomy, or maybe you are a caregiver to a loved one. Either way, from my point of view as a loving husband and caregiver to my beautiful wife of 33 years, I’m not sure anything can fully prepare you for the impact of a mastectomy. You know the breasts are going to be removed, and maybe you have been told there will be drain tubes inserted for the healing process. You might have seen a picture such as the one above and thought “oh, that does not look too bad”. Those pictures give you an idea of what you will be facing, but they do not actually prepare you for the reality of seeing this up close and personal. The difference in the picture and real life is as stark as the difference between a very slight exposure to pepper spray available to  the civilian population and that of 4% OC pepper spray we utilized in the prison when I was a Correctional Officer.

On Sunday afternoon, the day before Loraine’s mastectomy, after I had come off the road from my trucking job I met Loraine at Target to buy her some new pajamas. We knew from her visit with her physical therapist that she would not be able to raise her arms above her head, and pajamas that button down the front would be the easiest for her to put on and remove by herself. We found a couple nice sets of soft button down pajamas and made our purchase. We got the same size as Loraine normally wears and did not foresee any problems with the fit being as her D-cup breasts were going to be removed. These pajamas should be a perfect fit, yet we found out yesterday after she was getting out of her hospital gown the size should have been a bit larger than normal.

Yesterday morning before Loraine’s discharge, her nurse navigator Melissa came by with instructions for going home. Part of these instructions consisted of how to care for the incision drains and suction bulbs. This instruction involved emptying them before the bulbs get over half full, and how to strip the lines should they become blocked by clotting blood. Before proceeding with these instructions, Melissa asked if I was squeamish at all. I’m not, but I can see where this needs to be asked. These drains are long tubes which the surgeon inserts into the breast area or armpit to collect excess fluid that can accumulate in the space where the tumor was. The tubes have plastic bulbs on the ends to create suction, which helps the fluid  and some blood to exit your body.

No problem! This is a pretty simple concept.

No hill for a climber!

And then it was time for her to check out of the hospital…

We packed all our belongings that we had brought with us for the overnight stay back into our bags, and left Loraine’s pretty new pajamas out for her to wear home. We wanted her to be comfortable for the ride. Yet, when I was trying to button her pajamas, we discovered that the drain bulbs which are kept in bags that were fastened to the lower sides of the ace bandage covering her chest were not allowing for full closure at her midsection.

Lesson learned ladies. If you are going to go through with a mastectomy, do yourself a favor and buy yourself pajamas that not only button down the front, but also pajamas that might be a size or two larger than you believe you might need in order to accommodate swelling, and the four drain tubes and their carry bags that will be necessary. You cannot leave the bulbs dangling by their tubes. Dangling drain bulbs would cause you problems you can be assured you will not want to experience anytime soon.

Melissa instructed us to monitor the amount of output from the four drains. She gave us a couple  of small measuring cups and syringes for doing this task along with a log sheet where we are to fill in the date, time and quantity of fluid from each drain. This record will be brought to follow-up office appointments to help determine when the drains can be removed. Drain removal could be as soon as one week, or as long as three weeks from the surgery.

We have discovered so far, that the drains can be emptied and logged at about 5 hour intervals when Loraine is due for her pain medication. Although your experience could be different, and Loraine’s could change. In order for the drains to work properly, the suction bulbs must be emptied before they become half way full as the fuller they become, the less suction they will provide. This would cause the fluids to not empty from the incision sites as they should. This can also lead to the drains becoming clogged with clotted blood.

Shortly after we got home from the hospital, we decided to try our hand, rather my hand, at draining the bulbs. This went easy enough for the first go round. I removed the bulbs individually from their carry bags, removed the stopper, squeezed the contents into a cup, measured it, and then made my log entry.

Too easy!

I then squeezed the bulbs to create a suction when I reinserted the stopper and put the bulb back in their bags. No problems. Then with the next cycle five hours later, I went about the same procedure, but noticed a little bit of clotted blood in each line. No problem, I have been shown how to strip the lines. This is too easy. Until I discovered to Loraine’s detriment, attention to being gentle is of upmost importance. I grasped the tube as instructed in one hand, squeezed it between my thumb and finger of the other and began pulling down. When you do this, you must take extra care to not allow tension on the drain tube to pass beyond the hand that you are grasping it with. Loraine cried out in pain as the tension from me stripping the line was creating a painful pulling sensation up inside her body. I discovered the best thing to do is to hold the line against the body in a non-painful site in order to keep from putting tension on the tube. By not holding my grip against her body, when I began stripping the line of blood clots, my grip hand had also moved down as the tube stretched downward.

You might feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you have to absorb as the patient or caretaker. However, it is critical that you still pay close attention to all of your instructions. Take notes, ask questions. The only dumb question is the question not asked.

We got through the night alright. At midnight we got up so Loraine could take her pain medication and for me to empty the drain bulbs, then we repeated this again at 5:00 a.m.  About 10:00 a.m., it was shower time. You have to steel yourself for the first shower. I thought I was better prepared since I had been doing the drain tubes with no issues other than when I accidentally put internal tension on one when stripping it. When you have had a mastectomy, you will be limited on being able to put your arms and hands above your head, yet this will be somewhat necessary in order to remove the inner compression top that is almost just like a 1970’s era tube top that was popular with all the girls back in the day.

I first unpinned the drain bulb bags from the outer ace bandage that is wrapped around her chest. Then after unwrapping the ace bandage, it was time to get the tube top bandage off. It caused Loraine some pain and discomfort during removal, but we managed without it getting too bad. This is not something you just pull off the body. Once it was removed, we both were able to see exactly what her chest now looks like. My dear wife will always be beautiful in my eyes, even without her breasts. She is the love of my life and the removal of her breasts is not an issue. But, what I found shocking, the sight that made me want to cry for her was how bruised her upper torso was. Where her breasts had been, the tissue is greatly discolored and bruised. It looks as if someone had used her chest for a professional boxers punching bag. It was all I could do to maintain my emotions for my sweet woman while assisting her with her shower. I know the bruising and discoloration is temporary, but feel it is necessary for people to know what they will see the first time you or your loved ones removes the bandages. Seeing my wife of almost 34 years like this was breaking my heart for her. It is things like this that makes me not too sympathetic to people who whine over the smallest of problems in their lives, especially when their petty issues are entirely self inflicted. My dear wife never asked for this to happen, but sometimes bad shit happens to the best of people.

 If you are undergoing a mastectomy, here are a few tips to help you during your healing and recovery at home:

  • Rest. When you get home from the hospital, you will probably be fatigued from the experience. Allow yourself to get extra rest in the first few weeks after surgery. Read more about managing  fatigue.
  • Take pain medication as needed. You will probably feel a mixture of numbness and pain around the breast incision and the chest wall (and the armpit incision, if you had axillary dissection). If you feel the need, take pain medication according to your doctor’s instructions. Learn more about managing  chest pain, armpit discomfort , and general pain. 
  • Take sponge baths until your doctor has removed your drains and/or sutures. You can take your first shower when your drains and any staples or sutures have been removed. A sponge bath can refresh you until showers or baths are approved by your doctor.
  • Continue doing arm exercises each day. It’s important to continue doing arm exercises on a regular basis to prevent stiffness and to keep your arm flexible.
  • Have friends and family pitch in around the house. Recovery from mastectomy can take time. Ask friends and family to help with meals, laundry, shopping, and childcare. As your body heals, don’t feel you should take on more than you can handle. (1)

If there is any positive that can come out of breast cancer, it has been the tremendous outpouring of love and support from family and friends. We are eternally grateful to all who have showed us how much they care. I am most humbly grateful to Loraine’s employers, Geri and Larry Martin of Prestige Home Care in Leavenworth, Kansas. This husband and wife team are committed to providing top quality  and compassionate home care to all their clients, and now they have stepped up to help Loraine and I during her recovery. Today, their Operations Supervisor Carolyn Clayton delivered a hearty beef and vegetable stew along with two trays of lasagna which Geri had prepared for us at home in order that we would not have to worry about cooking meals for the next few days of Loraine’s recovery. These are very kind and caring people, if you ever need care for a loved one in or around Leavenworth, Kansas, this is the only home care business I would recommend for the care of your loved one.

Carolyn, we love and cherish your friendship.

God bless and much love to all,

David

(1) https://breastcancer.org

 

No Hill For a Climber, Mastectomy Day

First and foremost, I want to thank God above for Dr. Butler and her surgical team who carried out Loraine’s mastectomy yesterday without any complications. I want to thank God also for giving my dear wife such a brave spirit while facing such a difficult diagnosis as breast cancer. Loraine is quite the trooper, but what else would you expect from a career military spouse. We all know that is the toughest job in the armed forces.

Next, I want to express our sincere gratitude to all the love and support both of us have received. There was plenty of family and friends who came to the hospital for her procedure yesterday, and too many prayers and well wishes by phone calls and social media to adequately address. We love you all!

It would be a humongous understatement if I were to say the last few days have been quite taxing on the nerves. Hell, the last couple months since Loraine’s breast cancer diagnosis have been full of soul eating stress, worrying about the known and unknown factors that come with cancer of any type.  This is her third time and third type of cancer that we have faced down. The stresses that come with a cancer diagnosis when you do not yet have a game plan of exactly how it will be treated is like being on a runaway roller coaster, where the fears can make it difficult to remain focused on what is coming around the next bend, or over the next hill that might very well plunge you head on into the ground below.

Thursday of last week, as a result of a miscommunication or some other factor, we had the fear Loraine’s life saving surgery might have to be postponed for an undetermined period of time. Loraine’s initial breast reconstruction procedure was going to begin as a part of her mastectomy. The plastic surgeon was going to place tissue expander’s under her skin after the removal of her breasts as this normally would be the time to do so, while she was already opened up.

During Loraine’s consultation, neither of us can recall much of a concern being expressed by the doctor about the effect  the tissue expander placements would have on her COPD. Maybe we just missed it, I do not know. Any how, when one has COPD there is a concern that the pressure of tissue expander’s can complicate your breathing, especially once they begin inflating them with saline solution.

The plastic surgeon had sent paperwork to our family doctor to be filled out to clear her for the procedure. Again, as a result of a miscommunication, we were lead to believe her personal physician just needed to sign off on the procedure. Thursday, Loraine found out there was a complication with getting this done. She was told by a staff member that they could not fax the paperwork back to the plastic surgeon’s office. I drove down to find out what the problem was to be informed that Dr. Christiano would need to see her in order to sign off on the procedure. I was told, that all that was needed was a simple blood draw for lab work and an EKG.

Simple enough, right?

I called Loraine and told her to come straight down to Dr. Christiano’s office. The receptionist had her paperwork and said all she had to do was to come in as a walk in and they could do her blood draw and a EKG, the results would be in on time for Loraine’s surgery on Monday morning. We were led to believe that they just needed to do these basic procedures, and she would be on her merry way.

Wrong answer!

Loraine and I arrived at the doctors office and I filled her in on what needed to be done. I sat with her until just before she was called back. I had to go  on the road that night, so I went home to get some much needed sleep. No worries, she would get these last minute requirements done and all would be good. But, that is not what happened at all.

A nurse called Loraine back and from the very beginning of the visit became quite rude with her. With a nastiness to her tone of voice, she informed Loraine that what was ordered on the form was that she needed to see a cardiologist and a pulmonologist to satisfy the plastic surgeons concerns over her COPD. Loraine said that she had no idea and was only doing what the receptionist had told her was required.

How would Loraine know if she had never seen the form and the doctor had not told her? This nurse called in another nurse who was also not the least bit compassionate with her. Loraine told her that she was only doing what the receptionist had told her needed done, and the nurse replied “listening to her was your first mistake”.

At this point Loraine was distraught as there would be no way of seeing these specialists before Monday and it seemed maybe the mastectomy would have to be postponed. She looked at the second nurse feeling dejected and said “I guess my surgery has to be canceled then”. This bitch of a nurse had the audacity to thrust her forms into her face and told her “I guess you will just have to then” and then she sent her on her way home with no blood draws, no EKG nor examination by a doctor. She was sent out the door feeling as if her life had no meaning to these two miserable human beings who disguise themselves as nurse’s. There is more to this story, but I will leave it at these two were mentally abusive to my sweet wife and I am filing a formal complaint to the Kansas Board of Nurses about their abusive behavior.

Friday morning Loraine and both made calls to her nurse navigator Melissa in regards to what had occurred the day before in Dr. Christiano’s office. Loraine and I had talked it over and decided that we wanted the surgery to proceed on Monday as scheduled and she would forego the reconstruction process until a later date. Melissa did her part as liaison between Dr Butler’s office and Dr. Martin. By the afternoon, the dust had settled and surgery was still on for Monday morning at 7:00 A.M. as scheduled.

After a night of restless sleep, we got out of bed at 4:00 A.M. and prepared to head out to the hospital by 5:00 A.M. in order to be on time to check in at 6:00 A.M. We drove to the hospital mostly in silence, but did engage in a little chit chat about life in general. Once we got there, we got her checked in through the admissions desk, and at a little before 7:00 A.M. she was taken back for surgery prep. Shortly thereafter my Dad, our daughter Jennifer and son in-law Terry with our 3 grand daughters arrived as did her brother Howard and her best friend Nicole. I was taken back into the prep room  where we had a private moment together before she was wheeled into surgery. Just before she went back, Jennifer got to come back for a brief visit before surgery.

At 7:30 A.M. Loraine was wheeled into surgery, Jennifer and I returned to the waiting area where our family had occupied one corner to ourselves. We did the usual thing everyone does while waiting on a loved on who is in surgery for something potentially bad. We made small talk, laughed some and essentially avoided the elephant in the room which was the worry each and everyone of us were feeling for our sweet Loraine. Then, at 11:30 A.M. Dr. Butler called my phone from the operating room to inform me the surgery was complete, Loraine had come through it well, but it turns out that postponing the beginning of reconstruction was a good thing after all. There were no surprises in the removal of the right breast which only had a couple of benign lumps. But the cancerous breast was a different story. As Dr. Butler was removing the breast tissue, it was actually falling apart, her breast tissue was disintegrating in the surgeons hands as she was removing it. And then upon examination of the lymph nodes, one was hardened which can only mean the cancer has spread into her lymph system. Hearing this was more than my mind could absorb in the moment. It took my breath away.

How do you comprehend your loving wife’s breast was falling apart during removal?

Hearing the cancer is in her lymph nodes was also one of the things we feared the most.

As Dr. Butler was telling me all of what she had found, I had to get up and leave where the family was sitting. I had to be alone for a moment, I had to regroup, refocus, get my shit together before going back to  tell the family. Once I had told them, the flood gates of my emotions opened and I had a good cry for a moment. I had to get that out of my system before I went back to see Loraine in the recovery room. Thankfully, I did have it out of my system as when I did go back to see her, she kept apologizing  for what she was doing to me. All I could do was reassure her that I still loved her. That because she is the only girl for me, that makes her perfect in my eyes. When you have spent over half your life with a loved one, it takes more than the loss of breasts to make you not still love them. My wife is a strong woman, a resilient woman, she is a trooper at heart As she was climbing further out of the effects of anesthesia, she was starting to cut up and joke as is her nature. Because her recovery stay was going to be in the hospital maternity ward, and children under 13 are not allowed there, the nurses bent the rules a little and we had our 7 year old grand daughter Brianna brought back to the recovery room so Loraine could see her.  This was the only time Brianna was able to see her during her hospital stay.

I had prepared myself for Loraine being in a mental funk after her mastectomy. It is a huge thing for a woman to lose her breasts, a part of of her identity as a woman. But as I have said, she is a very tough woman. They say, the job of being a military spouse is the toughest job in the armed forces. I believe I was fortunate, graced by God above to to be blessed with this strong woman who weathered my military career. This same strength of character was on full display for all to see yesterday as she was recovering overnight in the hospital. She interacted with her visitors all afternoon, while also taking numerous phone calls and answering text messages of well wishes from loved one, family and friends. Her high spirits made it hard to believe she had just underwent this major surgical procedure. Even with the discomfort of having her breasts removed, she still had an appetite and had been craving spaghetti all day. I ordered spaghetti with marinara with olives and mushrooms along with a side order of fried mozzarella cheese sticks from Minski’s Pizza. Minski’s is one of the best pizzeria’s in the Kansas City area. She loved this dinner and ate almost the entire meal with the exception of a few of the cheese sticks.

Last night was a rather sleepless night for both of us, but for different reasons. I slept on a uncomfortable couch in the room beside a window where you cold feel the winter cold emanating in from without. I just had a difficult time with comfort. Loraine on the other hand kept having to get up to urinate. She had been on a IV saline drip all day and was told that if she drank enough water and urinated enough, they could remove the IV. I’m pretty sure she did not need to double down on this challenge. The night nurse removed her IV and after that, it seemed she was getting up about every 30 to 45 minutes. And then, at about 2:30 A.M., she was on a video call with our youngest daughter Molly in Munich Germany. I just rolled back over and attempted to get back to sleep.

Loraine was discharged from the hospital today at about 1:00 P.M. Dr. Butler came in to visit us this morning, and to see how Loraine was doing. While there, she examined the incisions and drain tubes she had inserted and then proceeded to tell us both what she had found. There was nothing said, that she had not told me already, but she did have the time to answer our questions. The first was to affirm that now radiation and or chemotherapy treatments are on the table. We will know the course of action for sure once the pathology reports are complete next week. My other big question was in regards to the breast tissue falling apart. We will not know for sure if this is a result of the cancer, or simply because of her age and the fact she had been a smoker for several years up until 5 years ago. Never the less, we now have a better idea of what we are facing. There is something tangible that we can now begin planning our lives around now.  While none of this is good, it is now easier and less stressful than the last month or so has been where everything was still an unknown entity in the severity of the cancer. Now at least we have a better idea.

The nurse navigator came in a little afterwards and not only went over her discharge instructions, but she taught us both how to drain her four drainage tubes and went over what to do if they get clogged due to clotting blood. It is a pretty simple procedure, you have a squeeze tube where the blood and fluid collects which has to be periodically emptied and the contents must be measured and annotated on a log sheet with the date and time of the draining. It might be a good thing I am not squeamish.

Neither Loraine or myself had ever heard of having a nurse navigator for anything. Nurse Melissa is assigned to Loraine for the duration of her journey with breast cancer. Maybe this is something only provided by the St. Luke’s medical community, I do not know. It would be a beautiful thing if every woman who has had this diagnosis had a navigator to walk her through the long process to wellness. Melissa is an angel, she has been so helpful already, and today she not only  arrived with discharge instructions, she came with a small pillow and pretty bags for Loraine to carry her drainage reservoirs in along with a pretty hand knitted lap afghan her mother had made. Melissa told us that her mother is a breast cancer survivor and that she knits these little lap afghans for every patient that Melissa has under her care. This personal touch leaves us almost speechless. It is more than obvious Melissa is a nurse for all the right reasons. The compassion from this woman is far above and beyond her job requirements and we are most fortunate to have her in this difficult journey. She has answered all of our calls in a timely manner, and has kept to everything she has told us. This kind woman is a true godsend.

We have had a great deal of stress since Loraine’s diagnosis. We have had questions that cannot be answered yet, and we are keenly aware that there are going to be more trying times that we may have little to no control over. My good friend Robert had a talk with me the other night which helped me to regain my focus on what is important and that also made me refer back to a prayer that has carried me through most of my adult life. That prayer is the Serenity Prayer, you may have seen me refer to it on other articles I have authored. This prayer is as follows:

Lord, grant me the Serenity to accept that which I cannot change.

Give me the Courage to change that which I can.

Bless me with the Wisdom to know the difference.

Obesity in America

Finding balance in our lives.

It seems that in western society today, those of us who live healthy lives by eating nutritionally sound meals and who exercise on a regular basis are becoming a minority within our population. Everywhere you cast a glance, you will see full parking lots at restaurants, and long lines in fast food drive through’s. When we enter any type of store, whether it is our normal grocery store or a convenience store, we are bombarded by the sights of sugar and fat laden treats on every aisle or end cap. Our shopping experience has become a healthy and fit individuals nightmare while morphing into a fat person’s nirvana.

Being overweight nowadays has become the norm, rather than the exception. It is not uncommon to meet people who take great pride in their sedentary and gluttonous lifestyles. Yet, these same individuals will sing the sad song once their lifestyles have trashed their health and sense of well being. And then, there is the greatest of ironies where the individual with health problems as a result of laziness coupled with an unhealthy diet wants a doctor to just give them medicines to “fix” them while refusing to be compliant with the  doctors orders. I once knew someone who refused to quit smoking despite being on oxygen just because “no doctor was going to dictate how they live their life”. For a large percentage of obese people, cakes and cookies have the same effect in regards to this kind of convoluted thinking as the smoker on oxygen who refuses to quit.

If you are a thinking person, you really have to ask why the hell in America, with all of our prosperity, with all the amenities that life has to offer us here, why in the world has the health status in our population been declining over the last few decades. How in the world did we lose our collective minds when it comes to healthy living? Why have our public schools quit teaching health and biology? Why are so many of our population entirely ignorant of the value of consuming healthy diets? In the last forty years, rates for overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions, and now, in the richest country on the planet, we lead the world in the incidence of cardiovascular disease. According to data from the the most recent National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, nearly two thirds of adults in America are over weight with a BMI of 25 or over, and over 30% of adults are obese with a BMI of 30 or greater. The incidence of this epidemic has spanned all racial and ethnic groups, all genders and age groups.

I find it sad that all these fat adults are also raising fat children. (I do not care if that pisses you off) The prevalence of fat children is growing by leaps and bounds, the US military is now having trouble recruiting 18 year old’s because they are too damned fat for military standards to even ship off to basic training. These children and young people are also suffering from ailments that used to be reserved for older adults whose lifestyles have caught up with them. Now we have children under 13 who have developed type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, respiratory problems along with psychological disorders such as depression. (1)  Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that in 2011 the average American consumed nearly one ton of food. That’s 1,996 pounds of food a year, and at least 1 in 4 people eat some type of fast food every day.

What are we doing about the obesity problem?

Well, we are not doing enough, and we are not taking the correct approach to obesity among our adults or children. As a society it might appear we are doing a lot to try to make an impact on the obesity epidemic, especially when you see all the bogus weight loss ads on all forms of media where they tell you that with their program or procedure, you can lose 30 pounds a month.  You have weight loss programs such as WW (formerly Weight Watchers) where they tell you that you can eat anything you want so long as your track it.

What do these programs and procedures have in common?

Their research and development know that there will be some people who will have their needs met, while a great many, if not a majority, are just going to be strung along as a perpetual income stream. The people who struggle year after year will never find success with their weight loss endeavors until they come to know their true nutritional needs, and become willing to change their lifestyles.

Does anyone really believe you can still eat bon bon’s while sitting on the couch and still lose weight if only you track them? Do you believe that fit points you earn by washing dishes or running your vacuum cleaner will justify reaching for a couple cookies out of the jar?

I have a bridge if you are in the market for one.

What is the government and medical approach to obesity?

Government and the medical community have initiated three responses to the growing obesity epidemic in America. These are:

Diets, Medical Interventions, and Exercise

Diets and medical interventions are the most popular interventions by far. Once again, we are saturated by media sources that advertise fad diets and medical procedures every day of the week. Yet, most of the people (about 95%)  who go these routes fail to keep their weight off.  Even with all the fad diets;

  • About three-fourths of the population have an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils.
  • Most Americans exceed the recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.

Diets and medical interventions are not the correct choices in combating the obesity epidemic. Rather, the most effective interventions are what people ignore to their own peril. People will go on a diet, hoping to just get it over with in a hurry in order to return to what got them fat in the first place. Instead of a diet, these people would get the most benefit out of incorporating a new lifestyle that emphasizes healthy eating and exercise as a daily routine. Exercise coupled with nutritionally sound dietary habits is the best thing you can do to improve the overall quality of your health and life. Even a brisk walk for 30 minutes per day will yield great results for you.

Why are diets and medical interventions the more popular choice than exercise for controlling body fat? 

Simply put, because they do not interfere with your life as much as making time for exercise. It has become simpler to pop a damn pill and to put the burden on others for your weight gain than it is to take personal responsibility and the time to do something meaningful about it. When you follow a diet and or pop a pill, you are placing the burden on another individual to blame when you fail.

You can follow a diet and fail to lose weight or to keep it off.

How many of you have done this and then blamed the diet as not being good?

By doing this you are shifting blame from yourself and placing it onto whoever came up with the diet scheme. You did not fail, the diet failed you, right?

You can get a stomach procedure or a prescription to the newest dietary drug. You might lose weight, stall out and then regain what you lost if not more so. The failure is on you, not the procedure or drug, if you approached these interventions without taking full personal responsibility for yourself.

This over simplifies getting fit and healthy to a degree, but really, at the end of the day you must do the opposite of that which got you fat in the first place.

Develop permanent healthy nutritional habits that fulfill all of your needs.

Quit eating sugar and simple carbs other than fruits which have a fiber component that regulates how the sugar enters your blood stream.

Quit eating processed foods of convenience that contain not only added sugar’s, but also contain unhealthy fats, high sodium and chemical preservatives.

Keep your body well hydrated.

Begin an exercise program with your doctor’s approval.  Take and dedicate at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week for exercise. If you can sit in drive through lanes for 30 minutes, you can easily dedicate the same time to your physical fitness.

Set achievable long term goals, and then create several short term goals in order to more easily get you to that long term goal.

Believe in yourself, you are more capable than you believe.

 

(1) Chris Carmichael, Food for Fitness