Friday, June 27, 2014

Get off the Weightloss Rollercoaster!

I wrote the "Healthy Family Evolution" and created the program for all of you who have been riding the rollercoaster of weight loss for far too long.  Don’t get me wrong I love a good rollercoaster, the more twists, turns, loops and drops the better. The excitement of standing in line as the anticipation builds.  Finally, it’s time to lock yourself in and enjoy the ride, which ends all too soon.  But, the rollercoaster of losing weight and getting healthy is a different ride. First of all there is no excitement or anticipation to even get on the ride.  Very insidiously the weight increases over time until it finally reaches a point where it gets our or others attention, then suddenly we are thrown onto the ride. We are bombarded with solutions, concoctions, potions and programs.  We are told that it is fast and easy to lose weight so we jump on ride after ride, we lose and we gain and yet we keep ending up at the same place.  Frustration grows as we are directed by those trying to help pointing to the next great ride. The seemingly endless chase continues.  Frustration gives way to “what’s wrong with me?”  if this is so fast and easy then why am I not able to do it?  As we get older the game takes on new importance as we are faced with several life threatening chronic diseases.  The ultimate thrill ride either you conquer this foe and keep it at bay or it could cost you dearly and yet the cycle of failed attempts continues.  So, once and for all lets acknowledge that this journey is NOT easy, it is NOT simple, there are no magic formulas, potions or concoctions.  There is no silver bullet.  The good news is that through research we do have substantial knowledge in how to make a sensible, sustainable change but it comes at a price. That price is taking the steps to change your behavior and to replace old habits with new ones.  
Save the rollercoasters for the amusement parks!  Let's start evolving to better health, one decision, one day and one family at a time.  Get Informed.  Get Moving.  Get Better!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Solid Foundation? Who cares?

If we want a building to stand as long as possible it takes a strong foundation.  Why do we think its any different for our health and wellness?  Are you really willing to bet your health and wellness on a flimsy foundation???

Get informed.  Get Moving.  Get BETTER! 

Building the foundation? Why?

Why is building a strong foundation so vital for getting healthy?  Is it really that important?  Why can't we just skip over to full out exercise?

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Story of 'Your' Life!

Imagine for a moment, that many years from now you are having a conversation with your grandchild.  What will your story be???

This is the first chapter of my book "Life Pioneers:  The Edge of Possibility!" 
1 A History Lesson

A young boy once sat with an old man. His earliest memory of this man, who had been a constant presence in his life, was when he was three or four years old and the man came to visit; for some reason, the man seemed to be larger than everyone else. To the boy, he was a giant, yet he was very gentle and loved the boy. The boy was amazed at the knowledge and strength the giant had. He seemed to know a lot about pretty much everything. The giant seemed to truly enjoy having the boy around, and the boy loved being with him.

Over the years, the boy learned that the giant’s name was “Grandpa,” and Grandpa was well respected by the people who knew him. It amazed the boy that everyone who greeted his Grandpa seemed to genuinely like him. He had heard many stories about Grandpa and the impact he had made in business, in the community, and for his family, yet Grandpa never really talked about it. As the years passed, his love for the giant grew and, while everything else in the world seemed to change, the Grandpa never did; he remained larger than life. Even in his mid-seventies, he was full of life and energy.

One day, while they were on one of their favorite hikes, the boy, now in his early-teens, seemed deep in thought so Grandpa asked him, “What’s got you so puzzled?”

The boy looked up and said, “You’ve done so many amazing things and lived such a great life. I’ve heard so many stories about the things you’ve done, and I don’t know anyone else like you, but what I want to know is how have you come to this point in your life?”

Grandpa smiled and let out a small chuckle. “Well, I don’t know about all of that,” he said. “I’ve just always tried to do what I thought was best.”

The boy wasn’t going to let it go that easily. “There has to be more to it than that!?! I look at my friends’ parents and grandparents, and they lead nice lives and seem somewhat happy, but every one of them seems to have something missing in their life. Then I look at you, and you seem to live a different life. You seem to enjoy everything you do and, for some reason, even though you are the busiest person I know, you always seem to have time for me and everyone else. You just seem happy, no matter what you’re doing. I just want to know your secret! Someday, I’ll go out into the world and create a life of my own. How do I find my way to the place you’ve found?”

“Secret?” said Grandpa. “I wish there was one, but I’m afraid I don’t know any secret. All I have is the story of my life: the decisions I’ve made and the things I’ve experienced. I’m afraid that’s too boring for a young man like you.”

“Boring!?! Grandpa please, I need to understand this. If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear it. Maybe together we can find the secret.”

“So you think I have the secret to an extraordinary life?” answered Grandpa.

“I think you’re closer to it than anyone else I’ve met and, if nothing else, I would be happy to at least learn more about you,” replied the boy.

“OK,” answered Grandpa. “I hope you won’t be too disappointed. Where do you want to start?”

The boy smiled. “Let’s start with why you came to live here.”

As they walked, Grandpa seemed to become lost in reflection. After several minutes without any conversation, he said, “If it’s alright with you, let’s start with a history lesson.”

The boy looked up in confusion. “History? You mean your personal history?”

“No” interrupted Grandpa, “World history.”

Now the boy was even more confused. “What does world history have to do with life?”

“Everything,” answered Grandpa, smiling. “And maybe nothing. It depends on what you learn from it.”

The boy just looked at the old man, trying to figure out how this had anything to do with the ‘secret’ he wanted to learn.

“Let’s take Christopher Columbus,” Grandpa began. “I’m guessing you know who that is, right?”

“Of course, Grandpa, everyone knows the story of Christopher Columbus. In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. But what does that have to do with what we’re talking about?”

“Patience, my son, everyone knows how the story ended, but do you know how it began?” questioned Grandpa.

“I think he was trying to find a different route to India or something,” answered the boy. “Exactly,” replied Grandpa. Now the boy was even more confused. “And?” interjected the boy.

“Well, did he find India?” Grandpa shot back.

“No, not even close. He found America. That’s why we still have Columbus Day, although he didn’t really find America on the first trip,” added the boy to impress Grandpa with his knowledge.

“Very true, he completely failed to find a new route. The question is, why was he the first one who attempted that route to India?”

“I don’t remember Grandpa. I guess they didn’t think they could make it that way,” answered the boy.

“It’s something like that. It was actually because, back then, it was a well-known fact that the world was flat and if you sailed …” started Grandpa.

“Too far,” interrupted the boy, smiling, “you’d fall off the edge!”

Grandpa smiled at his young student’s enthusiasm and continued, “Besides, some of the other top ‘thinkers’ of the time had a theory that there were monsters waiting for those who would dare to attempt navigating close to the edge of the known world. But why did they think this? Had anyone gone out and seen the end of the earth? Or had anyone actually seen these monsters?”

“There’s no way they could have,” replied the boy. “Neither of them existed.”

“True,” said Grandpa. “And yet artists created paintings and drawings of them. No one in Europe wanted to head out into the ocean the opposite way, until one person crazy enough to try it actually sailed out and came back alive to tell the story. And did he come back with tales of the edge of the earth and gigantic monsters?”

“No,” answered the boy. “He told them he had found a new land that they previously didn’t know about and that he had claimed it for the queen.”

“Right. And then was there a sudden mass exodus from Europe to the new land?”

“Sudden mass exodus? What do you mean?” asked the boy.

“When did the pilgrims come to America?” replied Grandpa.

“1620, but, oh, I see what you’re saying. If Columbus discovered the new land in 1492, why did it take 128 years for them to get there!” answered the boy.

“Well, technically, there were attempts but, yes, Jamestown in 1607 and then the pilgrims in 1620 were the first permanent settlements. Why do you think that is?” asked Grandpa.

“I guess because it was too hard to get there?” answered the boy, throwing out his best guess.

“I’m sure that was part of it. It wasn’t an easy trip. But I think the bigger issue was the mindset of people in Europe,” said Grandpa. “Remember, back then there was no Internet, and a majority of people didn’t go to school or read. They relied on storytelling, and the story that they had learned for as long as they had been alive was …?”

“The world was flat,” answered the boy. “And so, even once they found out it wasn’t flat, it took a long time for word to spread to people.”

“That is part of it,” continued Grandpa. “But, why did the pilgrims really decide to go?”

“Something about practicing their religion” answered the boy.

“Yes, but what does that really mean?” Grandpa asked. “It means that they didn’t feel like they had an option of staying. Things had gotten so bad that they finally decided it was better to leave and face the dangers of the new world than it would be to stay.”

“Oh, wow, I never thought about it like that! It wasn’t that they wanted to go, it was that they felt they had to go!” shouted the boy.

“Exactly,” said Grandpa. “And so it is with life.”

“WHAT?!?!” shouted the boy. “Now we’re back to life?”

Grandpa laughed. “I told you, it’s what you learn from it that’s important, not just the dates. You asked me about my life and my ‘secret,’ but the answer is wrapped up in the story of Columbus and the Pilgrims.”

“Grandpa,” stammered the boy, “I don’t see what this story has to do with how we live our lives. So Columbus was the first one who went a different way, and then, after a long time, people finally decided to start a new life in the new land because they couldn’t take it anymore where they were. How is that the answer to my question?”

“We’ll get there,” said Grandpa, smiling. “It’s not an easy thing to understand, but here are the basics: The people who lived in Europe had settled into life. Good or bad, it was the life they had always known. They never thought about leaving because they ‘knew’ or were told that the world was flat and that if you ventured very far you would never come back. History is full of ‘settlers’ or people who get to a certain spot and settle into their life, good or bad, and never leave because they are secure in what they have and know and don’t want to risk the monsters and danger that lay in wait for them outside of their world. Then, there are the ‘pioneers’ or the Columbus’ of the world, who, for whatever reasons, are willing to leave what they know in search of something better. They step out and take the risk, challenging conventional wisdom and embarking on an adventure with an uncertain outcome. Then there are the ‘migrators’ who, when forced, will move from their established home to seek a new place to settle. They are not pioneers but, once the pioneers have found something new, they will slowly move that way.”

“The pilgrims!” added the boy.

“Yes, the pilgrims.” said Grandpa. “History is full of this cycle of events. A pioneer goes out in search of something better, the migrators eventually follow and establish settlements, then a majority of the migrators become settlers in the new place, and they stay there until the next pioneer finds the next best thing. It’s the same thing as the innovator/adopter curve.”

“The who’s he, what’s it curve?” questioned the boy.

“The innovator/adopter curve,” laughed Grandpa. “It’s an inverted bell shape curve, like this.” Grandpa bent down and drew an inverted bell curve in the dirt at their feet. “On this end,” Grandpa pointed to the left side of the curve, “are the innovators. They are the very, very few people who come up with a creative idea or invention. They’re the pioneers in the area. Then see how the line starts to ramp up?” The boy nodded his head, taking it all in. “These are the early adopters. Once something has been found, they are the first ones to try it out. So this would be the early settlers in Jamestown and the Pilgrims. Then comes the early majority. Once the pioneers have found it and the early adopters have tried it out and said it’s OK, then you see the early mass of people deciding it is now ‘safe enough’ for them to try. After them come the late mass of people that needed to see the early mass’ success before they were comfortable enough to try it. And then come the laggards, or those who, even after 80% of people say it’s good and safe, still are reluctant to try. And so it is with life!”

“There you go again with the life thing,” said the boy, smiling. “This is all cool stuff, and I like the story, but I don’t see what this has to do with why you’re different and how I can become like you.”

“It has everything to do with it, son,” said Grandpa, returning the smile. “You see, it’s all about whether we are pioneers, migrators, or settlers and in which areas of life.”

“Oh, now I see. You’re a pioneer, and what I’ll have to do is be a pioneer and that’s the secret!” blurted out the boy. “So, am I a pioneer? Were you always a pioneer? Can you become a pioneer? Wait, what’s this about which areas?”

“Slow down, son,” said Grandpa in his calming voice. “I said there’s a lot to learn. It’s taken me many years to understand all of this, and I’ll be happy to tell you about it, but it will take time. I’m willing to pass along what I’ve learned, but that means you’ll have to put up with hanging around me. Can you handle that?”

“I’ll try,” answered the boy but, in his heart, he thought, “There’s nothing I would want more.”
The boy spent the week thinking about his conversation with Grandpa and everything he had learned about Christopher Columbus and the pilgrims and why anyone ever thought the world was flat. But what really stuck with him was the idea that people create their own “flat earth” and very few are brave enough to venture out.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The scramble to find help! Once your increased weight becomes a chronic disease.

Suddenly fully awake from there ignorance about Tommy's health, Tracy starts looking for answers.  (Here is the rest of Chapter 1 of the Healthy Family Evolution:  Mom's Strong!"

She felt another wave of guilt come over her, as she thought what it had taken to make it a high enough priority. But it had now become her top priority.
As an elementary school teacher, she was very familiar with conducting research, and she put that experience to good use. She learned that a growing number of American’s are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes each year. She read that an estimated 24 MILLION Americans now have type 2 diabetes, and another 78 MILLION are pre-diabetic or well on their way. So, in 10 years, the U.S. could have over 100 MILLION diabetics. She marveled at that number, which would mean that 1 out of every 3 Americans, would have type 2 diabetes. Her guilt flared again, as she read that we are passing our bad habits on to our kids, and there are now children with Type 2 diabetes, which was formerly known as adult onset diabetes.
Her anxiety got even worse when she read about how type 2 diabetes can lead to several other diseases, such as heart disease. She started to feel sick when she read about the disease process and how, over time, it can take your vision or lead to amputations and, possibly, death. All she could think was, “Oh, my God, what have I done!” As she continued to read, she wondered why people don’t take it more seriously. Then she realized that the problem is that it doesn’t kill you quickly; it is a slow, insidious disease and, like her son, you don’t feel sick until the disease has advanced. But it had become serious to her, as she came to grips with the stark reality that uncontrolled type 2 diabetes will eventually shorten your life, decrease your productivity, and reduce your quality of life. She was not going to let that happen to Tommy or anyone else in her family.
She called her doctor and made appointments for the physicals that she and her husband had been putting off. She had a new focus and wanted to know if there were any other issues she should know about. She then looked up the additional test that the doctor had ordered for Tommy, something called an A1C test. She learned that it’s actually called the glycated hemoglobin test. This blood test measures average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. An A1C level of 6.5% or higher on two separate tests indicates diabetes. A result of 5.7% to 6.4% is considered pre-diabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes. Now, it made sense why the doctor wanted to see Tommy each month: He thought Tommy might have this!
As she searched the Internet feverishly for a program that could help her son, she kept thinking about the Einstein quote and how she wanted something new and different, not just another pre-packaged exercise and diet program. If those types of programs worked, why was the failure rate so high? It seemed like everywhere she looked, people were talking about health and wellness, yet she also saw that the number of people with obesity and chronic diseases seemed to be climbing. There had to be more to it than just eating better and getting more activity.
She called Tommy’s doctor back and asked if he knew of any local programs she could turn to as a resource. The doctor’s response wasn’t what she had hoped for. “You know, that’s a great question,” he said. “There are a ton of different people doing them but most don’t really work. Let me know if you find anything.” With her frustration level rising, she decided to call a few friends, but they all had the same stories about programs they had tried, only to stop doing it and have any weight they had lost come right back. Her appointment for a physical was the next day so she thought she’d ask her doctor for recommendations.
The next day, she did her normal morning routine of getting the kids ready for school and her husband off to work. She then headed for her doctor’s appointment, with a newfound curiosity about her health. She was embarrassed to learn that she hadn’t been to the doctor’s office for a couple of years. “Wow, she thought, time really does fly by.” As she sat in the waiting area, she leafed through a magazine that was lying on the table. The title of it had caught her attention: “Live Well.” She flipped through the pages and noticed articles on nutrition, exercise, and therapy programs, as well as other areas of health. Before long, she heard her name called, and she headed back.
As the nurse walked her to the scale, she felt a sudden dread; she realized she had been avoiding the scale for some time. When she stepped on the scale, the nurse noisily clanked the weights into position, seemingly drawing way too much attention to the procedure. Tracy looked down at the weight and thought, “That’s not right! The scale must be broken! I know I’ve gained some weight, but that’s not possible!!” The nurse escorted her to a private room and took her blood pressure and pulse. Still irritated by the “broken” scale, Tracy asked how her blood pressure was and the nurse responded, “A little high.” When the doctor came in, she looked over the numbers, conducted the physical, and then summed it all up, “It looks like you’ve put on quite a bit of weight, and your blood pressure is on the high side of normal. We’ll go ahead and have some blood tests done, just to check things out but, overall, it just looks like you could stand to lose some weight. Make sure you are eating well, and get some more exercise.” Tracy then told the doctor about Tommy and her sudden interest in her family’s health and asked if she had any recommendations for a wellness program. The doctor turned to the nurse and said, “Make sure they run an A1C when they do the blood work.” Turning back toward Tracy, she said, “There are a variety of different programs, but most of them don’t work very well. Maybe try walking a little more.”
“Will that bother my low back? It’s been hurting quite a bit lately,” responded Tracy, acknowledging, for the first time, the low back pain that had been increasing over the last several weeks. The doctor poked around a couple of places, and Tracy was surprised at how sore she actually was.
“Let’s go ahead and have you do a little physical therapy to get that under control, and we can also start you on some anti-inflammatories,” said the doctor. “Let’s have you check back in with us in 30 days to review the blood tests and see how the back is doing.” With that, the doctor walked out, and the nurse handed Tracy the referrals for her blood test, therapy, and anti-inflammatories. 
More frustrated than ever, Tracy got dressed and walked to the front lobby. “Just what I need, more things to do and no answers.” She saw the magazine still sitting on the table, and asked the front desk girls if they minded if she took it. She took their apathetic shrugs as approval, picked up the magazine, and walked out.
Curious about her blood levels, she drove immediately to the lab to have the blood drawn. As she was waiting for her turn, she took out the magazine she had picked up, noticing an article on low back pain that she hadn’t noticed before. As she read the article, she decided that she did want to get the back pain under control and that she would make an appointment with the physical therapist. She thought it would be one less excuse to keep her from exercising. Her mind returned to Tommy and how to help him. The more she thought about it, the more frustrated she became. She thought back over all the recommendations she had tried that had failed and both doctors’ acknowledgement that there really wasn’t a good solution. It was too important to give up on so she vowed to keep looking.
A few days later, she received Tommy’s lab results, and his A1C level was in the pre-diabetic range. Her test had come back elevated, not quite in the pre-diabetic range, but still too high for her liking. To make matters worse, her husband had reluctantly gone to his appointment, and he tested in the high pre-diabetic range. She knew that something needed to be done and quickly.