Living with Pain

I have a bad knee. It is possibly the worst kept secret in my life. Most people that knows me have heard of the things I’ve done to cure this ailment. I even considered surgery. The doctor said once healed, I would probably last about four or five years before the pain would come back. I decided to save my money.

Today’s post is about living with pain, ANY kind of pain. Some people have physical pain and many have psychological pains. We seem to be quick to medicate our pains, make them go away. If it is a physical pain, we can take a medication or a shot. If it is psychological, we want to numb ourselves. What is so bad about feeling the pain and learning to live with it?

Before you ignore my innocence, allow me to share the basis of my experience on the other side of the prescription pad. At different points in my life, I have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and mild to intermediate depression. I was prescribed Zoloft and its ugly little cousins three times. I discovered that I could not write my poetry or short stories if I was using these things and more importantly, I was not happy. I was not sad either, it was some sort of limbo that felt um-bearable.

This is why I don’t care for most medications. I believe too many of us want the easy way out, and some of us “pay the price later”. Think of those people who have back pain and become addicted to pain killers. Some of them die. In the state of Florida alone, we lost nearly seven people a day in 2009, according to this article in Sunday’s newspaper.

Yes, I do believe that pharmaceuticals and doctors should sit down and figure out how to deal with this issue. I think the pertinent authorities have a hard road ahead of them. In the end, it is our personal responsibility to put the meds away for good and experience life, all of it, including the pain.

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If You Don't Like it, Change the Channel

I know I said that I was only going to post once a week and this would make two. And yet, I just saw something on TV that made me comment. It turns out that a writer on Marie Claire made some comments on her BLOG that require addressing in some manner.

Apparently, Maura Kelly was assigned to review or comment on the show Mike and Molly on CBS. I don’t know if you have seen the show yet, which is why I include the link. It is cute and it deals with the obesity epidemic head on. People who are overweight and obese will joke about their situation. I am not skinny, nor do I want to be a size 0. I can relate to their struggles with weight or feeling uncomfortable with the idea of breaking a piece of furniture because of their size (OK, I have yet to break any chairs or tables, there is the fear though).

The sad thing is that Ms. Kelly’s blog starts of with some very valid points. She starts by talking about our unhealthy obsession with perfection and the cost to our economy of the obesity epidemic. Mike and Molly are not simply overweight, they are on the obese side according to her statements. However, I don’t see any reason why they cannot have a show. We are surrounded by rowdy and disrespectful “reality housewives”, shows about addicts kicking the habit, teenage pregnancies and others. The same way I don’t think these shows are advocating bad behavior, addictions or teenage pregnancy, I don’t think that is the point of Mike and Molly. I believe the point of this show is that life does not end because you are heavy. And there is where Ms. Kelly missed the mark.

The bottom line for me is very simple: if I don’t like a show on TV, I change the channel. There is a thing in most houses called a r-e-m-o-t-e control. Ms. Kelly, just take it in your hand and change the channel.
Now, in the same link where the article is, you will see her apology for being insensitive. I found her apology interesting because if you read it all the way through, she seems to be justifying her very simplistic view of the issue of obesity. Let me be clear with all of you: OBESITY is not about food. You can eat healthy and exercise for the rest of your life. If you don’t deal with the issues that made you gain the weight in the first place, you will never be a “normal” size.

Ms. Kelly mentioned that her review might be colored by her background with anorexia. I have been on both ends of the spectrum. When I was young I was anorexic and now I’m battling for my health (my weight is of no interest to me, my health is). I don’t pretend to guess what drove her to make the comments she made. I do believe that her view on the issue is all about the food and the exercise. That is not enough. There is an entire psychology and body issues that has to be addressed if people want to get rid of the weight. I will give her and the magazine props for having the guts to apologize publicly. That is not easy to do and most people don’t bother doing that. If nothing else, her comments have opened a debate that is important. I hope the debate continues and I do encourage Marie Claire to keep the conversation going.

Does Exercise Have to be Boring?

Today, I went to the Historical Downtown district.  I keep my snail mail box there.  They also have a great library and some cool restaurants, that I will talk about in other posts.  The thing is, I don’t have a car and I like to walk the 1.35 miles to go there.  It is not only great exercise.  It takes us out of the house, we see something different and we move.

This is a short post today and a very simple one.  Exercise does not have to be boring.  Look for something you like to do and find a way to incorporate a nice walk, a bike ride or some roller blades into that routine.  Maybe you have a small market nearby or a mall.  Instead of driving everywhere, find something to do outside the home and find a different way of getting there.

Have fun, make it a a family activity.  Stop putting it off.  If you want to get in better shape and you don’t know where you start, start where you are.  Look for some trails, parks or malls in your area and start moving.  Go!

Procrastination – Health update

What has procrastination cost your health?  If you are a woman over 40, it is quite possible that your food choices are catching up to you.  That chocolate cake might be delicious.  If you eat a slice every day or with every meal, it looses its appeal.  As much as I believe that you can have some cake, I strongly advice against having one every day, or even every week.

A few years ago I was introduced to an elimination diet.  Even though I don’t believe in diet, I do like the idea that every six months or so I can give my body a break and go completely clean.  In the elimination diet you get rid of all the junk in your meals for 30 days.  I do an adaptation of that.  You see, I am starting a business, and the thing about elimination is that you pretty much loose the first week sleeping while your body purges all the damage.  I cannot afford to be sleepy and cranky for a week or 10 days.  My solution is to eliminate gradually.  The first week started last Monday, and  I gave up all soda.  It is now the first day of the second week and I am giving up white (rice, bread, pasta).

If I follow my plan as stated on my white board, next week I eliminate candy (which to me means chocolate) and the fourth week I eliminate dairy products.  (Alcohol and caffeine are also included in the elimination, however, I don’t drink much – I believe I’ve had four drinks since I got here 11 months ago – and aside from soda, I am not big on coffee either).  Once I get to the dairy products, then we start counting the 30 days.

I will let you know how it goes every Monday.  I can already tell you that I feel like a balloon that lost all the air, I feel like my stomach is already showing the signs of less bloating.  In the meantime, I want to know, what can you do this week, however small, to improve the way you nourish yourself.  Think about what you eat and instead of waiting yet another week to start that diet you are always saying you are going to start, change ONE thing.  It could be adding fruits or veggies, drinking more water, trying a new recipe and saving enough so that you can have a couple of servings this week or just getting rid of sodas, like me.  This is not about your weight, this is about your health.  Don’t wait, do it today.  If every week you stick to one healthy decision, you will have 4 new healthier habits by the end of a month.  Are you worth it?

Don’t forget to let me know what your choice was in the comments section before.  You can also tell me how you are doing, we love to read your comments and thoughts.  Any recipe suggestions are also welcome.

Do not let anyone tell you

what to do, not even me.

I was watching Dr Phil yesterday, Tuesday, because the topic was weight, something that interests me. They had advocates on both sides of the issue. I was a little disapointed that most of the “experts” talking about healthy weight were so “in your face” about it. In fact, one of the ladies on the pannel spent most of the episode defending herself against a particular comment instead of focusing on the issue. The reason why I decided to comment was a fitness trainer with a shirt that said “NO CHUBBIES” and spent most of the episode espousing his venom on people who are overweight.

First of all, it is sad that people might have facts on their side and loose the battle because of the methods they use. Although both people mentioned had some very important information about the obesity problem in America, their attacking behavior made them loose momentum and focus on the wrong things. Both these people have obese relatives and decided to use that as fuel for their mission. The problem is that once you start attacking “fat” people instead of teaching them, the overweight person is not going to listen to you.

Why do I bring this up? There are many reasons why some of us are overweight. Considering that 70% of Americans are overweight or obese, I would be a fool to think that EVERYBODY that reads this blog is skinny. Again, there might be many reasons: hormonal imbalances, psychological issues, laziness, lack of knowledge, medications, boredom or even the fact that some of us tried everything and we just gave up. Be that as it may, I started this year with a resolution about getting healthy, not loosing weight. Why? Because it is not about a number on a scale, it is about my knees not hurting anymore when I go for a long walk. It is about sleeping well and feeling rested when I wake up. It is about feeling good about myself, even if I ate a cookie, because I also had three fruits, three vegetables and plenty of water that day. It is about a choice that YOU have to make. Don’t let anyone, including me, tell you what you have to do.

If you watch my fan page or this blog, I try to include information from several sources, some I agree with and others I don’t. Why? Because that way, I can teach you that there are many sides to each story, and I leave it up to you to decide which one you feel more comfortable with. Then you can make the best decision for you.

You can press the name Dr Phil and once there, press Tuesday (April 6th) to see a preview of the show and get more information. You can leave your comments below about this particular issue. Have a great day.

Biggest Looser as a Metaphor for Life

I have always being a fan of the NBC show The Biggest Looser. Every year, I watch in awe at the accomplishments of the contestants.

As an observer, I have always separated Biggest Looser contestants in two distinct categories: the selfless and the selfish. The selfless are those who put everyone else first. They are willing to sacrifice their own progress. They are usually emotional eaters. Those are the ones you rut for. You enjoy watching their mentality change when they finally figure out that in order to care for others, they have to take care of themselves first.

Then you have the selfish. Those are the people that are in it to win it. They don’t usually take full advantage of the experience. They don’t learn more about how to eat and how to exercise. They don’t appreciate the opportunity they are given. They always think of themselves first. They eat out of glutony and are not emotional eaters. They just want a big helping of everything in life, the rest of the world be damned. Those are the people you cheer as they get kicked out of the show.

Which one are you? Are you the kind who puts others needs ahead of your own? Are you selfish? Are you a level headed person who cares for yourself in order to be of service to others? If you only think of YOU, maybe you should rethink your priorities. If you only think of others, its time to learn. You can only care for others when your own tank is full. That is not selfish because you are not taking more than you deserve. You are making you whole and then giving the rest to others.

If you are feeling tired…

you should make sure that you are getting nourished, get plenty of sleep and relax. Feeling tired is your body’s way of telling you that something is not right. Figure it out and take care of it.

Yesterday, I went out for a training. On the way back, I rode the bus system. It took me two hours to ride 16 miles. Needless to say, by the time I got home, I felt frustrated, hungry and tired. I was lucky enough that my daughter had made dinner, and I ate heartily. Then I took a nap. When I woke up, I was more tired than when I took my nap. I looked at my day and I realized that I had not eaten anything since breakfast, I had no water, and I walked, carrying a heavy bag for over a mile. I love walking so I did not notice the weight on the bag was stressing my back…until I woke up this morning.

Today, I am going for the second part of the training. What to do? I have snacks in my bag, I ate some cream of wheat, I packed my water bottle and I am more relaxed, having done some breathing exercises. Now all I need is to get some transportation set up for next week, because I cannot count on the bus system.

My question to you is this: what is making you feel tired? Look back on your day, or the last week, and identify those things that are wearing you out. Are you eating well? Do you need to supplement with a vitamin? Do you need to relax? Keep yourself accountable and take care of yourself.

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