I remember when the government first announced its Healthy People 2010 project. The 10-year goals were created to improve the health of the nation and set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). I remember thinking when the project came out, more than 10 years ago, that the goals were ambitious, yet I was thrilled that obesity and a healthy lifestyle was being talked about on such a national level.
Well, it’s 10 years later, and it’s time for another set of health goals for the United States: Healthy People 2020. This time, the goals are much more moderate, as the obesity epidemic is only getting more widespread.
There are fast food restaurants, and then there are fast food restaurants that put the rest of them to shame. Such is the case with the oft maligned Heart Attack Grill in Chandler, AZ.
Profiled in the media for their insane menu, which consists of the biggest burgers available (called the single, double, triple and quadruple bypass burgers), fries deep fried in lard, butterfat shakes, no filter cigarettes and Jolt Cola, they’ve recently come under fire for their newest promotion and spokesman.
Without a doubt, physical exercise is important for each and every person on this planet. Unfortunately, some people don’t receive all the benefits of every workout, and may even incur some unwanted side effects. When this happens, it’s usually because of a chosen lifestyle that inhibits the body’s ability to function properly. For example, a lot of smokers believe that exercise can cancel out the negative effects of their habit. This is simply not true.
Everyone knows by now that smoking is dangerous; it causes numerous health complications and even death. Cigarettes affect the body in the exact opposite way that exercise does. All of the hard work you do during a workout is negated by the poisonous chemicals in a cigarette. Besides that, even a mild smoker prevents their organs from performing in top condition and then demands that those same organs support their body during an intense workout.
A new study has found that heart attacks have dropped by a dramatic 24 percent in a large group of people studied in Northern California. Even more dramatically, there was a 62 percent drop in the most severe type of heart attack, known as an ST-segment elevation heart attack. A coronary artery is fully blocked.
The study’s authors don’t think it’s happened by accident.
“We believe improvements in targeting risk factors are in part responsible,” says the study’s senior author, Dr. Alan Go, M.D., the assistant director for clinical research at Kaiser Permanente, in Oakland, California. “We’ve observed in our population that fewer people are smoking, and there’s better control of blood pressure and cholesterol.”
I am sure you have heard the argument before that quitting smoking can help you save money. It is one reason used to argue for a tax on cigarettes. Recently, there have even been discussions of a tax on soda and possibly other unhealthy foods. Often our wallets are more important in motivating us than our own health.
Recently, I was able to visit Africa and help deliver supplies to orphanages that did not have electricity, beds, or even windows. They were enthusiastic, but a suitcase of children’s clothes just did not seem like enough. One orphanage told us that they are trying to raise money and just $2500 would build an entirely new building to house 30+ orphans. How could I not think about how much money I spend on frivolous things when there are children sleeping on concrete and not getting enough to eat? (more…)
During session the other day, a client stated that one of the reasons he/she first started counseling was because if you do not do anything differently then nothing will ever change. I am always proud when a client owns such a statement and even more so in this case because I believe this client has never heard that from me, even if it is a foundational belief that I share. I am certainly not the only change professional that holds to this idea and you have probably heard variations of the same theme from several sources. I recently read about an extreme use of this idea in the book When You Are Engulfed by Flames by David Sedaris. David writes that when he wanted to quit smoking, he needed to shake up his schedule and break his routine, so he moved to Japan for a while. (more…)
Our public servants in Washington, D.C. get some pretty nice perks. But one such benefit, the congressional gym, isn’t to the liking of Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI).
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter
When going to the gym, McCotter can’t stand it if there are no ashtrays available. The congressman told Fox News that he doesn’t “go there very much because A, they don’t have ashtrays… And B, the one time I was there, my first trip, someone sort of was talc-ing themselves, and offered their hand and I just said, ‘Hey, we’re cool, dude.'” (more…)
When we think of smokers, most non-smokers think about the elementary fact that they are at a serious risk of premature death. And often, people scoff at the behavior as being careless, which usually begins in the impressionable teenage years. But research now shows that it’s not any more dangerous (or frivolous) for young adults to smoke than it is to be overweight.
Dr. Martin Neovius of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and his colleagues stressed that since overweight and smoking are both associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, that if young adults fall in either category, they are at risk of an early death. Although the pathogenic mechanisms differ, he said, a synergistic effect of smoking and obesity may be possible.
The researchers found that obesity and being overweight in late adolescence increased mortality risk, regardless of whether or not they also smoked.
Researchers concluded that “overweight, obesity, and smoking among adolescents might be good targets for intensified public health initiatives.”
(via: MedPage Today)
Another technique used to encourage life change is Environmental Reevaluation, which combines both emotional and cognitive assessments of how a personal habit affects those around you, as well as the understanding that you are a role model for others. We are not always aware of who is watching what we do, but there is always someone whether it is a child (even if not your own), a boss, or a potential client.
For parents it is hugely important to remember that the old saying “do what I say, not what I do” will never work. Children pattern themselves after what is modeled for them. If they see you doing otherwise, they are most likely to learn that those behaviors (whatever they may be) are simply a privilege of being an adult. (more…)
Dramatic Relief is another technique for lifestyle change that has been adopted by anti-obesity and healthy living campaigns. It has also been used frequently in anti-smoking campaigns. Dramatic Relief can be used no matter your goal, and is designed to help move you from the Contemplation stage to Determination and towards Action. Dramatic Relief works by creating an experience of increased emotion which is followed by a relief from that emotion if a step towards life change is taken. Dramatic experiences can include anything moving such as testimonies, psychodrama, and media campaigns. These type of ad campaigns use uncomfortable emotions, such as fear, disgust, or guilt, so people are motivated to do something not to feel this same way again.
It is the idea used in “reverse thinspiration,” or when someone puts a picture of themselves at their highest weight on the refrigerator. It’s the reason we call loved ones after watching a sappy movie or go clean the kitchen after reading an article about salmonella. It’s hard to imagine driving your kids through a fast food restaurant and not portioning their servings after driving by one of these billboards: