Friday, July 19, 2013

Knowledge changes everything

As this week closes out, I realize today why it is so important for people to have the right job for them.  It changes a lot of our overall happiness with life.  My knowledge of bariatrics is challenged, all the time.  My knowledge of metabolic disorders is challenged, and I rise to the challenge.  My continual efforts to read and educate myself on what we know between science and what we're doing in society and government is important to me.

Today, I had the opportunity to speak to a patient who had weight loss surgery 30 years ago. While I wasn't shocked that she didn't know the exact name of the procedure she'd had, once she described it to me I knew the exact name, without hesitation.  I connected with her and earned her trust and was able to help her with ease.  It was one of those moments that I was impressed with my brain, it didn't feel so broken. 

It's easy to feel broken. We can feel tired, worn out and desperate for change, but life has a way of knowing when change will come. We have control over what we do, what we say, what we put in our mouths and what comes out.  When positive things start to happen, it seems like it becomes easier to bring in more positive. Positivity is abundant as dreams come true if you open your heart to it.

When I think of how I show my authenticity with clients, I show it by being patient, kind, nurturing, inquisitive, non-judgmental with a little bit of humor and a lot of love for listening, empathizing, problem solving, creating, collaborating and designing a better life. Reaching out for help has a lot of stigma attached to it. You have to be able to trust a strange with your story and how it ends. Who you trust and how they process your concerns-- will they act in your best interest to facilitate conversation that will motivate positive behavior and action?

Counseling is not Freudian psychoanalysis or Gestalt talk therapy. While I do think it is highly beneficial to talk to an empty chair when you're struggling with the words you need to describe your pain, it is finding the release for all the anger, fear, hurt and pain in a counseling session. That's what counseling is. You have a place where you can describe the ugly truth, how you really feel about anything and everything and what you can do to move away from that negativity.  

Therapy is not solely counseling though, and many people get the same contemplative satisfaction from recreation, entertainment, and sports.  Simply put though, if you do these things to avoid thinking about negative situations and decline action toward coping and processing your emotional pain, it may catch up to you. It may prevent you from leading the life you could have lived.  In order to lead the life we want to live, e have to talk about what it is we want.  Do you know what you truly want?  Understand your motivations and live your dreams! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Exploitation of Self... and others.

Over the years, I've realized that there are many people on this Earth who will stop at nothing to make a buck.  While I understand their entrepreneurial spirit, this week I have seen more than I'd like of new lows.  First, I've blogged before about the impracticalities of The Biggest Loser, but the recent uproar in the media with Tara Costa, The Biggest Loser 2009 contestant and her endless legal battles, really upset me.  Not that she is exploiting her reality TV show fame, though there is that, it's the selling of her image and the "fired because she gained weight" part that outrages me.

I must note, I hate the way this male Fox reporter questions her and gets her on the defensive. He bullies her. "Lead a positive, healthful lifestyle." says Costa, and I wish her the best with becoming a physical education teacher.  Let's hope the government moves to bring back physical education is ALL school. What outrages me is that she has to defend her weight.  But to add insult to injury she had a lawsuit with him in the first place, and clearly, all this is about is money and her body image.

On the juxtaposed, we have Tammy Jung, but in the same arena of money earners who don't mind exploiting themselves for a dime:

No.  Words.

"My career ambition is to become as popular as possible and I hope I just continue to make lots and lots of money."  

It's hard to understand why someone who was not obese would want to become obese for profit to me. I realize my moral upbringing does influence the way I define appropriate behavior.  As a counselor, self awareness is essential, however, I don't think this is me viewing my moral code through a foggy lens. My therapist's intuition is that there is much more deep-seeded conflict in this young lady's life that we are not hearing the story on.  While I understand mental health issues, I don't understand why one would deliberately deteriorate their health for money.  It's JUST MONEY.  It means nothing in the end.  The quality of your life right now is ALL YOU HAVE.  I could go on about this, but I won't.  It will just upset me and make me feel helpless because I can't do anything for her.

Next up, Let's talk about the BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA.  Do they need anymore bad press coverage?  Seems to me they are looking for it.  I can't understand WHY they would ostracize the young adolescents members that need them the most.
And I quote, "Excessive body weight increases risk for numerous health problems. To ensure the best experience, Scouts and Scouters should be of proportional height and weight. One such measure is the Body Mass Index (BMI), which can be calculated using a tool from the Centers for Disease Control here: . Calculators for both adults and youth are available. It is recommended that youth fall within the fifth and 85th percentiles. Those in the 85th to 95th percentiles are at risk and should work to achieve a higher level of fitness."

Umpfhhh... So, you mean to tell me that overweight and obese male adolescents wouldn't benefit in the reduction of their excess weight by participating in scouting?  Seems to me to go against their motto: On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

If "a Scout" is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent-- aren't they also NOT A BULLY.  Don't they their peers with respect and help them to improve themselves together?  Let's outcast the overweight and obese kids, not include them so they can feel lonely and discluded from normal adolescent activities. You know what happens when kids are ostracized, lonely, and discluded from physical activity?  They show increased depression, anxiety, anger and lethargy.

How does that solve the obesity epidemic?

It doesn't.

It does nothing to move society forward and away from obesity.  It encourages bullying.

And while I'm on the topic of bullying and people asking you for your money.  Please do not join "secret groups" on Facebook that ask you to spend $49.95 for support.  There's plenty of free support and weight ins available from your peers.  When someone asks you for money for their support, they are no longer your peer, you are their customer.  All you are to them are $$, when you stop giving them $$, they will likely no longer support you. They might even bully you when you aren't successful.  Is that what you really need when you are down in the dumps and seeking help because you fell off the wagon?


I didn't think so either.

Now, I must go do the duty.  A solid hour at the gym, every single day. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Treat me like you would anyone else...

I'd like to address a topic that is somewhat intangible and taboo because it's just not always grasped by everyone.  Bedside manner and word choice in how doctors and surgeons present with obese patients.  I find the time surgeons really spend with their patients greatly lacking in depth. The patients they advise to change, to lead a healthier life, that education part falls far too short.  It's embarrassing to hear stories of patients being operated on and being set out to fend for themselves.  No guidance and poor advice or thoughtless direction-- there's really is no excuse in this day and age.

We have WEBCAMS and INTERNET now.  It's not difficult to support your patients as a group anymore.  Every surgeon could spend one hour a month in an online seminar, facilitated on a different topic, each month... Why Not?  I feel like, to me, the tech savvy counselor who, when free for an hour or so, will jump on cam and just talk with my peers, this is a simple gesture that really could go a long way. I just do it because I like to hear people's stories and understand -- because they share a single common factor with me:  the struggle with obesity.

I have heard too many instances of our peers writing of their experiences with primary care doctors who don't recommend surgery because they have not taken the time to educate themselves about the advances in surgical techniques.  It's their responsibility to take part in the follow up care necessary, but they just don't understand a bariatric patient's needs.  Every primary care doctor should understand that obesity is not a condition to blame on their patient.  Blaming an obese person for being obese is not going to send the message that needs to be sent.

The message that needs to be sent is this: "I am your doctor, I care about you. I want you to care about yourself by taking an interest in becoming healthier."  How do you do that?  Well, there are so many prescriptions for healthy, without drugs, without surgery.  If either of those things are used, it should not be shamed, it is just one element in a myriad of factors that can reduce body fat.

It's the head stuff we're so hesitant to talk about, all around.  All around, nobody wants to talk about feelings.  Obesity is a topic that evokes heavy emotion in those of us who have suffered with it.  It hurts our hearts, literally and figuratively. Who hasn't experienced negativity toward them because of their weight?  *No one.* Not even thin people, because they are just as scrutinized, because no one can be happy with what God gave them, they seek perfection constantly.  Just be.  Be happy with what you have and who you are, just for a minute.

Take in the moment in knowing that it is the way you feel about yourself that matters most.  While so many of us want so much to be at a place where we are happy with our bodies, it is how we present who we are today that makes all the difference.  Content with one's self. Right now, BE.  Be happy. Treat others with respect, you will if you show yourself respect too.  Respect that you're working toward BIG GOALS, at small paces.  Tiny, daily steps... it's a hard road, a tough journey, a difficult road that you can never predict accurately, you just have to roll with what is put in your path.

One last thought, when a doctor makes you feel uncomfortable and does not listen to you, speak up for yourself. Tell them when you feel they are being insensitive toward you because you are carrying extra weight.  Call them out on their poor bedside manner. They are taught to question everything, NOT judge you.  Assess and advice, not judge and be insensitive. Hush that voice inside you that tells you negative things like your opinion is not valid, your feelings don't matter. THEY MATTER 100% OF THE TIME.

This is how you advocate for yourself.  It's how you start a movement.  It's how you make the system change.  It's how you develop a model for care that includes the validity of every patient's feelings on their health.  Our healthcare system, surgeons, doctors, nurses, techs, counselors and social workers, ALL need to understand that being insensitive to obese patients is not what they deserve.  They all must be given the opportunity to rethink their philosophies on how to treat obesity as a disease, just as alcohol and drugs are given that status, even more so, this is a much more unique to the individual's genetic and social identity.

Treat me like you would anyone else. Without shame or blame.  With Love. With Compassion. With Care.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Recipe and a Thought

Wedding Cake Protein Shake

1 scoop of Vanilla Pure Protein (By far my favorite economical protein supplement, available at Sam's Club for $20 for 20 servings)
1/2 c. Greek Yogurt (Great Value brand, non-fat is 11g protein @ 60 calories)
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract
3/4 c. Almond Milk (Blue Diamond, unsweetened original or unsweetened vanilla @ 30 calories per cup)

Blend with ice. Drink or pop in the freezer for a few hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so. Great alternative to ice cream! Stir in some chopped almonds and frozen raspberries for a low calorie, high protein meal.

A "meal," what does that mean anymore? 

As a pre-op, a meal consisted of several items to me. There was a meat, a veggie, a carb and a drink. I am happy to say that I have moved away from all sodas long before weight loss surgery (though, I was never much of a soda drinker to begin with) and exclusively drink water or unsweetened coffee or tea. Even since the LapBand was removed, I continue to not drink during meals. But a "meal" becoming 10 or 12 oz. of a protein shake, still is really not a meal to me. I never adopted the thought that these "meal replacements shakes" were going to be my way of life. I'm too much of a foodie.

This shake really helps to sort out my negative feelings about giving one of my favorite things up. Wedding cake. I am a sucker for it, sugar free wedding cake snowballs are my favorite summer treat. Now, this Wedding Cake ice cream or protein shake is a go to "meal" for me, any day of the week.