Health Care Opinions

20 pounds at a time

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I’ve lost another 1.8 pounds this week. I feel fantastic. I was just reading a blog that was so inspiring. She said, “Since I’ve lost, I gained a life”. How true that statement is. Now that I am on this path of discovery, I have not considered the endless life changes that I will experience. If I felt that my life was pretty good before, I am on the road to greatness!

I have already noticed changes with my sleep, mood, and energy levels. It really is truly a transformation. My goal is to not get a head of myself, and appreciate the steps that I am making, on a day-to-day basis. One thing I have done to avoid overwhelming myself is to place my weight loss goals in small 20 pound increments. Overwhelming myself is a real possibility, if I took on an insurmountable goal; my task would seem more daunting and frightening.

20 pounds is easier to digest than 80 or 100 pounds. At the end of each 20 pound victories, I do something nice for myself, and I start all over again, as if it is day one! I hope I am not making it seem that the 20 pounds are easy to shed, because they are not, but it is a real conclusion. Moving past what our society and environment expects is the tough part, because there is not a quick fix to transforming a lifestyle. Sure, I could explore the options that are available, such as gastric bypass or Phentermine or Orlistat (weight loss medications). However, are these things going to change my behavior; my mental thoughts of food; decrease my ignorance on good and bad foods? No, it is not.

These things are quick fixes and temporary. The Mayo Clinic found that ” it’s common to regain weight no matter what obesity treatment methods you try. ” This means that all the work that should have been done, in the beginning, still has to take place, to keep up the weight loss. One way or another, a behavioral change has to take place, or the weight will come back.

So, I am settling in to my 20 pounds at a time, while I walk into a better life, one day at a time.

Reference:

Mayo Clinic (2012). Treatments and drugs. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/obesity/ds00314/dsection=treatments-and-drugs

Am I fat or PHAT (Practical, Honest, and Talented)?

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I have always known that I was overweight. However, I had never experienced a negative reaction to my waistline. After moving to Charlotte, I realized that there was a very negative perception of overweight people. I was young and naïve. I have worked hard all of my life. I am the farthest thing from lazy. For God’s sake, I had chopped cotton, down in the rural parts of The Delta.  I have usually worked two jobs; although, I was completing my degree. Socially and physically, I have never felt any restraints. What I wanted to do, I did. So realizing that I was, supposedly, lazy, unhappy, sad, and lonely was more shocking and sad. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I moved to Colorado, which has a 19% obesity rate (Calorielab 2008).

I remember an incident, after moving here. I went to have dinner with a co-worker and met some really great people. One of the girls and I had become really good friends. She later revealed too me that when she saw me walking in, she immediately thought “oh my, here comes another large, unhappy, mad-at-the-world black woman.” I was so shocked, by her admission. Along with her admission, she offered an apology and acknowledged that my life had order and an independence that she longs for. This gives meaning to NOT judging a book by its cover, right?

Now, I wonder how often does this happen? How often am I seen, and immediately dismissed into the unimportant bucket, before I am heard? I don’t want that to happen, because I am pretty PHAT, regardless of my waistline. I am driven, smart, and has a supreme case of curiosity that will keep me grounded, forward-thinking, and ambitions.

I recently found an article that stated that the power of weight loss does not come easy for some. In this case, young black and white girls were studied. It was found that with daily exercise/activity Caucasian girls can easily keep up a healthy weight. However, for the African-American girls exercise needs increasing; although, they were unable to decide how much more exercise was needed. In fact, their study concluded, “But for black girls, there was no clear link between physical activity at age 12 and obesity at 14 (Pittman 2012).” The conclusion, in my opinion, stated that obesity is inevitable for some African-American girls.

This article did not offer any other avenues for the black girls to make a healthy weight loss. As for me, I have learned that no matter how active I am, my weight is not going to change, unless I begin the process of introducing healthier choices of food and utilizing portion control. These things should not have been introduced, at the age of 12 and 14, but at the earliest stages of being a toddler.

Within my family, I have decided to start now. My 17 month has just now become picky. She does not do well with green things. She likes to play with her peas, squish between her fingers, and give them back to me. However, if I add them in a soup, and I do not allow her to self-feed, she will gobble it up. Her dad has been able to successfully get her to eat spinach. I think she likes the seasoning he uses. If I am eating broccoli, and I feed it to her, she will eat it. At this age, I have found that most things are eaten, based on the introduction. My daughter is of me, metaphorically and physically speaking. She copies everything I do.

Based on this article, I can probably feebly defend my waistline, though I will not. It is still my responsibility to make sure my health and that of my family leads to the road of success. This article also explains that obesity is more than just laziness and will power. With the obesity talks on the table, hopefully our policy-makers and consumers can talk evenly and equally about the nature of this beast and how to contain it.

References:

Pittman, Genevra (2012). Black girls don’t benefit as much from exercise. MSNBC. Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47694881/ns/health-childrens_health/

Calorielab (2008). Mississippi is the fattest state for 6th straight year, Colorado still leanest, Rhode Island getting fatter, Alaska slimmer. Retrieved from http://calorielab.com/news/2011/06/30/fattest-states-2011/

What can be done about obesity?

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We have First Lady Michelle Obama asking everyone to introduce activity to our children and into our daily lives. We have Mayor Michael Bloomberg forcing change by trying to control the ordering size of beverages. We have Jennifer Hudson singing will power into losing the weight. What are the consumers (the obese) doing to take part? If they are not willing to become a part of this issue, then it will not change. The incentives for losing the weight only benefits the obese.  It is their health care premium rates that will not drastically increase; they are not forced to vacate the airplane or pay for an extra seat. With their employers knowing that they do care and are actively involved in transforming their lives, job opportunities could also increase. It is a win-win for those that are obese to become actively involved in their lives.

Why is it so difficult for those that are obese to move out of their on way, which includes minimizing the ridicule, the doubt, and stereotypic behaviors?

Change is hard. There is so much uncertainty in change. The doubt and fear are crippling (Saltz 2007): What if I do not do well? What if I fail? What if I stop and cannot start again? Will the new look suit me? Can I handle the change, both physically and mentally? What if I gain, and not lose?

The war on obesity is not about food size or money, but that of a mental blockage, in my opinion. As Dr. Saltz (2007) stated, finding what triggered the weight gain is life changing. I cannot imagine a person wanting a pass over a job opportunity, mistreatment, or discriminated against because of their weight. Although, many of us may not do well avoiding misery, I am sure it is not sought after. That’s a part of life. We can wish life perfect; however, it comes with trials and tribulations. Some of our issues is weight; some have issues with drugs and alcohol.  The vast difference is those that are overweight/obese cannot hide what is so obvious, and are immediately placed at a disadvantage. It does not mean that all obese people are slow, stupid, uncaring, uneducated, or writhing with loneliness and unhappiness. Quite often, we are seen, before we are heard, therefore escaping the stereotypes become very difficult.

The insurance premiums will continue to rise; the airlines will continue to increase rates. It will be the same story as the smokers. Anyone that is obese should expect this to happen. Right and wrong is not my argument. In sake of competition, businesses are going to stay competitive, and this is another way to increase revenue. What we must understand is that it is not anyone’s responsibility to correct this problem, but that of the obese. Yes, we can face the issue of whether it is morally or ethically wrong for organizations to make profit for what some consider as a mental disorder, but can we really blame them?

Understanding that creating revenue is a chain reaction, when more than one type of organization can find profit, in a problem area. The insurance companies can decrease reimbursement rates on physicians, because they are seeing the patient often. The self-funded employer groups can ask that certain diabetic supplies and high blood pressure medicines be excluded from the formulary or durable medical equipment policy. The airlines can increase rates for their plus size customers. Head hunters can assume that their percentage will decrease, because there is a perceived notion that someone overweight is not appealing or physically suited for a job.

The increasing health care cost of America’s most visible consumers are that of the obese. The obese are not the only cost drivers, but this is a campaign issue, due to health care reform. Obesity has an estimated annual price tag, nationally, of $190 billion (Begley 2012). This sticker price guarantees this issue is not leaving anytime soon.

So what can be done about obesity? We, you, them cannot do anything, only I can affect change. If this is in fact a mental disorder, then this has to be acknowledged and handled appropriately, by the obese person. If it is a choice to become overweight, then accepting all that comes with it, has to become a part of daily living.

References:

Saltz, Gail (2007). Conquer your fears about losing excess weight. MSNBC. Retrieved from http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/19488269/ns/today-relationships/t/conquer-your-fears-about-losing-excess-weight/

Begley, Sharon (2012). The Cost of Obesity. The HuffingtonPost.com. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/obesity-costs-dollars-cents_n_1463763.html

Michael Bloomberg’s Obesity fight: Cure or attack?

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Lately, I have thought about the new challenges that are being fought against obesity. The moral and ethical parts can be argued by someone else; however, as a health care professional, I want to talk about the need or necessity in this matter. Starting with the idea of whether Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, is on to something by banning large soft drinks in restaurants and movie theaters (Baker 2012), with a few questions:

  1. Should Mr. Bloomberg force people on consumption?
  2. Can he do this, legally?
  3. Is this hard-line going to slow obesity?

I do not believe that anyone should become able to force such a change. Forcing a change is not going to truly address the issues of obesity. However, Mr. Bloomberg is trying to combat the issue of obesity, which has become a contributing factor in the rise of health care cost. We can all argue until we are all blue in the face that this is morally and ethically wrong, and it still is not going to change minds overnight.

Convincing a person that drinking water could help keep up their weight loss over the years, and greatly reduce the risk of many health care scares, should not become a forced argument. Which is why many doctors are arguing that obesity is a mental disorder (Caplan 2011). There are many contributing factors to obesity, and that is not going to change, until that person begin to take part.

Legally, Mr. Bloomberg cannot stop an individual from receiving a 16 oz soda and consuming refills, which are sometimes offered for free. Is he then going to force the restaurants to not serve free soda refills? For the sake of argument, let’s say that the restaurants do that, what is to keep the consumers from simply purchasing another soda? Raising the prices on cigarettes did decrease smokers, but after a while, it just leveled off and was essentially unchanged from 2004 to 2010 (CDC 2011). Will this be the same outcome with the attempts to slow the rate of obesity?

The power of fat is not going to slow, because of a law. It is not going to slow, because of public opinion. It is not going to slow, because of the lowered consumption of sodas. One cannot be willed to decrease their waste line, by either force or enticements. It has to come emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically from the inside out, and although Mr. Bloomberg has good intentions, it is not going to drastically decrease the rate of obesity.

References:

CDC (2011). Decrease in Smoking Prevalence — Minnesota, 1999–2010. Retrieved from  http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6005a2.htm

Caplan, Paula J. (2011). Should Obesity Be Called a Mental Illness?. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-isnt-golden/201105/should-obesity-be-called-mental-illness

Baker, Sam (2012). Bloomberg’s hard line on soft drinks has industry shook up. The Hill. Retrieved from http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/nutrition/230577-bloombergs-hard-line-on-soft-drinks-has-industry-shook-up