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Health
05/13/2010
IconMy recent comments about obesity as both a health issue and an overall economic issue generated quite a number of responses.' Some people wrote, detailing medical histories that made it impossible for them to get down to a normal weight.' While there are always exceptions, I wanted to share with you a seemingly "impossible" situation faced by a woman who weighed over 400 pounds.' She knew that losing weight was going to be very difficult, but she made the changes in her life that kept her on the path to good health, and she's a real inspiration to us all (I've not included her name, for reasons of privacy): Dear Dr. Laura: I am an obese person.' Two years ago, my sister asked me to have surgery.' I did not want to have it, because I was afraid of the risk.' I did not know how heavy I was, because my doctor's scale limit is 400 pounds.' I promised my sister I would change my behavior, but not go on a diet. I went to the doctor and got some information and a health exam.' Then I began to make plans on changing my behavior.' [In the past], I was not eating breakfast or lunch.' I was so hungry when I got home, I would eat easy fast food instead of taking the time to prepare food.' I would also binge late at night.' The doctor suggested I no longer skip meals. First change: I eat breakfast and lunch. Second change: Drink before eating.' I drink water, and, for flavor, sometimes Crystal Light.' I learned that when the body needs something, it is not specific.' It just says "I need," and "stomach feels empty." Third change: Choose better foods.' If heart tells brain "I need nutrients," and stomach tells brain "I am full of garbage," the brain sends the message "empty stomach." Fourth change: Thinking of food in a different way.' It's neither my entertainment nor my entitlement.' Better food will get me up the stairs at work.' At 200+ pounds overweight, life becomes stationary.' Nutrition can replace that. Fifth change: Reduce the amount of food.' The doctor suggested that I keep a log of my food and drink.' I wrote down everything for two weeks.' I was eating more than I thought.' Over time, I reduced my starch in half and then in half again.' Today...I do not plan food or write it down.' For me, I would be thinking of food too much.' I eat set breakfast and lunch meals.' Dinner is now something that can be made in 30 minutes. Sixth change: Move more.' Your nagging worked.' The doctor suggested low impact exercise over a long period of time.' No jack rabbit starts and stops.' I can't sustain walking out of water, so I walk 1 hour in water and backstroke 1 hour, six times a week.' I get stares.' I stare back.' I am not ashamed.' I have changed. There is no diet for me to break from.' The only thing left is to feel the frustration.' It renews my dedication to my life change.' The first two years, I lost 70 pounds.' It's the first time in 15 years I have not gained weight.' I have been exercising for a month. Thank you, Dr. Laura, for all your nagging.' I wish I would have started earlier.' The last two years made it possible.' It gave me a foundation of nutrition that sustains me while I move.' I now move more and eat less.' I can hardly wait until next year. Thanks again for the kick in the butt. More >>

Tags: Eat Less-Move MoreHealthObesityPersonal Responsibility
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05/13/2010
IconI always look for patterns in callers' questions, because I'm interested in what that pattern means in terms of what folks have come to believe...and why.' A persistent thought seems to be that impulse is irresistible.' That means, if you feel like a burger or a cigarette or a roll in the hay with someone you know you shouldn't be with, then you have some kind of addiction, which means a disease, which means out of your control .That's a darn good rationalization...but it ain't true.' The only irresistible impulse is one which hasn't been resisted , and that is most definitely (but not simply) a choice .I say "not simply," because resisting impulses is difficult and sometimes painful.' Generally, such inappropriate behaviors have the purpose of 1) immediate gratification of feelings, and 2) hiding you from other emotionally distressing thoughts and feelings.' That means that, if you resist the impulse to drink, eat, or have a sexual fling in the office stationery closet, you will be left with the anxiety or sadness that resides within.It is clear, therefore, that the emphasis should be on dealing with the not-so-well submerged anxieties and sadness.' For example, a man called recently to say that he is mean to his wife, criticizing anything he sees around the house.' I immediately suggested that he saw the cluttered kitchen counter as a sign his wife didn't love him.' Now, you'd think that was a ridiculous leap, but it was "spot on."' He (after some nagging from me) offered that his mother had not been, well, "motherly" and loving.' To this day, he has his wife do things to prove/make up for the lack of affection and attention he missed as a child.' Did he know he was doing this and why?' Yes for the "doing;" no for the "why."I suggested he go home with a flower in hand and tell his wife that he needed her to hold him.' I told him that's what "his woman" was for.' You can always hire a maid, but you can't hire someone to really love and care about you.' He was treating his wife like his mom, when he really needed her to be a wife with loving kindness.You get love by being open to it, and by being loving in return.' You do not get love by eating that cake, smoking that joint, drinking that beer or overpowering those who care about you.'Resist those impulses.' Yes, it's painful and difficult, both physically and emotionally, but the ultimate reward is the very thing you've been trying to get (just all in the wrong way), and that thing is LOVE. More >>

Tags: AddictionEat Less-Move MoreHealthObesityPersonal ResponsibilitySmokingSocial Issues
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Tags: AttitudeCommitmentDatingDisappointmentEducationFamily/Relationships - TeensFriendshipsHealthHopeMarriageMotherhood-FatherhoodPersonal ResponsibilityPregnancyPurposeSocial IssuesTeens
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05/13/2010
IconBeware "The Calorie Police!"' At least, that's how some look at the newly proposed Federal legislation which would require chain restaurants with 20 or more establishments to post the calories of everything they serve, right on the menu.' The National Restaurant Association, which originally fought calorie posting, now says it supports it.Dr. Lynn Silver, Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention & Control at New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says "We hope this law will have a significant impact on both the frequency of obesity and diabetes in our city [which already has the law, by the way].' We estimate that in our city there will be 150,000 fewer people obese because of this." Well, I don't know if that's true, since every time I go out to eat, I see relatively fit people eating fish and vegetables and fat people eating lasagna with extra cheese.I've only encountered the calorie menu one time so far, and it was in New York.' There were dishes I thought were healthy, but I was totally wrong about them.' I definitely ordered my meals completely based on calorie content, leaving out foods I knew were yummy but which were calorie-laden.' Nonetheless, I was shocked to see how many relatively innocent-looking dishes had enough calories for the entire day and the next morning too.I know people who have worked in a number of restaurants, and they tell me that to make food "delicious," extra sugar, fat and salt are added by the bucketful.' Butter, butter, and more butter; sugar to make the food sweeter, and salt to give more flavor.' This is especially true when the meat, poultry or fish is not of the highest quality or if it's a bit old.I've gotten to the point that no matter what I order (even fish), I ask for whatever sauce they are serving to be put on the side.' I never have salad with dressing - again, I order any dressing on the side.' If I use any sauce or dressing at all, it's a micro drizzle for a little taste.'Do I think this will diminish obesity?' No.' I do think, however, that it will help people with self discipline as well as the motivation to be healthy to make the right choices and not be undermined right under their noses.' I think that, generally, folks with limited motivation and self-discipline will ignore or rationalize the calorie facts and add unwanted pressure to our health system, where the health-conscious have to financially support the health- un conscious behavior of others.'I do believe that the calorie count posting laws might serve to have restaurants cut fewer corners when it comes to the quality of their cooking and their menu planning.' And that I am looking forward to! More >>

Tags: Eat Less-Move MoreHealthObesity
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05/13/2010
IconPolice authorities are on a nation-wide search for a mother and her 13-year-old cancer-stricken son who fled after refusing chemotherapy that doctors say could save the boy's life.' The two left their Minnesota home after a doctor's appointment and X-ray showed his tumor had grown.' A court has issued an arrest warrant (ruling the mother in contempt of court), and has ordered that the boy be placed in foster care and immediately evaluated for treatment by a cancer specialist .'His parents insist on alternative medicines, citing religious beliefs.' That led authorities to seek custody, as the court ruled that the boy's parents were medically neglecting their son, as his form of cancer is considered highly curable with chemotherapy and radiation.The parents believe in the philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and such.' However, lately the dad has jumped ideological ships and is now agreeing that his son needs the best treatment with a doctor of medicine.All over the blogosphere, you can read arguments as to whether or not the court should be able to countermand the parents.' My opinion?' Absolutely yes...when it is clear that the child is in imminent harm and there are the means to rescue him.This child is in imminent harm because of his parents and the cancer itself.' Since the cancer is likely curable, it is unconscionable for his life to be taken by parents who choose some extreme religious views which put their child on the road to death.' Secondly, the child, 13, cannot read due to some learning disability.' I question whether or not the parents helped him with that problem either.' Since the boy cannot read, he is relying on the "wisdom" of his parents, who are not giving him the truth, which is "chemo will save you and herbs will let you die in pain."Personally, I am very respectful of most (not all) religious views.' I am completely dis respectful of religious views which result in taking the life of an innocent - in this case, robbing the life of an innocent child. More >>

Tags: AbuseChild NeglectChildrenFamily/Relationships - ChildrenHealthParentingReligionValues
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05/13/2010
IconI received this poignant email about a heartbreaking topic, but Kelly has found inspiration in her loss, and that's the message I'd like to pass on to all of you: Dr. Laura:I listened to a call you took from a woman who had lost a baby (a twin), and wondered how to handle this as she tried to go forward in life.' I thought I'd share how my family has coped with our loss. My son was stillborn almost 13 years ago now.' He was my first baby, and the loss was devastating, especially since it was such a struggle to conceive him at all.' Three months after the loss I became pregnant again (huge surprise!).' How could I be happy for this baby when I was still mourning my son?' It was scary and hard, but I was determined to notice what would become good memories, so that I would have them to share with this child as she was growing up and wanting to hear how happy we were as we anticipated her arrival.' But I still struggled each year as the anniversary of my son's birth/death approached. And then I read a story about a woman who had been raped and left for dead.' After years of agonizing fear and dread as the anniversary of her attack approached each year, she decided to do something to change all that.' She used that date each year to celebrate her life, and the fact that she still had it.' By this time, we had already shared with our daughter that she had a brother in heaven who watched over her.' I decided to take that a step further. Rather than trying to cover up or explain my sadness at that time each year, I decided to make it a time of remembrance and appreciation.' If nothing else, my son's death taught me just how fleeting this life is, and there is not a moment to take for granted. It took me a long time to get to this place, but now, on that day each year, my husband, my daughter and I take that day off (no matter what) just to spend time with each other doing something fun, and remembering how appreciative we are that we have each other. We've been camping, spent a day at the park, went to the beach...anything that immersed us in each other.' And we take time out to remember our son, and thank him for that awesome lesson.' When it comes to the loss of a child, I really think every person has to find his or her own way.' I just thought I'd share ours, in hopes that it might help someone else. Kelly More >>

Tags: Family/Relationships - ChildrenHealthMotherhoodMotherhood-FatherhoodParenting
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05/13/2010
IconLast week was my annual "girl parts" checkup - pelvic exam and mammogram.' I am grateful to be able to say that all's well with me.I'm blogging about this because I want all you men and women to have your yearly physicals, including full blood work, cancer screening, colonoscopies (I do that every 5 years now), and maybe even a full body scan.Ultimately, it really doesn't matter what does or doesn't "run in your family."' Your body physiology and behaviors (such as nutrition, substance abuse, physicality, and environment) are all unique to you, so don't think you're "safe" because no one in your family has "such and such."I also realize that many of you may be scared that if you get a checkup, something will be found.' Well, that logic would be okay with me IF not going to a doctor for a physical insured that you wouldn't get anything serious.' That's just not how life works.I'm always nervous before my yearly exams.' At 62, I figure I will eventually have to deal with something, although I just might go out mid-breath in my sleep at age104.' I take very good care of myself, but....you never know.' After I finish the battery of tests, and get a happy answer, I can breathe easier, and I go out and play.I will admit that I hate going for dental checkups, however, because they usually DO find something I have to deal with (ugh).' But I have a really cool ceramic molar implant with a tiny American flag painted on it - occasionally, doing something crazy' like that is how I cope. More >>

Tags: HealthHolidays
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05/13/2010
IconWhen I was a kid, we spent most of our time outside playing...something.' Riding bikes, playing ball, walking, running, performing dramatic vignettes, or finding clues in twigs, among other activities.' Imagination, strategy, and fresh air were the mainstay of life then.And then....the incredible technology age came along, with chatter, Twitter, and pics, texting and more.' You don't have to be a rocket scientist to guess that that isn't very good.Kids today aren't on "friendship" sites to get help with their math homework or discourse on all things philosophical.' They're basically trying to make a mark, to be somebody, or to impress somebody, all without having done a damn thing to actually earn the attention.But why should they?' Look at what they see on television:' reality show after reality show where people get "famous" for behaving badly and creating nothing of value or beauty.' Ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich may even be getting his own television show after being tossed out of office because of severe wrongdoing.That's where kids get the idea that "outrageous" is more important than goodness, patience, commitment to a goal, and values beyond their own immediate "fantasy" gratification.' I don't know how you parents can shield your children from this "Pinocchio Island," which ultimately degenerates the value of living and giving to merely depraved acting out.' Removing all TVs and never going to the movies might be a start - maybe the Amish have it right in that regard.' They have long held that so-called "modern" advances don't necessarily advance the human spirit.It breaks my heart to hear all the stories each day of children and young adults who, in a rush to feel the power of adulthood freedom, don't get the matched message of responsibility and nobility.' Religion in this country is breaking down as people go to Easter services or Passover dinners as mostly a yearly reunion, as opposed to a daily profound observance.' Families are breaking down with "shack-up," out-of-wedlock children lost in a morass of adult yearnings for easy intimacy.' And so it goes.Do I sound negative?' You bet.' I am worried.' I am heartened by the emails and calls from families struggling in the midst of all this societal turmoil, which has robbed them of the support and respect they so dearly need to help their children find a good and righteous path in life.' My heart goes out to them, and, hopefully, there will be more like them. More >>

Tags: DepressionFamily/Relationships - ChildrenHealthInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMental HealthParentingPersonal ResponsibilityReality TV
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05/13/2010
IconA caller with a seemingly simple question has been haunting my mind since Monday.' The caller was a stay-at-home mom with four children under the age of six.' I thought I was heroic chasing after one child who never napped.' I can't imagine four little tykes going in different directions, all with different personalities and needs.' Wow.After asking some sneaky questions, I discerned that she was - in two words - BURNED OUT.' It's difficult to get around the understandable embarrassment or shame that a mother has for even thinking that she wished she were on another planet away from the children for a while.' But this is a totally understandable and normal reaction to a lovely, but draining, situation.When a woman is at a job, she can take a number of bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, and a lunch break which may even include shopping (a great tension releaser!).' When taking care of a number of children whose needs are relentless and inconsistent, it's easy to see how one brain and heart can be overwhelmed if the kids don't nap - mine never did, and I remember feeling mentally exhausted.Mothers do, but shouldn't, feel guilt at not always being thrilled out of their ears to be taking care of their children.' My first argument is that there is no one with any career or activity who doesn't regularly feel the same way.' Human beings need breaks - changes of scenery and input - and activities that help let off steam and revive one's sense of joy in life.' That's why in my book, In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms , I've written about the necessity of taking guilt-free breaks - and taking them before you break!First, to the husbands:' Make sure you command and demand that your beloved wife and mother of your progeny go out with her girlfriends, go have a one-hour bath with bubbles and wine, or go ride her bike with a bike club for a morning - something so that she can feel revived and relaxed.' Plan it for her if she's stubborn (the stubbornness usually comes from feeling guilty).' Tell her that a GOOD mother takes care of herself so that the "giving" flows more readily.Second, to you mothers:' Grandma is useful for a break while you do nothing or something that relaxes you.' I told this caller to get one of those carriers that attaches to a bicycle, and get a child bike seat affixed behind her bike seat - that takes care of three kids right there, and one is in kindergarten.' Take 'em all on a bike ride to picnic or relax in a park - that's only one of the things I did with my child.' Turn on an exercise video and dance along with the music to get a workout - the kids will join in, or play next to you with their toys.'My message is:' no guilt.' Any profession has tools that must be taken care of to keep working properly:' a computer, a saw and hammer...whatever.' For us mothers, the tool is ourselves.' So, no guilt.' Take it as a responsibility to keep yourself loose and refreshed.My final message is that being home with your children opens up many opportunities if you think out of the perimeter of your property.' It isn't supposed to be a "work farm."' It's supposed to be a joyous home.' Oh, and here's why that caller stuck in my mind:' I heard a depth of sadness in her voice that seriously worried me, and I realized that many of you moms try so hard that you forget to take care of yourselves.' In doing so, you lose contact with your mission in the first place.' When that happens, your children miss you.So, ladies, turn on that music and dance and sing around the house and enjoy! More >>

Tags: DepressionFamily/Relationships - ChildrenHealthIn Praise of Stay-at-Home MomsMental HealthMotherhoodMotherhood-FatherhoodParentingRegarding Dr. LauraStay-At-Home-Moms
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