Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentines day 2015

I have never been much of a human who has special day celebrations.  A birthday, holiday or other event has always been just another day.  That is the way I was raised and unfortunately, a trait I carried onward to my son.  There are so many things I learned after the fact, and I wish I would have taught my son to appreciate and cherish special days with more heart.  Just another regret!

This is the first year where I had no choice but to ignore this special day.  I fell ill yesterday with the worse case of the flu / cold I have ever experienced.  Extreme trouble breathing, can't stand without difficulty and if I eat, it flows through the body at rapid speed.  Not a great way to get out of the required/desired Valentines Day activities, but this year, I unintentionally avoided the mad rush to celebrate a special day.

To me, everyday should be Valentines Day.  I think my life would have been so much different had I had the patience and the heart to live each day as a special day and to carry that effort forward to all I meet.  Oh well, just one more regret?

I need to rush to the restroom!  Carry on my friends!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Wheat Belly

In my opinion, Wheat Belly is a fascinating book.  I recently read the book and in the process of reading it a second time.  I was drawn to the book after years of frustration of eating a morsel and gaining a pound.  I also have been looking at the correlation between weight gain toward obesity and depression.

I learned over the years many clinical studies have shown obesity and depression tend to be co-morbid. That means they tend to occur together without necessarily having a cause and effect relationship. When conditions tend to occur together, scientists naturally want to explore exactly how they are connected. Does obesity cause depression? Does depression cause obesity? Could there be a third factor that is driving both conditions? These are important questions, because once we know the answers, we can better direct our research and treatment efforts.

I happen to believe that both obesity and depression are often driven by a third factor—our modern Western diet. It is now clear that excessive fructose, mainly from sugar and high fructose corn syrup, is the driving force behind insulin resistance and central obesity. When you have insulin resistance it takes more insulin to drive glucose into your cells, and high insulin levels tend to trap fat inside of cells where it can’t be used for energy. Recent evidence suggests that excessive fructose can alter your gut bacteria flora, further contributing to metabolic syndrome and obesity.

When you have insulin resistance and consume rapidly absorbed carbohydrates, especially from grains, you end up with unstable glucose levels and magnified glucose spikes. Over time these glucose spikes can cause damage to your nerve cells, because unlike most of the cells in your body, neurons don’t have an insulin gate. That’s why diabetics tend to lose their nerve function and develop neuropathy long before other organs in their body are damaged.

Over time these toxic glucose spikes can trigger a form of diffuse brain dysfunction where your brain no longer functions as intended. The first symptom that you experience when this happens is craving for sweet and starchy food, pushing you to consume more of the very food that is frying your brain. You can also develop mild brain dysfunction symptoms like I have experienced for a few years now.  This being fatigue, anxiety, mood swings and poor sleep. At this stage of brain dysfunction you don’t yet have a disease because the symptoms are mild and variable. 

I have learned there are really two types of obesity. The most common type is associated with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes. The second type (MINE) of obesity is where a person has excessive body fat without any of these adverse metabolic markers. This type of obesity is seen when a person or lab animal is over-fed healthy food. If you give enough healthy food to any animal, they will eventually develop this type of obesity.

The type of obesity associated with sugar, HFCS and grain-based carbohydrates is not dependent on calories or over-feeding. Although people with this form of obesity, like me, have excessive body fat, especially in the abdominal region.

After reading Wheat Belly, I looked at the correlation between both types of obesity and depression. I wanted to know about the connection between depression and people with “metabolic obesity” and those who were obese but metabolically healthy. As it turns out people with metabolic issues were at an increased risk of later developing depression, whereas those who were obese without metabolic issues were not at an increased risk of developing depression.

How does this information apply to me? I would rather not be obese or depressed. If insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are the gateway to most cases of obesity and many cases of depression, the best strategy would be to prevent metabolic problems or to treat them. The best way to limit my intake of the dietary triggers of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome—sugar, HFCS and high glycemic carbohydrates, especially from grains.

Of course this describes most processed foods that form the core of the modern American diet. I am trying hard to learn to eat real food including meat, fowl, fish, seafood, vegetables and fruit. I’m not a big fan of milk because of its sugar content but a reasonable amount of cheese is acceptable. I also limit intake of legumes because of their anti-nutrient content. Some would recognize this as a Paleo-style diet. I simply call it a healthy diet.

If I learn to eat this way, I should go a long way towards preventing the metabolic problems that seem to lead to my obesity and depression.

I know Wheat is also attributed to ADHD, PTSD, Anxiety disorders, Autism, Fibromyalgia, and Irritable bowel syndrome.  I think that it’s really exciting I believe there is a connection between food and these common disorders. Think about it. What would I rather take handfuls of pills for the rest of my life, living in a daze, or simply change my diet?

This important study clearly shows the relationship between consuming certain foods and depression. In the years ahead I hope that we will see more studies looking at the impact of diet on common chronic diseases. My next read is going to be Gary Taubes, “GoodCalories, Bad Calories” and “Why We Get Fat”.

I really need to get a hold of this life, as the past year has been far from enjoyable.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

R.I.P. again

In my last post I spoke of the passing of Steve Wilkinson.  I have had three friends die in the first 34 days of 2015.  Not been a good start to 2015.

Most recently, Aaron Buffington, a fellow in my profession as well as a lover of the long distance runs lost his battle with cancer.  I first met Aaron in work functions.  Then I was shocked to see him at the Superior 100, I think it was 2011.  Through 2011 and 2013, our paths crossed regularly.  It was about the time his child was born we lost touch.  I have not seen him for a few years, but still consider him a friend and was saddened by the news.

I did make the visitation and shared in the funeral for Steve Wilkinson last weekend.  It was a day of tears.  What amazed me most is I met his daughters for the first time.  I was shocked when I said my name and they instantly said "It is nice to meet you, my dad spoke highly of your work ethic and dedication to the task being greater than anyone he knew."  It floored me as I had no clue all my effort was recognized by one of the greatest human I ever met.  Steve was the best at reading people and I think he knew I did not need praise to do my best, I just get it dome.

Hard to believe he is gone.  What really got me was when Neal Hagberg spoke at the funeral.  (Funeral is on YouTube here) His words were simple and very true.  Steve was the eternal optimist.  When I listen to the "Physchology of Winning", I think of his attitude toward life.  I only wish I had not spend so much time on the career and more on a family.  

Even when Steve encountered the world’s biggest jerk, he would smile, find a good thing about them and try to promote to good in everyone.  Here is what Neil read:           

Before Steve
I did not know that an ego could be tamed with one prayer
I did not know that fear could be conquered with a smiley-faced racket
I did not know that winning could mean losing 0-6 0-6
Or losing could mean winning 6-0 6-0

Before Steve
I did not know that simply saying a name could be the key to unlocking someone’s soul
I did not know that “thank you” was as important as “I love you”
I did not know that having a vision meant not everyone would like you
I did not know that silence might be the best advice a person can give

Before Steve
I did not know that driving a ten year old car and living in the same modest house for forty years could make you rich in what matters
I did not know that Rol-Dri-ing a court - properly - could make one old guy so happy
I did not know that “I could” if I thought I could

Before Steve
I did not know that grief could press you down into your mattress for hours
And only love could make you get back up again
And I did not know that lifting one person up could make everyone around you fly.
Including yourself.

Before Steve
I did not know that the face of life and the face of death are the same:
a smile and a high five

What he did not add is after Steve.  That is impossible.  Everyone will move on, but for this overweight, arrogant, and aging friend, I will never forget.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

RIP Steve Wilkinson

This was a tough week for me.  Many past thoughts went though my head.  At times I believe everyone wonders if they are a good human as I have had many doubts.  Much of my life, and others, are filled with mentors who help shape who we are and how we live life.

In this blog I had written about the only mentor I had in my life until I was in my teens.  That was my grandfather.  In my high school years, I had Mr. Gary Clark and Mr. Larry Anderson.  They were two people who influenced me to take life seriously.  I often wonder without them, would I be where I am today or in jail.

Until I had a son, I thought, well, naturally I wanted to raise him to have a full emotional yet stable life. Then I tried to and I discovered that there's a big difference between believing a boy should show his feelings freely and actually having a boy who does.  I was fortunate in 1984 to attend a tennis camp.  It was called Tennis and Life camp.  While I never forgot the lessons from that camp, I never really implemented them in my own life. 

Raising a child is difficult and because of my emotional faults, I was a single father.  I decided that my son needed to have good role models.  He already had a very wise lawyer as a grandfather who was instrumental in raising a fine young man.  The other was Steve Wilkinson.  He was the originator of the fermented tennis camp.  I decided it was best my son attended the camp. 

Because of my son’s perceived handicap, Steve really took my son under his wing.  He emphasized the importance of the three crowns in tennis and in life. 

The first crown symbolizes that you have the choice to be positive, no matter what the situation. You should focus on the things that are in your control, and let go of the things that are not in your control. Such as when you compete, whether you win or not isn’t in your control, just as your final grade isn’t in your control—what you can have control over is your attitude.

The second crown is commitment to give your full effort. Don’t just blow off a course, but give it your all—regardless of the grade you will receive, the comments you may receive or regretful feeling as we live our lives.

The third crown is good sportsmanship—we are always looking to find ways to affirm that. That’s why I teach sports ethics. It combines my interest in religion with sports—a meaningful combination.

So I truly believe my son had three fathers.  Besides the biological father, me, he had his grandfather and Steve Wilkinson.  Steve dies this past week.  That resulted in a hole in many hearts, including mine and I ma sure my son’s.

If the readers of this post do not know the man, I suggest you read the memoir he was able to publish before he passed.  It is called “let love serve” and I really suggest you read it.  It will give a full understanding of what it means to live life fully. 

We will be going to this funeral next week, and I for one will have a difficult time.  I anticipate my son will as well.  When you lose such a hero, it is difficult.  Although now more than anytime in my life, it is important to recall the lessons Steve taught me 30 years ago and this time, implement them.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

More thoughts

I recently read an article from Steve Cole, Professor of Medicine and Behavioral Sciences at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) about how chronic stress, poverty, loneliness, and fear endemic in crime can alter gene activity and contribute to disease.  He examined how psychological experiences influence immune systems and human health. He is mapping the biological pathways through which social conditions change the expression of traits or tendencies encoded in genetic material.

This was impacting on me as I analyze 40 years of my life.  (Only 40 years as being 52, I not sure there were issues before the teen years).  Recollecting times when my father was fired from his job and we were concerned about paying for the necessities in life.  At age 13, I lied my age and was hired at a dishwasher to help fund the family needs.  There was significant stress balancing school and work while writing about the family.  I gained weight and my health deteriorated. 

When I was 16 years old, the family financially saturation was strong and I had few, if any worries.  I had learned how to manipulate my father’s emotions so he no longer beat my mother.  He no longer would beat my sister either.  I had grown to have a lock tight memory and insure everything was just as the controlling asshole wanted.  This created harmony thereby reducing stress and fear.  I naturally became physically fit and had little or no health issues.

The harmony was destroyed when I was 20 years old.  My sister dated an African American.  My father went ballistic and in return, my sister and I essentially were cast aside and blacklisted in the family.  Me for supporting her relationship and she for the relationship.  That led to significant weight gain and health issues. 

By then I was 23, I was content without any family, other than my sister.  I had lost all the weight, played Division II tennis and ran a 35-minute 10 K.  Life seems solid and I had little worries or stress.

Then I graduated and went out into the cruel world.  It was hard to find a job, even with the degree.  I got married, moved several times and now had the stress, fear and worry of a husband and a father.  

Without going on and on about the last three times I just lost weight and became healthy since then, all are clearly times when I had little or no stress or fear in my life.

So the study impacted me in a way I never anticipated.  I really need to learn to reduce stress, fear and anxiety.  I am not sure that is learned, but any ideas of books, techniques or other information you would suggest?

One thing for sure, LIFE A JOURNEY.  For some short, like my nephew Aaron Swanson who died at three years old.  Other it is a long journey, like my grandfather who died just short of 100.  Right now I am between them.