Friday, October 26, 2012

An Ad That Says What I Would Never Dare

I have to thank Blue Cross Blue Shield for their most recent public message ads.

I was in a seminar earlier this week and we were discussing the new ads. There happened to be a BCBS employee in the seminar and she shared how controversial those ads have been. Comments on their YouTube channel are mostly in the negative, telling them that they don't like the ads, they are hurtful, rude, etc.

These same ads have more views and hits than any of their previous public health messages, so they aren't backing down. They've struck a chord, and I think it's a good one.

Here's the thing, folks: For the first time in American history, the generation being raised today is expected to have a lower life expectancy than the generation raising them. We've made incredible advances in medicine, are curing cancers at higher rates than ever before, and know what chemicals can cause cancer and have regulated the most harmful ones out of our food and environment.

We have incredible health screening and know more today about what to look for in blood tests, MRIs, or whatever screening a doctor orders to get to the root of a health problem.

But because 1 in 3 children and adolescents are considered overweight, all those advances won't matter.

Listen to the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society or any of these incredible nonprofits who have been working diligently to fund research for their various causes. They all have one criteria in common that will impact people's chances of getting the disease they are working so hard to eradicate. That one criteria is weight.

People who are overweight are at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, disorders of the endocrine, gastrointestinal system, you name it, the risks are higher.

Yet people are offended if a doctor mentions his or her weight during a regular check-up. Advocacy groups like the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance work on behalf of overweight people to gain acceptance in society, to be accepted for who they are and how they look. I'm all for not discriminating based on a person's weight, but that doesn't mean the person has to accept that weight as his or her fate.

What does this mean to the next generation? All I know is that the worst loss a person can suffer is the loss of a child. Our children are supposed to live beyond us, and a great many of us will be burying our children because of this epidemic.

Thank you, BCBS, for bringing this to our attention. Now let's get to work.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Alternate Versions of Math

DH: Honey, I'm thinking that in about 3 years or so, I might get a new car and you can have the CRV.

Me: What makes you think I want your cast-off car, or that I'm looking to replace my Civic? I love my Civic.

DH: Well, the CRV has lots more bells and whistles on it than your car and it'll be paid off, so we'll still only have one car payment. Besides, I've driven your car in the winter, it sucks.

Me: Let's see, my Civic has 80,000 miles on it, I average about 12,000 miles a year, so in three years it'll have 120,000 miles on it. I may be in the market for a new car by then.

DH: How do you figure you'll have 120,000 miles on it? If you put 12,000 miles on it every year for 3 years, you'll have 116,000 miles on it.

Me: It's called rounding. It's what you do to make a point.

DH: Okay, but why would you round up? If you're looking to sell it, you don't want to round up.

Me: I'm not looking to sell it, I'm trying to figure out if I'll be in the market for a new car by then. The more miles I say it'll have, the more likely I am to be in the market for a new car.

DH: You damn marketers and your rounding.

Me: You accountants and your accuracy.

From the backseat: If you wait 7 more years I'll take the CRV!

DH and Me: No, you can have the Civic then.

From the back seat: Oh come on...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Choose Joy

Several years ago I sought the advice of a life coach to help me with some changes I'd been going through. She was a great sounding board and a huge help to me. I wanted to share one of the ways in which she helped me find balance in my life.

One of the exercises she took me through was to analyze all the different areas of my life through a circle. Her circle had 16 slices; I cannot remember all of the slices that we talked about. In hindsight I think she was a little too detailed in all the different areas that impact a person's life. But I put into this circle the ones that I remembered us talking about.

The point of the exercise was to evaluate your happiness with each of the areas, and to score each area based on that happiness. If you were pleased with it, you gave it a 12.5 so that you had 8 balanced areas of your life. If you weren't pleased score it lower, and score something else higher, then think about what could you do to change it. This wasn't about where you spent your time, but where you spent your energy, be it positive or negative. (For example, if you spend half the winter complaining about how cold it is, maybe you should choose to live in a different climate.)

When she and I began working together, my chart looked something like this:

I was very happy with what was happening at work -- I loved what I did, who I worked with, felt very fulfilled and challenged at the same time. I also spent a lot of energy on work -- not just hours in the day, but time when I should have been sleeping or spending time with family that I instead spent thinking about work.

I scored "friends" low not because I don't enjoy my friends, but because I didn't get to spend enough time with them.

I scored low on "family" for the same reason.

Ditto on "community." Community? What the hell is that, anyway, and who has time for it? Certainly not me.

What's the question mark in the middle of the circle, you ask? I asked the same question. Once we'd gone through the entire exercise and I'd scored and drawn all my slices of my life's pie, she told me to put in the center of the circle, in a single word, the thing that I wanted to center my life on. It could be anything. Some people would put "power," or "God," or "wealth." She told me to take my time, that it would take a while to determine what I wanted to center my life on.

Oh, that's easy, I said, I already know.

I choose joy.

Joy. It's such a simple thing. Everything I wanted in my life I wanted not just to bring myself joy, but to bring joy to others.

And once I said it, I realized that I really needed to work this circle. I needed to find time to develop my friendships, to spend time with my family, to get connected to my community. And that meant one particular piece of this pie had to get smaller.

That was when I began a new job search in earnest, to leave a job I loved and try something utterly new and unknown. It was terrifying to think about, much less act upon.

Nearly 3 years later, I can say that my circle looks very close to the last one. I have wonderful, dear friends whom I actually get to spend time with. I have made every recital, field trip, teacher conference that I've wanted to attend. I enjoy my job, learning new things while playing to my strengths and having fun with my co-workers. My husband and I have re-connected and are a team, raising our girls together. I'm volunteering at my children's school, participating in our community through the PTA and volunteering for local nonprofits. And I recently embarked upon a fitness journey to improve my health, something I hadn't scored myself low on but I knew I could improve.

At this time in my life I feel like I have achieved joy.

So I ask of you the same question: If you had to go through this exercise, how would you rate these slices of your pie chart? What would you put in the center of your life?

Monday, October 08, 2012

Excuse Me While I Brag About My Husband

Sunday was a good day to race.

Wayne has always been a cold weather runner, so when he heard the forecast for Sunday, the day of the Twin Cities marathon, he was thrilled.

Coming in to this, his seventh marathon, his PR (personal record) had been at the New York City marathon. Condition were similar to the forecast for Minnesota, and he completed in 3:22, faster than the marathon which qualified him for Boston.

Sunday's forecast: High of 40, low of 29 at the start. A cold weather runner's dream.

So unbeknownst to me, he adjusted his goals.

I had thought he would be running with the 3:20 pace group, but at mile 6 we found him in the group with the 3:15 pace group.
Lindsey and friends at mile 6, bundled up and ready to cheer.

We tried to see him again at mile 9. We got there just in time to see the 3:15 pace group go by, but no Wayne. We waited, thinking that perhaps he had fallen behind the group, which would be about right for where he had finished his best marathon.

No Wayne.

So off we went again, driving to the next place we could possibly catch him, which was mile 16. We got there in time to see the lead runners go by, so we knew we wouldn't miss him.

Lindsey and Marissa, cheering on the runners as they wait to see Daddy.

And there he was, well ahead of the 3:15 pace group.

He finished the marathon in 3:13:12, or around a 7:23 pace. He finished 19th in his division and beat his previous best time by a whole 9 minutes.

Most people beat their best time by a couple of minutes, not nine.

What else is pretty amazing about this is that he's only been running for a little over 3 years. His first full marathon was October of 2009 and he finished it in 3:39. That's an amazing first marathon time for anyone, but especially for someone knocking on 50's door. And as he's gotten older he's only gotten faster.

I can tell you this doesn't happen by accident. He is living proof of what happens when someone passionately dedicates himself to something, focuses on a goal and works toward it unceasingly.

He logged at least 50 miles a week for months leading up to this -- tempo runs, internval runs, long runs. He would tell you that the most difficult runs were his interval runs, when you run at a slow pace for 800m, then go as fast as you can for a mile. Do that four or five times and you're exhausted, but you've increased your speed. There's research behind this, and his dedication to this type of run -- at least once a week -- is what he will tell you makes him faster.

We didn't brave the traffic or the crowds to see him finish, but we tracked him online and knew he'd done well.  When he came home he was elated.

"I think I can now finally consider myself a marathoner," he said. This after finishing seven of them and  running this last one at a 7:20 pace.

"Honey, you always were," I said.

I feel like I'm the one who accomplished this one, I'm so proud of him.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Because I'm Smart Like That

We all get into ruts. Doing things the way we always did them, regardless of whether or not they make sense.

Remember my post about frying bacon?

I received lots of advice after that, links to pans made specifically for frying bacon, and all kinds of recipes for frying and baking bacon.

It takes some of us a few times to learn, doesn't it.

In the past few years I've developed a pet peeve about our kitchen towels.

They are conveniently located on the handle of our dishwasher, relatively close to the sink. All you have to do is turn to the left to wipe your hands.

Yet very often I find these towels on the floor, which is not only annoying, but not very sanitary.

For a while I thought that the girls were using the towels and then dropping them on the floor. I kept getting after them to make sure the towels were picked up, and they kept saying that they were putting them back.

Finally I discovered the culprit.

Since the dishwasher door is opened several times a day, every time it was opened and shut the towels would slide off the handle.

I tried tying them onto the handles, but then they were too short to actually use.

Finally I came up with the solution.

We are now putting the towels on the handle of the oven. That only gets opened once or twice a day, if that, and it's not much farther away from the sink than the dishwasher (it is a small kitchen, after all).

It took me a year or so to come up with this solution. I know, I know, it's amazing I'm gainfully employed.