Talking About Health

book cover well

The subtitle of the captioned book is What We Need to Talk About When We Talk About Health.

The author Sandro Galea connects the dots that no one else has connected. He illuminates the root causes of health disparities among Americans.

The excess of diet books churned out and published each year expand the myth that personality responsibility causes ill health for the majority of Americans.

As economic inequality increases none of us will be immune from having to choose between buying an unhealthful $6.99 Hungry Man Swanson dinner and picking up fish and vegetables for dinner.

As Sandro Galea brings to light:

“True health comes from social and economic justice. It is a product of systems that create opportunities for all to live a life that is unconstrained by the forces that generate sickness…Health comes from living in a world where no one is walled off from the conditions that allow us to be well from the day we are born until the day we die.”

Alas the preponderance of “food deserts” in low income neighborhoods–the absence of supermarkets selling better food–causes obesity when residents are forced to buy processed food that lines the shelves of convenience stores.

In low-income neighborhoods a lot of people don’t have cars to drive to a supermarket or a farmer’s market that is miles away.

Sandro Galea refers often in his book to the legacy of slavery as seen in the the ongoing racial segregation in neighborhoods where people live.

The proliferation of unregulated gun ownership has caused ill health in these neighborhoods. Having more people own more guns in society doesn’t make Americans safer–it makes us victims of ongoing gun violence–whether by mass shooters or a hoodlum walking down the street.

The book Well by Sandro Galea should be required reading.

The author rallies for having compassion for everyone. He admonishes the Republican and Conservative ilk who use the “personality responsibility” card to attack people living in poverty and  collecting government benefits.

I have the unusual experience [for a person like me] of having received so-called “entitlements” in my early twenties. I collected a government disability check, used Medicaid to pay for clinic visits, and lived in public housing.

In retrospect I can see why I was overweight: I bought hot dogs to cook (cheap!) and Velveeta Mac-and-Cheese (not really healthier even though I added broccoli to it).

You shouldn’t be judged and attacked when you’re forced to choose to buy unhealthful food.

There’s a better way. I’ve written in my blog before that the American healthcare model is foolishly predicated on disease management instead of illness prevention.

As per Sandro Galea health has nothing to do with the ability to buy yourself a cure for cancer. It have everything to do with the environment you’re born into and live in.

Whoever has health has wealth in the true definition of wealth as being abundance.

Read the book Well like I did and you might see things differently as I do now.

My goal is to vote for Andrew Yang a candidate for president whose platform involves giving every American 18 and older a monthly Universal Basic Income of $1,000.

With the loss of jobs to computer automation–with the increasing economic inequality (which is no individual’s fault at all)–I’m in favor of creating a Universal Basic Income system in America.

The jobs lost to computers simply aren’t coming back.

In the coming blog entry I will explore the issue of food justice in more detail.

I will start to give summertime recipes again.

 

 

 

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Rebelling the Role of “Mental Patient”

It can seem like there’s a glass wall separating people with mental health conditions from others.

It’s like you can see what’s on the other side–“success” “a good life” “a career” “a home”–and the wall stands between you and getting these things.

What is this invisible barrier? Internalized self-stigma brought on by harboring outdated false beliefs about what a person’s life is destined to become after a psychiatric emergency.

Getting to this side involves breaking free of the shackles of guilt and shame.

What I’ve learned I’ll gladly share here. I want to quote from the Introduction to my career handbook so that you might be convinced of the truth: You Are Not Your Diagnosis:

As a young person, I was happy even though my life was less than ideal. Yes—I chose to be happy even when the circumstances of my life were dismal. You can like I did rebel the role of “mental patient.” You are not your diagnosis. You’re a human being with wants, needs, desires, goals, and dreams just like everyone living on earth. It’s a mistake to think your diagnosis limits you forever in what you can do.

Having a diagnosis is often part of the package you present to others yet it isn’t your identity. Defining yourself by your symptoms locks you into a no-win mental straitjacket. Your diagnosis is not a dead end and it doesn’t define you.

A women’s organization I’m a member of used to ask its members: Who are you?

I say: you have the right to choose your identity.

In a coming blog entry I’ll talk about this in more detail.

 

Choosing a Job for Love or Money

Choosing a Job for Love or Money shouldn’t be a toss-up.

Ideally, the job you love will pay a livable salary. When it doesn’t you can drum up a “side hustle.”

The book The Economy of You by Kimberly Palmer talks about how to create a second income stream or else create your own full-time business.

Again, using the book Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions can also help.

The Small Business Administration website can give you information too.

Going into business for yourself or working at an established company is possible.

Clearing hurdles will make it possible to do this.

One hurdle is overcoming resistance to getting any kind of job:

Either countering your own internal roadblocks or that of naysayers who claim it’s not in the cards for you to do what you want.

In the next blog entry I’m going to document a better way.

If any social workers are reading this I would like you to take note.

Fitness Fridays

I’ve decided to plan and schedule my blog entries here.

Fitness Fridays will be the theme of the nutrition blog topics.

I’ll post on Fridays blog entries about fitness and nutrition.

The fact is:

Infirmity is not inevitable in old age.

Lifestyle habits are a significant factor in whether you remain healthy or progressively decline into ill health.

A while back in the blog I wrote about the book How to Be Well. After going on the book author’s website, I submitted a form to talk with a health coach.

For a customary fee you can get individual advice. An action plan is created for you to follow. Two weeks later there’s a follow-up talk to see how it’s going.

The fee is actually cheaper than other nutritionists charge. A 6-session package costs more. I opted for the 3-session package.

Folks: carbohydrates are my enemy. After talking with the health coach, I threw out all the grains and granola packages in my kitchen.

My plan involves scrambling eggs with veggies to have with avocado for breakfast. It’s entirely possible that having granola for breakfast had been one of the culprits in my mid-life fatigue.

You can go on the Dr. Frank Lipman (the author)’s website to research the options for talking with a health coach.

I have no guilt in having gotten rid of the grains. Bye-bye.

In one week, I will report back on how it’s been going.

Having 5 Commitments

Easily over five years ago I read a Leo Babauta book where he told readers to list their 5 Commitments in life.

This approach made great sense to me. In the spirit of talking about recovery I want to riff on choosing and committing to 5 areas.

Do this for the sake of your mental health and physical well-being first of all.

As I head into my fifties and go through changes at mid-life the benefit of having 5 Commitments resonates with me more than ever.

It’s called a routine: adopting healthy habits that you engage in every day or every week.

This isn’t to say that the focus of your life won’t ever change. As you get older, you’ll need to improvise as you go along.

I find myself at 53 engaging in a form of woodshedding, which I talked about in one of the first blog entries in this Flourish blog.

While isolating inside because you’re afraid to go out your front door isn’t healthy I say:

Enjoying your own company when you’re alone in your apartment or house is imperative.

As I’ve started journeying through mid-life I can vouch for the positive health benefit of needing more time for yourself to rest and engage in recreation.

You need to rest after going out socially or having a long, hard day at your job.

The key to maximum productivity in your personal life lies in the beauty of honoring your 5 Commitments.

My 5 Commitments are art, music, fashion, books and writing, and exercise.

Making time each week to do something involving these 5 things I love has been the way to feel healthy and be happy at mid-life.

What are your 5 Commitments?

In coming blog entries I will continue with the focus on careers.

Yet I will apply this wisdom to everyday life.

Living in recovery doesn’t have to be so hard. Even if you’re in pain that’s when doing the things you love can help you feel better.

That’s it exactly: focusing on the 5 Commitments that bring you joy.

 

Changeology: Perspire Step: Update

My New Year’s resolution I’ve recorded in here a few blog entries ago.

I’m using the 5-step Changeology method for achieving goals and resolutions.

So far I’ve advanced to Step 3: Perspsire.

This is where you’re engaged in the new healthy behavior that replaces the old habit.

How have I fared in executing the sub-goals?

For 3 out of the 4 weeks I lifted weights at the gym 2x/per week. One week I exercised at the gym only once that week.

The goal I had of bringing salad food and fruit to my job to eat healthier has been achieved every week so far.

I’ve eaten salads 3x/per week like I had expected to. My goal is to have fruit for a snack in the afternoon going forward to complement the goal of eating salads.

I can make no excuse for not having gone to the gym 2x/every single week.

I offer only this explanation: my mother is old and needs my help at times. Faced with this reality I will have to help her out when I’m able to.

Months ago in this blog I gave Tips for Caregivers.

Then I talked about how no one at any mental health organization is addressing the reality that adult children are becoming caregivers for our parents.

You’re supposed to deal with managing your own life at the same time you’re caring for an elderly parent who might be in ill health.

Nobody cares about this because they’re advocating for young adults and parroting baseless anti-stigma rhetoric.

Instead of actually taking action on equally pressing concerns: the needs of older Americans living in recovery who are becoming caregivers.

There. That’s it straight up. I’ve spoken this truth. When there’s no one else to act as a caregiver it falls on you to do double duty.

Alas my goal of using the treadmill 1x/per week hasn’t happened either.

I would like to start executing this sub-goal next week.

In the coming blog entries I’ll talk more about the Changeology method.

The point is that by executing the 5 steps in the order you’re supposed to do them you have a better chance of achieving your goals and resolutions.

Step 3 of Perspire lasts 30 to 60 days.

Like I said slow and steady wins the race.

In the next blog entry I’ll detail 3 Tactics for Achieving Resolutions that I think can make the difference between success and failure.

 

 

 

Top Fitness and Nutrition Books

The following is a list of the top fitness and nutrition books along with cookbooks that I own and refer to in my own life:

Ballerina Body – Misty Copeland

Body for Life for Women – Pamela Peeke M.D., M.P.H., FACP

Foods for Health – Barton Seaver and P.K. Newby Sc.D., M.P.H.

The Organic Food Shopper’s Guide – Jeff Cox

Shape Your Self – Martina Navratilova

Strong is the New Beautiful – Lindsey Vonn

The Top 100 Fitness Foods – Sarah Owen

Transformation – Bill Phillips

What the Fork Are You Eating? Stefanie Sacks M.S., CNS, CDN

Cookbooks:

The Inspired Vegan – Bryant Terry

The Kitchen Shelf – Eve O’ Sullivan and Rosie Reynolds

Vegetables Every Day – Jack Bishop

Verdure: Simple Recipes in the Italian Style – Gioietta Vitale with Robin Vitetta-Miller