Weightloss- SIMPLE?

I have no wish to be a ‘holier than thou’ preachifier or anything (honestly I could do more myself with regards to exercise and I could profit from eliminating the occasional chocabinge) but I read this editorial in this morning’s online NZ Herald and I thought it made a lot of sense and makes some simple suggestions for people who might be confronting weight issues.
I have banged on about the US obesity epidemic but it seems we Kiwis aren’t far behind as a nation of gluttons. I am sure that if people who actually want to do something about their size took what is said here ‘on board’ they could achieve some significant improvements in their quality of life. I’m happy to say I teeter between half a stone and a stone over what I was when playing senior rugby in my twenties (although muscle has been redistributed as ‘not muscle’ in places I’d rather it hadn’t been!) but I know that it wouldn’t take much of a change to get much bigger, and equally if I implemented a few of these actions with a bit more zeal I could get back to around what I was at High School. (Maybe that’s a New Year’s Resolution but I’ve never been especially good at them!)
So, the editorial.

“Eating less and exercising is something we can all do. A good long brisk walk is not hard and it is good for the mind.

The week after New Year is a testing time for resolutions to correct a bad habit. But it is a good time to make one new one: we could resolve to take personal responsibility this year for that problem doctors are calling the obesity epidemic. This is a good moment to make that particular resolution because the festive feasting of the past fortnight has finished and the consequences are probably evident on the waistline – or the scales if we dare to find out.

It is also a good time to raise the subject because the Government is on holiday and so are the public health lobbyists and opposition political parties whose job it is to demand the Government do something about it. This is one problem that no adult should need the Government’s help to fix.

The solution does not cost any money, it is as easy for rich and poor alike. It requires no education. The solution is so simple it can be stated in four words: eat less, exercise more.

It is, of course, easier said than done. Eating is so pleasurable that it can be almost an addiction, and there is so much tasty food on sale these days. Everywhere we turn we see a cafeteria. Cities and suburban centres have so many lunch bars it is a wonder they all can survive. Shopping malls and even airport terminals have converted a great deal of their space to food halls for people who seem to have need meals at all hours of the day.

Likewise, exercise. It sounds easy enough, even pleasant, to take a daily walk. And it is for a day or two. Then it becomes a chore and a bore. But those who persist might find that exercise, too, can become so pleasant it is almost addictive. Once the limbs and lungs are conditioned to it, a good long brisk walk is not hard and it is good for the mind, too. There is no better time for thinking and talking. There is no easier time than mid-summer to begin.

The sedentary nature of modern life is probably a greater contributor to weight than anything we eat. Cooked food today is undoubtedly more healthy than it was generations ago. Fast-food chains are more prolific now, of course, and they present a satisfying target for those looking for a big business to blame. But their worst food is no more fatty and salty than home-cooked meals used to be. Older New Zealanders can attest that almost everything their grandparents cooked was fried in dripping, which they often left in a frying pan from one meal to the next.

Those generations did not exercise much either, but they did not need to. Their household had one car. They walked more. They had push-mowers and dug vegetable gardens. Their children played outside because there were no computer games or even daytime television. They watched rugby from sidelines or terraces, not armchairs.

More than 1.1 million New Zealand adults – one in three – are considered obese by the Ministry of Health. The number has risen to 31 per cent, up from 27 per cent six years ago.

Child obesity is not nearly as high, 11 per cent of those aged 2-14, but has also increased in that period. Scholars blame the type and quantity of food consumed more than a lack of exercise. The Health Research Council has funded a $5 million year-long study that will have children wear cameras to record how much fast food advertising they see.

Obesity will never be solved by excuses for over-eating. The solutions are adult willpower and parental control. The food courts and fast-food chains are not force-feeding anybody. With a conscious effort anybody can eat less and exercise more. It really is that simple.”

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Doctor’s Advice

Hmmm- “doctor’s advice and how much I respect it” might possibly be a more appropriate title for this post.

I went to the doctor the other day because although I had no particular ailment at the time, I am a person of ‘advancing years’ and have, in the view of some, been a bit naughty by not attending the surgery religiously for my annual check-up. I’m the sort of person who takes note of how I feel and generally try to self-manage times of less than peak health. I think I eat properly and don’t have too many obviously unhealthy habits, and I do moderate exercise on a regular basis. In short I think I’m in reasonably good shape, but it’s shape that prompted this post.

As is the case in many surgeries around New Zealand and more particularly in areas away from the major cities we seldom have a full permanent staff and can expect to be scheduled to see a locum unless we specify the (or a) resident doctor, and I think this is a bit of an exercise in futility if I want an appointment when I want it! What I mean is that if we all request an appointment with the resident then he or she will be swamped and there’s little likelihood I’ll get in much before Christmas!!! If I’m not displaying worrying symptoms there’s not much chance I’ll get bumped up the list (and of course the locum will sit in his or her office and read a book!) SO- I agreed to see a locum.

Now it may be that whether the doctor I saw was a locum or not may be beside the point but it just adds a wee bit of grist to the moan-mill. To my point (“Ah! Finally!” you might say.)

I was called in to the consulting room by someone I believe shouldn’t be in the business of giving health advice. He was HUGE! I don’t mean he was seven feet tall and built like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he was huge. His girth would have been more than twice mine despite the fact he was slightly shorter. He rather more waddled than walked. He was not just obese, he was grossly so.

Because I believe people should practice what they preach I think this man had little if any right to offer health advice. He might have knowledge but if I put my mind and time to it I could also get knowledge simply by browsing the World Wide Web!

He started by resuming his seat at his desk which was dominated by his big-monitor computer. I had attended for a general check-up but after tapping and reading the screen for a while the only investigation he did was to take my blood pressure. Having done this he gave me a bit of a treatise on ‘the silent killer’ and then got back to his computer. He didn’t take my pulse, which I expected would be part of the normal ‘check up’, neither did he put me on the scales, ask me about diet, exercise, or even symptoms of issues that might be about. He then took blood and tapped away on the template on the screen itemising the checks that the lab would do all the while telling me what he was tick-boxing and that when I returned next time he would “talk to me about the results”. That’s OK, but it sort of assumes that he had identified something in his ‘examination by proximity’ which I would have thought he might have discussed at the time.

So after less than 15 minutes of a scheduled 30 minute consultation he sent me on my way. I paid the $17 consultation fee and went on my way completely underwhelmed by what had taken place. It seems to be the case that examination by ‘sitting at a computer’ is the norm and it is probably not surprising that a person of this man’s physical state has a place as a doctor, but I will never feel comfortable with any advice I get from him. I’ll probably follow it but I will recognise it will be the standard medical advice and I’ll feel a snigger, a snort or a shrug of the shoulders not too deep below the surface when he delivers advice that it would appear he neglects to follow himself.

Deaf Wife Problem.

I’ve thought for some time that my wife’s hearing was going and that she could well be getting to the stage of needing a hearing aid. Of course this is a bit of a sensitive issue and I wasn’t completely sure how to approach the question with her so I called my doctor for a bit of advice. He was very understanding and gave me this simple but helpful test that could sort of ‘break the ice’- “There’s a simple wee informal test you can perform that will give me an idea of the extent of her problem and also give you a starting point to talk about with your wife.  Firstly just stand about 25-30 metres away and then say something to her in a normal conversational speaking tone and see if she hears you. If not, go to 20-25 metres, then 15 and so on until she’s able to hear you and answers.”

This sounded like a pretty good plan so that evening while the wife was in the kitchen and I  was at the front of the house about the right distance away I said, in a conversational tone, “What’s for dinner, darling?”

I didn’t hear any reply from her so quietly moved about 5 metres closer and again, in conversational tone asked her what was for dinner. Again there was no response.

I moved even closer and standing in the hall about 15 metres away repeated the question but still there was no reply.

I moved into the dining room and now only about 8 metres away I tried again- no response.

It appeared all my worst fears were pretty much confirmed but I figured I’d see just how bad the problem was so I quietly walked into the kitchen until I was standing almost behind her and asked her one last time- “What’s for dinner, Love?”

This time the wife turned and with a long-suffering look on her face replied-

“For God’s sake, you silly deaf old bugger- for the fifth and final time IT’S CHICKEN!!!”

Scary Stats

This is pretty concerning stuff, and not only for the US. Trends in New Zealand indicate that we are heading the same way. Of course there are a lot of people who exercise regularly, there are a lot of people who diligently eat healthy food, and there are a lot of people who are conscious of the health issues associated with being overweight. Unfortunately there are apparently a growing number of people who DON’T do these things. Where are we headed?

Now, what’ll I have for breakfast?

HEALTHERIES

There was an interesting article in today’s ‘rag’ that struck a bit of a chord with me. I’ve long felt that we are most often the ‘author’s of our own demise’, (or whatever the saying is!!) We can rely on ‘quick-fixes’ but surely we are better advised to manage our lives ourselves to maintain healthy standards? I don’t even pretend to be a steadfast adherent to strict health guidelines, but, as a child of an older generation eating a sensible and balanced diet seems to do it for me. We were eating healthy food before it became the exception rather than the rule as it so often seems to be today. Don’t get me wrong, there are probably a much greater percentage of (New Zealand) families who eat well balanced daily diets than don’t, but the sense is that this is changing somewhat and as a consequence the healtheries industry is burgeoning. Why? Because people believe the publicity that accompanies the products, and feel that by consuming these vitamins and those minerals they are filling a need. Of course with a well- balanced diet the need is not there because people have already consumed the vitamins and minerals in their natural state- food! Naturally we are now of a generation that has a vastly superior range of health diagnostics and if supplements are decided by specialists as a way of improving our own or our dependent’s lives, or if we can get the benefits of naturally occurring elements that we once got from perhaps more readily available sources (such as Omega3 vs expensive fish) then why not? But my overall opinion is with the thrust of the article- eat a well- balanced diet  and the need for supplemental vitamins and minerals will be minimised, and it all seems to be good advice.

See also https://kutarere.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/hail-to-the-colonel-and-ronald-mcdonald/

Hail to The Colonel and Ronald McDonald!

…and all of those other American icons- The King, Wendy, Taco Bell, Domino and all!

How do the young say it? …OMG!!!

In 2010 Americans (citizens of the United States of America) ate 9 million more servings of French Friesand 6 million more hamburgers than they did in 2009. It is fair to assume the same sort of increases held true for other popular fast food items (aka, junk food) such as hot dogs and donuts. This puts the USA at the top of the list of countries where obesity is recognised as being a major health issue. The cost to the health services in trying deal with problems caused by obesity runs into many, many millions of dollars that could well be spent elsewhere and it would follow that deaths that could be attributed to obesity or the complications caused by obesity are arguably avoidable.Many Americans have stated that they were ‘never told they were fat’!!! Of course the matter is one of some delicacy, especially in early stages of becoming obese but surely parents must assume a major share of the blame for obese children who go on to become grossly obese adults.

Can it be true that just because one isn’t told they are fat, they can’t recognise the fact that they are?I KNOW that I would recognise something was amiss if I was unable to see my feet (or other lower extremities), if I was continually having to let out belts or buy new clothes, if everyday actions such as tying shoes or climbing steps required extra effort, or if it was difficult to get out of bed or chairs.

It’s probably slightly different for young people who are being brought up in an environment where none of these things seem untoward, where fast/junk foods are the norm, and where parents take the easy option to buy in meals and apparently can’t be bothered to give any guidance or impose any sort of control on what is eaten by the child.This being said I would imagine, though that many of these young people would bare the brunt of the verbal bullies who take perverse pleasure in making fun of the overweight children around them, and thereby are given the message that they are different, that they are fat. Of course when they carry the tale of bullying home it will be treated by parental comfort to calm the upset of the unfortunate and unhappy child. Does it lead to any modification of diet? Doubtful. Does the parent see the bullying as in any way a thing they can do something about (other than complaining to the school) to improve the life of their child? Doubtful.

Who is to break the circle? At what stage do people take responsibility for self management of their weight, or their over-weight? It seems apparent that far too many can’t be bothered and are happy to continue to consume tons of fatty foods and gallons of sugar drinks. And the Colonel, Ronald and all of the other fast-food providers rub their hands together (as they bank their enormous profits), make some outlandish claims about their latest, revolutionary ‘healthy eating’ strategies, and carry on feeding the willing public further and further into obesity.

I do NOT, however advocate this as an option, but I commend the guy for showing some (misguided) initiative!

(Note: sadly New Zealand is in the top ten of countries whose incidence of obesity is above 20% of the population.)

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Should I Be Here?

Short answer is probably, “No”. I’m doing this at work (yeah, I know- on the boss’s time and all that stuff!) but I don’t have a big pang about this as this is almost part of my job! I am an IT teacher and I am sort of in the process of ‘doing’ blogging with the senior kids, and so while they are beavering away at their world-shattering observations and commentary, I am doing similarly- modelling? Yeah! Right!

Anyway back to my question. I am feeling like death warmed up and have streaming eyes and intermittent sneezes and thus I am probably a walking disaster for those around me. In such a state I suspect it accomplishes very little ensuring regular hand-washing, covering mouth/nose when coughing/sneezing, and any of the other health poster guidelines (although, of course they’ll minimise health hazards as much as is possible!) But our classrooms are very often places where people who really shouldn’t be there spend their days. Kids sent by working parents who can’t (or won’t) find home care for them or teachers who are ill and infectious but who can’t be replaced because relievers are not available (or won’t be replaced because they don’t want someone else running their class.) And, of course hard surfaces that must harbour squizillions of nasties just waiting to spoil someone’s day!

But I am here, and so are at least 3 kids today who shouldn’t be, and I think another teacher elsewhere in the school who would be doing herself and her colleagues and pupils greater service by being elsewhere.

So why are we here? The children’s presence is explained in part by parent’s circumstances, in part by parent’s attitudes, or in part by the desire of the kids to rather be here than at home. But the teachers? I think there are a number of factors here as well- some teachers may have used up their sick leave, some may prefer to not have the potential disruptive effects of less than wholly effective relievers, some may not be well organised enough and a bit afraid of being discovered as being so by another taking over, some may feel that if they could ensure a ‘proven’ reliever would be in charge they’d stay home, some may feel that what is planned for that day requires them to be here, and of course so are just so damned dedicated they think even performing below par is worth the effort of getting out of their sick-bed to be at school. (They ARE NOT here because there is no reliever available- that’s management’s problem.)

So why am I here? Because my role directly effects at least three other teachers’ plans for the day it’s less disruptive than re-scheduling the day another time when I’m feeling better, and because I am not replaced by a reliever if I call in sick it’s simply more expedient and convenient for all if I turn up (so no high principles involved!)

And, actually I’m fibbing. I’m not doing this at school, and I am not feeling like death warmed up with streaming eyes and sneezes, but you get the idea?

The Dubious Benefits Of Citizenship.

This is an article that my good friend Derek Fox has penned as guest commentator in the daily newspaper of the Cooks, (and I will drop him a line asking his permission to publish it here in a day or two!)

The dubious benefits of citizenship
At the outbreak of the Second World War Apirana Ngata – he’s the guy with his picture on our $50 note – persuaded the government to form a Maori battalion. The 28th Battalion was formed on tribal lines and the different iwi kept up the numbers to maintain the fighting unit. Men from the pacific also served in the 28th.

Ngata did this because he believed it was part of the ‘price of citizenship’, Maori should not only enjoy the benefits of New Zealand society, but should also share the hardships – like fighting in a world war.

History tells us that the 28th (Maori) Battalion served with great distinction winning every decoration for bravery that it was possible to win; but the cost too was enormous. Two thirds of the men were either killed, wounded – sometimes up to three times – or taken prisoner.

The price was indeed high.

That’s why I’ve found three snippets of news in recent days very interesting.

As I write Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is challenging Maori to take ownership of the fact that about half of the children abused in this country are allegedly Maori and Maori should put their hands in their pockets and pay to fix this situation.

Also this week the Race Relations Commissioner – Joris de Bris – has expressed his concerns about the high numbers of Maori unemployed – double the Pakeha numbers – and worse still the very very high number of unemployment amongst Maori youth.

The third piece was a study of life expectancy taken from the official statistics. It compares how long we live to how we earn and what race we spring from; you’ll be surprised to learn that Maori have the shortest life expectancy – even high earning Maori live shorter lives than low earning Pakeha.

Well so what, I can hear some of you saying, well here’s what

The reason Paula Bennett is in a government in this country is because of the Treaty of Waitangi – not because Maori were conquered but because they were persuaded to sign a treaty.

Paula has probably read the Treaty – but I continually come across people with very strong opinions on it – who haven’t.

Basically there are three articles and this is roughly what they say:

Article one signs governance over to the Crown – our governments like that part.

Article two guarantees Maori undisturbed possession of their land forests etc – successive governments have violated or ignored that part.

Article three guarantees Maori the rights of British citizens – those were the ‘benefits’ that Ngata saw – good health, employment, housing, an education, justice and so on.

So where are they, why is it that Maori must now pay for their own social services; and next week will Paula Bennett be telling whoever owns the other children who are being abused that they will have to pay too, or will the taxpayer do that – along with Maori taxpayers?

In fact all governments including this one have failed to provide the rights guaranteed under article three and that failure is the root cause behind the social ills that plague Maori including unemployment and child abuse.

Each year we’re told how Maori children are failing at school – but who’s really failing? Maori children aren’t paid tens of thousands of dollars to educate themselves – an army of civil servants is.

Will the next step be that Maori need to pay for their own education, and health services and so on? What then will the role of the government be, and if two of the three premises on which the Treaty was signed are no longer valid – then should the treaty itself be null and void and should we revert to the ownership and other arrangements that preceded it. That’s what happens if a contract fails.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that Maori are not getting the same level of service as Pakeha under article three. Poorly educated people end up in poorly paid employment if they get work at all. They live in poor housing and suffer poor health, to survive they may resort to crime which will see them locked up which will leave their families without a breadwinner, they will not be able to afford health care so simple and easily avoided illnesses will go untreated they will die earlier and the cycle will start all over again.

You might be interested to know that Apirana Ngata was a contemporary of Ernest Rutherford – he’s the guy on our $100 bill. They were mates at Canterbury University and graduated at the same time – both were high achievers.

Rutherford wanted the two chums to head off to Europe –where he went on to win fame by splitting the atom a precursor to the atom bomb.

Ngata turned down the trip and instead went home to serve his people on the east coast, later exhorting them to go to war to pay the price of citizenship.

I reckon we paid too much, and I’m picking today he’d agree with me.

Derek Fox

Pink Ribbon

Blue awareness ribbon for prostate cancer.

One of my pet grypes at the present is seeing NRL teams, USPGA players, and various other sportsmen repeatedly wearing pink ribbons or pink items of clothing “to raise awareness” of breast cancer, yet seldom do I see sportswomen attired in such a way. I support the concept of awareness campaigns, I recognise the danger of breast cancer (in women and men), but I think that if sports organisers and teams are going to promote such awareness campaigns, they should give due recognition to other common illnesses, and the least that should be done is to highlight health issues for both genders.

Violet awareness ribbon for testicular cancer.