A Cryptic Attack: The Importance of Prevention

Each morning, I follow a fairly simple routine. It truly is nothing out of the ordinary, at least not me, and it is one I’ve come to adapt to. Both during and after breakfast, NBC’s The Today Show is my companion. Throughout the course of several years, I’ve come to know the hosts, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer, Dylan Dreyer and Al Roker as though they are my close confidantes, turning to them for both breaking and lighthearted news. Their interactions, true passion for journalism and news is captivating and leads me to trust to them, turning to them for a daily synopsis of the latest happenings.

With that being said, I took note of the commercial airing last night as NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt, briefly detailing the exclusive live interview set to take place tomorrow (this morning) with Bob Harper, the renowned personal trainer, star of The Biggest Loser, and frequent guest on talk shows such as The Rachael Ray Show. While I’ve never been that much of a fan of Harpers, his recent heart attack caught my attention. When I first learned of his heart attack, I was in shock and disbelief. How could someone so fit, so into health and fitness, with such knowledge and awareness suffer something as potentially-devastating and life-threatening as a heart attack? Often times, as you are probably aware, when hearing of a heart attack, it is quickly attributed to poor health and eating habits, weight or obesity, perhaps family history, lack of self-care, etc. Of course, with that being said, naturally, there are an assortment and vast array of other contributing factors not related to any of the aforementioned risks.

Bob Harper photo             Today show

This morning, I watched the interview unfold between Bob and Savannah Guthrie, captivated as he spoke and detailed his experience, suddenly collapsing mid-gym workout. Though an interview, it felt much more like a conversation between two acquaintances or friends detailing one’s life-threatening episode and experience. During the interview, Harper stated this was his first time publicly recounting all he’d been through and though he has no recollection of that particular day, he stated that he was told it was how the day all unraveled. To his benefit, shockingly numerous doctors just so happened to be working out at the same time as his collapse, ultimately saving his life with the assistance of the defibrillator, thankfully on-site at the gym. As he spoke, tears began to build in his eyes, overcome with emotion and gratitude. He noted that he was “on that ground dead, with nothing more than a 6 percent survival rate.”

Bob Harper photo 2

As it was to countless of others throughout the world, Harper was nonetheless stunned by his sudden heart attack, coming without warning. Looking back, however, he stated he recalls dizzy spills in the weeks leading to the heart attack. During the interview, he issued imperatives statements to those watching, “It was hugely shocking for me, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned a lot about the fact that genetics played a part in this. It is so important to know your health.”

For me, hearing about how important it is know one’s health and to really take note of the feelings, both physically and emotionally one experiences, truly resonated with me. There is nothing more important, in my mind, than paying attention to one’s body, no matter how subtle those “signals” or “feelings,” may be. In my mind, it is always worth it to pursue those sensations, those little pains that may seem so small and insignificant. Even though they may be benign or of little concern, it is still worth it to be proactive and to be an advocate for oneself.

As the interview continued, Harper stated, “I think about before the heart attack I was having dizzy spells and I thought, maybe I should have really taken that more seriously. It’s been a huge wake up call for me. In addition, he has a family history of heart disease, as his mother passed away from a heart attack. Though he is now on the mend and progressing well, he made it a point to note, “It’s been hard. I’m going through some depression. You really face your mortality and I’m really understanding what’s important in life.”

Bob Harper recovery

His interview with Savannah today was eye-opening. For me, I cannot even begin to explain my own experiences with health and how important it has been throughout my life to trust my body. Those personal experiences have led me to encourage family, friends, acquaintances and whomever I may cross paths with, including those who might be reading this today, to really take the time to listen to yourself. No worry or concern is really ever too small, it is worth it to be considered and if you find you are nervous or afraid to reach out and question doctors or professionals on your own, I encourage you to ask for help, ask for someone to accompany you to those appointments to help you ask those questions, or to serve as a reminder, or even as a support, just being there physically present FOR YOU. Whether that person is a family member, a friend, a neighbor, an acquaintance, if it provides you with the support, confidence and reassurance you might need to be proactive with your health, then I strongly encourage you to ask for that help and for that hand. Sometimes a helping hand and a listening ear may be all we need to get us to where we need or want to be.

I’m truly grateful for the interview between Savannah Guthrie and Bob Harper today, for it’s shear honesty, truth, and imperative message of self-care and personal health maintenance with the take-away message being prevention is key.

Your health is worth it and YOU are worth it – worth the time, the energy and compassion. Take care of you, because you deserve health and happiness.

 

A “Forbidden” Bite

Good Morning, all! Yesterday, I went about day as routinely as I typically do. However, mid-afternoon, a news story suddenly came to my attention, as I discovered it via Twitter, TV and Facebook. The story was being shared and discussed in all mediums I regularly encounter, so it was considerably difficult to avoid it or not see it. It was a topic/issue that hit close to home, however. Perhaps you’ve already heard about it and have formed your own opinion or perspective:

A mother of a 4-year-old daughter (Natalee), Leeza Pearson, a resident of Aurora, Colorado, received a what she referred to as a “lunch-shaming” note in her daughter’s lunchbox after sending her to school with a package of Oreos. Having run out of fruits and vegetables, as a treat, she packed Oreos for her daughter, failing to see this as something shameful or harmful. Upon arriving home from school, Pearson realized the package of Oreos were noticeably untouched and accompanied by a note, which read (courtesy of http://abcnews.go.com/Health/mom-lunch-shamed-school-packing-oreos-daughter/story?id=30674158#.VUI2W9Lo0HF.twitter)

“Dear Parents, it is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch. This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable and a healthy snack from home, along with a milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it. Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack. This is a very important part of our program and we need everyone’s participation,” read the note, provided to ABC News by Pearson.

OreosSchool Note

Upon learning and reading about this, I was completely appalled and disgusted and shared in Pearson’s sentiments, when she expressed, “I think it is definitely over the top, especially because they told her she can’t eat what is in her lunch,” Pearson told ABC News. “They should have at least allowed to eat her food and contacted me to explain the policy and tell me not to pack them again.” I couldn’t agree with Pearson more. It is not the job of the school administrators or employees to police students’ lunches, especially NOT in this fashion. While I completely understand wanting to ensure each child is receiving and enjoying a nutritious and satisfying lunch and snacks, when in moderation, cookies CAN be acceptable. Reacting in this fashion seems to be extreme. As Pearson goes on to explain, she states that the Oreos were NOT her main meal. They were simply an accompaniment to a healthy and nutritious lunch.

The spokesperson for the school claims that they were “just trying to promote healthy eating,” however, as reported in the aforementioned ABC article, Pearson said that effort has often been inconsistent:

“They say I can’t decide what to feed her but then they sometimes feed her junk food,” Pearson said. “Why am I being punished for Oreos when at other times I am asked to bring candy?”

Also, the school administrator claimed Natalee was offered an alternative snack, but Pearson argues this was not the case and her daughter arrived home from school hungry.

In a world where healthy and “clean-eating” is constantly spoken of and advised, what messages are we sending the children and adolescents of today? Instead of simply enjoying a meal and a snack, they are constantly faced with the debate of whether or not is made of “clean ingredients,” or organic items. It becomes frustrating an overwhelming at times even for me, so I can only imagine what it would feel like to be faced with this as an impressionable child. In my mind, healthy eating is allowing for the occasional indulgence, taking time to enjoy something new or different every now and then, instead of solely fixating on its nutritional composition. In a world where we are constantly chastised as a society on our outward appearances, what we’ve done or bought, it becomes overload to restrict even something like an occasional Oreo to a child, whose meals and snacks are otherwise healthy.

As a child, my mother packed me treats in my lunch box, everything from Dunkaroos, to Tastykakes, to Hostess cupcakes and Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies. Did I enjoy them? Absolutely! They weren’t my main meal though and had no impact on what I feel healthy eating is. In fact, I love fruits and vegetables and yogurt even more than packaged treats. Being exposed to treats like Oreos allowed me to not see it as a luxury. It was simply another form of food, to be enjoyed on occasion. I didn’t lust after it or overindulge when I had access to it, because I saw it as something I could enjoy on occasion. It wasn’t labeled as a “forbidden fruit,” so to speak. I say this because I recall in my years as a child and a teenager, my mom used to keep a bowl of M&M’s or other candies on the table in the family room to be enjoyed by visitors or my us, in general. It wasn’t constantly being refilled, or even really eaten all that much, because it was a regular fixture on the table and not a “forbidden treat,” or indulgence. However, during birthday parties, some of my friends would overindulge in these treats, or exclaim, “Wow! You have access to these treats all the time?!” To me, though, it wasn’t something I overindulged in, because it wasn’t forbidden to me, or referred to as unhealthy. It was an occasional treat; a complement to an otherwise healthy diet, to provide me with an occasional dose of sweetness. It was how I learned the phrase, “everything in moderation.”

Dunkaroos

Policing children and parents’ food choices is not the answer. In my mind, it only promotes unhealthy behaviors and a self-conscious mindset. While Oreos may not be the picture of nutrition, it is not something to shame someone for occasionally enjoying.

Acceptance quote