How the quest for wellness is making us sick

Wellness sign with wooden cubes

There’s no such thing as wellness.

Surprised? Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few decades, you have been bombarded about the mythical state of “wellness” and what you must do (and buy!) to achieve it.

Wellness is different from health. Health is freedom from disease or control of disease. It is a state of “good enough.”

At best those seeking wellness end up poorer; at worst they end up dead.

  • High blood pressure? We can control it with medication and you will be healthy.
  • Appendicitis? We can remove your appendix and you will be healthy.
  • Nearsighted? We can give you glasses or contacts and you will be healthy.
  • Diphtheria? We can immunize you against it and you will never even get sick.

In contrast, according to Dictionary.com, wellness is:

An approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases.

In other words, it is a state of perfection.

There’s just one problem; absence of disease and long life are NOT the natural state of human beings.

That’s because human beings, like all living things on our planet, have evolved and evolution isn’t about perfection; it’s about survival of the fittest.

Think about that for a moment. Survival of the fittest means that for a given environment, some animals (or plants or bacteria or viruses) will be fitter than others. Critically, “fittest” is not a fixed set of characteristics. If the environment changes (either naturally or technologically), those who were once fittest might easily be out-competed by animals within or outside the species that, in a reversal of fortune, are now fitter.

The engine of natural selection is genetic mutation. That means that in each new generation there will be individuals who have heretofore unseen errors in their DNA. Some errors are devastating and the animal (or plant, bacteria, virus) dies; most DNA errors result in no functional difference. Every now and then a DNA error leads to an individual that is fitter for its environment than its compatriots. Since the holder of the error is fitter, it is more likely to survive to have many children who will also have the error and over time, the error will spread through the population.

When it comes to survival, there are many competing demands. For example, a woman with a narrow pelvis (like a man’s pelvis) is faster and better able to outrun predators. But that same woman with a narrow pelvis has less room to deliver a baby and therefore is more likely to die in childbirth.

Each individual animal, plant, bacteria or virus is the sum of its compromises and all are competing with other members of its species as well as other species. Some compromises leave us less vulnerable; some compromises leave us more vulnerable; and some do both. For example, humans who were under siege from malaria evolved a genetic mutation that made them better able to resist malaria. Yet the very same mutation, in the right circumstances, causes sickle cell anemia. Who is “well” then, the individual with or without the genetic mutation? The answer is: neither.

Indeed the term “wellness” did not even exist until the latter half of the 20th Century. We understood that our natural state was not wellness. Our natural state involves copious death and disease. Fully 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. The natural infant mortality rate is 7% or higher. The average lifespan in nature was 35 years.

That changed with the advent of modern medicine. We developed a myriad of ways to address the traditional scourges of human existence. We discovered the germ theory of disease and that led to clean water, proper disposal of bodily wastes, and anti-sepsis (all technological discoveries). We also developed antibiotics to cure disease and vaccines to prevent disease. Indeed we were so successful in applying technology to the vulnerabilities of human beings that some of us actually began to pretend that being well is our natural state.

Since then wellness has developed into a trillion dollar business, the bulk of it devoted to unproven fads that merely deprive people of their hard-earned money for no benefit.

What’s the harm of pursuing the mythical state of wellness?

1. It has led to a pervasive health moralism. Disease and dysfunction, which used to be viewed as God’s will or the result of bad luck, have been transmuted into a Calvinist view of health. Calvinism is a form of Christianity noted for its belief in predestination. God had predestined some people for entrance to heaven and the mark of that predestination was wealth. The meek might inherit the earth, but heaven would be the province of the wealthy.

Because of our belief in the mythical state of wellness, we have come to view disease not as a matter of luck, but as a sign of moral fitness. Got cancer? Then you must have done something to deserve it. Instead of supporting those who are ill (generally through no fault of their own), we torment them with our smugness that we are not sick and therefore we are more deserving. We force those who are sick in body to suffer in spirit as well by blaming them for their own misfortunes while patting ourselves on the back for being superior though we are nothing more than lucky.

2. It has led to a plethora of poor screening tests, many of which do more harm than good. If you believe that the natural state of human beings is wellness, then you assume that disease is a failure of prevention or detection. That leads to screening tests which are meant to preserve wellness by identifying those at risk for disease and treating them.

But the natural state of human beings is not wellness and therefore lots of healthy individuals are identified with early cancers that might never have become life threatening. From mammograms to PSA testing for prostate cancer, we have created screening tests that lead to unnecessary biopsies, unnecessary surgeries and, in rare cases, unnecessary deaths. In an effort to attain the mythical state of wellness, we are willing to turn health into disease.

3. It has led to a never ending stream of erroneous and conflicting recommendations about what we should and should not eat. While it may be true that you can overeat your way to obesity and associated diseases, the idea that you can eat your way to wellness is a pernicious fiction.

Our Paleolithic ancestors did not spend their days cavorting around food pyramids ensuring their good health. Our Paleolithic ancestors were NOT healthy. No group with a life expectancy of 35 is healthy.

They lived a subsistence existence where starvation was always a risk and vitamin deficiency was common. The fittest survived and being fit meant being able to get a sufficient amount of food and nutrients. You ate what you could and hoped for the best. Moreover, diet varied substantially depending on location and climate. There was NEVER an ideal diet that guaranteed wellness then and there isn’t an ideal diet that guarantees wellness now. That’s why the never ending stream of dietary recommendations is constantly changing. There is literally no such thing as an ideal diet.

4. The search for the mythical state of wellness has given rise to the trillion dollar industry of quackery. All forms of quackery — from homeopathy to chiropractic, from herbal supplements to nutritional cures, from fad diets to nonsensical detoxes — are based on returning people to the mythical state of wellness, a state that never existed in the past and does not exist today.

Quackery is nothing more than socially sanctioned robbery. Purveyors of quack treatments get rich, while buyers not only don’t get well, they get fleeced. At best, those seeking wellness end up poorer; at worst, those seeking wellness end up dead, either poisoned by the supplements that were supposed to make them healthy, or diverted from treatments like chemotherapy, which though arduous, can actually cure cancer while quackery cannot.

Wellness is a myth. It is incompatible with everything we know about evolution and prehistoric existence. In pursuit of the myth of wellness, we moralize health, we create screening tests that do more harm than good, we propose dietary guidelines that are useless, and we spend trillions of dollars on nonsense designed to return us to a state of perfect health that not only never existed, but could never exist.

The ultimate irony? The quest for wellness isn’t making us well; it’s making us sick.

  • Steph858

    A minor example of #1:

    I’ve had my fair share of colds in my life, but have only been struck by full-blown ‘flu once. It was while I was lying in bed with this bout of ‘flu that I phoned a friend to cancel an outing we’d planned. She uses this opportunity to gloat about having not suffered from so much as a runny nose for years because she (insert woo preventative treatment which claims to “Naturally boost the immune system” here – I can’t remember exactly what it was) every day.

    Fast forward 2 weeks and I’m fully recovered but she is in bed with a mysterious illness whose symptoms are suspiciously similar to mine. I’m not normally one to indulge in schadenfreude, but on this occasion I gave a little prayer of thanks to Karma …

  • sdsures

    How do you type a fist bump?

    • Brix

      Oh, I didn’t. I used an emoticon. I’m hopeless at typing them.

  • sdsures

    My mother-in-law has recently found a lump in her breast, and had an appointment at the Rapid Diagnosis Breast Clinic (RDBC) yesterday. She’s in her mid-50s. Please send up a good word to the Big Guy upstairs. I don’t think she has any history in the family.

    A number of years ago, I also went to a RDBC, because of some hard breast lumps – all benign, but they can get painful from time to time. They were very good, even at the examination stage. Fingers AND toes crossed, everyone!

    • Brix

      I’ll send up some prayers!

      • sdsures

        She got the all-clear!

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Excellent!

  • berko_soph

    Not to be late to the party with commenting but a well known Australian chef recently wrote about the ‘dangerous chemicals in sunscreen’ pretty much advising people not to wear it… Of all places in Australia. Inspiring this wonderful article written for the guardian https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/11/live-authentically-live-until-youre-37-six-wellness-trends-inspired-by-our-ancestors

    • SporkParade

      This is the same guy who wrote the paleo baby formula recipe that doctors said would give babies toxic amounts of Vitamin A, by the way.

    • Who?

      Beat me to it! Pete Evans is a rock solid idiot.

      • berko_soph

        Yep absolutely.

  • Marie Gregg

    I’m reading this today in bed, trapped by a low-grade fever and abdominal pains associated with my damaged liver. I never did drugs. Never smoked. Never drank to excess (and, in fact, the last drink I had was at least 5 years ago). I’m not yet 32, not obese and don’t have diabetes, yet I have NASH and spots if hylperplasia.

    SO tired of the moralizing. I’m sick. I just am. I’m a Christian but I don’t believe God is punishing me. My genes just suck. SO tired of being told, “If you would just…” No. Stop it.

    I don’t understand why people can’t just be compassionate. I’ve had to cut out several “friends” from my life over this. It’s stupid and painful.

    • FormerPhysicist

      I hope you feel better soon.

    • sdsures

      Ugh, a fever and cramps on top of all that! *hugs* Are you allowed to take stuff like ibuprofen or tylenol for the fever?

      “SO tired of being told, “If you would just…” No. Stop it.”

      Boy, do I hear you. Healthy people just don’t get it.

  • Irène Delse

    I saw this today on Twitter (I think posted by Dr. Amy):
    http://nyti.ms/29FKrvo
    Basically, mortality and morbidity are declining at a rate not totally explained by medical interventions, so maybe it’s the cumulative effect of safe and affordable food, modern sanitation, workspace safety regulations, etc.

    Oh, and something interesting, seeing how much being fat is condemned in our day… In some cases, being overweight can even be a benefit: fat people have higher bone density and so are at less risk of fracture as they age. Fascinating.

    • sdsures

      On the condemnation of fat, very interesting about bone density!

      I think there is a huge problem in today’s culture of what is fat, and who determines it. An average-sized, curvy woman might score an overweight BMI, even though she’s technically not overweight. A tall muscular woman might score a high BMI, because muscle weighs more than fat. Ditto for men. Bones are part of your weight.

      On the other end of the scale, you get women’s shops who only sell stuff under a size 8, and it’s considered the “new normal” when the old normal was 12-16. I may be a little fuzzy on the exact numbers, but do you get where I’m coming from?

      I was once in a small women’s clothing shop, and they seriously didn’t carry anything beyond size 2-6. However, behind the cashier’s register was a woman who must have been a size 26! Not that she wasn’t pretty – she was! But if they’re trying to sell skinny-people clothes, I wondered how someone who doesn’t fit their ideal customer description felt about working in such a store.

      The BMI keeps on getting used as a measure of “healthy weight” when we all know it’s rubbish that should have been chucked out long ago. Drives me nuts.

      • Irène Delse

        You’re right, the BMI should be used as it was meant to be: a tool among others, not the be-all and end-all of health.

        • Who?

          Waist measurement is a pretty good indicator of health I think.

          Dress sizing is all over the place. I’m somewhere between an American 2 and 6, (Australian 6 and 10) depending on brand, have just bought some really beautiful italian clothes in their smallest size (in the sale!!!). Also bought a Target dress in size 6, which is the equivalent of an American 2.

          • LibrarianSarah

            Yeah and the “designer” brands tend to come in doll sizes. I am normally a six 8-10 but I had to get an XXL Calvin Kline shirt.

          • sdsures

            Because of my hydrocephalus, I had precocious puberty, which resulted in early, larger breasts currently J40, owwww), and short stature. It’s the boobs that make shopping difficult for me.

            Good news, though: my cousin from Canada was here for a visit, and he asked if he could bring me anything special. His mom is a super shopper, and got me at least 4 different shirts and zipper jackets emblazoned with “CANADA” on them. <3 I adore living in the UK, but am sick of people asking if I am American because of my accent. 😛 Men size L is a tad tight across the chest, but the arms are nice and loose, which is the important thing. Nobody's ever going to mistake me as American again, mwahahahahaa!

  • itry2brational

    “At best those seeking wellness end up poorer; at worst they end up dead.”
    Oh really? How do deaths due to the pursuit of “wellness” stack up against the 3rd leading cause of death?

    Medical Errors Are No. 3 Cause Of U.S Deaths, Researchers Say
    http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/05/03/476636183/death-certificates-undercount-toll-of-medical-errors

    • Monkey Professor for a Head

      Medicine requires a good deal of balancing the risks and benefits. There are risks to the treatments employed in modern medicine, but there are also major benefits. If modern medicine were to disappear tomorrow, the deaths from medical errors would soon be majorly dwarfed by the deaths from currently treatable diseases.

      If you have a treatment that confers no benefit, then any risks are unacceptable.

      • sdsures

        “If you have a treatment that confers no benefit, then any risks are unacceptable.”

        That doesn’t include diagnostic tests with an unknown outcome, does it? The first thing that popped into my head was breast FNAs and biopsies, which I have had done because I have benign solid lumps in both breasts – both were tested and found to be harmless, but you can imagine how terrified I felt before getting the all-clear.

        In that sort of situation, I would argue that the benefit is conferred when you get a “you don’t have ____ [insert disease here”. NOT getting tested would have driven me mad.

        • Irène Delse

          Yes, the benefits of a test is having an answer, even if it’s negative (“you doing have X”). The usefulness of as test depends on its sensibility and specificity: you need as little false negatives and false positives as possible.

        • Monkey Professor for a Head

          I was referring to alternative medicine with that statement. If an alternative medicine treatment does not work, and it causes even a tiny amount of harm, then that is unacceptable.

          In the case of a diagnostic test such as an FNA of a breast lump, you can only say it was “unnecessary” once you have a negative result in your hand. As Irene said below, you have to weigh up the pretest probability, the seriousness of the potential diagnosis (and what you will do with it) and the sensitivity/specificity of a test before you can figure out if it’s worth doing. In the case of a breast lump, the benefits of having a diagnosis if it had been malignant were likely worth the risks of the test in your case.

          And yes, reassurance is nice to have. I had a breast lump biopsied a few years back, and it was a big relief to get the results. I was given the option to have it biopsied or not, and I knew I would rather get it over and done with rather than have it weighing on my mind (and even more so, my husbands mind – he lost his mother to breast cancer).

        • Nick Sanders

          Pertinent diagnostic information is definitely a benefit.

    • Nick Sanders

      And how does that compare to a century ago? Or a century before that? And how do the current national death rates and life expectancies compare to the ones from those times?

      Seriously, try harder.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Yeah, that’s what happens when you start removing competing causes of death. Note that pilot error and deliberate controlled flight into terrain are increasingly the cause of plane crashes. Not because pilots are getting worse (or more homicidal) but because planes are getting safer and just don’t do things like lose engines on takeoff or wings mid-flight much any more.

      • sdsures

        I love the series “Air Crash Investigations”!!!!!!!

    • Dr Kitty

      Everybody has to die from something.
      Syphilis, Diptheria, Measles and Smallpox used to kill millions, not so much now.
      Cars are getting safer, trauma surgery is getting better so more people survive traffic accidents.
      People survive strokes and heart attacks that would have killed them 60 years ago because we have stents and lysis and bypass surgeries that are effective and relatively safe.
      People survive cancers that would have killed them 30 years ago because we have better chemo combinations.

      Bottom line- you can go by homicide, suicide, misadventure or natural causes, and as we get better at treating many of the diseases which previously led to deaths by natural causes the proportion of deaths in the other categories will rise.

      Of course, the way things are going most of us will now either die from the consequences of dementia and extreme old age, or will take matters into our own hands to ensure that we don’t.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        IIRC, dementia is also decreasing, despite the aging population, possibly related to better control of diabetes and cardiac disease, leading to less microvascular disease, including in the brain. There would be worse things than a world where most people dropped dead one day at 110 or older. We could get there, if we want to.

        • Dr Kitty

          Dropped dead at a healthy 110 with no dementia and still mobile…yep.

          Dropped dead at 110 bed bound and with end stage dementia or CCF or COPD…no thanks.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            My great aunt seems to be going for it. She’s 101, lives alone, and is mildly annoyed at all the people who keep dropping in on her when she’s trying to get something done. She has a replacement valve (surgery at 88) which will probably go on her one day, meaning that she’ll probably just not wake up one morning. I’m hoping I take after that side of the family.

          • sdsures

            “Dropped dead at a healthy 110 with no dementia and still mobile…yep.”

            That’s how I’d want to go. Example: Jimmy Carter. I think he’s a fine example of a human being, and let’s face it, as my husband termed it, he’s an Energizer Bunny of Good Works.

            I don’t know if he has any religion at all, but DH said that Carter is the sort of person Christians should aspire to be. He’s 91, has terminal brain cancer, and is still building with Habitat for Humanities, WITH HIS OWN TWO HANDS. He actually helps put the joists together on homes.

          • LibrarianSarah

            Jimmy Carter is an evangelical christian. He used to be a Southern Baptist but severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention over their unwillingness to allow women to be pastors.

          • sdsures

            He’s what evangelical Christians SHOULD be like.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            I remember seeing Carter quoted somewhere as saying something like, “Why shouldn’t I keep building houses as long as I can?” He’s also the founder (of course) of the Carter foundation, which is largely responsible for dropping guinea worm infection from 10s of thousands of cases yearly to 22 cases in 2015. Note that making this happen involved negotiating a cease fire in the Sudan so that education on how to prevent infection could be carried out. If he wasn’t 91 and terminally ill, I’d say we should try to pull him back into the presidency for a second term. Electing Reagan instead was probably the biggest mistake the US electorate has made (so far) in my lifetime.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Speaking of 110 or older, did you know there are something like 2 people still alive who were born in the 1800s?

    • Guest

      This is what happens when more people have insurance and are able to seek medical care. More medical care = greater risk of an error. Since it’s impossible to 100% eliminate human error, should we take away people’s insurance so that they can’t receive care? That would reduce those medical error deaths right quick.

    • Daleth

      It’s the third leading cause of death because there are 300 million people in this country and almost all of them go to the doctor, use prescription drugs and/or end up in the ER or admitted to a hospital at some point. Anything even remotely risky that 200+ million people do is going to end up being a leading cause of injury and death, simply because so many people do it.

      And I’m not defending bad hospital practices, bad doctors etc. There is certainly room for improvement and making those improvements would save lives. I’m just saying that you can’t call something inherently dangerous just because it kills a lot of people each year–you have to look at how many people it kills PER CAPITA.

      For example, far fewer babies die in home births and birth centers than at the hospital, but that’s because only about 2% of babies are born at home or in birth centers–the other 98% are born in the hospital. If you look at the rate of deaths per capita, you can easily see that being born at home or in a birth center is drastically more likely to kill a baby than being born at the hospital.

  • Megan

    Heard this while driving over lunch, (ironically after a story about children not getting enough to eat because of poverty); Quack du jour Dr. Jason Hartman in Philly. It really pisses me off when fellow physicians cheapen all of our degrees by doing this kind of stuff.

  • J.B.

    So dealing with cars a lot right now, and there’s actually a reasonable parallel in here. There are things that are in your control (regular maintenance, fixing things that break quickly, avoiding distraction while driving) and plenty of things that are not in your control (large items on the interstate, someone else running into you, a chipmunk inserting itself in major components of your vehicle.) As the car ages more things will break. Sometimes things come wrong from the factory. Sometimes you have electrical problems and good luck figuring out what’s going on. Money to fix things makes a huge difference.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    Re the paleo diet, the other problem is that we’re not paleo people. Evolution didn’t stop happening one day in the Bronze age. Modern humans have a lot of adaptations to make it easier for them to live in cities and in inappropriate climates, i.e. Europe. Among these adaptations were changes in dietary tolerance and requirements. As an example, many modern humans are lactose tolerant into adulthood. Most paleo humans were not. Modern humans are also more adapted to eating grain and possibly more tolerant of sugar. Even if the paleo diet were ideal for people in the paleolithic era, it’s not for us now. Not but that there are also differences between food tolerances and requirements in modern humans as well…for example, celiac disease is more common in some societies than others, at least partially due to how recently the given culture came in contact with wheat and other gluten containing cereals.

    • Sue

      Agreed. But, even further, it’s a nonsense to suggest that anything the paleolithic people had was somehow “ideal” – whatever they had was just enough to sustain the species. In flood or drought, they just died. Even more recently, humans have just eaten what was available to them. In the frozen tundra over winter, if you hadn’t stored up enough root vegetables, you simply starved.

      Ancient people did not have “ideal” shelter, communication, transport methods, human rights or even – childbirth outcomes!

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        I agree. They did what they could, not what was “ideal”. Also, the idea that there is any one thing that paleo people did strikes me as unlikely. I mean, I’m not an archeologist or anything, I don’t know the details, but i would think that at the very least once people started migrating away from their original habitat in Africa, they probably started doing different things depending on the environment pretty quickly.

      • Irène Delse

        Indeed. That’s why it’s nonsense to talk about “the” palaeolithic diet, as if people in prehistoric times ate the same thing all around the planet! Palaeolithic environment wasn’t the same in Europe or Africa. People who lived in glacial Europe and North America had large mammals as their main resource, but elsewhere there would be a variety of plants, fish, mollusks, as much variety as today.

        Also, the Ice Age wasn’t a long frozen period, there were seasonal variations that enabled the growth of plant life (reindeer need something to graze, after all), plus variations between more warm and more cold intervals that could change within a few millennia or even centuries.

        Modern humans managed to live there throughout these rapid changes (Neanderthals didn’t), so they must have been exploiting the entire array of food sources within their reach. We’ve found 80,000-years-old stone tools that were used to process and cook starchy foods (like wild tubers or wild cereals) and keep microscopic traces of that cooked starch.
        We have remains of seaside settlements where the main source of calories must have been seashells, so much so that they left whole hills of shells on which subsequent humans built up their villages. There is a amazing variety in what constitutes”palaeolithic life”.

        • AirPlant

          I could just be salty because dairy is my life, but when people talk about how a million percent of people arelactose intolerant and therefore humans are not meant to drink animal milks my eyes pretty much roll into the back of my head.
          .
          I am descended from the Viking peasantry of northern Scandinavia. We generally handle lactose just fine. Stop concern trolling my fav drink.

          • guest

            Yeah, I hate when people tell me I wasn’t designed to drink milk. I have Scandinavian heritage and I’m not lactose intolerant. I wasn’t designed, but my genes evolved to permit me to drink it, and likely because it provided an advantage.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I like the “we are the only animals that drink another animal’s milk” claim.

            The thing that is so funny is that cats drinking milk (or cream) is such a common trope so to be a cliche.

            When you point this out, they are all like, “Well, we are the only ones who take the milk for that purpose.” Yeah, but we are the only ones with the brains to be able to do something like that. You don’t think if a cat could figure out how to milk a cow, they wouldn’t do it in a hearbeat? Or a dog? Our dog used to drink milk, and loved it.

          • AirPlant

            My mom still tells stories about her cat trying to “Milk” her when she was nursing me.

          • guest

            And birds don’t lactate or drink any kind of milk, but mine sure seek out and eat foods that are unnatural for them, like cooked and mashed potatoes or bread. And two different birds became so bonded with me that they regurgitated for me, which is their way of offering a prized food to a mate. It’s almost as if…FOOD is natural and animals of all species are primed to get it however they can.

          • Sue

            We are also the only ones who drive cars, fly in aircraft, cook food, vote, and chat about it on the internet. But food? Sure – let’s be all natcheral.

          • Daleth

            You don’t think if a cat could figure out how to milk a cow, they wouldn’t do it in a hearbeat?

            My late great cat waited until everyone was asleep, jumped on the counter, clawed through a plastic bag of hot dog buns and took bites out of every single bun. I’m sure he would have milked a cow if he could have. Or wound himself around my ankles affectionately to convince me to milk a cow for him.

            Wait, aren’t we the only species that eats grain that’s been processed and baked? Um, no. Animals see our processed food and probably half the time they think, “Hot damn, that’s awesome! Give me some!”

        • AnnaPDE

          And let’s not forget seasons either. There may be a nice variety of fruit and vegetables in summer (though anyone who’s seen a wild apple will know it’s not nearly the kind of stuff featured in paleo cookbooks), but what about winter? Oh right, eat whatever you find or starve. Even better, fatten up in the summer on sugary stuff and avoid wasting energy so you have some reserves to get you through. That of course does not produce the kind of lean, muscular body year-round that the paleo crowd is hoping for while looking at their “natural movement art” and crossfit idols.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Even better, fatten up in the summer on sugary stuff and avoid wasting energy so you have some reserves to get you through.

            If it’s good enough for bears…

          • Inmara

            I know some guys who experimented with living medieval lifestyle on a medieval diet and with appropriate level of exercise (i.e. they made their own housing on the go, tended to horses, harvested some hay etc.). Once winter came, everyone had a nice fat storage on their waistline, no matter how less they ate – because their body recognized that time’s hard and there need to be storage in case of severe starving ahead.

          • T.

            I read somebody doing the same with Victorian era lifestile and foodstuff… (Victorian era paesants didn’t fare much better than their medieval counterparts) and same.

          • Daleth

            Sounds like the best approach for a paleo person would have been to get fat as hell in summer and autumn, and then spend the winter sitting on their ass by the fire making shadow animals on the walls of the cave to entertain the family while sucking on the little bit of squirrel jerky that they had left. For me personally that doesn’t seem like the optimal lifestyle…

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Neanderthals didn’t as a separate species or sub-species, but I’ve heard it claimed that most Europeans have some Neanderthal ancestry, so they may have merged in with modern humans. Not sure if it’s true or not.

          • demodocus

            they seemed pretty sure on a couple PBS science documentaries. They seemed legit to me

    • guest

      Paleolithic people also didn’t have access to global foodstuffs. I saw an infographic recently that showed where various fruits and vegetables originated on the planet. Everywhere had something, but nowhere had everything. So if you want to be *truly* paleo, you wouldn’t have much variety in your grains and veg – or meat, for that matter, since you’d rely on whatever game lived locally, and would not have been domesticated and bread for desirable characteristics.

      • AnnaPDE

        Ooh, you mean sriracha, arrowroot flour and coconut aminos don’t grow on bushes all around the world?

        • Guest

          No condiments whatsoever! Just char your foods over an open fire or eat them raw.

        • Megan

          Man, I wish sriracha grew on bushes everywhere.

      • AirPlant

        That is also what blows my mind about herbal remedies. Just assuming that cinnamon is going to help with your PPH, exactly how many countries have it just growing wherever? I am pretty sure it isn’t indigenous to my native Sweden.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Without cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate, and a number of other non-native spices, food in Europe would not be worth eating.

        • Sue

          And then there’s this: do those countries that DO grow cinnamon and other “superfoods” have wonderful health outcomes?

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            Well cinnamon is apparently supposed to help with glycemic control – I remember seeing some random magazine suggest that you should drink chai lattes for that reason (because the cinnamon will totally negate the large amount of sugar in that). It’s pretty commonly used in Indian food, yet type 2 diabetes is pretty common in people of Indian ethnicity.

            On an anecdotal level, I’ve seen turmeric hailed as a cancer miracle cure. My mother in law would have eaten turmeric daily throughout her life, but it did nothing to prevent the breast cancer which killed her.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            The official stance on cinnamon right now is not enough evidence to recommend for or against it. At least, that’s the last thing I saw. Cinnamon is a yummy spice. Eat it, if you want, for that reason.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            Yumminess is one of the major criteria with which I shape my diet. I’m sure it could be healthier, but I’m happier for it

          • Roadstergal

            Tumeric had a flurry of interest due to some papers saying that curcumin, found in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties that were speculated to also be anti-cancer. However, the guy who published most of those papers has had them retracted for falsifying data, and anecdotally, I know some folk in the area who have been unable to replicate the results. So turmeric = tasty, nothing more.
            http://retractionwatch.com/2016/02/22/journal-retracts-7-papers-by-md-anderson-researcher-long-under-investigation/

            They’re all pretty bad, but this one stands out to me as particularly egregious – “In Fig. 5A different intensities of the same image were used to represent different experimental conditions: the extent of cell death of TUNEL/Vehicle (left image) and the extent of cell death of TUNEL/Curcumin (2nd image from the left).” Basically, the guy under-exposed the same image to pretend it represented a different image showing a change in amount of cell death.

          • Nick Sanders

            I could tell that to my dad, who takes expensive turmeric powder “supplement” every day, but he’d probably just do what he always does when I show him data disproving one of his hairball things that he’s been conned into: say “Well, you’ve got some many papers saying this, and if I looked I could get just as many saying that, so it’s your word versus theirs and no way to tell who is right” and just keep on doing it.

            I really, really wish, if nothing else, I could get him to understand how to evaluate sources.

      • Megan

        Not only that, but you’d be unlikely to be eating large portions of meat multiple times a day. It’s just not that easy to hunt enough large game to feed an entire tribe/group of people the kind of large portions of meat many people eat 2-3 times a day. I never have understood how my patients who “go Paleo” use it to justify eating breakfast sausage, bacon and eggs for breakfast, chicken salad for lunch and a large steak or cheeseburger for dinner.

        • Roadstergal

          If we’re going to extrapolate from what apes eat today, wouldn’t insects be a critical protein source for paleos?

          • Megan

            True!
            And what about chocolate crunchy frogs? 😉

          • T.

            Frogs are delicious, you should try them!

          • Irène Delse

            Definitely! 😀

        • Sue

          Exactly – and in lean time, only the hunters could eat, and the rest starved.

      • Daleth

        So if you want to be *truly* paleo, you wouldn’t have much variety in your grains and veg – or meat, for that matter, since you’d rely on whatever game lived locally, and would not have been domesticated and bread for desirable characteristics.

        I would be eating a lot of wild turkey, squirrel, carrots and corn. So like a bad Thanksgiving meal, plus squirrel. I think if I’m going to be paleo I’d rather live in Italy…

  • Sue

    True confession: I spend WAY too much time arguing with the fructose-is-poison, anti-seed oil, paleo, high-fat-low-carb and general “wellness” crowd on-line. They take small snippets of physiology, poorly understood, and misapply it widely. Many write books and sell courses and advice on that basis.

    These people become celebs much like the anti-vaxers and radical-NCBers – they sell simplistic solutions, and write books that become Bibles for their cult-like followers.

    The messages are multiple:
    – Fructose “goes straight to the liver to make fat”
    – “The Mediterranean diet is a scam”
    – “The dietary profession got it wrong and caused obesity”
    – “Seed oils are ‘toxic’
    – “Saturated fats are good for you”

    and so on.

    They hate the concept of ‘moderation’ as if it were a curse – it’s an all-or-none, with-us-or-agin-us mentality.

    Then, if you get sick anyway, you mustn’t have tried hard enough, believed strongly enough, read enough books, seen enough YouTubes or spent enough money.

    LIke all areas of life, we seem to want simple,directed advice to follow, but we don’t want to get it from ‘experts’ – because they are all tainted by vested interests and brainwashed by their education and training, not to mention being in the arms of Big Pharma etc etc.

    Such a high reading on the irony meter, and yet they carry on blithely, converting more believers. Sigh.

    If you try to correct

    • Sue

      Sorry – last bit. If you try to correct misinformation, or – heaven forbid – question the authority of the guru – you are like the devil incarnate, trying to destroy their saviour.

      Sound familiar?

      • Irène Delse

        Spot on! Especially the bit about taking isolated items of basic physiology, not even well understood, and extrapolating out of proportion from that point.

        • Sue

          Yep – the same goes for the current obsession about “hydration” that leads to people carrying water everywhere and casual joggers guzzling “sports drinks”. SOmeone told me confidently on one of these sites that, when you feel thirsty, it is a sign that you are already “dehydrated”.

          So, where are all those cases of renal failure from the days when we didn’t constantly “hydrate”?

          • Dr Kitty

            A study of junior doctors on an ICU found that they actually were oliguric and at risk of acute renal injury…because they were too busy to drink or pee.

            However, being young and healthy, they were all fine.

            http://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c6761

          • Roadstergal

            I had a friend who was a flow cytometry tech who kept getting UTIs from staying at the machine when she had to pee. :

            Anyway, I blame a lot of this ‘hydration’ BS on the misunderstanding of that study that said we need about 8 standard servings of water a day – the fact that we get a lot of that in our food already fell by the wayside.

            I blame some more of it on Bicycling magazine and its ilk. There’s only so many articles you can do in a year on the newest carbon flooby or how to interval train, and editors pad it out with ‘diet’ and ‘hydration’ advice.

          • Sue

            Yes – that 8 glasses of water thing is a very pervasive myth.

            You’re right about the quality of some of that training literature. Many sports trainers have just enough clues about sports physiology to completely misunderstand it.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Isn’t that “8 glasses of water” crap just saying that we need to ingest 64 oz of water a day? Or 8xwhatever size glass they mean?

            We get water in lots of ways, who cares whether it is drunk or what.

          • Sue

            That’s poor workplace culture, but being oliguric just means they were concentrating their urine – so their kidneys were doing what they were meant to do.

          • Who?

            Thankyou. This drives me crazy. You do not need a water bottle during a one hour yoga class. You do not need to throw in a bottle of water for a trip to the supermarket.

            Makes me want a bottle with a little coping fluid/vitamin W in it.

  • SporkParade

    Huh, and here I thought this would be off-topic. Can any of you lovely people point me in the direction of detailed information regarding what can be learned from doing amniocentesis and running the fetal DNA through a genetic chip? My OB didn’t quite recommend it, but he mentioned it as a possibility, noting that the standard of doing it routinely above age 35 is based on out-of-date assessments of the risks and benefits.

    • swbarnes2

      Exactly what kind of chip? A Small Nucleotide Polymorphism array, or one looking for Copy Number Variants?

      Are you trying to diagnose some kind of aneuploidy?

      I would think that amnio is a lousy screen, do you have some other test telling you that amnio is warranted? If you are just screening, it’s safer to just take blood from your arm, check to see that it has a high enough concentration of fetal DNA, and run tests on that.

      • sdsures

        Amen on the maternal blood test.

      • SporkParade

        He didn’t say what kind of chip specifically, just that it can identify 150 different disorders and that 1 in 170 women who do the test consider aborting based on the results. I asked why not the blood test, and he said that the blood test only includes a few microdeletions. That’s why I’m inclined against, because there aren’t any specific reasons to be concerned.

    • Daleth

      Another vote for the maternal blood test. I did MaterniT21. That can even tell you the baby’s gender, if you care, but more importantly it tells you whether the baby is genetically normal, WITHOUT any risk whatsoever of miscarriage.

      • swbarnes2

        Probably better to say that the test will tell you the baby’s sex. Gender is something that the kid will figure out on their own later.

    • MI Dawn

      Amnio should never be done as a screen. It should be done only as a diagnostic based on abnormal results from a screening test. The only reason 35 was the “magic” number was back in the early days, the risk of miscarrying after an amnio were about the same as the risk of Trisomy 21 (Down’s Syndrome) for a woman of that age or older.

      swbarnes2 is right. The screening test should be blood. Reserve amnio for if it’s really needed.

    • An Actual Attorney

      I’d really suggest talking to a genetic counselor. It depends on so much that is personal top your history and your tolerances. Because I have a cousin with trisomy 3 that was missed prenatally (I think even with amnio) and all that goes with that, I wasn’t comfortable with anything but the most advanced screening from a cvs sample. But that’s me. There’s a lot that goes into the decision and a genetic counselor is trained to walk you through it all.

      • SporkParade

        Yeah, I’m inclined against. If there were some reason for my to be concerned, I would consider it, but I’m not AMA, the NT scan and the early anatomy scan (yay, Israeli prenatal care) have all been normal, and there’s nothing that runs in my or my husband’s families that we would consider aborting for.

  • PeggySue

    THANK YOU.

    I am so bloody sick of “wellness.” I just got *another* call from my insurance company, representing my employer, offering me the services of a “health manager/coach.” I just want to be LEFT ALONE to set the priorities *I* have for my life. My asthma is well controlled, my depression is well controlled, I have an abnormal heart rhythm but no underlying pathology, I am 65 and spent 4 hours mowing and pulling out vines on my day off, and that is well enough for me.

    • Charybdis

      I absolutely HATE, LOATHE and DESPISE that health screening bullshit. Our company does this, “just for your own information” and “your employer does not receive the results”, but you cannot get health insurance through the company unless you do your “health screening”. That goes for spouses as well. You don’t get a discount if you are a smoker (test positive for cotinine in a blood test) and you get charged more if your BMI is over a certain level OR you have not lost 10% of what you weighed last year. This goes for spouses as well.

      You can earn money for your “health account” by completing a yearly survey, participating “health coaching” programs, either online or via telephone with a live “health coach”. This is fucking insane and makes me so mad. I HAVE a doctor that I see yearly for a physical and my anxiety/depression is being controlled, as is my stress level. I do NOT want to participate in a “Reduce your stress” program, or a “Manage your depression” program, or a “lose weight” program. I have a doctor for all this and it is none of my employer’s business what my BMI is.

      • Kelly

        Sounds like all of that is increasing your stress. They are not helping, they seem to be hurting. I am just glad my insurance doesn’t do this.

      • MaineJen

        Have they tried the “healthy saver” scam with you yet? It’s all about “less of a deduction from each paycheck, but you pay MORE out of pocket!” It’s how my coworker ended up paying out of pocket for her kids’ epi pens. Yes, you read that right. Her kids both have life-threatening peanut allergies, and she ended up paying $1000 out of pocket for each epi pen because each person in the family has a sky-high deductible that hadn’t been reached yet. You also end up paying out of pocket for every doctor’s visit until you reach the deductible. Such BS.

        • Charybdis

          Oh yes. The family deductible has been raised to $4500, yearly physicals (including mammograms, pap smears, blood work and urine tests) are covered 100%, but only if the doctor is in network. NOT covered if the doc is out of network. Until you reach the deductible, you pay out of pocket for tests; DH has heart and kidney issues that they cannot pin down a cause for, so the 2D echocardiograms, kidney ultrasounds are all out of pocket until we hit the deductible.

          To offset this much higher deductible, the company offers the “health and wellness” programs and you can earn money to go into your health savings account by completing their little programs. “Have a ‘Health Coach’ contact you via telephone once a week for the duration of the 4/6/8 week Reduce Stress/Stop Smoking/Lose Weight/Whatever program! Once you have completed the program, you will receive $200 in your health savings account! This money will help cover your deductibles and out-of-network health costs! You can earn up to $1000/year by completing 5 of the programs!”

          It is all spun as a “Take Charge of Your Health and Learn to Make Healthier Choices” BS, because the company (oddly enough a healthcare company) CARES SO MUCH about their employees and wants to help them become the healthiest they can be! Which is a load of BS; the company doesn’t give a damn about individual employees and their health, they just want to save money so the bigwigs can get their bonuses, raises, etc and make the Board happy.

          The mandatory mail-order maintenance prescription program sucks on ice as well.

          • AirPlant

            My insurance company is super into deciding that my asthma inhalers are too expensive. I have never managed to stay on one for more than three months because the insurance company keeps deciding that I need to switch. Switching involves going back to the doctor for another prescription which inevitably ends up running me about $250. At this point I am pretty sure that they are just trying to wear me down to the point where I forego treatment rather than fight their bullshit.

          • Roadstergal

            Hey, it’ll be a great savings for them when you end up in the ER with an asthma attack!

          • AirPlant

            Right? I am still trying to figure out how a daily inhaler isn’t considered preventative care.

          • guest

            DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON INHALER INSURANCE COVERAGE. I am so mad about what has happened to asthma (and other) patients in recent years. There should be a generic steroid inhaler available by now, but there isn’t because when chlorofluorocarbons were banned as propulsion agents, the pharmaceutical companies were allowed to take out a new patent on the same meds because they changed the *delivery system*. So that, plus insurance companies trying to pressure them to drop prices by constantly changing what is “preferred” means that I have to do my own legwork every year to find the best price. And it’s still to expensive. And when my son needed a nebulizer this year, the “preferred” pharmacy doesn’t carry them, so couldn’t fill the prescription. The only place my insurance covered that did carry them was a rental place that couldn’t get me one for several days – like a wheezy toddler can wait for days!

            It’s gotten to the point where I don’t follow my doctor’s treatment advice. I use my inhaler less often than needed to make it last as long as possible. This did lead to me needing a sick visit this year that insurance did have to cover.

          • AirPlant

            WORD. I only use mine to follow up an upper respiratory infection. At $500 a shot plus the doctor’s appointments to get the brand sorted it is just too expensive. I HATE that I am letting them win, but what else can I do?

          • guest

            I haven’t found any way to fight back against it, except to somehow induce attacks that require ER treatment. But that’s punishing myself too much.

        • Daleth

          It isn’t necessarily BS. If you do the math, depending on your family’s situation it may well end up being cheaper. In other words paying for high-deductible insurance and also spending $2000 on two epipens may be cheaper than paying for regular insurance and having the epipens be covered.

          I forget the exact numbers but our options were something like either pay $950/month to insure the family with a $500 deductible, or pay $425/mo to insure the family with a $2300 deductible, and have access to an HSA account. In other words, spend $11,400 for a year of normal insurance (plus possibly $500 if we have unexpected expenses), and if you want to put money in any kind of health savings account you have to use it all by year’s end or lose it… or pay $5100 for a year of high-deductible insurance (plus possibly $2300 if we have unexpected costs, for a total of $7400), and you can get a health savings account that lets you keep any unused money from year to year.

          • MaineJen

            The thing is…if you’re an hourly worker, you’re not necessarily going to have $100-200 to shell out for a doctor’s visit. That’s what was nice about the old plans: yes, it was a bit more out of every paycheck, but you knew it was just a $15 copay when you went in. And health savings accounts are all well and good…but it’s still my money, and it’s just one more deduction out of an already stretched-thin paycheck.

            It’s hard to think long-term when it’s 4 days until payday, you have $30 left, it would be nice to go the doctors to get that mole checked out but you really need to buy diapers. “But you’re saving money in the long run!” doesn’t do a lot for that situation.

          • Daleth

            Where I work, the difference between a high-deductible health plan and a standard plan for me and my family is $534/month. If you’re saving $500+/month on your insurance–in other words having $500 more in take-home pay every month–you would have the $100-$200 to shell out for a doctor’s visit. Not in the long run, but immediately–you’d have like $250 extra in every paycheck, assuming you’re paid twice a month.

            And if you elected to have $100-$200/mo of that $500-ish savings put into your HSA each month, your paycheck would be $300-$400 higher than it would be with a standard healthcare plan AND you wouldn’t have to pay a dime out of pocket for your doctor’s visit–just give them your HSA debit card to pay for it, and keep the $30 you have left in your wallet.

            That said, I know some people who are chronically poor don’t think or operate this way, and would blow the extra $500/mo on other necessities, not elect to have any money deposited into their HSA, and thus not have the money for a doctor’s appointment. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with HSA’s and high-deductible health plans, though.

          • MaineJen

            Yeah, the difference is nowhere near that much for us. It’s about $100-150 a month.

            And…I hate this attitude that the reason people don’t save money is that they spend it irresponsibly, or they don’t know any better. I would LOVE to be able to sock away a few hundred dollars per month in a savings account. So would most people. If our wages were higher, we could.

            The median income in the US right now is right around $60,000. Stretch that out over a year and add expenses like mortgage and health care etc, and there’s not a whole lot left over. “Money management 101” only works if you have money to manage. You cannot get blood from a stone.

            “That said, I know some people who are chronically poor don’t think or operate this way…” Let me say it again. **Money management only works if you have money to manage.** It’s not a matter of spending money on things you don’t need. (You’re talking to a person who hasn’t gone on a real vacation in 10 years and hasn’t bought new clothes in…I can’t remember.) It’s the fact that the things we DO need (food? medicine? car?) are pretty expensive and always rising in cost, but our salaries aren’t growing. It’s the height of condescension to assume that those who can’t save “just don’t think the right way.”

          • Daleth

            Yes, if the difference is that small for a family, I can see where it wouldn’t make sense. For an individual a difference of $100-$150/mo still might make sense, because $1200-$1800/year is about the same as or more than an individual HSA deductible. When the savings is close to (or especially greater than) the deductible, getting a high-deductible plan and an HSA is basically betting, with good odds for most people, that you won’t need to spend that much on medical care this year; if you win the bet you keep the money in your HSA, and if you lose the bet you have the money there to spend on medical care.

            When the difference is what it is for my family, then basically you do “have money to manage”–you’ve got an extra $500-ish a month, which is $6000-ish a year, nothing to sneeze at. If you sock away $500-ish a month in an HSA for your entire working life–which you can do because HSA’s are portable, not tied to a certain employer–and don’t end up needing to spend it all on medical costs, then you could have a nice chunk of change to use in retirement, since you can use HSA funds for anything (not just medical care) once you hit 65.

            I hear what you’re saying about my saying some poor people are poor or poorer than they could otherwise be due to being irresponsible etc. I grew up with a single mom hiding from the electricity, gas etc. guys so they couldn’t come in and turn off our utilities (this was back when they had to physically come in), I’m not coming from a place of oblivious privilege here. And I’m not saying all or most poor people in America are irresponsible or have some other obstacle (like pride–when I was a kid a friend’s mom couldn’t get a job in part because she didn’t have a valid driver’s license, didn’t have the $7 she needed to renew her license, and was too proud to accept $7 from my family to renew it).

            I absolutely don’t think most people who are poor are poor for this reason. And poverty is incredibly depressing, so from that perspective it can look like it makes more sense to spend $5/day on cigarettes or whatever other fleeting relief/pleasure is available than to save that money, even though $5/day is $150-ish a month and $1800/year, not negligible. What I mainly meant is that health insurance is hard enough to understand for a well-educated person with plenty of free time in which to read up on it, much less for a minimally educated single parent who’s working two jobs to survive. So the default is just to get something that you know won’t leave you high and dry, rather than getting something that (if you have the time and knowledge base to think about it) actually would leave you less and less poor over time.

          • Irène Delse

            As someone who is not in the USA, this discussion makes me shudder, especially because many politicos here are doing their best to make our healthcare system more like that… their backers in the insurance industry would be absolutely delighted, I’m sure!

            “Making a health savings fund” should be the job of my insurance company, not me. That’s part of what I pay them for.

          • Charybdis

            Part of the reasoning behind it is to make people be “better consumers” of medical treatment. Shop around, get the best (read lowest) price for your treatment, don’t run to the doctor with every little thing, make sure the doctor is not ordering unnecessary tests, utilize the insurance’s “24 hour Nurse/Help/Triage line if you aren’t sure if you should go to the doctor, etc.

            Which is a good thing in theory, but not so much in practice. Because it then becomes an unreasonable burden on the patient (aka “consumer”) to find out the inner workings of their health insurance. “Your doctor is in network, but the lab they sent the specimens to is NOT, so YOU have to pay for the entire cost of the out-of network labwork, or at best, pay 50% of the cost.” And other stress-and-crazy-making decisions YOU have to make because health insurance is “encouraging” you to be a better, more informed consumer and having more say in where your health care dollar is spent. Which causes more people to avoid or put off health care because it is getting to be a major pain in the ass to try and navigate your way through the quagmire.

          • Daleth

            Yeah, I would love to have a system like you have in continental Europe (specifying continental because I lived in the UK for a few years and was extremely unimpressed with the healthcare system… but I loved the system in France). It would be so much better for so many people.

      • Daleth

        My company’s lawyers just informed us a week or two ago that requiring participation in the “wellness program” in order to get insurance discounts is now illegal under the ADA, so it is no longer required. You might want to look into that.

    • Daleth

      You’re reminding me of the complimentary phone consults with nurses that my insurance company provided when I was pregnant. Get this: a nurse who had never met me and never seen my chart told me to ignore my doctor’s advice. It went like this:

      Her: So when are they due?

      Me: Well, 40 weeks would be [date], but since they’re mono-di twins we need to deliver around 37 weeks, so [date].

      Her: Aw, don’t worry, you can go longer! I’ve seen plenty of twin moms go to 38, 39, 40 weeks!

      Me: Uh, were they mono-di twins?

      Her: Well I don’t recall each person’s details, but they were twins, twin moms. And the longer they stay in, the better for them, you know?

      Me: Ma’am, do you know what mono-di twins are?

      Her: Well, um, as for specifically what type, I mean, not exactly, but…

      It went on from there and I ripped her a new one, and then called her supervisor to report her–but get this: the supervisor defended her! “She was probably just going by the recommendations,” blah blah blah. She ignored my point that the ACOG recommendations for mono-di twins are to deliver early. It was absolutely fucking insane.

      For those interested, the insurer was Highmark Blue Cross.

      • Who?

        That is horrifying. Well done re the ripping new one and reporting to boss. And the naming and shaming.

      • Roadstergal

        I was getting our company-funded flu shot at an onsite location, and one of the contracted nurses was warning me about the dangers of birth control that takes away your periods. I asked why, and she said “It’s not good to mess with mama nature.” I told her I’m turning 40 this year, I’m already messing with mama nature. WTF is up with some nurses?

        • momofone

          “Mama nature”?! I admire your restraint.

        • guest

          That reminds me – I got a free flu shot at work last year, and they had a few other wellness type booths set up and I overheard one old lady talking to a male colleague about how his wife should breastfeed. After the colleague was gone I told her off a little. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but she misrepresented the benefits of breastfeeding somehow and I tried to explain to her that how that’s hurting women and babies who can’t or don’t want to breast feed.

          Meanwhile, there isn’t a single lactation room on campus for anyone to use. I have a semi-private office, but the literally thousands of students and visitors to campus each day do not. Anyone needing to pump or wanting a non-bathroom private place to nurse has nowhere to go. But let’s denigrate formula instead of making pumping and breastfeeding easier, that makes sense.

          • AA

            it’s crazy that your campus doesn’t have lactation rooms…there is a website with the locations and amenities of all lactation rooms at my alma mater. not all of them are ideal, but there are over 20.

          • guest

            I know USC has ONE, because I attended a conference there. With fifteen minute breaks between panels, I did not have time to travel across campus, pump, clean up, and come back. So public restroom it was.

          • Heidi

            The nurse at the allergy clinic my husband goes to asked him if I was breastfeeding. He told her yes but we supplemented. She had the nerve to disapprove and tell him, “That’s no good.” It’s been six months now, I never saw or met the lady, but I still get so mad thinking about it. I WISH I had been the one she said it to because I would have said some things to her and probably even talked to her boss about it. You don’t tell me that not starving my baby is “no good.”

          • An Actual Attorney

            There’s no statute of limitations on making a complaint to her boss. That was way out of line.

        • Daleth

          I asked why, and she said “It’s not good to mess with mama nature.”

          I only need one word to refute her idiocy. That word is “vaccines.” WTF is WRONG with her?!

          • Heidi

            There’s a good chance she was against vaccines. Having worked in hospitals, every year during flu season, there were quite a few nurses who would throw fits over their “rights” being violated over having to be vaccinated because they just KNEW the flu vaccine was bad. I don’t get it.

          • Daleth

            Grrr.

      • Amy M

        I got calls from a nurse too—it was support for possible pre-term labor, but really aside from telling me what to look for, she couldn’t do anything to prevent PTL. At one point, I had to fill out a form which included a space for weight. Of course my weight was going up, like it does for pregnant women, so I wrote “rapidly increasing” and then forgot about it. Next phone call, she wanted to talk about my issues with my changing body. 🙂

      • Sue

        Imagine what might happen to people who are less knowledgeable than you, or less confident to challenge the system.

        • Daleth

          Exactly. That’s why I reported her–to protect people who weren’t as well informed or confident as me. Sadly it didn’t make a difference.

  • demodocus

    The worst I heard directly was the woman whose first comment when I told her Mom had pancreatic cancer was to ask “Does she drink a lot of soda?” ugh. I’m sure my sister gets a fair bit of this crap too, with her cancer.

    • Erin

      When my Dad was diagnosed with Small Cell Lung Cancer, his Mother in Law (My darling Grandmama) said it served him right for smoking for all those years.

      Some people are just ….

      (The fact that she smoked for about 60 years herself, only quitting when pneumonia put in her hospital is conveniently forgotten).

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      It’s easy to fall into his fallacy yourself sometimes too.

      I have surgery on Aug 4th to get a partial nephrectomy since the mass is looking more and more likely to be clear cell renal carcinoma and I had to catch myself from blaming habits for it. I took a ton of ibuprofen as a teenager, probably too much too often, to controly cramps and some early studies point to over use of NSAIDs as a risk factor. My mom had to point out that if I have myself cancer that way then she must have two tumors instead of kidneys by this point because she did a lot stupider things with NSAIDs for much longer.

      It’s a really toxic thing that creeps in even when you think you’re being rational. And it so doesn’t help when people start piling on the guilt.

      • demodocus

        Ah, hell, even if the medications are part of the problem, it’s still a crap shoot (no pun intended.) You can’t know. *hugs* good luck on the surgery.

        • PeggySue

          Yes. What demodocus said.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Plus with my family history it was only a matter of time before some kind of cancer popped up. My mom’s sister got cancer at 40 and their mom got it in her 70s. Everyone but my mom and her youngest sister had tons of polyps. Then on my dad’s side his mom died from colon cancer.

          So I’m probably looking at getting scoped when I turn 35. That’ll be a joy to negotiate with insurance.

          I just didn’t expect renal cancer of all things but well I guess if you have to choose, renal cancer before it’s spread and is barely a centimeter, if it even is cancer, is one of the better ones to deal with!

          • Dr Kitty

            I’m so sorry you’re going through that.
            Best wishes for a quick and easy recovery.
            Thinking of you.

          • Tiffany Aching

            Exactly what dr Kitty said :).
            Hugs and good wishes.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Thank you! I’ve got an experienced doctor that’s done a ton of these surgeries so that helps put me at ease. Always nice when you have someone that knows what they’re doing.

          • Irène Delse

            Seconding all the hugs and best wishes!

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Thank you!

        • sdsures

          Being denied pain relief isn’t the answer, though.

      • Sue

        Best wishes for your recovery, guilt-free. Ignore the loons and look after yourself!

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Thank you! I’ve managed to avoid most of the loons so far but I’ve kept it mostly to myself since there’s a lot of judgemental people around and I don’t look like they expect someone with cancer to. I already suspect that one person at work was saying I was a hypochondriac when I was getting all the testing done. She’s kind of a rotten person and has done that to others before so it’s not all that far fetched.

          • Sue

            I suggest you now respond to her with a comfortable smugness! 🙂

      • Mishimoo

        Good luck with your surgery. Hope everything goes smoothly!

        And yeah, don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s just a crappy draw of the genetic lottery, and at least the cancer was found early-ish.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Yeah I’ve realized it’s probably just dumb luck and despite the bad luck of getting cancer I got the majorly huge lucky break of finding it so early by chance.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Not your fault, even if the NSAIDs did, in some minor way, contribute to the development*. NSAIDs are sold over the counter. Who expects a teenager to look up and evaluate the literature on rare long term side effects of over the counter drugs?

        Wishing you a smooth surgery, quick recovery, and either no cancer in the end or a stage I cancer with good margins!

        *Bad genetic luck was clearly the major, possibly the only, player. Sorry if this is overly invasive, but have you talked to a geneticist about whether this is a known syndrome that needs increased monitoring for other cancers?

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          It’s not overly invasive especially since my mom’s side especially has weird crap coming out of it all the time. If I get the choice I’d like to ask the cancer center doingy surgery to donate a small piece of it if it turns out to be cancer to the cancer genomics center in my area to have it sequenced in case there’s a targetable mutation that can help someone with a more advanced case. It’s a long shot but renal cancer is so hard to treat when it’s already started to spread I’d like to at least offer in case something usable pops up however far fetched the chance is.

          I have considered genetic testing for different syndromes but I don’t know where to start besides the colon cancer. We know BRCA doesn’t run in my family, thank goodness. Only one case of breast cancer in my extended family and only one rather uncommon reproductive cancer.

          My mom’s side I think may have the familial version of colon cancer. My grandma had it and recovered but her mom died in the 40s of what they thought was stomach cancer but now we’re not so sure it was stomach cancer specifically and not metastatic colon cancer since by the time she was diagnosed it was absolutely everywhere. Her parents and siblings also died of stomach and colon cancer so there’s a very strong possibility for the familial version. My mom’s middle sister also got colon cancer in her 40s and three of her other siblings had extensive polyps. Oddly my mom and her youngest sister have never had polyps on their scans though. Either way, I’ll be getting scoped early since I also have it on my dad’s side too.

          Other than colon cancer being pervasive we have a handful of other weird ones. My cousin has primary hypereosinophilia and they found a sex cord tumor while looking for the cause of that particular issue. My mom and sister have a higher risk of liver, lymphoma, intestinal, and esophagus cancer from Celiacs but I don’t have that so one bullet dodged. My mom’s parents have had small melanomas and squamous cell carcinomas removed but her dad grew up in Southern California and sunned himself crispy. My mom made sure I never got sunburned as a kid and I’ve never peeled so I’m relatively safe there.

          Dad’s side besides the colon cancer just has my cousin that had a mixed glioma that from what they found was most likely a de novo mutation and doesn’t tend to run in families. Other than that it’s high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia but most likely heterozygous so not as bad as it could be, type II diabetes which my dad hasn’t developed yet, and early death via accidents on one specific mountain. So stay the fuck off that mountain and I should be fine! Lol

          But my family is Mormon pioneer heritage on both sides and that population was rather isolated for a long time so weird crap pops up. I joke that I’m probably related to over half of Salt Lake City and probably all of Manti. My husband mentioned he was Polish and Russian when we were engaged and all I could say was, “Oh good! I don’t have any of that in my genealogy so maybe we can start out breeding now!”

          But seriously if you see a pattern in all that for a syndrome I should get tested for I will be all over that.

          • swbarnes2

            I’m not sure that genetic testing would tell you much about your prognosis that your family history didn’t already tell you. I don’t think there are useful genetic markers for colon cancer, like BRCA is for breast cancer. Even if it did, I don’t know if radical colonectomy is an option like masectomy is for women who are at super high risk for breast cancer.

          • momofone

            My sibling and I are thought to have Lynch syndrome, and our gastroenterologist and oncologist have spoken with him about the possibility of a colectomy. I’ve already developed colon cancer, and given our family history he is estimated to have a 100% chance of developing it. He produces abnormal polyps quite fast, with multiple new each time he has a colonoscopy, which is sometimes as frequently as every six months. I have no idea if/how that (colectomy) applies to anyone else’s situation, though. We haven’t had the genetic testing done for a couple of reasons, one being exactly what you said; our family history is so strongly suggestive that it wouldn’t necessarily shed any new light.

          • Irène Delse

            Actually, there are genetic tests for the hereditary types of colon cancer, including Lynch mentioned by momofone. More here:
            https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/risk-assessment-screening/hereditary-genetics/genetic-counseling/inherited-risk-colorectal

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            There’s one genetic syndrome that’s relatively common that I would get tested for and I am seriously considering it at this point. I do know what woman that has a colostomy from a radical resection of her large intestine who has the syndrome and had precancerous polyps up and down the whole thing. I don’t think I’m quite that brave though.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            It’s not an area I’m very good at, but my immediate thought is that something’s wonky, but I’m not sure what. Have you had testing for familial polyposis and maybe p53 mutations? Also, isn’t there a lot of uranium out there? It might be a common exposure rather than a somatic mutation.

            FWIW, there have been several new drugs approved for metastatic renal cell carcinoma recently and there’s reason to hope that the new immunotherapy will be effective, if you ever need it, so the treatment options are getting better. Unfortunately, none of them are yet curative, as of yet anyway.

            Progress in cancer research right now fills me simultaneously with hope and despair: hope because there’s actual progress in cancers where there has been, for decades, no progress. Despair because it’s so damn slow. For example, population level survival for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer has improved. That’s practically unheard of in the past. And yet…one year survival improved by 3-4 percent units (i.e. it went from about 40% to about 44%). Unimpressive, huh? Well, if the world manages to avoid exploding and making us all live in the paleolithic era whether we want to or not, it will probably keep getting better.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I haven’t had testing yet but the p53 is something I’ve tripped across and considered before with the varied cancers that crop up. The familial polyposis as well since we have some of the other symptoms that crop up with it (skin cysts, grandma had precancerous cells in her thyroid, most of us have skin tags, weird fibromas) so I’ve considered trying to gety insurance to pay for genetic testing. Just never had an insurance that would possibly even consider paying until now.

            Radiation is probably a pretty hefty contributer since my great-grandmother’s family lived near a coal mine on the Utah/Wyoming border and a lot of those mines are now know to leak radon so it’s a pretty likely contributer to their later gastrointestinal cancers.

            My grandma has had radon detectors in the house ever since they were available and never let the kids outside when testing was going on in Nevada in case the wind shifted. Most of the Uranium mines are in Southeast Utah and my family mostly stayed in the north and center portions and were in the Salt Lake valley instead of near Wyoming for the last three generations. I’m near where these a lot of down winders from testing right now but I don’t go kicking up dirt in the danger zones and most of their cancers are thyroid and blood cancers anyways. Even though people my age do sometimes claim to be down winders and totally have radiation poisoning. *Eye roll*

      • MI Dawn

        Good luck and recover quickly. And no, it’s not your fault or I’d be in the bed next to you!

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Yeah it was dumb luck all around I realize now lol. And even dumber luck that it was found so early!

      • momofone

        I hope all goes well and that recovery is smooth. And I hope people keep their clueless comments to themselves!

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Thank you! And with how emotional I’ve been if I’m not actually working I’d probably bash them over the head with one of my random health text books I’ve got lying around. Maybe percussive learning will work.

    • sdsures

      SMH.

    • Irène Delse

      How rude of them.

  • Emilie Bishop

    Oh my goodness, all of this! Then add a disease that no one really understands and rarely shows up on imaging but causes cyclical pain for women (in my case, endometriosis) and you get told by everyone exactly how embracing this or that aspect of “wellness” would cure you. Take this supplement; go gluten free; do daily yoga and meditation; detox your liver; only eat organic products–the list is never-ending and NONE OF IT addresses the cause of the disease because NO ONE KNOWS what causes it! Oh, and on top of that, live in greater Seattle, a veritable Mecca of wellness woo, and you can get into conversations with MD’s that lead to “but if you would just release your negative energy and not be so anxious, your pain would lessen.” It is absolutely about people wanting to control the uncontrollable and feel better about themselves in relation to others who are less “well.”

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      Or they start recommending acupuncture to help control your endometriosis as one doctor in Portland, Oregon suggested… Come on Pacific Northwest! We’re a technology paradise! Why do we fall for this crap?

      • Sue

        Cos, of course, the ancient Chinese understood fully how ectopic endometrial tissue gets deposited around the abdominal organs. They diagnosed it from your pulse. Or something.

        The ancients might have had acute minds, but they didn’t have technology.

      • Nick Sanders

        The high humidity and cool temperatures lead to the perfect conditions for mold to grow in shady areas, such as brains. For a simple payment of $19.95, you can buy my special, all-natural, organic, non-gmo, preservative free, Herbal Brain Mold Cleanse. Three one week courses are guaranteed to remove even the most stubborn toxic infection. Act fast before Big Pharma suppresses this all natural miracle.

        • Who?

          And I’m guessing you have the only special test to identify this mold, and then confirm, after the doses, that it’s gone. Not cheap, but then how can you put a price on good health?

          After, you would want to be tested, what six-monthy? Just in case?

          Damn my ethics….

          • Nick Sanders

            Testing? My no, that wastes time. Just take my special remedy, and if you feel better, it clearly worked. If you don’t feel better, take some more until you do.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            If she feels worse after taking your remedy, then that’s clearly because the toxins are leaving her body, and it just means she should take more.

    • sdsures

      My favourite SMH: re hydrocephalus – “Have you tried drinking more water/Gatorade/other random fluids…?”

      • demodocus

        “random fluids” leads my brain to interesting places, lol

        • BeatriceC

          A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste.

        • sdsures

          Extra protein. 😉 said my pervy hubby. I love him. <3

          • BeatriceC

            I seem to have the constant gutter-mind in this house. I read that comment to MrC and his mind went straight to things like bleach, draino, kerosene, etc. He’s a pervert when he wants to be, but his mind doesn’t automatically go there like mine does.

          • demodocus

            my first thought was vodka

          • BeatriceC

            I’m a rum girl myself, but vodka works in a pinch.

          • Charybdis

            If you can stomach it (pun intended). Ever since I had a guy ejaculate UP MY NOSE**, I have had problems with the whole oral sex thing.

            ** I was moving so that I could get a better angle and just as I moved up and off so that I could get a better angle, he ejaculated UP MY NOSE!!!! That was unexpected and kind of unpleasant.

          • sdsures

            Ouch! And I thought accidentally snorking Coke was painful!

        • Sarah

          I mean, I usually do feel very well in myself around the time I drink ‘random fluids’. My wellness definitely increases from normal levels. I suspect there might be a particular causative mechanism for that, though…

  • SarahG

    “It has led to a never ending stream of erroneous and conflicting recommendations about what we should and should not eat.”

    Isn’t that the truth! I can’t keep up.

  • MichelleJo

    I see the problem with most of the things people are brainwashed to do in the name of wellness, but screenings? Aren’t they the stuff of conventional medicine? Which would only be done if there was proven benefit.

    • Azuran

      Not necessarily. There are many things that show probably benefits in studies, but when they are put in practice in the real population, the benefits become much lower, and the risks/side effect are more important.

      But I think she’s more talking about ‘alternative medicine’ screening test. A quick google search brought me to a holistic web site where they offer (for 30$) a holistic screening for ‘important precursors to ill health such as posture, physical tensions, digestion, nutritional status and emotional wellbeing.’
      I can then pay an additional 60$ to discuss the results with their holistic health practitioner so we can make a health plan to prevent those precursor from becoming real illnesses.

      • Sue

        ANd then there are all those woo-tests like “live blood analysis” and various iris, tongue and hair analyses for “toxins”.

    • swbarnes2

      Screens are trickier than you’d think.

      First, a true screen is a test of someone who has no symptoms. The thing about people with no symptoms…very few of them have the condition you are screening for. Let’s say that your screen has what you might call a low false positive rate of 1 in a thousand. Well, if your condition is present in 1 in a thousand people, than half the people who screen positive are not sick. If the follow-up to a positive screen result is something invasive, something that by itself can cause health problems, well, that’s a lot of people getting “treated” and maybe suffering side effects of that, when they weren’t sick in the first place.

      And what if the condition you are screening for often doesn’t progress to actually hurting you? For instance, we treat a lot more DCIS in breast tissue than we did in years past, but doing so that hasn’t dropped the rates of other breast cancer types very much. So probably a lot of what we are finding in screens would never have hurt the woman. The screen might be making more breast cancer survivors, while also not saving any lives. (I’m getting this from the site sciencebasedmedicine.com, one of the posters there is a breast cancer specialist). Prostate cancer is much the same, you can detect elevated antigens in the blood, but does that always mean cancer? Does it mean that the cancer is going to be what kills the guy if left untreated, or will he die of something else first? Does it mean that the cancer will cause any bad side effects if left untreated? Because treatment likely will have bad side effects.

      So screens are not as simple to understand and use as you might think.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        Example: my mother was diagnosed with DCIS(ductal carcinoma in situ ) at about 76. She was treated for it including chemo with tamoxifen. A year after her treatment she developed bloodclots which led to some other issues. She died at 86 of something unrelated to either issue. It might have been better to just do the surgery and not the chemo. Or just leave it alone and keep an eye on it.

    • Kerlyssa

      Earlier detection does not always lead to better outcomes, and in situations where the disease often self resolves/fails to progress, and the treatment is damaging, can actually lead to worse outcomes overall.

      • MichelleJo

        I know the problems with screenings, yet they are still an integral part of conventional medicine. But the ones mentioned in the article were mammograms and PSA, both standard tests in mainstream medicine.

        • Kerlyssa

          Yes, they are ‘standard’ for certain populations. Deciding when and who to they should be administered has to take into account the outcomes of testing, when the positive outweighs the negative. For example, if mammograms are detecting lumps that are not actually cancerous, or cancers that don’t respond better to earlier treatments, often enough, mammograms can have worse outcomes than not testing at all. Just finding an iffy spot on a scan doesn’t = better outcomes.

        • Sue

          Yes, you’re right. And one of the good things about conventional medicine is that it self-corrects as new information becomes available.

          There is certainly an issue with breast cancer screening leading to diagnosis and treatment of cancers that would never have been fatal, but, the problem is, we don’t yet know all that well which ones they are.

    • Dr Kitty

      Benefit on a *population* basis, not necessarily an *individual* one.

      Mammograms, for example, are recognised as leading to overtreatment, with consensus moving towards the risks of mammograms being more explicitly communicated to women.

      http://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h867

  • Amy

    I’d argue that a group of dogs with a life expectancy of 35 was pretty healthy!

    *kidding, obviously*

    But awesome post. Thanks.

    • Azuran

      What if I told you there are actually people out there who truly believe that before veterinary medicine and pet vaccination was a thing, all dogs and cats lived over 20 and that we are making all our dogs and cat sicker with modern medicine and nutrition.

      • Stephanie Rotherham

        I’d hope dearly that they didn’t also have children.

        • Azuran

          Honestly, there has probably never been a day where I didn’t hope that at least 1 of the owner I saw didn’t also have children. The amount of unbelievable neglect and extra pure stupidity is out of this world.

      • Inmara

        Are they from another planet? Because I remember very well that in my childhood few cats lived even 10 years, being close to 20 was sort of miracle. Most cats were not neutered, ate scraps from our table and whatever mice and birds they could catch, and they were not brought to vets because there were very few around (I remember vividly how my favorite cat died, and we were helplessly watching it happen; nowadays she could have been treated and very probably lived). Now I know of several 20 (or close) years old cats; they are neutered (which increases lifespan significantly), kept indoors, vaccinated and brought to vet at the first sight of illness.

        • Azuran

          Most are typical cases of old people saying ‘when I was a kid, all my pet lived up to 20 and they never saw a vet and ate table scraps.’ Some pets probably did, we all know that 90 years old chain smoker who never got cancer.
          But most of the time, it’s probably not even be true, I doubt anyone had 10 different pets that lived up to 20 when they were kids. (It doesn’t even make sense and even today it’s relatively rare for a cat to get over 20 and extremely rare for dogs), They were kids and it happened 50 years ago. They most likely remember wrong or just had that one old looking cat that was just there during their childhood and made up a random age in their memory.
          And they think that their 1 experience is valuable for everyone else. Like many people out there.

      • Amy

        Sadly, it wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve known of people who’ve even tried to put their cats or dogs on a vegetarian diet. Which made me want to call the SPCA on them.

        • Azuran

          As long as they feed them a real, high quality commercial vegetarian diet, it’s ok. There are a few out there that were developed for pet with severe allergies.
          But unless your pet has allergies, you are paying a very high price for a diet that offers no health benefits.

          • monojo

            Dogs can thrive on a vegetarian diet, but cats cannot.

          • Azuran

            Indeed, I hadn’t noticed her mention of cats. Dogs are fine as long as you are not trying some weird home diet.

            But technically, it’s probably possible to do for a cat as well. We do also have food with hydrolyzed proteins (from chicken feathers) for allergies in dogs, which are proteins basically broke down to almost the amino acids level. And hydrolyzed proteins could probably be made from anything, including soy or some other non meat protein. So with the right mix of various hydrolyzed proteins you could probably give a cat all the amino acid it needs. Then you add vitamins and minerals supplement you could probably make a balanced diet for cats (if not an optimal diet, it would probably be better than the low grade commercial diets of Wall-mart and human food store).
            The reason why it doesn’t exist is probably because only a few weirdos want their cats to be vegetarian, so there isn’t enough demand to justify the expenses of developing such a ridiculous product. It would probably also be very expensive considering the technology needed. And cats are really picky eater, they probably wouldn’t eat it. But it could probably be done.

            But then again, many ‘vegetarian’ also eat fish. so technically I guess your cat could be a vegetarian 😉

          • Irène Delse

            It’s not just because few people (luckily) are into vegan diets for cats. Felines can’t make themselves one essential amino-acid, taurine, that only comes from animal products (including fish and eggs). I suppose one could manufacture “cruelty-free” cat food, with proteins from free-range chicken eggs, or from a GM microorganism that makes taurine, the same way we have insulin and other drugs from GM yeast and bacteria.

            ETA : cat food, not car. Though cars do ingest vast quantities too, and can be picky on the quality! 😉

          • Azuran

            You can make synthetic taurine, it’s already often used in cat food. And you could use egg, that’s still vegetarian.

        • demodocus

          or worse, vegan.

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        That’s so weird. We had a cat live to twenty, another pushing seventeen and still thinks she’s three, and had a Great Pyrenees mix that passed away only a few months shy of sixteen. And we thought we were incredibly lucky to have had pets live that long and be in good health up until the very end. We also lost a poor corgi at two due to an undetected birth defect and another cat lost at about six due to an autoimmune disease and realized even more the luck we’d had with animals.

        And it was luck because the pyr mix ate an entire pan of brownies more than a few times in her life because she was some kind of super sneak and was overweight near the end of her life. Still didn’t stop her from kicking the crap out of dogs that tried to chase our cats well into her teens.

        • Azuran

          wow, sixteen for a Great Pyrenees is practically unbelievable. That’s basically twice it’s average life expectancy.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Yeah that’s what was shocking. She was mixed with an Australian Shepard and their life expectancy can be into the teens but your think the pyr with the giant breed issues would cancel some of that out.

            I think she was just too stubborn to die! She didn’t even die of natural causes. She tripped going down the stairs she’d been going up and down for well over a decade and broke her neck. Never saw it coming and didn’t suffer much if at all. She was gone almost the instant it happened.

          • Dr Kitty

            That’s not a bad way to go I suppose.
            Our Pyr made it to nine before she got uterine cancer (no vet near us was willing to spay her, because the anaesthetic risk for a giant breed is not insignificant).

            The Lab/ German Shepherd cross we had next made it to 13 before she got liver cancer and my childhood cat was 16 before his kidneys gave out.

            Now I’ve got a cat with dodgy joints (he’s already had one femoral head excised) who likes to sit in driveways and wait for people to come home from work on the off chance someone will give him food. He does a little circuit of our street, and knows when people usually get home. He also deliberately comes and sits beside my 10 month old, even though that always ends in a tail pull or a poke (and no, he’s never scratched the baby, although I have no idea why not).

            I foresee an early death for him from being run over in a driveway, simple gluttony or possibly being squeezed by a small child. He’s very, very sweet, but not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            We’ve got a pair of (probably) 7 year old (probably) sibling (probably) chihuahua/FSM-knows-what mix dogs. I’ve constantly concerned that the boy dog is going to eat something deadly. He’s already tried a bag of chocolates (fortunately, low cacao so he simply had diarrhea from the sugar and pooped foil for a few days), a corn cob (fortunately he chewed it well so didn’t die of an obstruction), and yew berries (fortunately, he DIDN’T chew them well and so avoided getting taxane poisoning from the seeds). Plus a sample of everything he can find on the street. The girl dog is more careful about what she eats, plus she’s a classic chihuahua personality and will probably bite the reaper if he comes near her, so I’m hoping she’ll live longer. At least, if she can stop running out into the street directly under taxi cabs and attacking cops. Need I say that they’re rescue dogs and didn’t get the best early life training?

          • Fleur

            We had a labrador whose life mission was to eat as many socks as possible in one go. There were a few incidents where he ate 2-3, then he spent a week in kennels one summer and, while he was there, he was given a homemade dog toy consisting of six socks tied together, which he promptly ate. Incredibly, he managed to poop them out (the night before he was due to go in for surgery to remove them). He lived to the age of 12, which isn’t bad for a lab, and it was the breed’s usual flaw of dodgy back legs that got him in the end, not the socks.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Seems to be that way for the sweet cats. They’re dumber than a box of rocks over half the time in my experience lol. But so dang cuddly!

            And the anaesthetic risk scares me every time my current dog has to go under since if recent discoveries are true she was stolen from a breeder as a puppy and then dumped as an adolescent she’s likely purebred and had papers. So she’s got the Great Pyrenees metabolism which really messes with the dosing. You have to find a vet that gives to effect instead of weight is that other owners have told me. We’re a sheep herding area so luckily there’s quite a few pyr owners that can steer me in the right direction. I still must look like an over protective basket case with her t the vet though when I ask how many pyrs they’ve put under. I tend to get eye rolling from the front desk people but the vets themselves usually understand why I am.

            I love the stubborn giants so much lol. And the one I have now adores kids so much which was exactly what I was hoping for. They can be obnoxious but they sure know how to make a kid feel secure.

          • BeatriceC

            I had a Japanese Akita/St Bernard mix live to 12 and I thought that was amazing! I guess the smaller breed in the mix really did great things for your dog.

          • Irène Delse

            Or just infused some genetic variety. Purebreds can be highly homozygous, and so lack genetic variants that may help fight infections or cancer. They are also at higher risk of recessive genetic diseases, obviously.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            It was either that, the hybrid vigor helped, or a combination! I’m still chalking most of it up to dumb luck though. That dog thought lit smoke bombs were to be destroyed on site and she’d find a way to escape to prove it! @_@

        • Mishimoo

          I had the Talk with our vet last time we were in, about how long we were expecting our dogs to last and how their health is, etc. They’re 8 + 9 year old weimaraners and with their health, they should make it to 14-16 okay. It’s still weird to me to have dogs this old because my parents used to get rid of them (shoot/euthanise them) anytime over the age of 3.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Yeah it’s really weird which animals will be with you for what seems like forever and some you barely get to know before they’re gone. And how different people and families deal with aging animals.

      • Beth

        no doubt we’re also giving the dogs and cats autism with all the vaccinations.

        • Irène Delse

          I know, right? I see a lot of cats who don’t make eye contact and don’t even respond to their name. Must be the vaccines!!
          /Snark

        • Azuran

          Oh don’t worry, we do have an anti-vaccine movement as well.
          The fact that, unlike with humans, most vaccine preventable disease of dogs and cats are still rampant and kills tens of thousands of pets each year in the country only makes it worst.

      • Mishimoo

        “But this dog on a vegan diet lived until he was 27! That makes it healthy.” Ugh!

  • Elizabeth Neely

    I have seen a lot of this, especially when I came home from the Military and I was sick. My religious friends tried to pray my illness away, implying that I must not be living right, or that I had unconfessed sin. It was really difficult for me because I had Bipolar disorder. My pastor told me to throw out my medication and clain my healing and to walk in faith that I had been healed. that lasted about 3 or 4 weeks and I asked my family to take me to the VA for help.after a 10 week stay I was much better, stabilized on my meds and functioning fairly well. But My Church friends kept on me about my unconfessed sin, So I quit going. It was sad to lose my friends, but I had my mind back.

    • Mac Sherbert

      Blah! What terrible church friends. They need to find a new Church. The Bible doesn’t teach that sin causes illness or anything else. Ya know Job had done nothing wrong and look what happened him. Anyway, I’ll pray for you that you are able to find appropriate treatment and relief from your problems.

      • Elizabeth Neely

        my Doctors take good care of me at my VAMC here in California, My psychiatrist is the best I have ever had. She is an answer to prayer. I really believe that medical science is a gift from G-d, And I thank G-d every single day for my life. Swallow a few pills? no big deal!!

    • Who?

      I’m so sorry, I hope you’ve found some better friends now. Good to hear you’re doing well.

    • BeatriceC

      This is another item on the list of reason why I’m now atheist and not Catholic like I was raised.

    • Deborah

      I experienced a lot of this to varying degrees during my 30 years in Christianity. While I didn’t outright believe it myself, I internalised a lot of it and always felt shame and condemnation when anything in my life did not fit the ideal of victorious Christian living.
      Towards the end of my time in Christianity, one of the young women in the church delivered preterm twins at just over 24 weeks. The church prayed and fasted for many weeks and the little girls continued to do well, defying the odds and overcoming each new challenge. As a church we were constantly updated on their progress, shown slides on the big screens and exhorted to continue to keep praying. The majority of people in the church showed an interest but there were certain members who made it their life’s mission to not only pray these babies through, but to bring attention to God (and themselves) in the process. Publically, it was all about the twins. In private conversations much criticism was directed at people who “didn’t care” or “lacked faith”.
      When the twins reached 6 months – still in special care nursery – one of them developed an infection and died. The church was exhorted to continue to pray and believe for the child to be brought back from death. If you were part of the inner sanctum you were included in the special prayer meetings held for this purpose. If not, you were excluded. On the day of the funeral the baby was still dead despite many hours of prayer, fasting and tears. The pastor’s wife, the main player in this drama, wore dark glasses and stomped around angrily, bemoaning the lack of belief of people. She delivered a tirade of abuse at grieving family members present for the funeral who were not members of the church, not even Christians, because they were smoking outside the building. Apparently it was their fault the baby had died. The young mother, who up to this point had been swept along by events way beyond her ability to cope or understand, just wanted to grieve for her little girl. She was essentially prevented from doing so by the ridiculous scenario that she found herself in. If she started grieving, it would be an admission of lack of faith on her part and her baby would not come back to her, but if she held on and just kept believing, she would not be free to grieve with her family and friends. It was an impossible situation for a young woman to find herself in and I felt heartbroken for her.
      This particular church eventually imploded (surprise surprise) after I left but these beliefs permeate most of the congregations I was involved in over 3 decades in Christianity. Part of my epiphany in breaking free was the wonderful and liberating understanding that we don’t have to be, can never be, perfect.

      • Irène Delse

        Amen, of I may say so. Perfection is not of this world – something that people who are religious but not fanatics can agree on.

    • Kelly

      My Mom has that kind of thinking and it has taken a while for me to get away from it. Now I am religious and have many in my church who are all about the woo but I believe in science as well. I am sorry that your friends did that to you. I would be very upset if people tried to tell me my health issues or my child’s health issues were caused by me or to not rely on medicine when needed. I am already struggling with not feeling responsible for my baby’s health issues.

    • Irène Delse

      All my sympathy. I have bipolar disorder too, and it’s incredible how little people understand about mental problem. Either they believe it’s self-induced (“are you sure you’re sleeping OK? You should meditate”, etc.) or they treat it like a curse from God. Sometimes literally: my mother used to attend a church group for sick/convalescent/grieving people and their relatives. There was one woman who had two autistic young boys and was beating herself up with the notion that it was punishment for her sins and she could only atone by suffering even more. Very depressing.

  • Madtowngirl

    Great post! The moralization of health is such a huge issue today – particularly when it comes to type 2 diabetes. I was in a play a few years ago about diabetes, and it really opened my eyes – especially the information that some studies suggest one becomes obese because they have diabetes, not the other way around – the diagnosis simply becomes easier once said individual is obese. Is that true? Well, I don’t know, but it certainly gave me pause.

    I do believe, that at least in some cases, there must be more to it than an individual’s lifestyle. I have an uncle who is type 2 diabetic, and he’s always been quite athletic, even now, in his 60s. But there are other sedentary, obese people who never develop diabetes. They aren’t necessarily healthy, it just seems like there must be more to it than “you’re fat.” But if you are unfortunate enough to get the diagnosis, it must be your fault, you horrible human being!

    • Megan

      Anecdote only but I have been fighting insulin resistance ever since I hit puberty, even when I was a size 2-4 in high school. I also have PCOS. I have seen other patients like this as well. I am adopted, so don’t know my birth parents but I would be willing to bet money that at least one first degree relative has insulin resistance or DM. I really doubt that lifestyle factors are the sole cause of DM, though they can modulate the course of the disease and its progression.

      • Mattie

        Just out of interest, how would you know if you were insulin resistant?

        • Megan

          Glucose tolerance tests. Elevated sugars and/or HgbA1c. Depends on the severity. Peronally, I had impaired glucose tolerance on a three hour glucose tolerance test and I also had elevated fasting insulin. I have done a lot of lifestyle changes since then and my labs are now normal but it is a continual struggle for me and I know that one day I will be a diabetic. It’s just a matter of time.

          • seekingbalance

            if you don’t mind my asking, have you considered (or would you consider) taking metformin, even while not pregnant, in hopes of preventing or forestalling the development of DM? I’ve been struggling with what to advise people about this as a physician too and wonder what your opinion about it is…. the data are emerging for a preventive role, but there are still plenty of unknowns about longer-term effects….

      • Mac Sherbert

        My RE once told me in reference to PCOS “Not everyone needs to lose weight.” There’s so much more to it than weight and I would really love it if they could figure it out before my daughter hits puberty.

        • StephanieA

          I feel like I might have PCOS, but haven’t found a doctor that takes me seriously. I’m thin, have regular periods, and get pregnant easily. But I have always struggled with hormonal acne and body hair in places I don’t want it. It’s really frustrating, and it seems like there isn’t standard diagnostic criteria.

          • Mac Sherbert

            I think they will diagnose it if they see cysts on ultrasound or if there are signs of insulin resistance. About the only treatments they offer are birth control pills or diet changes. Ironically, for me my major problem was not the PCOS. It was endometriosis.

          • Megan

            There is also metformin as a treatment option. (I believe it’s the only reason I was finally able to stay pregnant with my older daughter.)

          • Mac Sherbert

            True, I took that too to get pregnant. Not sure I would take it otherwise unless I needed to treat high blood sugar. The side effects were bad for me. It was nice though because I eat anything and everything and not gain weigh.

    • Azuran

      It’s really multi factorial.
      Type 1 diabetes can touch anyone. And once you have it, yea, you are more likely to become overweight.
      Type 2 is more frequent in overweight people, but can still affect anyone. But a lot of factors come into play.
      Your weight is very dependent on your genetic, which will affect all your different hormones level (which affect your insulin resistance), the general height and shape of your body, how easily you store fat etc. Your weight as a kid also plays a role in your weight as an adult (and obviously it’s not the kids fault) And your risk of diabetes is also dependent on on a lot of those factor and many more.
      And loosing weight and not gaining it back is very hard. It requires a lot of work, a lot of control and a lifelong commitment, with results that might never be near as good as you hoped. And yes, if you add diabetic in the mix, it become even harder if not borderline impossible.
      It’s definitely a lot more complicated than ‘you’re fat’ and being lazy.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      It’s complicated. Being obese is a risk factor for type II diabetes and losing weight can decrease insulin resistance and, for example, decrease the amount of medication a diabetic needs, but, as you point out, there are non-obese type II diabetics and people who are obese with excellent glucose control. Also, insulin makes people hungry so high insulin (type II diabetics are making insulin, just not responding to it appropriately) increases the risk of weight gain. Confused yet? So is everyone else.

      One minor, but potentially important point: pancreatic cancer can cause diabetes to develop so if diabetes suddenly appears in someone with no risk factors, a CT might be in order to rule out secondary diabetes.

      • Irène Delse

        I’m one of those people who are obese with good glucose control. My GP is nervous about my blood sugar (and cholesterol) but every blood test comes back perfect. And as I must be tested 3 to 4 times a year to monitor my lithium and thyroid hormone treatments, he often tacks on glycaemia and cholesterol levels and had yet to find a problem. Some of my genes are working perfectly, at least.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          If I had unlimited resources and more brains than I really do, I’d love to specifically study people who are obese but don’t have metabolic derangement. There are probably genetic polymorphisms that allow some people to process glucose better than others, but there may be behavioral/social factors as well. For example, I strongly suspect that feeling pressured to lose weight is absolutely the worst thing anyone can do for their health: it increases endogenous corticosteroids, which both increase blood glucose and weight. So probably the best thing you can do for your health is to tell people who insist you lose weight where to stuff their advice. Especially given your healthy numbers.

          • Irène Delse

            Well, stress does no good to one’s health, for sure, even if it’s coming from the pressure of well-meaning friends. ^^°

    • SL27

      Genetics have to be involved. I have a friend who is pre-diabetic, yet looks perfectly normal, and his sister who is very skinny was just diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. And yet I still find myself thinking “if you would just take better care of yourself…”

      • MaineJen

        My grandfather had 4 siblings, they were all tall and slim and every one of them ended up developing diabetes. I don’t know whether it was type 1 or 2 (probably type 2 since they all fell ill around age 30-40?). They all had the typical AMerican 1940s/50s diet and alcohol intake (think: Mad Men), so there is that. 🙂

      • BeatriceC

        My mother and her sisters who are all 90-110 pounds and between 5’2-5’5 are all type 2 diabetics. Nope, nothing genetic about that. It’s all about being fat. Oh, wait…

      • MB

        Agreed. My family on my mother’s side is all Maltese (the island of Malta, not the dog, LOL). A wicked high proportion of my family has issues with diabetes later in life. My mother’s mother had to take meds for it late in life, my grandmother’s brother died of gangrene of the foot related to diabetes (although to be fair, he was a raging alcoholic, which didn’t help), my mother struggles with it now and had gestational diabetes for both her pregnancies, and now I have had gestational diabetes with my first child. I have to really wonder if other Maltese people have issues with the sugars? Maybe it’s a cultural thing? Anyway, none of them were overweight. Nor am I.

        • Irène Delse

          Island populations, and all groups that lived in relative isolation for a significant part of their history, can have a higher rate of some genetic diseases, due to genetic drift and loss of allelic diversity. Then there are other environmental factors: in tropical and sub-tropical areas, including the Mediterranean, mutations that confer even partial resistance to malaria are strongly selected for, even when the same mutations cause genetic conditions when homozygous (when a person inherits two doses of the gene). The classic exemple is sickle cell trait and sickle cell anemia in Africa. A Mediterranean equivalent is thalassemia (a kind of anaemia that was detected, historically, in Greece and other countries around the Mediterranean see, “Thalassa” in Greek).

          I don’t know if some of these mutations are linked to type II diabetes but it’s an example of how complex genetic issues are.

    • ladyloki

      I have Type 2 diabetes and I am fit and healthy and eat well. I’m actually about 5 pounds or so “underweight” supposedly, but I’m tall and lean. I have relatives with both Type 1 and Type 2. I also have PCOS, as does my mom and my aunt. Diabetes is most definitely genetic, some people are more pre-disposed to it. I love when people start saying horrible things about people with Type 2 diabetes and I tell them I have it. And that people who look like me are not rare, there are plenty of thin, healthy folks with it. Jerks.

    • Mac Sherbert

      I have friend that has type 2. She was an aerobics instructor very fit and always thin. She suddenly got fat and when she went to the doctor they diagnosed her with type 2 diabetes. So, I’m guessing that may be true for some.

    • Clorinda

      Similar sentiments pervade the gestational diabetes community. With my last pregnancy, I joined a Facebook group that had excellent support. Suggestions were kindly offered. Individual situations taken in to account. However, we had tons who said that when others found out about the GD, either there was shock (“You run. What happened? What did you do?”) or condemnation (“Must have been all the sugar.” “You are overweight. What did you expect?”). Most people don’t realize it is partly genetics, maybe some environment, but mostly the placenta’s fault. It will hit the marathon runner and the overweight, the organic eater and the junk food eater.

  • PrimaryCareDoc

    Thank you for this. As a primary care doctor, I feel like I spend half my time convincing people that less is more, they don’t have to do that expensive lab work or test themselves for heavy metals or follow some ridiculous diet.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Oh god, the “heavy metals” crap?

      Fruits and veggies are good, meat and carbs not as good, fish good, everything in moderation. And exercise.

      There is your nutritional advice that accounts for most of the population.

      • demodocus

        and aluminum is not a heavy metal. I’ve been reading Things Anti-Vaxxers Say on facebook again.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          You too? Some days I have to just put the phone down because I can’t deal with the fact that much narcissism exists in this world…

          • BeatriceC

            I have to stay away from that page. My phone has been known to take flight, and that’s not good for it.

        • Irène Delse

          Aluminium is indeed pretty light, as a metal! Note, for some reason, some truly heavy metals, like gold, are used in naturopathy and homeopathy, as oligoelements. My MIL, who is a charming, healthy, energetic woman, also tends towards the woo and swears that to avoid colds, all you have to do is rinse your nasal cavities with sterile sea water – not just saline water. Because sea water contains the magic oligoelements gold, silver and copper! All heavy metals, too, but hey, it’s natural!

          • MI Dawn

            Don’t forget the colloidal silver! Very important. (Except for that little problem of turning blue…)

  • guest

    Good timing on this post, as I read an article today that claimed 80% of cancers are preventable with lifestyle choices. I’m not quibbling with the idea that exercise, not smoking, not drinking, etc. are good for you, but right now, I feel like I can’t really exercise. Is it therefore 80% my fault if I get cancer? (I’m also pretty fatalistic about cancer: given my childhood history, I take it as given that one of these days I will have skin cancer. While I protect my skin now, I can’t travel to the past to fix prior exposure).

    And on that note, does anyone have ideas for exercise routines for people who A) have chronic recurring sports injuries with anything high impact, B) can’t afford a gym membership, C) have very little time as a single parent, and D) can’t do anything at home that might disturb the downstairs neighbor?

    • Madtowngirl

      I have bad knees, so anything high impact is also out for me – swimming is my go-to. Without a gym membership, that’s really only feasible in the summer, though. I do pretty well with dance as well, but I am careful not to push too hard. Yoga might be a good thing for apartment living.

      Genetics have way more to do with cancer than health nuts like to realize. I doubt 80% of cancers are preventable.

      • guest

        Yeah, my current problem is patellofemoral pain syndrome, and the only thing that’s helping is total cessation of running and jumping. I can’t afford to do more physical therapy right now, unless it’s exercises I can do at home. Yoga I can do and I have some videos, but I don’t think I burn any calories doing yoga – I’m a bit overweight these days.

        • Madtowngirl

          Knee pain sucks. Solidarity. I’m also a bit overweight these days – it’s hard, but it sounds like you’re doing the best you can.

          • guest

            I mean, the pain is better when I don’t exercise? But now I feel like a weak-ass blob. It’s still better than being in pain every time I want to sit down.

        • Bombshellrisa

          Namaste yoga DVD series is vinyasa flow. It’s gentle and still challenging.

          • guest

            I’d need a new yoga mat – my old one has been turned into a construction toy zone by the kids and is stained and dirty (the rubber stops the neighbor from complaining). I liked yoga classes when I could afford them – the DVDs I bought are really meh, so if anyone has more suggestions of specific DVDs (or streaming sites) I’m all ears. I have a yoga strap and a foam block (will get a new mat) but no other accessories.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Maybe check out YouTube, there are some really good full episode yoga work outs.

        • Mac Sherbert

          Jillian Michaels has yoga workouts on YouTube…and well they should burn.

        • BeatriceC

          When was it that I fell ice skating and busted up my knee? It’s been 3 months at least. It still hurts when I do more than walking. I’m dying right now because of the strain of climbing up a ladder repeatedly to repair a wall and paint a bathroom. It’s tolerable, but I’d rather do without it.

          In good news, I’ve slowly lost 15 pounds over the last 4 months or so. I’d lost 5 pounds in the first couple weeks, then I fell and stopped losing, but I did maintain the lower weight. I’ve lost another ten since then. I have about 60 left to go to get to my ideal weight, but would be happy with about 35-40

          • guest

            I lost a little weight without exercising last year (about eight pounds) just through skipping meals and walking. By skipping meals I just mean that if I’m not hungry at a particular mealtime, I don’t eat, and this often takes me to the next meal. I used to eat when you were supposed to eat out of fear that later I’d be hungry but unable to stop what I was doing for food, and I just decided that was silly. But there’s a limit to what you can do with that in terms of weight loss, and some cardio would really help (and likely make me hungrier, too). I don’t even have an ideal weight. I just want to have a low enough BMI that my doctors don’t blame my weight for my health issues, and I’d like for my weight not to hang in my stomach like I’m still pregnant. (And it’s not diastasis rectii – I just carry fat in my stomach. Underneath it my rectus abdominis are only about a finger apart.)

          • BeatriceC

            Sorry for the accidental down vote. Fat fingers. I think I have it fixed. For now I’m just paying attention to fixing my diet. I have a habit of eating way too much in general, and a lot of junk. I also have the problem of doctors blaming issues on my weight. It’s getting tiresome to make them go back in my records and see that the weight gain happened as a result of the onset of the problems, not the other way around. I’m always going to be heavier than doctors like though. I can’t help that. I’m solid. I recall when I was a teenager, before my climbing accident, a doctor not even looking at me before he started a weight lecture. He didn’t notice as I stripped to my bra and panties and only looked when I asked him to please point out the area where there was extra fat, besides my breasts. I weighed 175 at the time but looked more like a body builder with defined arm, leg, and abdominal muscles. I think without all that muscle, my ideal is probably in the 165 range. I’m 223 now.

          • guest

            I have a wicked sweet tooth, and I have IBS which makes eating fruit and vegetables more challenging. I have a set of rules that work for me, but it makes trying to follow the 8 fruit/veg servings a day recommendations really unrewarding. It’s literally a crapshoot if I eat that much. (Pun absolutely intended.)

          • BeatriceC

            Most of my sweet tooth problem got solved when I started getting sick when I ate chocolate, then got an official allergy diagnosis. Chocolate is really the only sweet thing that I like.

          • guest

            I remember when that happened, and i’m sorry! I like all kinds of sweet things, so it won’t be that easy. I’m not trying to quit sugar – I have few physical pleasures in my life right now. “Wellness” be damned – sometimes I need a treat more than I need to lose weight.

          • Irène Delse

            That’s harsh. My sympathies.

          • Irène Delse

            Eight? Wasn’t the “official” recommendations give servings, for what it’s worth?
            My mother had gastrointestinal issues and her doctor suggested that she only eat cooked fruits and vegetables, pureed if necessary. Luckily she loved things like soup and applesauce.

          • guest

            No, 5 was official, and then in the BBC there was an article about how they only made it 5 to make it seem more acheivable, but really 8 was ideal.

          • Charybdis

            I have the same things going on! Are we the same person? ;P

          • guest

            Maybe!

          • Empliau

            You are (both) Spartacus.

          • guest

            Ha!

    • Azuran

      You don’t actually need that much exercise to get the full benefits of exercising.
      You need around 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise (30 minutes 5x per week). Which is a slightly fast walk, normal biking, or a game of tennis or badminton, swimming around in a pool.
      Anything more than that doesn’t really add any more health benefits (and if you don’t have the time every day, 2-3 times a week is already very good.).
      Depending on the number of kids and your age, you could go take a walk or biking in the neighbourhood with them, go to the pool, play a game of tag with them at the parc (depending on how fast they go). it would be good exercise for everyone

      • guest

        I do walk just about everywhere I go. My walk to work is about a mile each way, and I almost always walk to save money (I pay as I go for public transpo.) The kids are three and they complain and cry if I ask them to walk, and I don’t trust having two of them on scooters on the sidewalk yet. We practice that one at a time. I certainly take them out in the stroller, which is at least a hundred pounds of weight to push, fully loaded. Maybe I am getting enough exercise for “wellness,” but it doesn’t feel like it because I used to be a runner and a triathlete.

        • Megan

          If you’re walking two miles a day to commute to work, I’d say you’re doing great!

          • guest

            Well, the catch is that I don’t have to go to campus every day, so I don’t do it every day. I am more than up for playing chase with the kids at the playground (they haven’t mastered the concept of “tag,” but they like to be chased), but some days they typically can only focus on one activity for maybe five minutes.

          • Megan

            Even if you’re “only” walking 2 miles a few days a week, I think you’re doing great. Don’t sweat it (haha, pun intended)!

          • guest

            Oh, it’s humid here. I sweat even sitting down. 🙂

          • Charybdis

            I recently hit 20 years with my employer, and as a reward for the indentured servitude, I got to choose a gift from one of their catalogs (you get a gift every 5 years and as you stay longer, the gifts get better). I opted for the portable elliptical machine. I love that thing.

            It is fairly small, easy to put together (something like 5 pieces total), goes forwards and backwards and can fit under a desk. I use it at home, while sitting on the couch watching TV. In that position, it is more like a recumbent bike and I’ll move it behind the loveseat, stand on the footrests, lean forward and rest my lower arms on the back of the loveseat, then start walking. It’s a lot like riding a bike that way. You can change the tension on the pedals, so you can make it as hard as you like.

            DS loves it as well.

          • Kelly

            I will walk the kids around the neighborhood in the stroller and then walk to the park and walk around the park until they are done. I get the workout I need and then they get the treat of getting to the park afterwards.

        • Mel

          Shoving 100 pounds of weight anywhere constitutes exercise (says the person who carries 80 pounds of water to her chicken coop every other day 🙂 )

          • guest

            I know I’m tired by the time we get to the park.

        • J.B.

          It can be a huge adjustment from being fit and dealing with kids and life and just not having time for it all. Yoga and pilates are good, walking is good. You can string together workouts online to do at a playground (squats, lunges, here and there). With knee issues core strength is a big deal.

          • guest

            It is a big adjustment. I knew that I would likely have to sacrifice exercise to have kids as a single parent, at least for a while. But I didn’t anticipate knee injuries as a consequence of trying to get back in shape afterward. (I started running at the gym again when the babies were around a year old, and boom! I pushed myself too hard unknowingly.)

    • Irène Delse

      I’d second swimming, if you can find the time (having a pool nearby, etc.) and dancing, especially oriental dancing, which has slow and deliberate gestures, so low impact.
      I also found a mini exercise bike useful. A simple model is cheaper than a club subscription and can fit anywhere.

      • guest

        No pools except in gyms, sadly, and I don’t know where I would do any dancing without having to pay a lot of money for a class. I used to bike, but I am terrified of drivers here. Urban environments are challenging.

        • Bombshellrisa

          I have gotten some great dance DVDs from the library. I also belly dance, lots of belly dancing is the warming up part and drills. It’s fun. The best belly dance dvd I have ever used is the Shimmy series.

          • guest

            Okay, belly dancing doesn’t sound like it would bother the neighbor at all. Maybe my kids would like to do it, too. (A three-year-old’s version of “doing it,” that is.)

          • Bombshellrisa

            It’s fun to see kids do their version of it. It’s just a fun thing to do. I once took my hip scarf over and entertained my mom after one of her surgeries for a whole afternoon at home. She loved it and got a kick out of my younger brother doing the kazatsky to my belly dance music.

        • Irène Delse

          Oh, I was thinking about the kind of indoor exercise bike you can fold or store in a cupboard when not in use. They start around 29$ at Amazon:
          http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0027ZNH2O/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_s_awdm_wjuFxbYD48SG2
          I don’t know if that would appeal to you, though.

          • guest

            Oh, okay. I’m not sure if I have room for one of those, but I’ll look into it. When I was doing triathlon training I had a thing that turned my regular bike into a stationary bike, it it all took up a lot of space.

      • Daleth

        I was going to suggest dancing too–no need for a class. You can get a DVD or even look on youtube for instruction. As long as you’re not wearing hard-soled shoes–tap shoes, etc.–it’s not going to bother your downstairs neighbors.

    • Megan

      Swimming is a great idea if you have access to a pool, though I understand that may not be possible. Aside from that, I would suggest a walk a few times a week with your kids. It’s good exercise for all involved and it’s nice time to talk with them as well.

      • MichelleJo

        What would you and others knowledgeable on the subject say about using my kid’s swing set as exercise? It’s just so convenient; I don’t have to leave the house, (OK, it’s in the yard), don’t have to invest in any equipment, it’s free, and quite honestly, at the end of the day doing stuff on my feet is pretty hard. And now and again one of my older kids might join me on the other swing so good for relationships too.It definitely works my heart and lungs, but what about joints and muscles? (My swings can take up to 150 KG each, and the steel frame is cemented into the ground, so no worries about breaking the swing set.)

        • Azuran

          That sounds nice, but I have no idea how much exercise swinging actually counts as. Probably not that much, which is sad, if it was I would definitely get on it ASAP.

        • Megan

          I can’t say I really have a good idea how much exercise swinging would be, as in how many calories you’d burn or how much you’d get your heart pumping. I agree with Azuran probably not much. But it sure does sound fun!

        • Charybdis

          You could get a couple of resistance bands and fasten them to the frame legs to work your arms and legs (loop it around your ankle). I like to do push-ups against a wall and I do what I call “chair aerobics” at work, because I have a rolling swivel chair. I will sit in my swivel chair, plant my toes on the floor, then twist left and right when a good song comes on the radio. It gets the heartrate up and is fun.

    • MI Dawn

      If you can afford it (and have room), a mini-trampoline is great. Because it isn’t hitting hard surfaces, it’s low impact, quiet, and you can do a lot of resistance bands with them, too (mine came with them).

      • guest

        Well that’s an interesting idea. Are they safe for young children to use? Because there’s no way I’d keep the kids off it at all times. But if they are safe, it could be a good way for them to burn energy when we’re stuck inside, too.

        It would be sort of annoying to have out all the time, but I might be able to make space in a closet.

        • MI Dawn

          Mine is very low to the ground (say 3 inches off) and has a handle that hits about waist high. So with your supervision, they would be OK one at a time, I think.

          Supposedly, mine folds up. But the springs are so strong, I can’t fold it, even with help. But with the legs folded in, it’s pretty flat and fits next to furniture if you have a few inches of space. The handle is removable, also.

          (This is what I have: MaXimus Pro Quarter Folding Mini Trampoline Includes DVD Bar Bag Bands Weights) which I bought from Amazon.

          • guest

            Cool, thanks. I bet you could do some good balance exercises on it, too (that was one thing they had me working on in PT).

          • MI Dawn

            Yes, holding on to the handle, or using the resistance bands, I did some. Need to get back to it now.

        • guest

          I actually got a mini-trampoline just for my kids to use to burn off energy. I made a space for it in the closet nearby and just stand it on end and roll it in there when not in use. Both kids love it! Rule is one at a time and I sit right by in case they fall off (it doesn’t have a handle to hold on to). They especially love jumping along to their favorite songs! Kids are 2 and 5 years old.

          • guest

            I know my kids would love it. I assume with the right padding underneath it wouldn’t bother the neighbors below. I have heard warnings about trampoline dangers before. I think the AAP advises against anyone using them, but I don’t know if they mean the small ones or just the big ones.

          • MI Dawn

            Usually it’s the big ones. The biggest noise with mine is the springs squeeking. There’s no floor impact at all so the neighbors shouldn’t be bothered.

    • swbarnes2

      Well, you can avoid a lot of cancer by dying young of other things…

      • guest

        Now there’s a suggestion! LOL.

      • Azuran

        I like how you think

      • FormerPhysicist

        I consistently point this out to my children.
        Not that they should die, but that statistics can be complicated. And the rise of death by cancer can be considered a GOOD thing. My father just died of cancer at 77. He didn’t die of a heart attack before 62 like most of his male relatives.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          My dad has recently been diagnosed with Parkinsons. He is kind of distressed that he might not live another 10 years.

          He’s 84. His father died when he was 62, and his mother died when she was 75.

          His older sister just turned 99, though, and his brother turned 95. A couple of older sisters have died from cancer.

          Mom asked him, you are going to be 90 years old. How long do you expect to live? He survived a serious bowel obstruction (following ulcer surgery) in his 40s, bleeding in his stomach and severe anemia and bladder cancer in his 70s, and a broken sternum a couple of years ago.

          Yeah, you live long enough and shit happens.

          • demodocus

            and then there’s incontinence

        • Azuran

          Yea, my grandfather died of a myocardial infraction at 46.
          My dad had one at 51, and he’s still with us for many years thanks to better awareness and advances in treatment.
          So he’s probably going to live until he gets cancer because he’s a smoker. But hey, eventually we are all going to be a statistic in some kind of death.

          • Dr Kitty

            I tell my patients that once you hit 70 about a third of us will die from cancer, a third from heart attacks and strokes and a third from dementia, pneumonia, broken hips and just being too old.

            In the context of this, an 80 year old who has just watched her husband die of Alzheimer’s may very well decide she’d rather stop her statin which is making her legs sore and take her chances on a big heart attack or stroke.

        • swbarnes2

          Right, we in the West die of cancer, rather than childhood infections, or complications from being malnourished, or murdered. Cancer at age 80 is a lot better than any of those.

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        My mom has been inundated by woomeisters attempting to get her to tell me how to cure my tumor in three minutes. Healing energy but make sure you get the right people with the right energy or it won’t work!

        I told her to tell them, “You know what else kills cancer? A bullet. Unfortunately it has the lamentable side effect of also killing the rest of me. Funny how that works.”

        You can probably guess my patience with their crap from that.

        • Monkey Professor for a Head
          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Exactly what I was referencing lol! Also pointed out that fire kills all cancer cells in a petri dish.

      • Who?

        At 53, by the look of the numbers, the tricky decade is the 60s. Survive them and you’re good to go to the 80’s, or so it seems in my bit of the world. Nothing too good seems to happen after 80 though, healthwise.

        • guest

          I have a 92 year old aunt who is still living it up in her own condo. I hope I either die before then or take after her.

          • Azuran

            One of my coworker’s grandmother died a few weeks ago. She was 98 years old, still lived alone and was 100% autonomous with no severe health problems.
            She just suddenly developed respiratory distress and was gone before the ambulance reached her house.
            It’s sad, but honestly probably one of the best way to go. If I’m going to live old, I hope I’m going to be healthy and that when my time comes, it’s as fast as possible.

    • AirPlant

      Jillian Michaels is surprisingly good. I use her workout dvds and I really feel like they get me a good level of tired and sweaty with very little wear and tear or pissing off the neighbors. 🙂

    • indigosky

      No, sadly. Swimming is the only thing I can do with a bad hip and both knees and ankles messed up. Everything else, besides simple walking, hurts.

      • guest

        I am sorry to hear that. I have been there. I am currently not experiencing much pain (still some in my food and knees, but much less) but I know that most types of exercise bring the pain roaring back.

      • Charybdis

        Leslie Sansone’s “Walk Away the Pounds” is decent. She starts off slow, speeds up a bit and then slows back down. In the 20 minute workout, you “walk” a mile. It is more like marching, as you walk in place, but she varies the steps, speed and adds in a bit of arm work as well. You can go as fast or slow as you feel like you can handle.

        It’s just “walking”, there is no jumping, stomping, etc involved.

        • guest

          Oooo, walking without going anywhere is perfect for evenings after the kids are asleep.

      • Mel

        You might be able to do basic contra dancing or square dancing. The mantra for contra dancing is “If you can walk, you can contra.”

    • fiftyfifty1

      “claimed 80% of cancers are preventable with lifestyle choices.”

      It’s basically true, but it doesn’t mean what people think it does. People think it means that if they start eating organic now (or start pilates now etc), that they can reduce their overall risk of cancer by 80%.

      But in reality, the choices need to start at birth. And many of the lifestyle changes are things most people understandable wouldn’t want to do. For example to reduce you chances of lung cancer you have to avoid smoke AND avoid regions of the country where the soil produces radon gas. Basically you need to move your entire family away from the upper midwest (USA) which ironically, has great health outcomes in other ways. Cervical, vulvar and penis cancers can be 99% eliminated (and mouth cancers maybe 50%), but that means avoiding all sexual activity. Worth it? Eliminating skin cancer means avoiding the outdoors from birth onward because sunscreens don’t work half as well as people think. You can greatly reduce some types of blood and lymph malignancies…as long as you never catch Mono or CMV or any of the other implicated viruses. But these viruses are ubiquitous in society…do you really want to forbid your kids from going to school or to the grocery store?

      • guest

        Woo hoo! I never had CMV! Did have mono, though.

      • Sue

        Well said. And then, of course, minimising risk in one area can increase it in another.

        Just never smoking makes a significant difference to health risks, without creating any additional ones.

        Don’t ever smoke, eat lots of fresh, plant-based foods, don’t consume too much for your age, size and activity, take moderate exercise – both physical and mental – and get immunised. That’s as good a plan as any other – but won’t sell books, of course.

        • Who?

          I think people struggle though what all that means. What is ‘fresh’ food: frozen/tinned, or does it have to be off the butcher/greengrocer’s shelf? How much is a reasonable portion? What does moderate exercise mean? You want me to do what for how long? How many days a week? Immunised, but I’m not a kid!

          Change is hard.

          My friend is trying to lose weight, has been for the 20 years I’ve known her. We usually have coffee and cake when we meet, I don’t have lunch on that day. She always does. She’s gradually gaining, and always wants something that will make all the difference-at the moment it’s a treadmill. She could well afford to go and buy one, and has room for it at home, but she won’t. And when I see her in a couple of months she’ll be a bit heavier, exclaiming about how well and trim I look, and on we go.

          • Irène Delse

            I’m currently trying to lose weight and the dietician told me to eat as much vegetables as possible, whether it was fresh or frozen or canned wasn’t very important. Of course, she knows i already eat fresh fruits and vegetables (like salads) sone of the time, so I’m not at risk of vitamin deficiency.

          • Who?

            Interesting. Hope it goes well!

          • guest

            I kind of want to work with a dietician and give him/her my list of issues to see what they can do with it.

            No:
            Pineapple
            Avocado
            Kiwi
            Banana
            Mushrooms (this one is because I don’t like them, but I’ve tried them repeatedly and I really don’t

            Can’t handle these foods raw very often because they trigger asthma attacks:
            Potatoes
            Carrots
            (Once these are cooked I can have as much as I like, but there’s no one but me to do the cooking at home)

            Limited quantities of raw because of oral allergies:
            Apples
            Cherries
            Carrots
            Plum

            Cannot eat raw:
            Any vegetable besides cucumber and tomato

            Must limit consumption of even when cooked:
            Leafy greens
            Beans
            Sweet potato

            It sounds like I’m on some kind of woo train, but my GI doc doesn’t think so. It’s the combination of oral allergy syndrome and IBS stomach pain that makes it challenging for me. I am in less pain when I eat fewer vegetables, though.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Re selling books: I’m occasionally tempted to write a “weight loss” book that starts with the following advice: Here’s what you need to know about losing weight: forget it. Losing weight won’t help your health and your weight is not making you sick. Now, here are some things that you can do that may help you be healthier and happier. If you lose weight as well, free bonus, but the point is to feel good, not to have a certain BMI.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Cervical and other genital cancers, as well as anal and some head and neck cancers (and possibly some lung and skin cancers) can also be avoided by taking the HPV vaccine. Liver cancer risk can be reduced by taking the HBV vaccine. Not smoking or stopping smoking reduces your risk of just about everything except CLL. Those are about the only lifestyle modifications that I know of that are really effective in preventing cancer and, IMHO, they’re worth it. (Though I’ve never smoked and am not going to make any judgements on people who decide that stopping is not worth it for them. Your lungs, your DNA, your decision.)

    • Mac Sherbert

      YouTube has tons of workout videos. You can find just about anything. Workouts you can do lying down or sitting in a chair.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        How about naked?

        • Mac Sherbert

          Never searched for that…Let us know! Lol

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            A few years ago, we got a “couples” workout video. Not naked, but doing things together. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an actual formal workout, and just demonstrating exercises.

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      It’s not cardio but my mom uses a kettle bell weight to help strength train. She has horrible joint pain but even with that it’s usually not too intense.

    • AnnaPDE

      Cycling to work (10km each way) works well for me, but having read that you already walk for transport, it might not be of much help for you.

      • guest

        Yeah, it’s only about a mile so I think it’s a better workout to walk. I’m terrified of cycling in this city anyway. I don’t even want to face the day my children want to learn to ride bikes.

    • J.B.

      Resistance bands, sliders, and light dumbells can give you a lot of variety. I have a couple of DVDs in the 10 minute solution series, and those are good – you can choose any combination of 5 segments for variety (so between 10 and 50 minutes of exercise.)