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Friday Fun! (Teaching, Fitness, Blog Tour)

July 13, 2012 2 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

I hope you all had great weeks. Mine has been incredibly busy but in a fun way.  The teaching sessions at work have been increasing since medical schools and medicine in general run on a calendar that starts in June (except for the first year students who start in August).  I was warned things would get busier, but I must admit it still has been a bit of a shock for me!  But I’m a person who enjoys being busy, so I’m loving it.

In fitness news, I had plateaued for a few months. I took a few tips from other fitness folks to increase intensity across the board.  Well, this week I decided to check my measurements (I don’t weigh myself), and in the last 1.5 months I’ve lost half an inch (1.27 centimeters) on my waist! Also an inch (2.54 centimeters) on my chest and hips, but the waist is the important factor!  You’re supposed 33 inches or under around the waist (for women) for cardiovascular health, and with the heart disease that is strongly prevalent in my family, that is one of the things I keep tabs on for my fitness. (source)  I’m so happy to be half an inch closer!  I now only have two inches to go.  :-) Also this means that the changes I made in my fitness routines are working, so yay!

In other exciting news, today is the first day of the official Waiting For Daybreak blog tour!  I’ll be adding links to features as they come in, but I also will be mentioning the features in every Friday Fun post for the duration of the tour, since not everyone will be clicking through to the blog tour page.  Since today is the first day of the tour, there isn’t too much to talk about this week, but I do want to call attention to the reviews and interviews that have gone up that were not a part of the official tour.

The Chronicles of an Enamored Soul is running an international giveaway that ends July 17th, so you have plenty of time to enter!

Kelsey’s Cluttered Bookshelf says, “This book is recommended for Zombie fans, there are some sexual scenes and violence, but it’s not over the top which is good. This was a great first debut book for the author.” Be sure to click through to see her whole review.

Waiting For Daybreak was also reviewed on Beauty in Ruins, who said, “The writing is solid, the dialogue creatively engaging (even with Freida’s silent cat), and the novelty of the personality issue alone definitely makes this worth a read.”

Nicki J Markus says, “The pacing of this piece is well managed and the tension was maintained perfectly from start to finish.”

And Reflections appreciated Frieda, “Even though Frieda has a personality disorder and periods of extreme depression, the character was still somehow easy to relate to.”

Finally, in addition to a review best summed-up with the great phrase, “Wonderful book!” Love, Literature, Art, and Reason also interviewed me!  Be sure to check out the interview to find out everything from how I deal with writer’s block to why I decided to give Frieda Borderline Personality Disorder.

Phew! No wonder I’ve been feeling so busy…..Evidence-Based Medicine, fitness, and book tours. Oh my!

Happy weekends all!

What Librarians Talk About (MLA12 Seattle: Plenary 3: Janet Doe Lecture by Mark E. Funk, AHIP, FMLA)

May 26, 2012 Leave a comment

The first plenary is given by the MLA president, the second by someone who is not necessarily a librarian but has something interesting to say that will aid us in our profession.  The third plenary, however, is given by a librarian.  Mark E. Funk’s presentation was entitled, “Our Words, Our Story: A Textual Analysis of Articles Published in the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association/Journal of the Medical Library Association from 1961 to 2010.”  Here are my notes.

  • An analysis of the words revealed four key areas that librarians talk about: environment, management, technology, and research.
  • Although we talk more about building than people, that gap is narrowing.
  • We are basically almost not talking about books, but we are increasingly talking about journals.
  • Reference is steady.  Searching is increasing.
  • Information is the #2 word.
  • As our information world becomes more complicated, we are talking more and more about teaching.  “I predict teaching will become ever more important.”
  • We are now concerned about what we can do to improve health.
  • New groups we’ve reached out to include: clinicians, consumers, and patients.
  • We use management words to tell our story.
  • We are no longer running our libraries like academic environments; we are running them like businesses.
  • We are early adopters and write about it.
  • Sometimes new technology becomes so embedded in our lives that we don’t mention it anymore.  For example, you say you talked to someone but don’t mention the telephone.
  • Our attention has shifted from automating to digitizing.
  • We don’t talk about the internet.  We talk about the web and navigation.
  • The word with the sharpest rise and fall is: Gopher
  • IMRaDification of our profession.  (IMRaD–Intro, Methodology, Results, Discussion)
  • MLA strategic plan encouraged us to do more research, and we responded.
  • Hockey Stick terms–little to no use, sharp recent uptake.  May indicate future usage but it could be a drastic rise and fall. Only time will tell.
  • EHRs are white hot now. (EHR–Electronic Hospital Record)
  • Why do we study history?  It’s very good at explaining change.  Answers the question, how did we get here?
  • De-emphasis on physical.  Emphasis on information.  Prefer evidence-based.
  • Emphasis on health.  Expanded audience.  Outside the library.   Teaching people.
  • Libraries more business-like. Technophiles. More research articles using IMRaD.
  • History can hint at the future, but it can’t predict it.
  • Our story is being written every day.  We can’t skip chapters to see what happens next.

Friday Fun! (Book Recs From My Job!)

May 11, 2012 2 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

I had a wonderful vacation last weekend, thanks for the warm thoughts.  It was awesome seeing my dad and visiting the family in general.  Plus I got lots of sleep.  Also last week I got my stitches out (and by that I mean I took them out myself) and was finally able to resume most of my fitness routines this week!  I still can’t do girl pushups because it hurts to put that much pressure directly on my wound.  More reasons to work up to guy pushups, yes?

So last week our campus news magazine came out, and they went around asking doctors and professors from different departments for various book recommendations.  It was really fun to see from a group of people (scientists) that stereotypes say “don’t read for fun.”  So I thought I’d share the recs that made it to my own wishlist with you all today.  Descriptions all swiped from the book blurb, because I obviously haven’t read them yet!

  • The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The rise of a sovereign profession and the making of a vast industry by Paul Starr
    “Winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize in American History, this is a landmark history of how the entire American health care system of doctors, hospitals, health plans, and government programs has evolved over the last two centuries.”The definitive social history of the medical profession in America….A monumental achievement.”–H. Jack Geiger, M.D.”
  • Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health by H. Gilbert Welch, Lisa Schwartz, and Steve Woloshin
    “A complex web of factors has created the phenomenon of overdiagnosis: the popular media promotes fear of disease and perpetuates the myth that early, aggressive treatment is always best; in an attempt to avoid lawsuits, doctors have begun to leave no test undone, no abnormality overlooked; and profits are being made from screenings, medical procedures, and pharmaceuticals. Revealing the social, medical, and economic ramifications of a health-care system that overdiagnoses and overtreats patients, Dr. H. Gilbert Welch makes a reasoned call for change that would save us pain, worry, and money.”
  • Righteous Dopefiend (California Series in Public Anthropology) by Phillippe Bourgois and Jeffrey Schonberg
    “This powerful study immerses the reader in the world of homelessness and drug addiction in the contemporary United States. For over a decade Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg followed a social network of two dozen heroin injectors and crack smokers on the streets of San Francisco, accompanying them as they scrambled to generate income through burglary, panhandling, recycling, and day labor. Righteous Dopefiend interweaves stunning black-and-white photographs with vivid dialogue, detailed field notes, and critical theoretical analysis. Its gripping narrative develops a cast of characters around the themes of violence, race relations, sexuality, family trauma, embodied suffering, social inequality, and power relations. The result is a dispassionate chronicle of survival, loss, caring, and hope rooted in the addicts’ determination to hang on for one more day and one more “fix” through a “moral economy of sharing” that precariously balances mutual solidarity and interpersonal betrayal.”
  • How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
    “How Doctors Think is a window into the mind of the physician and an insightful examination of the all-important relationship between doctors and their patients. In this myth-shattering work, Jerome Groopman explores the forces and thought processes behind the decisions doctors make. He pinpints why doctors succeed and why they err. Most important, Groopman shows when and how doctors can — with our help — avoid snap judgments, embrace uncertainty, communicate effectively, and deploy other skills that can profoundly impact our health.”
  • Your Genes, Your Health: A Critical Family Guide That Could Save Your Life by Aubrey Milunsky, MD, DSc
    “New advances in genetics have dramatically expanded our ability to avoid, prevent, diagnose, and treat a wide range of disorders. Now, more than ever, families need to know about these new discoveries, especially as there are some 7,000 rare genetic diseases that afflict about 1 in 12 of us. In Your Genes, Your Health, Aubrey Milunsky provides an invaluable and authoritative guide to what you should know about your genes. Illustrated with poignant family histories that underscore the lifesaving importance of knowing one’s family medical history and ethnic origin, the book highlights the importance of recognizing seemingly unrelated disorders in a family as due to the same gene mutation and it outlines the key genetic tests needed for diagnosis, detection of carriers, and prenatal diagnosis. Many genetic disorders are discussed including cancer, heart disease, autism, mental illness, birth defects, neurologic disorders, diabetes, obesity and much more. The message of this book is clear–know your family history, be cognizant of your ethnic origins, seek appropriate consultations, and opt for meaningful genetic tests. Recognition of your risk(s) enables prompt preemptive action. By knowing your genes, you may save your life and the lives of those you love.”
  • Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard
    “James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back.
    But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what hap­pened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in tur­moil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his con­dition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet.
    Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic will stand alongside The Devil in the White City and The Professor and the Madman as a classic of narrative history.”

I hope some of these will make it to your wishlist as well!

Happy weekends!

Friday Fun! (On Health and Entitlement of Women’s Bodies)

February 10, 2012 16 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  Sorry for the relatively smaller amount of reviews this week.  I’ve finished a few books, but didn’t have the time to write up the reviews yet.  This just means next week will be full. :-)

I have a relatively serious topic I want to talk about today.  You guys know that I take health and the obesity epidemic seriously.  One argument that I’ve heard a lot of unhealthy women make is that they put on a ton of weight to avoid men.  They weren’t comfortable with the attention, etc…  I remember thinking, when I, at the time, was overweight myself, “How bad could it really be?”  Turns out…..pretty bad.

Over the last year, I’ve gone from a size 16 to a size 10.  Over the last month, I’ve had more encounters with men who feel entitled to my body than I had over the entire two years I was overweight.  I know correlation does not necessarily equal causation, but in some cases it does.

I’m a single lady.  I date.  I go places where single people hang out to try to meet new people.  I do what single people in cities do.  I dress attractively, because I WANT to, but also because I’ve worked damn HARD for this body, and I’m proud of my work.  I’m not saying I’m Miss America, and I wouldn’t want to be, but I definitely look happy and healthy when I go out.  Much more so than when I was overweight.  I get hit on. I get asked on dates.  This also happened when I was overweight.  The difference, though, is that now when I dare to say the word no a much higher percentage of them get downright angry at me.

He’ll say something like, “Do you want to go on a date?” I say, “No, thank you.”  He says, “WHY?! Think you’re too good for me?!” or “Well you shouldn’t dress that way if you don’t want attention” or “Please, you obviously need a good fucking.”  (I am not exaggerating.  These all have been spoken or texted or what have you to me).

Worse, though, is I’ll go on a first date. Usually dinner or drinks.  I have a nice enough time, but I can tell we wouldn’t work long-term, and I want a relationship at this point in my life.  He leans in for a kiss, and I turn my cheek or he asks me for a second date and I say no I don’t think it’ll work out.  The reaction generally is, “You owe me, I bought you dinner!” or “How can you possibly know after only one date?!” or “Well, I thought you were ugly anyway.”  (That last one, btw, makes zero sense since he ASKED ME OUT TO START WITH).

What really aggravates me about these interactions isn’t their disappointment that I said no.  Obviously, that is flattering.  What is bothersome is the evident sense of entitlement over MY BODY that they have.  I’m pretty and single.  They’re available and have a penis, ergo, I must want them or I’m a horrible woman.  Since when did my body become the possession of every straight man in the greater Boston area?

Oh yeah, since I started glowing with health.

It’s draining. It’s enough to make me not want to go out some nights.  It’s enough to make me want to stick my earbuds in in public and ignore everyone.  Of course, I’m me, so I’m not going to do these things.  I’m going to keep being my awesome self and feminist hulksmashing the douchebags (verbal smack-down, folks, not a physical one), but.  If I didn’t have such a strong personality or had personal issues or WHATEVER I could totally see this being a thing that would make me stop working out, stop eating healthy, stop it all and just hide to protect myself.

Do you see where I’m going here?  This misogynistic entitlement to women’s bodies is a poison to our whole society.  A POISON.  Every time you police a woman’s body or act entitled to her or watch it happen to a woman and not stand up for her, you are essentially watching the cook poison the food and then serve it to the dinner party without saying anything or trying to stop him.  It hurts everyone, and it is not ok!  It is just as bad as those cultures (that I know Americans judge) that say, “Women need to cover up because they tempt men.”  Our cultural impetus is the opposite.  “This woman is young and healthy and available ergo I deserve her body.”

No. You. Don’t.

I vow to say something any time I hear this attitude happening, and not just to me.  I vow to encourage all women to remember that our bodies are ours and our health is about US and not about THEM.  I hope you all will do the same.

 

Friday Fun! (FI Steps and One Year Gym Anniversary)

February 3, 2012 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  Wow, can you believe it’s February already?  Craziness.  It seems like January just flew right by.

So you know that I’ve started following the steps laid out in Your Money or Your Life.  One of them is tallying up your categories each month to see where your “life energy” went.  My first month of tallying was December to give me a clear idea of where I was starting from.  So this was my first real month on the plan, thinking through everything as $7 = 1 hour of my life.  When I did my tallies, I am shocked to report, that my expenditures went down by 83.7 hours!!  And I wasn’t even really trying!  I just stopped and thought if each purchase was really worth X hours of my life.  The book said thinking that way just naturally curbs spending, but I really truly am shocked at how much it did in just one month.

In other exciting news, this weekend marks my one year anniversary of gym membership and commitment to my health.  I’ll be doing my measurements and such with my trainer, but I don’t even need them done to know it’s working.  I just feel so much healthier than I did a year ago.  I have more energy, sleep better, have more enthusiasm, can handle things better.  It feels so much better to go take your stress out in the gym than in other unhealthy ways like drinking, eating, or vegging out in front of the tv.  It’s a real positivity boost.  Anyway, in honor of my one year achievement, I’m finally going to let myself get a real gym bag.  I hadn’t let myself because I refuse to spend money on things I might not stick with, but it’s obvious this habit is here to stay.  I can’t wait to have a real gym bag with compartments for dirty clothes and shoes and straps to hold on a yoga mat.  It’s definitely going to be worth the life energy it costs for the purchase. ;-)

This weekend I’m going to be very busy with a couple of projects I’m excited about.  February is going to be awesome.  :-)

Happy weekends all!

Book Review: Diet For a New America by John Robbins (Diet for a New America Reading Project, Book 1)

January 22, 2012 10 comments

Red white and blue book coverSummary:
John Robbins was born into one of the most powerful corporations in America–Baskin-Robbins.  A company based entirely on selling animal products.  Yet he took it upon himself to investigate the reality of animals products and their impact on Americans, American land, and the world overall.  This book summarizes his extensive research, including personal visits to factory farms.

Review/Discussion:
This is the first book in the Diet for a New America Reading Project 2012 I am hosting.  The project is focused on educating ourselves on the facts behind health and preventative medicine for the well-being of all Americans, an issue that I am sure we can all agree is a serious one.  If you join the project late, please feel free to come back to this post or the GoodReads group after you’ve finished the book to join in on the discussion.  And now, on to the book!

There are books that you read that are so incredibly powerful you are left almost speechless.  Simply wanting to hand out copies to everyone you know, everyone you meet and say, “Please, read this.”  I highlighted so much in my copy that I couldn’t even do my usual of posting all highlighted quotes to my tumblr.  I discovered I was practically illegally reproducing the book, hah.  ;-)  I thus will do my best to highlight precisely why I find this book trustworthy, why I feel inspired by John Robbins, and the most stunning facts I learned while reading the book.

Why You Should Trust This Book
As a medical librarian, I was very careful to check out Robbins’ resources for his facts, particularly for the health section, which is what this project is focused upon.  Robbins drew his research from vetted, peer-reviewed, well-respected scientific journals, including ones I routinely use in my own work, such as Journal of the American Medical Association, the British Journal of Medicine, and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  He also cites the studies of such organizations as the FDA, the EPA, and the National Cancer Institute.  Additionally, he conducted personal interviews with real factory farmers and scientists.  Additionally, all of his citations are in order.  You may not like the facts he reports, but they are still scientifically backed-up facts.

The fact that John Robbins researched the effects of animal derived foods on the environment and people and decided that it is bad for everyone involved is remarkable when you consider the fact that he comes from a family whose business is based entirely on selling dairy to Americans.  If the man had an innate bias, it would absolutely be on the side of carnists/omnivores, but he astoundingly conducted the research and came down on the side veg*ism.  (His family reunions must really be something…)  This not only makes me respect him, but trust him.  Somebody must be truly convinced to convert away from a business that has made his family, and presumably himself if he had agreed to take over the business, extremely wealthy.

But enough about why this book is trustworthy.  Let’s move on to discuss the astounding scientific facts revealed in the three different sections: animal rights and factory farming, health consequences of eating animal based products, and environmental consequences of meat-based diets.

Animal Rights and Factory Farming
I definitely believe this knowledge is more widely spread than when this book was first published.  I have a hard time imagining growing up in America and not coming to understand the horrors of factory farming, but you never know.  Robbins talks about the psychiatric fact that children who grow up abusing animals are more likely to become criminals in later life.  This, of course, is a basic reason to not base an entire sector of the American economy around factory farms that treat animals horribly like cogs in a machine.  Of course there are more reasons to treat animals well, such as the fact that dogs’ EEG scans are identical to human’s or that dolphins routinely save humans and other animals in the ocean or that many species of animals mate for life showing a dedication most humans can’t pull off.

The horrors of factory farming are so extensive that it’s difficult to even list them.  I feel as if I could go on and on.  Perhaps the best way is to tell you to imagine being in the most crowded elevator possible.  Now imagine that 20 of the 24 hours you’re in there it’s dark.  You’re standing on a slanted, slatted, metal floor.  The food for everyone is all on one side and is dumped in all at once and you must shove and race to get to it.  Of course it’s difficult to even call this food.  It’s a mix of shit, paper, sawdust, chemicals, and antibiotics all spiked with yet another chemical to make it smell better to you.  If you are female, then a hand periodically reaches in and artificially inseminates you, only to rip your baby away from you the instant it is born and hitch machines up to your mammary glands instead of allowing your milk to go to your baby.  If you are male, you are castrated by placing a band around your testicles until they fall off after weeks of the circulation being cut off.

That is the reality for factory farmed animals.  Even if you can manage to ignore the fact that these animals are being pumped full of chemicals and artificial growth hormones that you will then ingest yourself when you eat them or their products, that is still a horrifying way to get your food.  These animals live in terror and pain and die in terror and pain.  There is nothing natural about a factory farm.  Animals were meant to live outside and graze and nurse their babies and maybe live in a herd or a flock.  Not be caged up in situations so unnatural that they literally go crazy and cannibalize each other when they are naturally herbivores.  That is the reality of what you are supporting when you buy factory-farmed animal products.

Human Health
Ok, so maybe now you don’t believe in factory farming, but what about eating animals in general?  We were raised to believe that a healthy diet involves meat, dairy, and eggs, right?  Surely if an animal is raised organically and humanely all will be well?  Well, the meat and dairy lobbyists have done a LOT of work to hide from you the scientific studies that show their products are unhealthy for you.  If you read only a portion of this book, read the health section.  It is impossible for me in this discussion and review to make as eloquent a point as Robbins does.  I will instead sum it up for you.

In scientific studies published in reputable scientific journals such as JAMA, vegetarians have drastically less occurrence of: heart disease, all cancers, strokes, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypoglycemia, multiple sclerosis, ulcers, IBS, arthritis, kidney stones, gallstones, hypertension, anemia, and asthma.  Those who still have any of the chronic diseases are distinctly less symptomatic than the meat-eaters.  Vegans (people who consume no animal products whatsoever) have even LOWER occurrences than vegetarians.  This is vetted by multiple different studies run by different scientists in multiple nations.  Even simply comparing the data of these diseases between countries following the standard American diet and those following a primarily plant-based diet backs these statistics up.

I am sure that those of you who read the book as I did were stunned to hear that these studies have been in the reputable journals since as early as the late 1960s and 1970s and yet we have not heard about them.  Who is to blame?  The meat and dairy lobbyists of course.  What would happen to their businesses if the American people suddenly stopped following the standard American diet?  The Dairy Council provides the nutritional packets at your kids’ schools.  Think about that.

The Environment
The environmental impact of a meat-based diet has started to crop up more often recently with the increased interest in the green movement.  Essentially, Robbins primarily reiterates what I believe most of us already know.  The chemicals necessary to factory farm are bad for the whole planet.  It takes more fossil-fuel energy, more water, and more acreage to feed one person a meat-based diet than a plant-based diet.  These are things that are definitely relevant, particularly to people who don’t believe in human population control.  What I personally found most interesting in this section though was the discovery that American imports meat from Central and South American nations who have been destroying rainforest to do so, and their people are still overwhelmingly on a meat-based diet.  Thus these nations are destroying their own ecologies to support Americans’ wasteful meat-based diets.  That is just disgusting and selfish on our parts.

My Conclusion
I am honestly a bit shocked at the extent of the facts that I didn’t know when I became a vegetarian in January of 2006.  I admit I mostly became one out of an empathy for animals that I have always strongly felt, but additionally the less meat I ate, the better I felt.  Becoming a vegetarian mostly eliminated the symptoms of my IBS as the scientific studies Robbins cites showed.  But….I have a hard time imagining anyone reading the facts like this and not drastically changing their eating habits.  So many of the economic and personal problems in the US today have to do with health.  So maybe you’ve read this book and you still don’t care about animals and you still believe humans are better than them.  But don’t you want to be as healthy as you can be for your lifetime?  Wouldn’t you rather be a happy, healthy grandparent than a stooped-over one on multiple heart medications or going through chemotherapy?  Even if you don’t care about that, don’t you want to leave a healthier planet for your children and your children’s children?  The facts unequivocally show that the fewer animal products you consume, the better all of these outcomes will be.

Once we become aware of the impact of our food choices, we can never really forget. (page 379)

Source: Better World Books

Buy It

Discussion Questions:

  • Robbins believes that the scientific studies reported in the medical journals aren’t well-known because of the meat and dairy lobbies.  Do you think this is the case?  Why or why not?
  • If you do think the facts aren’t known because of the meat and dairy lobbies, how can we combat this?
  • If you don’t think the lobbyists have anything to do with the lack of public knowledge of these issues, what do you think the true cause is?
  • Do you believe the fight for organic animal farming is doing anything to help the environmental and health issues cited in the book?
  • What do you think can be done to get the meat and dairy lobbyists out of our schools?
  • Would you be willing to change your diet knowing the facts about the diseases it can cause or do you think it’s not worth the effort?
  • Do you believe money is better spent on treating the disease or preventing the disease?
  • Do you think world hunger can be successfully combated with a change in the diets of those in the first world countries?

Friday Fun! (Paula Deen)

January 20, 2012 5 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  Today I want to talk about something that’s been all over the American news this week.  Paula Deen has announced she’s been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

I know a lot of my readers are not Americans and thus may have no clue who Paula Deen is.  Paula Deen (always referred to with both names) was one of the first cooking stars on the Food Network.  She’s known for her traditional southern fare, heavy accent, and mothering personality.  She has a couple of restaurants that she runs with her sons.  Now, since she does TRADITIONAL southern cooking, her food is about as far from healthy fare as you can get.  She is well-known (and teased) in the US for adding copious amounts of butter and cheese and heavy cream to everything.

I was the first generation to grow up with the Food Network.  Cooking is a hobby I share with my dad, and I would hang out with him in the garage while he built things and watch the shows.  I distinctly remember the first time I saw Paula Deen’s show.  She was making hamburgers and she took a wad of blue cheese mixed with something and wrapped the meat around it, thereby making a hollow of melty cheese when it came time to eat.  Naturally, middle school aged pre-vegetarian Amanda’s mind was blown.

It was only when I became older and a healthy America advocate that I realized how incredibly unhealthy all of Paula Deen’s food is.  People have joked about it for years, but her announcement of having type 2 diabetes brings back the stark reality of the standard American method of treating the sickness and not the cause does to people.

The backlash against Paula Deen has been incredibly loud and surprisingly harsh this week.  Some vegans and vegetarians I respect have been almost gleeful at this woman’s illness.  Don’t get me wrong. Paula Deen made herself sick, and yes, her diagnosis is proof positive that we healthy food advocates are RIGHT in what we say.  But celebrating another person’s illness is wrong too.

Now the backlash that I do agree with includes everyone from vegans to diabetes experts.  Paula Deen has announced that she will not change her diet or lifestyle AT ALL.  In spite of the fact that diet changes and increased exercise have been proven the MOST effective treatment for type 2 diabetes.  Instead she has signed on to be a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company that supplies her diabetes medication.

So here we have a famous American woman diagnosed with a PREVENTABLE disease and instead of treating the CAUSE she is treating the SYMPTOMS.  That right there is everything that is wrong with the current American approach to health.  That is not health.  That is sickness and death walking.

What is far worse in my opinion is this:

Not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills. –Paula Deen

First, the examples she gives are not even HEALTHY FOOD.  You can get a bag of lentils–aka healthy protein–for around $2 with around 12 servings in that one bag.  Healthy food is NOT expensive.  Time and again healthy food advocates have proven this.  The problem is that “regular families” don’t know how to cook from scratch, how to wisely shop, how to plan ahead for days when they’re busy.  These are lost skills that are no longer taught in school or at home.  And, for the record, dairy is EXPENSIVE and something Paula Deen adds to pretty much every single recipe she makes.

What is absolutely hypocritical in this quote, thought, is that Paula Deen is claiming regular people can’t afford healthy food (false) but also advocating medicating type 2 diabetes instead of treating the cause with a medication that costs $500 a month!

What we have here is a stubborn woman refusing to admit that her lifestyle caused her disease, refusing to change, and refusing to do anything about the negative impact she’s had on her loyal American fans.

Honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor. You are going to have to be responsible for yourself. –Paula Deen

You know, there’s a saying in the fitness world.  Fitness is 80% food and 20% exercise.  Notice how neither of those percentages are the DOCTOR but 80% of fitness is directly related to YOUR COOK.

Paula Deen is a woman who has made a FORTUNE selling high-fat, high-sugar, unhealthy food to the American people and then turns around and says well, health is up to these people’s doctors.  I’m not responsible for my fans at all.  Quite the person to respect, eh?

I can tell you right now what this all boils down to.  Paula Deen’s fortune rests on being the queen of butter.  If she changes her tune this late in the game, she thinks she’s going to lose it all.  Or at the very least stop raking in the cash.  She doesn’t care about doing what’s right for her own body, let alone for America.  She is a woman diseased by far more than type 2 diabetes.  She is a woman diseased with greed.

Bloggers’ Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees (BAND): November Discussion: Reading for a Cause

November 8, 2011 22 comments

BAND is a monthly discussion group of book bloggers who love nonfiction!  If you’d like to join us, check out our tumblr page.

I am super excited to get to host BAND this month!  Because, well, who doesn’t love talking about something they love, right?

I firmly believe in knowledge being power.  This is how my dad raised me, and I am forever grateful for that.  The more knowledge you have the more strongly you can support your cause.  This idea was further developed in me when I went to Brandeis University for undergrad.  Brandeis is built around the concept of social justice, and in all of our classes we learned that you can change the world one mind at a time.

Even though I’m out of Brandeis now, I’ve done my best to apply this concept to my reading.  I seek to constantly attain greater knowledge in areas that matter to me.  Pick your cause and read all about it, essentially.

My very first cause was the health and obesity crisis in the US.  I was unhealthy.  My family was unhealthy.  Most of Americans are unhealthy, so I started reading about alternatives to the way I was raised (the SAD–Standard American Diet).  I read a wide arrange of information including excerpts from The China Study, The Blood Type Diet, Vegetarianism for Dummies, and many many more from back before my book blogging days that I unfortunately did not keep good track of.  I still have a section of my tbr pile about addressing the health crisis in the US.  It matters to me.  And I hope that even just by seeing me read the book or seeing a blog post about it, it’ll help to start engaging others into changing their lifestyles.

This reading naturally led me into reading about animal rights, which is something I am incredibly passionate about today.  I love nonfiction science books about the inner life of animals, the social networks of dolphins and elephants, and the cruelty of factory farms.  I wish I could get one of these books in a week, but for right now I’ll settle for as many as possible, haha.

More recently I’ve become interested in the history of racism in the US and how that history impacts social interactions today.  This is what spurred me on to ask Amy to do The Real Help Reading Project with me, and I hope that our presence online discussing these books will help to broaden and change some minds.

Maybe it’s a bit idealistic to think one can evoke social justice and change purely through what you read, but it’s something I can’t help but believe in.  I guess Brandeis taught me well.

What about you?

Do you read nonfiction to help support a cause(s)?

Leave links to your posts in the comments!  (I have issues making link collectors work for me).  Thanks!

Friday Fun! (In Which I Ramble About Health)

August 19, 2011 6 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  I hope you all had great weeks.  Today I’m going to be talking about a new-found passion of mine that I believe you all are aware of–health and fitness.

I joined the gym back in January for a lot of reasons, but predominantly because I had high blood pressure at age 24, and I was not ready to start being sick at such a young age.  I’ve made a lot of progress since then and gradually have come to love to see what my body can do.  Recently I set a goal for myself of joining a local MMA club by next January.  I love having a strong body, and frankly the stress-relief that comes in doing something so extremely physical is incredibly appealing to me.  Plus it’s good to have a goal that’s a *fitness* one and not a *weight* one.  I’ve never claimed my new passion for working out and old passion for healthy eating were about weight.  It’s all about having a healthy body to me.

In any case, I decided it was high time to challenge myself with something to the next level, so last Friday I went to my first ever kickboxing class at my gym.  Allow me to explain that my weak point is absolutely cardio fitness, so a 45 minute long cardio-intense class was going to be very challenging for me, and I knew it.  When I first joined the gym I could barely run for 10 minutes without collapsing over and heaving for breath.  So I knew this was going to be challenging.  I was determined to make it through it though.

Since this was a Friday evening class, it was fairly small.  There were about 7 of us ladies there.  And lo and behold the very first thing we had to do was jump rope for 2 minutes to “warm up.”  To me this was not a warm-up.  This was jumping in with both feet (haha, pun intended).  Anyway, we basically mixed jumping rope with kickboxing sequences and jumping jacks, and I thought I was doing fairly well until I glanced at the clock and saw only 15 minutes had gone by.  Egads.

Let me tell you.  Around the fourth time the lovely teacher told us to jump rope, I wanted to give up.  I was definitely the least cardio fit of everyone in the class, and part of me wondered why the hell I was doing this to myself.  And now I’m going to admit something very nerdy to you.  I thought of the zombie apocalypse.  Seriously.

What’s the first rule of the zombie apocalypse?  Cardio.  Was I going to let the zombies get me, a young strong woman?  Hell no.  So I picked up the jump-rope, and I continued on.  I continued on through the evil suicide and push-up drills too.  I fought my way through the whole class, and I have to tell you guys, it was crazy empowering.  There is no way in hell I could have done that class 6 months ago, and yes it was hard, but I did it.  I also went home and collapsed into bed at about 9pm on a Friday night in sheer exhaustion, but I did it.

My body is strong, and it is fit, and the more I challenge it the more it rises to the occasion.  Nothing feels so good as waking up and feeling alert and feeling my muscles in my belly and arms.  Nothing is as cool as knowing I can sprint 5 blocks to catch the bus no sweat.  The more my body can do the happier I am and the younger I feel.  I never want to fall into the trap of unhealthy living again.

I know some people really hate the saying “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” and I agree.  But you know what is a much better and true saying?  “Nothing feels as good as healthy feels.”  And to the extent I have control over my health, I’m determined to do so.

I think that’s why I’m such a big advocate for a healthy America.  I want people to enjoy the happiness and thrill of having a healthy body that maybe they never had because of poverty or because of a lack of healthy education or what have you.  You don’t realize what you were missing until suddenly, almost overnight, you can survive a 45 minute kickboxing class and feel the adrenaline afterwards.

Happy weekends all!

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