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Parkour Running And American Ninja Warrior

If you’ve never watched a video about Parkour running (aka free running), take a look at this video.

As a runner, I find this very interesting.  On the flipside as someone who can’t do a cartwheel, is afraid of heights, and has passed 40, this seems like a great way for me to hurt myself.

But, I find it really interesting that a TV show based on an obstacle course in Japan has really shined a light on this.  American Ninja Warrior is a very interesting show about athletes.  It’s like the Voice for sports.  They share the backstory and then have people compete on very difficult obstacles.  You see NFL players, Olympic athletes, trainers, stuntmen, and people from all walks of live.  I personally find it a great show to run on the treadmill with.  I feel very motivated.

I thought I’d share as this looks like a great type of program for kids to get them into obstacle course running and making exercise fun.  I know a lot of gyms around the country have started to offer these programs.

 

Are Sports Good For Kids?

This was an interesting question that I was thinking about this morning.

I could take this several directions:

  • I could look at the benefits of exercise from sports (assuming the kids actually got enough exercise in practice – see older blog post).
  • I could look at the benefits of working in a team which I see from team sports.
  • I could look at the recovery benefits of losing and coming back which is very important in business and life. (how do you handle adversity)
  • I could look at the dangers of sports.
  • I could look at concussions in football and the discussion of helmets for soccer.
  • I could look at the negative impacts of parents on their kids relative to sports.
    • Fighting at sport events.
    • Pushing their kids too far.  (below are some things I’ve heard and seen)
      • Just keep running even if you throw up.  You’ll be fine.
      • If you have to pee, just pee in your swim suit.  You can’t be distracted during the meet.
      • If you do that again, we’re going to get up at 5 in the morning and go to the gym and practice it 100x before school.
      • You need to work harder so you can be in the Olympics at 16.
      • This is our college plan.  They have to be the best at this sport.
      • I pulled them out of school so they could practice more.  (The kid was 7.)

But, I saw an article about the time that kids start school, and it got me thinking about sleep and sports and the impact on kids.

Let’s start with some established facts:

sleep guidelines

Now, let’s assume most grade schools start around 8:00.  (My kid’s school starts at 7:30.)  That means that they likely have to get up by 7:00 at the latest.  So, they should be in bed by 9:00 PM on average probably earlier for most kids and families where people are catching the bus or driving to school.

If their sports are starting practice or games after 6:00 PM, how likely is it that they’re home, calmed down, with their homework finished, and in bed by 9:00 PM?  Even if they are, how many parents are getting their kids to bed by 9:00?

“Sleep may be the most important, though overlooked, contributor to your children’s development and health. The reality is that children can survive without exercise and on little food (though I don’t recommend either), but all children need sleep. It’s often unnoticed because you don’t usually see your children sleeping and its benefits are not readily apparent (though its costs usually are).

The influence of sleep on children is profound. Quality sleep has been found to be associated with improved attention, reduced stress, greater emotional control, better mood, improved memory, greater ability to learn and return information, better grades, improved mental health, lower risk of obesity and other health problems, and longer life.” (From a good article on kid’s sleep in the Huffington Post)

So, just to be clear…I think kids should be in sports.  I just think we (as parents) need to be more concerned about making sure we don’t sacrifice our kid’s sleep on a regular basis for them to play sports and lead them into health issues and school issues.  The tradeoff isn’t worth it.  (IMHO)

Why Wall Street Would Love An Rx Report Card By Company

I think this is true for both Wall Street along with prospective employees. I think both would love to have a report card on the prevalence of prescription drug use within a company?

- Is there an abnormally high use of anti-depressants?

- Is there an abnormally high use of sleep medications?

- Is there an abnormally high use of anti-virals associated with STDs?

All of these might indicate cultural problems which would be early indicators of turnover or other issues.

On the flipside, there might be other health data points that provide additional data.

- What is the average step count for the population?

- What percentage of the population play sports?

- How many people have metabolic syndrome?

- How many hours do people sleep?

- Are there treadmill desks and other tools to support good health?

- What percentage of people eat lunch by themselves or at their desk or in a meeting?

- What percentage of people call the EAP line?

What other health data points would you want?

The New Grade – A, B, C, D, Fat

We all know childhood obesity is a big issue and many parents don’t realize it.  But, I didn’t realize that for a few years now some schools have been changing the traditional report card to include new letters – BMI.

This is hot topic that I’ve highlighted in a few posts about boy scouts and obesity and in the new categorization of obesity as a disease.  We’ve also seen a huge rise in companies focused on biometrics like BMI.

So, is this movement at schools good or bad?

Here’s a few points to consider:

  • We learn early in life so helping kids to understand the importance of health early is important.
  • Most parents don’t know their kids are overweight and are often overweight themselves.
  • PCPs are encouraged to track BMI on an annual basis and report on it (but most don’t).

On the flipside:

  • Some people would argue that BMI’s not a good measure of health.
  • It doesn’t do much good to just tell people they’re overweight if you’re not going to provide a solution to help them manage their weight.
  • Schools already offer less physical activity and often may not have great food choices.

One other thing I think people overlook is that they assume just because their kids are active or play sports that they can eat whatever they want or that they’re actually getting enough exercise.

Extreme Weather Isn’t Good For Our Health

After moving to Charlotte, it’s been raining and flooding here all summer.  It reminds me of 1993 when I moved to St. Louis, and they had their 100-year flood.

100yearflood-basic-1

All I ever hear from everyone is that this isn’t normal weather for Charlotte.  It begs the question of whether any weather is normal.  [I'll avoid going down the global warming path here.]

So, I found it interesting that there was a recent article says that this will essentially be part of a new normal which will be more weather extremes.  Drought.  Flooding.  Hurricanes.  Extreme Heat.

So, what does this have to do with health?  A lot.

When these extreme weather scenarios come up, people are less likely to leave the house.  Kids don’t go outside and play.  And, as you can see on the CDC website, they’re focused on analyzing these trends to understand the impact.  On the NC HHS site, here’s what it says about this weather change.

“Some of the health impacts of climate change may include illness, injuries or deaths due to heat, air pollution, extreme weather, and water-borne pathogens.”

Weather has an impact.  Just look at SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Or, just think about childhood obesity.  Our kids are supposed to get 60 minutes of activity a day.  While we assume that happens with sports, it doesn’t always as I blogged about before.  With many of them over-scheduled to begin with and schools dropping recess, weather may be the last straw.  As recent research shows, a structured recess program is important for academic success.

Some days, I think our kids work harder then us parents.  Let’s look at a kid playing a serious sport.

  • 7:50-2:55 school for 5 days a week
  • 1-2 hours of homework per day
  • 2 hours of sports practice 5 days a week
  • Homework on the weekend
  • Games / tournaments on the weekend

Now, add a second sport which many kids do.  Or a part-time job as they get older.  (I know I’m getting off on a tangent, but it’s been so long since I’ve had time to blog…I need to get back into a pattern.)

Only 15% Of Workers Leave The Office Every Day

Have you noticed that you eat lunch more at your desk every day?  I certainly have.

With 7 hours of meetings (at least) every day plus 300+ emails every day, we’re busy.  I’d argue that most companies these days are busier than they were historically.  At the same time, everyone is focused on wellness and healthier choices.  When sleep, diet, exercise, and stress are all related to health, it’s hard to separate those from the workplace.

That being said, I wasn’t too surprised by this recent poll I saw which highlights this.

Exercise at work

Why Use RunKeeper?

I’ve been a longtime user of Garmin for my running.  They provide easy to use GPS watches that provide you with all the details and history you want.  I also now have my FitBit as another tracking device when I run.

So, while several people encouraged me to try RunKeeper, I was hesitant.  How many trackers for the same activity do I need?  But, I started carrying my iPhone for music while I ran so I decided to give it a try.

I like it.

Unknown-2

So, the question is why?

  1. It talks to you.  While looking at my Garmin is pretty easy, the RunKeeper app speaks into my headphones while I’m running to tell me when I’ve completed a half-mile, what my total time is, what my average mile pace is, and what my last split was.  I can certainly calculate all that and see it on my Garmin, but this is very easy.
  2. It gives you reinforcement and now some badges (through Foursquare which I don’t use).  But, I do like the reinforcement – i.e., that was your longest run, that was your fastest run.  Simple but positive.
  3. It has a nice GUI (graphical user interface) or app.  It tracks my data.  It’s easy to read.

images

So, if you’re like I was, I’d recommend trying it.

Unknown-1

Obese Scouts (And Leaders) Told To Stay Away

Did you catch the story the other day that kids and adults that had a BMI of over 40 were told they couldn’t come to the annual Boy Scout Jamboree? And those that had a BMI of between 32 and 39.9 had to submit documentation that they could attend.

What do you think about that?

If you look at the adult US statistics, this would represent about 30%+ of the population. (United HealthGroup report: “United States of Diabetes“)

This is one story where I’m sure there’s a lot that we’d want to know. In Time, they talk about the fact that they published the restrictions two years ago. This would have allowed people time to improve their BMI. But, jumping from 40 to 31 might be too big of a jump in two years for some people to do in a healthy way.

If I were developing this type of program for a company, I’d expect to answer these questions:

  • What did you do to support the scouts and leaders in losing weight? Did you give them a coach? A registered dietician?
  • Did you create a culture of health? What types of foods are at boy scout meetings?
  • Is there a reasonable alternative for the obese scouts to get a similar experience if clinically appropriate?

Obviously, this isn’t a work environment so the rules are different. On the one hand, congrats to them for being brave enough to take this topic on and try to encourage scouts and leaders to have a healthy weight. On the other hand, they need to make sure they do this in a way that doesn’t shame these people and need to make sure they support their weight loss.

But, don’t be fooled. The world is going to continue to move this way. Obesity is too big of a driver of healthcare costs and other presenteeism and absenteeism impacts.

Just look at Japan…(source)

Under a national law that came into effect two months ago, companies and local governments must now measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. That represents more than 56 million waistlines, or about 44 percent of the entire population.

Those exceeding government limits — 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women, which are identical to thresholds established in 2005 for Japan by the International Diabetes Federation as an easy guideline for identifying health risks — and having a weight-related ailment will be given dieting guidance if after three months they do not lose weight. If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.

To reach its goals of shrinking the overweight population by 10 percent over the next four years and 25 percent over the next seven years, the government will impose financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets. The country’s Ministry of Health argues that the campaign will keep the spread of diseases like diabetes and strokes in check.

Should You Care That Obesity Is Now A Disease?

The AMA has opened an interesting discussion in the past few days with their decision to recognize obesity as a disease.  On the one hand, we all know obesity is a problem that’s impacting our overall health and productivity across the world.  On the flip side, will this actually change anything?

Key discussion points:

  • What is a disease?
  • Is BMI a good metric to use?  If not, what should be used to measure obesity – waist?
  • How do you treat it?

Here’s a few quotes from some articles:

“Right now, physicians will treat high blood pressure, diabetes, give patients medications and say, ‘Oh you also need to lose weight,’” Khaitan told FoxNews.com. “I think (this) gives the physicians a little more credibility in pushing patients to address obesity and become healthier. It’s recognized as a disease…not just something that (because) you have poor lifestyle habits, this is your problem.”  (Fox News)

Obesity is not just a health risk but a disease. Estimates of the genetic contribution to weight gain in susceptible families range from 25—40% with a greater heritability for abdominal fat distribution of 50%1>2.  Obviously there is a major environmental effect but this genetic susceptibility alone removes this condition from a social stigma to the disease category.  (British Medical Bulletin 1997)

“The American Medical Association’s recognition that obesity is a disease carries a lot of clout,” says Samuel Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “The most important aspect of the AMA decision is that the AMA is a respected representative of American medicine. Their opinion can influence policy makers who are in a position to do more to support interventions and research to prevent and treat obesity.”  (USA Today)

Telling all obese people that they have a disease could end up reducing their sense of control over their ability to change their diet and exercise patterns. As experience with addictions has shown, giving people the sense that they suffer from a disease that is out of their control can become self-defeating. So the disease label should be used sparingly: just as not all drinking is alcoholism, not all overeating is pathological. (Time)

Here’s a few facts from the Obesity Action Coalition:

  • In the United States, it is estimated that 93 million Americans are affected by obesity.
  • Individuals affected by obesity are at a higher risk for impaired mobility and experience a negative social stigma commonly associated with obesity.
  • Socioeconomic status plays a significant role in obesity. Low-income minority populations tend to experience obesity at higher rate and are more likely to be overweight.
  • In 2001, the states with the top five percentages for obesity were Mississippi, West Virginia, Michigan, Kentucky and Indiana.
  • Almost 112,000 annual deaths are attributable to obesity.
  • In the United States, 40 percent of adults do not participate in any leisure-time physical activity.

Here’s also a few things you might not realize about obesity from Yale:

  • Finding 1: Obesity can raise some cancer risks
  • Finding 2: Obesity is tied to heart attacks in younger adults
  • Finding 3: Obesity can ruin your day
  • Finding 4: Obesity speeds up girls’ puberty
  • Finding 5: Obesity is a cause of diabetes in kids
  • Finding 6: Obesity in middle age increases risk for dementia

Let me give my hypotheses on why this might matter:

  1. In theory, this is supposed to increase the likelihood that physician’s talk about obesity with their patients.  This would be great, but I think most research shows physician’s aren’t prepared or comfortable with this discussion.  Will the fact that it’s a disease make this easier?  Maybe.
  2. This may be a boon for the obesity Rx market (assuming any of them work and have minimal side effects).  Physician’s may be much more likely to write an Rx for a disease than a lifestyle issue.
  3. This may help get obesity Rxs and bariatric surgery to be covered by health insurance.  The downside of this is that more people may not actually change behavior (diet, exercise, sleep) but instead look for a “quick” fix through drugs and surgery.

In my mind, there is a best case scenario here:

  • Calling it a disease drives awareness among the healthcare community.
  • This increases investment in resources to treat obesity.
  • Treatment is viewed more like mental health to include drugs and behavioral therapy.
  • Physician’s get trained on the disease.
  • Pharma details physicians on the disease and creates CME programs.
  • Patients start to take this more seriously.
  • Plans cover obesity – insurers, employers, CMS.
  • Obesity becomes a broad program including diet, exercise, coaching, Rx, and bariatric surgery following a progressive approach to treatment tied to your starting point.
  • Companies link incentives to managing weight.
  • New metrics are designed that are better than obesity.

Of course, one of the more recent articles which was depressing on this topic was that exercising regularly may not overcome the impact of sitting the rest of the day.  That makes it very hard to increase caloric burn while having a job that requires lots of desk, computer, and meeting time.

Costs Of Obesity In America

The #QuantifiedSelf and “Walking Interview”

If you haven’t heard, “sitting is the new smoking” in terms of health status.  And, unfortunately, you can’t just get up and exercise for an hour and then go sit all day.  That brief spurt of exercise doesn’t change the fact that we sit for 9+ hours a day.

If you think about our shift in work from a very manual work environment to a service and technology work environment, we’ve made activity during the day harder and harder to achieve.  Between e-mail and meetings, most of us are stagnant to accomplish our work.

That got me thinking about the #QuantifiedSelf movement and all of the activity trackers (e.g., FitBit, BodyMedia).  We know companies definitely look online to see people’s social media activity as part of the interview process.  Will they begin to ask about their activity data as a proxy for health?

On the flipside, perhaps the person interviewing should really be asking to see their potential boss’ activity data.  I’d be as interested in knowing what happens during the day.  It would provide a lot of insight into what happens in terms of meetings, face-t0-face activity, and be a good proxy for the real work experience.

Of course, the other option would be to introduce “walking interviews”.  People talk about walking meetings.  I’ve even done a running meeting going for a jog with a potential partner to discuss how we work together.  (It was the only time we could find to meet at a conference.)

Walking interviews would tell you a lot about someone’s health.  You could go up some stairs.  You could walk a few miles in an hour.

Since we know that health, happiness, and wealth are all correlated, this type of insight for the interviewer and interviewee seems very valuable.

JustStandInfoGraphicV3

Presidential Physical Fitness Award – Reasonable? Role Models?

I must admit that I don’t remember taking the presidential fitness test as a kid. With that being said, I was surprised to learn from my daughter that in her class of club soccer, volleyball, and baseball players she was the only kid to meet the highest level (greater than the 85th percentile across several measures). She made it today by running her mile in 7:37.

So, what does this require? It made me curious. Here’s what you have to do:

benchmarks_presidential_large

Could you do that?  These seem pretty difficult to me.  I could probably do the mile in 6:06, but I doubt I could do 53 pull-ups.  And, I doubt I could sit and reach 7 inches beyond my toes.  (Looking at the 17 year old male standards.)

On the other hand, we certainly need our kids to be more fit.  We have a big childhood obesity issue.

Childhood Obesity

But, it also made me think about Michelle Obama’s efforts in this space.

Lets Move

I think these programs are good starts, but lets not forget that obesity is a social issue and kids learn from those around them.  Let me ask the uncomfortable questions about those who our kids look up to.

  • How many overweight coaches do you know?
  • How about overweight teachers?
  • How about policemen and firefighters?
  • How about clergy?

These are all key role models…not to mention us parents who are often overweight.

I guess my suggestion here to the President would be to think about how to use our massive government payrolls as a foundation for change. Let’s think about the Presidential Fitness Challenge and create a broader wellness solution to change the visual role models for our kids and figure out how to help companies invest in this.

For example, we know that sleeping is correlated to weight and health.  I was talking to my brother-in-law who is a police officer when he told me that they are expected to get 8 hours of sleep a night.  Imagine if companies set this expectation for their employees (sleep impact on work).  

“Sitting Disease” may make a great late night comedy story line, but it’s a reality of our information economy that has to be addressed.

sitting-disease-how-sitting-too-long-can-affect-your-health_5123e1818a55e

How Walgreens Became One Of The More Innovative Healthcare Companies

While we are generally a society focused on innovation from start-ups (and now all the incubators like Rock Health), there are a few big companies that are able to innovate while growing.  That’s not always easy and companies often need some catalyst to make this happen.  Right now, there are four established healthcare companies that I’m watching closely to track their innovation – Kaiser, United/Optum, Aetna, and Walgreens.  (Walgreens has made the Fast Company innovation list 3 of the past 4 years.)

I think Walgreens is really interesting, and they did have a great catalyst to force them to really dig deep to think about how do we survive in a big PBM world.  It seems like the answer has been to become a healthcare company not just a pharmacy (as they say “at the corner of Happy and Healthy”) while simultaneously continuing to grow in the specialty pharmacy and store area.

Let’s look at some of the changes they’ve made over the past 5 years.  Looking back, I would have described them as an organic growth company with a “not-invented-here” attitude.  Now, I think they have leapfrogged the marketplace to become a model for innovation.

  1. They sold their PBM.
  2. They re-designed their stores.
  3. They got the pharmacist out talking to people.
  4. They got more involved with medication therapy management.
  5. They increased their focus on immunizations increasing the pharmacists role.
  6. They formed an innovation team.
  7. They invested heavily in digital and drove out several mobile solutions including innovations like using the QR code and scanning technology to order refills.
  8. They’ve reached out to partner with companies like Johns Hopkins and the Joslin Diabetes Centers.
  9. They increased their focus on publications out of their research group to showcase what they could do.
  10. They started looking at the role the pharmacy could play and the medications played in readmissions.
  11. They partnered with Boots to become a much more global company.
  12. They offered daily testing for key numbers people should know like A1c and blood pressure even at stores without a clinic.
  13. They created an incentive program and opened it up to link to devices like FitBit.
  14. They partnered with The Biggest Loser.
  15. They increased their focus on the employer including getting into the on-site clinic space.
  16. They created 3 Accountable Care Organizations.
  17. They partnered with Novartis to get into the clinical trials space.
  18. They developed APIs to open their system up to developers and other health IT companies.
  19. They formed a big collaboration with AmerisourceBergen which if you read the quote from Greg Wasson isn’t just about supply chain.

    “Today’s announcement marks another step forward in establishing an unprecedented and efficient global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing network, and achieving our vision of becoming the first choice in health and daily living for everyone in America and beyond,” said Gregory Wasson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Walgreens. “We are excited to be expanding our existing relationship with AmerisourceBergen to a 10-year strategic long-term contract, representing another transformational step in the pharmaceutical supply chain. We believe this relationship will create a wide range of opportunities and innovations in the rapidly changing U.S. and global health care environment that we expect will benefit all of our stakeholders.”

  20. They jumped into the retail clinic space and have continued to grow that footprint physically and around the services they offer with the latest jump being to really address the access issue and help with chronic conditions not just acute problems.

With this service expansion, Take Care Clinics now provide the most comprehensive service offering within the retail clinic industry, and can play an even more valuable role in helping patients get, stay and live well,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kang, senior vice president of health and wellness services and solutions, Walgreens. “Through greater access to services and a broader focus on disease prevention and chronic condition management, our clinics can connect and work with physicians and other providers to better help support the increasing demands on our health care system today.” (from Press Release)

This is something for the whole pharmacy (PBM, pharma, retail, mail, specialty) industry to watch and model as I talked about in my PBMI presentation (which I’m giving again tomorrow in Chicago).  It reminds me of some of the discussions by pharma leaders about the need to go “beyond the pill”.

 

How The CVS Program Will Change The Employer – Employee Contract

Have you heard that CVS Caremark is requiring employees to go get biometrics and going to take action on it? OMG!

I’m not sure I understand why people are all upset. Let’s look at the facts:

And, by the way, have we forgotten how much healthcare costs have gone up over time and who pays that bill. It’s either the employer or the government. Both of those things impact our pay as individuals either in terms of lower raises to cover healthcare costs, shifting healthcare costs to us, or taxes. It’s not sustainable so the person who pays the bill has to step in since we’re not. (Which is also why I support the NY ban on soda.)

Now, let’s look at our healthcare system where in the current fee-for-service model, there isn’t an incentive for physicians to address this.

For now, people should be happy. They’re only being required to do the biometrics. The penalty isn’t linked to whether they’re fat or have high blood pressure or smoke or have high cholesterol or have diabetes. A recent study by Towers Watson shows that while 16% of employers do this type of outcome based incentive program today (2013) that this is going to jump to 47% in 2014. So, this will be the norm.

And, guess what…sticks often work better than carrots in some cases.

And, healthcare costs are making us uncompetitive globally as a country.

  • The cost of healthcare is greater than the cost of steel in a car.
  • The cost of healthcare is greater than the cost of coffee in a Starbuck’s cup of coffee.

And, health reform is allowing (even enabling) this to happen. It says that you can treat people differently and create up to a 50% differential in costs associated with their health. (Not a legal definition so read the fine print.)

But, what I think all of us (consumers and employers) will need to realize is that moving to this (which I agree with) will change the employer and employee relationship in several ways.

  1. You can’t put these programs in place without something to help me manage my obesity, cholesterol, and/or other chronic condition. This will drive wellness and disease management programs to be more engaging and successful.
  2. This will put pressure on employers to create a culture of health since we spend so much time at work and work contributes to our health conditions.
    1. Need more time to be active. Less sitting. Treadmill desks. Standing meetings. Nap time. Walking breaks. Use of devices to track steps. Incentives. Gym discounts. Healthy food discounts.
    2. Need less stress.
    3. Need more sleep.
    4. Better food choices at work.
  3. This will drive a lot of the new tools and run counter to some trends about limiting dependent coverage since you can’t address obesity without engaging the entire family and the social network.
  4. This will also create a whole exception process by which people who gain weight due to certain drugs have to be excluded. People who can’t exercise may have to be excluded. People may have to see short-term goals (i.e., dropping BMI from 35 to 32). Physicians will have to be engaged.
  5. Coaching will have to expand to include dieticians, social workers, and others to help people beyond the historical nurse centric coaching model.

If none of this motivates you, then just think about the “gift” we’re giving our kids and maybe that will be a wake-up call why someone has to do something here. (As I shared the other day, I struggle with my weight so don’t think I’m some super skinny, high metabolism person who thinks this is easy.)

What’s Your #Moment4Change?

I’ve being doing a lot of work lately on how to tackle the obesity problem in the US. This has been great personally as it has forced me to look at lots of research to understand all the tools out there.

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Coaching programs
  • Devices
  • Social networks
  • Physicians
  • Centers of Excellence

It’s also made me look at different drivers of obesity including sleep and stress. The new report out showing that sitting is a huge problem (even if you exercise) is very eye-opening also.

For years, I’ve talked about my challenges is managing my weight which lead to some fluctuations, but at the end of the day, I think a lot of this boils down to a “Golden Moment” or a “Moment4Change”. Even people who do this every day (e.g., doctors or sports coaches) are often overweight. We have to have something which prompts us to change our life. We aren’t generally motivated by dropping our HDL. We’re motivated by being able to play with our kids or living long enough to see our kids get married.

In my life, there have been several Moment4Change points so I thought I would put this out there to hear what’s motivated others:

  • In 2002, I went to the doctor for the first time in a decade. He saw some health risks in my blood work and sent me to another physician. He told me I was obese. (Something less than 50% of physicians actually tell their overweight patients.) I was shocked. I was 215 pounds and 5′-10″. After 2 days of agony, I decided that I couldn’t accept that diagnosis and proceeded to lose 40 pounds in the next 60 days (all through exercise and social motivation through a running group).
  • Last fall after letting much of that weight creep back on over the decade, I decided to do a 5K with one of my kids. I’d run 3 marathons and was running several days a week (although at an average pace of 9 minute miles). I got killed as my kid ran at a 7:30 pace in their first race ever. Not only did I feel old, but I felt like I wasn’t being much of a role model. That motivated me to change. Now, after using the FitBit (see several comments), I’ve had good success losing 25 pounds in 3 months and seeing my cholesterol drop 120 points in that same time frame.

So, I’m interested. What has motivated you to changed? And, how do you measure success? I suggested that while women may use the “skinny jeans” test that men might be more likely to use the “belt buckle” test.

 

 

I think this image below from the AON Hewitt 2012 Health Care Survey is a good one about the fact that 80% of our costs are driven by 8 behaviors.

I also thought that this presentation at the FMI by The Well which was a GSW project was right in line with this.

Short Sighted View Of Freedom With NY Soda Ban

pouring-on-the-pounds

There are lots of fundamental issues here:

  • Was the law legal?
  • Does soda make you fat?
  • Should the government be able to steer you to positive choices?
  • Did this impact our freedom?

At the end of the day, I look at it very differently.  I think the proposed ban was great.  I was very annoyed last night to find out it was overturned.

Why?

  1. I don’t see this as any different than moving unhealthy foods to a less obvious place in the food line at school.  It simply was meant to help steer people to make healthier decisions.  We should all be thankful for someone helping us since we generally don’t seem to be able to help ourselves.
  2. Government has to be run like a business.  (It usually isn’t.)  Obesity is a big driver of costs.  It requires more power for public transportation.  It requires bigger chairs.  It requires bigger hospital beds.  It requires bigger ambulances.  And, all of us taxpayers pay for this.
  3. 80% of healthcare costs are driven by personal decisions that we make mostly around diet and exercise.  Since most people will end up on Medicare at some point, we need to change the cost curve in healthcare sooner rather than later.  Otherwise, we either bankrupt our country or we bankrupt Medicare.

So, enjoy your big 64 oz soda now, but when you’re 69 and Medicare has been rolled back to 70 due to funding challenges, you can smile and remember that you got to enjoy all that sugar for years without anyone trying to help you. (I can picture a great political cartoon here of the patient getting a healthcare bill looking over their shoulder from their wheelchair to see a big pile of soda cups!)  Never mind the fact that you’re bankrupt due to your healthcare bills and not able to walk around to keep up with your grandkids.

The Business of Obesity
Source: top-nursing-programs.com

Body Peace Treaty As Mentioned On Biggest Loser

I was finally catching up on my Biggest Loser shows yesterday.  They talked about the Body Peace Treaty from Seventeen magazine. Not something I read, but there are some good points in the treaty.  Here are a few for you.

  • Do the little things that will keep my body healthy, like walking instead of hanging on the couch, or drinking water rather than something sugary.
  • Appreciate what makes my body different from anyone else’s. I love that I’m unique on the inside, I will try to feel that way about the outside too!
  • Support my friends, who just like me, have their own body issues. Hey, we’re all in this together!
  • Remember that the sun will still rise tomorrow even if I had one too many slices of pizza or an extra scoop of ice cream tonight.
  • Quit judging a person solely by how his or her body looks — even if it seems harmless — because I’d never want anyone to do that to me.
  • Remind myself that what you see isn’t always what you get on TV and in ads — it takes a lot of airbrushing, dieting, money, and work to look like that.
  • Respect my body by feeding it well, working up a sweat when it needs it, and knowing when to give it a break.
  • Realize that the mirror can reflect only what’s on the surface of me, not who I am inside.
  • Not let my size define me. It’s far better to focus on how awesome I look in my jeans than the number on the tag.
  • Surround myself with positive people. True friends are there to lift me up when I’m feeling low and won’t bring me down with criticism, body bashing, or gossip.

So, while some of the things on the list may be more biased towards young women, the fundamentals are the same for all of us.

10 Lessons Learned From Losing Weight

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This is the 3rd time in my life that I’ve lost over 10% of my body weight.  I’ve tried it with all exercise.  I’ve tried it with all diet changes.  And, this time, I think I’ve gotten smarter and am doing it with a combination of both thanks to technology which is helping me to track calories in and out.  I try to work towards a 500 calorie deficit every day.

With that in mind, here’s a few lessons learned.

  1. It doesn’t ever really get easier, but it can become a habit (e.g., running) and the norm (e.g., eating better).  It’s a lifestyle not an event.
  2. You eat more calories than you think.  It’s all about Eat This Not That.  (e.g., the blueberry bagel I ate the other day had more calories than a Dunkin Donuts donut.)  A lot of this happens with bread and rolls and to share a quote I heard the other day – “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead.”
  3. Food is tied up in all our holidays and celebrations.  (e.g., celebrating with cake and ice cream, neighborhood BBQ, holiday dinner)  You need to learn to take part in these and then burn some extra calories or enjoy in moderation.  You will be very frustrated if everything is about denial and not having access to these foods.  As I heard a clinician address this question earlier this week, it’s better to be good 360 days a year than to feel like you’ve failed when you participate in these holiday events.
  4. Losing weight isn’t just about food and exercise…it’s mental about your attitude.  (e.g., do you stress eat and what will you do in the future?)
  5. It’s worth it, but it’s hard work.  I look back at my time doing the Insanity workout and their advertisements.  I think they make the point that you have to work hard to get results.  (and it’s one of the hardest workouts that I’ve ever tried…and couldn’t finish.)
  6. You can’t change if everyone around you isn’t changing.  Weight is tied into your social circle as many examples have shown.
  7. It takes a while for people to recognize your weight loss so keep yourself motivated with an end goal.  And, make sure to set reasonable goals (e.g., 1-2 lbs a week).  Unless you’re on the Biggest Loser and can work out 3 hours+ a day with a controlled diet, you’re not necessarily going to make huge drops each week.
  8. Technology can help whether it’s BodyMedia, FitBit, Nike Fuel, or one of the many other solutions that are out there.  I’d also add both the idea of a device with a tool for tracking calories (food diary).
  9. Weight loss is tied in with sleep so make sure you get your sleep on a regular basis or you’ll mess up all your efforts.
  10. Travel with healthy snacks since you’ll end up somewhere hungry and be stuck going to fast food or grabbing the candy bar if you don’t have something with you.

 

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The Quest For The Stinkless Workout Shirt

Any workout can lead to a nice sweaty shirt that can stink, but when you’re traveling, that can be a real issue.  You can certainly bring multiple sets of workout clothes on your trip, but that’s not always efficient packing.  So, if you bring one outfit and workout multiple times, it can start to be problematic by the second, third, or fourth run in the same clothes.

Now, to make it even worse, you can travel to different cities where each day you run then pack up the sweaty clothes, lock them in your car all day, jump on a plane, and unroll them 12 hours later.  I’ve wondered for years why someone didn’t develop a bag with some basic chemical in there that you could put your clothes in where it would absorb the sweat and freshen the clothes.

Well…I may have found another answer.  I just bought one of the LuLuLemon Silverescent shirts which they said is anti-stink.  I was skeptical, but I’ve put it to the test.

  • No stink after running in it.
  • No stink after rolling it up (post-workout) and leaving it in a laundry basket for a week.
  • No stink after wearing it several times back-to-back.

3500 Calories To Lose A Pound – Myth?

Well, it’s not that straightforward (of course), but 3,500 calories does equal a pound of fat so it’s a good rule of thumb (in my non-clinical opinion).

So, to figure out when this does or doesn’t work, I looked at the this article in the Journal of Obesity which was very difficult to understand, but here’s a discussion on MyFitnessPal that discusses it in something closer to plain language.  You can also see this article in the NY Times about de-bunking this myth.

So, if it’s wrong, why use it as a rule of thumb?  IMHO  I believe it gives you some numbers to track just understand that it’s not a perfect correlation.  But, if you take in less calories than you burn and focus on creating a deficit, then you’ll be doing the right things – being active and watching what you eat.  Of course, you can go work with a Registered Dietician to help you actually understand and refine your plan to address the gap between this assumption and reality.

mythbusters

Guest Post: I’m Ready To Lose Weight!

Guest Blogger Lynn Gieger is a contributor to Everyday Health and its calorie counter and fitness tools.
The signs were all there, but until the doctor commented, “You’re overweight and your weight is negatively impacting your health,” it was no longer easy or healthy to ignore the too-tight belt, too-small jeans, and the steering wheel poking into the stomach.

Now what are you going to do about it?

Ignore the hype of the hundreds of weight loss programs that promise effortless weight loss. If it was that easy, you wouldn’t be in this shape right now, would you?

To truly take charge of your weight and health, start by giving yourself some time to think about why weight loss is important to you. What will be different in your life when you lose weight? Look at the health implications: decreased cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, less pressure on your knees and hips. Also think about personal reasons why weight loss is important to you: do you want to get on the floor and play with your grandchildren, go hiking with your kids, dancing with your spouse, or just look smashing? List all of the reasons how losing weight will improve your life to increase your motivation to make changes.

The National Weight Control Registry, established in 1994, tracks over 10,000 people who lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for 5.5 years. The NWCR research identifies 3 key steps to lose weight and keep it off:

1. Keep a journal detailing what, when and how much you eat. 78% of the NWCR participants report eating breakfast every day, and the majority decreased both calorie and fat intake to lose unwanted pounds. Use your journal to identify specific places to make changes, such as using lower fat salad dressing, choosing water instead of a high-calorie sweetened beverage, and swapping fruit for chips at snack time. Need help figuring out where to make changes? Find a weight management specialist with the knowledge and skills to streamline your food choices and encourage you to make lasting changes in your eating habits.

2. Keep track of daily exercise. 90% of NWCR participants exercise for an average of one hour each day. Create a habit of daily exercise to burn calories and improve your fitness – plus give you something else to do besides eat. Find a certified fitness expert to get you started or ask at your local gym.

3. Decrease the number of hours of non-work screen time (TV, video games, movies, computer). NWCR recommends less than 10 hours of screen time per week. If Sunday at your house means 6 hours of TV football, change your weekly screen-time habits and guess what – you just found time for exercise!

If you’re stuck and can’t figure out how to get started losing weight, work with a certified wellness coach to help you set realistic goals and hold you accountable.

Avoid a weight loss/gain rollercoaster by clearly identifying why weight loss is important to you and focus on the long-term. It doesn’t matter if it takes you 6 months or 6 years to reach your weight goal: the key is changing your habits so you stay at a healthy weight.

And the next time you see the doctor, think of this comment, “Wow, you’re looking great!”

How To Improve Good Cholesterol (HDL) If Drugs Don’t Work

The Wall Street Journal on 1/8/13 had an article called “New Rules for Boosting Good Cholesterol” which shared the results of a recent study on medications that improve HDL (or Good Cholesterol).

“Not all HDL are created the same” was what Roger Newton, chief science officer of Esperion said.

“If you raise HDL in non-pharmacologic ways, it really does help you” says Steve Kopecky, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.

The points made in the article can be summarized in the following:

  • Improving good cholesterol is important.
  • People with high HDL face fewer heart attacks (according to the Framingham Risk Score)
  • Multiple trials to improve HDL with drugs have failed
  • People may need to raise good cholesterol by behavior change

This should lead to 3 questions:

  1. What should be my HDL or Good Cholesterol? From the Mayo Clinic on Good Cholesterol:

  1. What can I do to improve my Good Cholesterol without drugs? From the WSJ article:

Activity

HDL Increase

Exercise

4 mg/dL

Drink Alcohol (in Moderation)

2-4 mg/dL

Quit Smoking

5 mg/dL

Lose Weight

1 mg/dL per 3-6 lbs

Eat Fish And Olive Oil

3-5 mg/dL

Avoid Carbohydrates

8 mg/dL

  1. What are my risks and the value of medications? For that, I found two online risk tools.

Here’s a simple one that uses the Farmingham study to estimate your risk of having a heart attack.

Here’s another one from over in Europe that’s focused on the value of statins and hosted by the Cleveland Clinic. It takes more inputs but then gives you several outputs. (A nice algorithm to integrate with something like iBlueButton or your care management system perhaps to warn you of risks without having you input a bunch of data.)

Interview With BodyMedia CEO at mHealth Summit #mhs12

BodyMedia 1

Last week at the mHealth Summit in DC, I had a chance to sit down and visit with Christine Robins who is the CEO of BodyMedia. (see bio below)  One of the most exciting things (mentioned at the end) is their new disposable solution coming out.

Christine Robins is currently the Chief Executive Officer of BodyMedia, Inc., a pioneering market leader in wearable body monitors. BodyMedia’s devices are unparalleled in the marketplace, and equip professionals and consumers with rich information to manage a range of health conditions impacted by lifestyle choices.

Prior to joining BodyMedia, Christine was the CEO of Philips Oral Healthcare where she led the global Sonicare® brand to significant sales and share growth. Christine also has extensive experience in a wide range of marketing and finance capacities gained during her 17 years at S.C. Johnson, where she ran notable brands such as Raid® insecticides, Glade® air fresheners, and Aveeno® skin care. With this background rooted in global multi-national companies and an entrepreneurial zeal essential to lead a high technology upstart, Chris is passionate about developing turnaround strategies, building teams, and driving innovation.

A noted speaker, Christine has delivered presentations at universities such as Harvard, Stanford and Duke, as well as keynotes at industry shows such as the Consumer Electronics Show, Health 2.0 and CTIA. She holds a degree in Marketing and Finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from Marquette University.

If you’re not familiar with BodyMedia, it’s definitely a company to know from a Quantified Self perspective. They have been around since 1999 providing solutions and have 150 global studies about the effectiveness of their devices in weight loss (see one chart below). The devices that they use continue to get smaller and smaller with time and are registered with the FDA as Class II medical devices.

clinical charts_2012_updated

Their devices track 5,000 data points per minute using 4 different sensors. Here are a few screen shots from the mobile apps that they have.

bodymedia iOS 3

And, as you can see, they map well to the chart below which shows what data consumers and physicians want to track with weight, calories, physical activity, and sleep patterns.

Quantified Self 2

For food tracking, they work with MyFitnessPal which provides them with data on products you eat. I think a good example can be seen in this screen shot from the Android app.

bodymedia 4

But, honestly, a lot of what I was really intrigued by was a new offering they’re rolling out called the “PATCH” which will be a 7-day, disposable body monitoring system that does everything the full blown system does. I don’t know the price point yet, but this is really exciting as a way to pull new people into the market and to use as a strategy for setting a baseline with a patient to understand their data. It could then lead to recommendations around disease management.

Another thing that Christine talked about was they’re approach to partnering with places like the Biggest Loser and other to allow for a customized content approach to your messaging from the system. She also showed me how the device will project where you will end up at the end of the day based on your past history.

They also have a module for a coach or weight loss professional to help manage and view data across all the people they’re working with.

(And, I just grabbed this image from their website since it points out the 3 key things to weight loss.)

FitBit One Goes To The Gym – Last Challenge

I’ve shared a few tests with you about my FitBit One which included comparisons against my Garmin and versus a pedometer. Today, I got to take it to the gym with me and tested it for distance and calorie count relative to several pieces of equipment from LifeFitness – treadmill, stationary bike, and elliptical. For the treadmill, I also looked it two ways: (1) running at an 8 minute mile pace and (2) walking at a 15 minute mile pace at a 15% slope.

As you can see before, the FitBit was much better aligned on distance with the treadmill, but it was not as aligned on calorie count. I’m have no hypothesis here. I will say that I was surprised that the uphill walking didn’t somehow register as steps. I say that because I went on an outside run the other day up and down hills, and the FitBit did a great job of tracking my uphill runs and translating that into floors climbed.

As a side note, I think this does a nice job (if you believe the equipment calorie count) on showing how a slow walk up a steep slope can burn lots of calories compared to a fast run.

Stay Moving Avoid Sitting Disease

A clinician was talking to me he other day about “sitting disease“. They said that our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are causing all kinds of problems – not least of them being obesity.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share this article and Infographic…

Office workers can exercise at their desk to get into better shape

Stuck working in an office with no time to hit the gym on a regular basis? There are ways to burn off a few calories during office hours, says Selen Razon, a physical education professor at Ball State.

“Studies have shown that long periods of inactivity — including sitting at your desk — increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer,” she says. “I suggest that people do a few simple exercises to get their bodies moving and then stretching and toning at your desk. Moving a little goes a long way.”

Razon suggests:
• Start exercising before arriving at your desk by first parking your car as far away from the building as possible and then walking.
• Take the stairs whenever possible.
• Do exercises at your desk, including flexing arms, legs and abs on 30-second intervals.
• Get rid of a chair and sit on a medicine/fitness ball while working. Sitting on a ball will tone and strengthen your abs.
• Stand up and/or take short walks every 20 minutes at desk. Studies show even simple frequent standing breaks significantly decrease your chances of getting diabetes.
• Exchange the typical desk for one that allows you to stand, which burns more calories.
• Bring gadgets to the office. Hand grippers and stretch cords are relatively cheap and can provide great outlets for keeping active while you look at your screen.

FitBit vs Garmin – Test #2

As I mentioned, I got my new FitBit One the other day. I’ve been experimenting with it each day. Yesterday, I showed how it performed versus a pedometer. Today, I focused on how it performed versus my Garmin Forerunner watch that I use to track my distance and speed when running outside. While the data relative to the pedometer was pretty similar, there was a 15-16% discrepancy between the FitBit and my Garmin.

According to the Garmin, the FitBit was underestimating my distance traveled. To validate the distance, I also used www.walkjogrun.net to calculate the distance (which they estimated to be 0.82 miles).

At the same time, I also wanted to see if there was a difference between just having it sitting in the bottom of my pocket versus putting it on my belt loop. Location didn’t seem to matter.

 

(Note: This chart shows distance in miles.)

FitBit vs. Pedometer – Test One

I’ve been enjoying the FitBit One for a few days now.  I decided there were a few tests that I’d like to do.  The first one was to compare it to the step count from a pedometer that I’ve had. 

It hasn’t been a highly active day (as I’ve been working from my home office), but there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference. 

My Fitbit One Has Arrived – Challengers?

I’m a big believer in the idea of connected devices – Quantified Self movement.  While I’d love to track my data via manual input, that comes and goes.  So, over the summer, I began thinking about a device to use.  There are lots of them out there, but I’lll admit that it was hard to determine which one would be best (see one review):

For me, I decided there were several criteria:

  1. Able to track multiple activities – walking, running, biking, and steps.  (in terms of calories and raw numbers)
  2. Easy mobile and web interfaces with wireless integration.  (Mac and PC)
  3. APIs for connecting into other applications.
  4. Battery life.

I didn’t spend much time looking at the communities associated with each and how they work to motivate you to exercise.  I do think that’s important.

I also like the Striiv game idea where you earn points based on your activities (badges) to unlock more things in a virtual world.  For gamers and others, this plays into the “gamification” trends.

 

Did I pick right?  We’ll know soon, and I’ll give you an update.  But, I certainly welcome challengers.  (If you want me to try your device and compare it, let me know.)

Infographic: Obesity

Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of this will surprise many of you, but it’s scary to think about the impact of obesity across different industries.  For some of them this is big business.  And, while I don’t think employers have fully realized how to focus on this from a “wellness” or “disease management” perspective, I think that will change. 

Should NY Hold The Marathon This Weekend? (SuperStorm Sandy)

This seems like an interesting question, but one with perhaps a straightforward answer. With NY and NJ devastated by Superstorm Sandy and almost 4M still without power, should NY try to hold their marathon this weekend? Seems like a clear no to me.

I do understand the fact that this is a big revenue event for the city.  I do understand that you want to show your ability to recover from the storm.  BUT, it takes resources – volunteers, police, hotels, food, and other efforts to pull this off.  Wouldn’t those resources be better focused on the people that are still trying to dig out of their homes and get power?

 

Infographic: Laughter As Medicine (And Equals Working Out)

I think we’ve all heard this at some point or another although I was surprised by the comparisons to the health values of sleep and working out.  I wonder how hard I have to laugh to accomplish that.

Go Patch Adams!

Laughter Infographic

 

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