glow notes

Saturday, October 01, 2005

an inside job

I live in Southern California. I drive quite a bit - maybe an hour a day. I listen to talk radio on occasion.

The other day I was listening to some call-in doctor show. I don't even know the name of the doctor, but people called with their health problems and he made suggestions.

A woman in her 50's called complaining that her breasts were getting larger, uncomfortably so, though she had not changed weight. What could be causing this?

The doctor hemmed and hawed and said something about fat 'sucking' and redistributing in women as they age due to hormonal changes, and made a joke about how a lot of women would love to have her problem.


There's a principle in logic called Occam's Razor which says that given two equally predictive theories, choose the simpler. In other words, "when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras." In other words, keep it simple, doc.

Adults over age 25 gain a pound a year on average. Most adults who don't resistance train also lose about 1/2 pound of muscle per year (which means that if a person gains one pound per year s/he is gaining 1.5 pounds of fat. If a person stays the same weight, s/he gains 1/2 pound of fat; low-calorie diets increase muscle loss).

This woman said that she was not gaining weight, so either she exercises, diets, or she's a self-modulating eater (some people are, and the rest of us don't like them much).

But I'd put money down that if she exercises, it's cardio training, not resistance training; that her body composition is changing as she ages; and the added fat is going right to her chest. Breasts are a common place for women to store extra fat. I know this from experience - I went down a cup size and a half when I went from 32% to 18% body fat.

The doctor did not ask if the caller exercised and how. He didn't suggest that she have her body composition tested. He didn't let her know that higher than healthy body fat percentages might increase her odds of cancer, cardiovascular disease, joint problems, osteoporosis, and a host of other illnesses.

More importantly, he didn't empower her to take charge of her own body. To increase the probability of vibrant health now and as the years go by. To stand tall and walk strong.

Did he not know this, or was he just so enamored of the complex (and admittedly sometimes invaluable) information in his well-educated head that he forgot about the simple, intrinsic wisdom of the body?

Was the fact that this woman probably had the answer she needed right there in her own power unfathomable?

I get help with my health when I need it. I've needed it often. There's a lot to be said for book learnin'.

I also ditch health professionals that don't empower me to care for myself.

Because in the end, the solutions are always inside of me. I just have to find them.


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