Monday, January 16, 2017

Why do we set goals anyway?

So, I have been talking about goals. Why do we set goals? Some people don't. Some people don't know any better. Some people are satisfied with where they are at. That's fine. I'm not. I'm never satisfied. And I don't think that's bad. 

I have this idea imbedded in my head that if I lose weight I will feel better. Actually, even if I don't accomplish my ultimate goal of weighing 170 pounds, it feels good trying. So, that in and of itself is the big picture isn't it? To be feel good. To be happy. 

So many of my friends keep saying, or implying, "I'm satisfied with myself." That's fine. But to me, I think they get happy confused with being satisfied. Are you really satisfied living in your body the way it is? Or are you just saying that so you feel better. 

I mean, I'm not judging others. I'm obese myself. Really. I am. If you look at the body fat chart, I'm a guy and my body fat is about 30%. This puts me in the above average section. Now, for those of you living in the political correct world, I'm just going to tell you that above average is a really nice way of saying that I am obese. I am overweight. I am fat. I mean, if you are going to tackle a problem, you ought to identify it for what it is. 

This brings me to another point. I do not try to lose weight to look good. I am married. I am in my 40s. I don't care what I look like anymore. No. That's not why I work out. I do it so I feel better. I do it because when you work out your body releases more endorphins into your bloodstream, and these are natural morphine-like proteins that make you feel better. I do it to feel good. I do it because I want to be happy. That, to me, is the big picture: to be happy. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Endorphins: God's gift to runners

If we get back to our Christian example, we can consider our body's as temples of the Lord. We use our temples to spread the word. That's the ultimate goal for Christians, to spread the word and get to Heaven. So, in this way, it's our duty, it's our responsibility to take care of our bodies, which are essentially on loan from God. 

So, if you take care of your body, you're naturally going to feel better. You are naturally going to be happier. I mean, it's in the science too. The more you exercise, the more endorphins are released into your bloodstream. These endorphins are your bodies natural morphine. They make you feel good. 

Ever hear of runners high? People, after they run, experience a feeling of euphoria. This is why they get addicted to running. That is why I run. It is to experience this natural euphoria. The reason for it is because of the release of endorphins. 

It's God's way of thanking us for taking care of His body; His temple. 

Here's why I think goals are good

There's a lot of people who hate resolutions. They say that setting resolutions is essentially setting yourself up for failure. You fail, and you feel bad. So, the logic is you shouldn't set them. I disagree with this. In fact, I think this is a stupid notion. The idea that setting goals is bad?

It's almost like telling people that the economy right now is as good as it's going to get, that it's the new normal, and we might as well just get used to it. Of course, then Trump comes along and he tells people to think big. He tells people to expect the economy to improve. He set the goal high. And this sort of optimism was a big hit with Americans and helped him get elected. 

I don't want to knock Obama, but he kept telling Americans that this was the new normal. He did. He said this over and over again. He said that we should just be happy with where we are. This was important, as to obtain his goal of giving everyone healthcare, we were all had to make sacrifices. We all had to make less money. Heck, I went five years without even having a raise. 

Then Trump comes along and told us to think big. I mean, he might not be able to accomplish his goal of creating an economic boom, but at least he's going to try. And if he doesn't try, we will not get there. If he doesn't try, our economy will be blah. You can go back to any point in our history and say the same thing. 

What if the founding fathers said, "A war with England will be too bloody, too hard. If we fight and lose, we will feel bad." What if Ronald Reagan said, "It will be too hard to lower taxes and cut regulations. Look what happened to Goldwater when he said that's what he wanted to do. So, I might fail. Why should I try?"

You see. They didn't think this way. They all set goals, and they set them high. Reagan never fully accomplished his goal. Some people were not better off at the end of the 80s. However, many people were better off. They were better off because Reagan set a goal and he kept reaching for it. He worked hard at it. He kept trying. 

Same with the founders. They did not create a perfect nation, but they tried. They created a country that was better than England. They created a country that future generations could make better. They set the goal, and they kept reaching for it. We are still reaching for it. 

Think of it this way. Life is hard. So, are we just supposed to say, "Well, I might fail, so I shouldn't go to college to better my life?" It's too hard. I might fail. I shouldn't take risks, because it might result in me failing. I might feel bad if I fail. I actually think this is why some people hate capitalism, because some people get shoved under the carpet; some people fail. 

Well, think of it this way. If Thomas Jefferson didn't fight for our freedom, most people would still live in poverty. If the founders didn't set a goal, no one would have healthcare except the elites. Their dream, their goal, was not to give people freedom, because they couldn't do that. Their goal was to create an environment where people could utilize their God given freedoms and accomplish any goals they set. This is what embodies the American Dream; what made it possible. What makes it possible. 

Capitalism is the economic system that came out of the founding dream. Sure some people fail, some people remain poor. But, if you go back to the old system, everyone is poor (except for the elites). Capitalism, at the very least, creates an environment where everyone can at least set goals and aim for them. If they fail, they can get right back on the wagon; they can set new goals; or they can just keep shooting for their original goals. 

Sure, you can and should be happy where you are. But that doesn't mean you should be satisfied. Just imagine if the founding fathers decided to just be content with their lives. Okay, so goals are good. Resolutions are good. If you don't set them, you have no chance of succeeding, of making yourself better. However, if you set them, at least you have a chance. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Keep aiming for your goals

Yesterday I wrote about my opinion on goal setting. We all set goals. Some goals we set we don't even think about it: they just exist. They are just there, lingering over us and we don't even consider them goals. So, you want examples, well, what is the ultimate goal of Christians? It's to get to Heaven. Right? 

So, all Christians have a goal to get to Heaven. So, how do you get there? You try to be like Jesus. Jesus was perfect. Is is possible to be perfect? Is it possible for any of us to be perfect? No. But does that stop us from trying to obtain this goal? No.Well, it does for some people. But for most of us, it doesn't stop us.  We keep going. We keep yearning for this ultimate goal. 

You have good days. You have great days. But I can say with relative certainty that we all have bad days as well. We have bad moments. We have bad days. We have bad weeks. And some of us probably have bad years. But you wake up in the morning, each morning, and you make another gallant effort to be like Jesus so you can get to Heaven. You may not think of it that way, but that's essentially what you are doing. You are reaching for your goal. 

So, why do other goals have to be any different. Last year, for instance, I set a goal to lose weight. I wanted to at least get under 200 pounds. I have many friends who had the same goal, but they made no efforts to get there, to get to their goal. So, at the end of 2016, they weighed the same as the beginning of the year. 

I decided I was going to accomplish my goal. I decided this over the overwhelming pessimism over it by others in my social group. They weren't mean to me, they were just being "realistic." I'm fine with that. My wife, for instance, said that I should just be happy with the way I am. Well, I am happy with the way I am. I just would be happier if I was 199. My asthma would be better controlled. And there are loads of advantages of losing weight. The studies are so overwhelming in this regard I don't think I even need to site any as evidence. It just is. 

So I set this as a goal. And I decide I am going to accomplish it. There were times I was stuck on a certain weight for weeks. For instance, I was stuck on 205 for so long it was frustrating. My wife told me I should just be happy with my weight as it is. My doctor even told me to just not weight myself anymore, that's what he does. I think that was cook my doctor said that. Some doctors are obsessed with weight, and mine tells me just not to bother looking at the scale. 

Still, you can be happy with with your life, but you don't have to be satisfied. So, you just get back on the wagon and you move forward. You begin a new day. And then, after a week of working hard, the scale shows something you like. Then you are happier. You still didn't accomplish your goal, but you are constantly moving in that direction -- or at least you try. 

You may not get there, but it feels good trying. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My opinion about setting goals

I know some people who won't tell you they set a goal out of fear they might not succeed. For instance, I have a friend who is going back to school to get her Bachelor's Degree in nursing, but she doesn't want anyone to know (except for me of course) because she's afraid she might fail. I know she won't, but that's beside the point. 

I'm not sure I agree with this strategy, although it is what it is. On the contrary, I had another friend several years ago who was obese. She decided she was going to go on this diet. To me the diet seemed a little extreme, as it was far more restrictive than the diet I live by. However, it is what she decided to do and I wasn't going to begin playing devil's advocate with her self esteem. 

This was her New Year's resolution. I remember talking to her about it. She was so excited she was giddy. A week later she stopped talking about it. It was never brought up again. She did not lose any weight. As a matter of fact, she is heavier now than she was then. 

I'm not criticizing her. I don't judge other people. I'm just making an example to prove my point. My point is that I believe that you should find a path someplace in between gloating about your goal and keeping your goals a secret. 

Last year I told my friends I was going to lose weight. They all told me I would fail. My wife didn't say I would fail, but she gave me that look of annoyance. I think she gets annoyed because, when I'm dieting, I eat foods that aren't things that she usually buys, such as cottage cheese, cheese sticks, protein powder, and other sources of protein. They are expensive, or more expensive than what she normally buys. 

But that was a year ago. My brother in law was more blunt, as he said: "Most New Year's Resolutions fail, and so you're probably going to fail too." He wasn't being mean, he was just saying. He was speaking the truth. He was being a literalist. He was being a realist. And, as a guy capable of reading another guy's intent, I was fine by it. 

But his words became my inspiration. I was going to prove him wrong. I was going to set an example for everyone else. And I did it. I accomplished my goal. I lost 30 pounds last year. And my wife bought some stuff for me, and sometimes I had to go to the store and get it myself. But I made it through the year. 

I think it was the 9th grade when my English teacher had everyone write a goals on a note card for one year, five years, and 20 years. I don't remember what I put down for the other goals, but for 20 years I wrote: "I want to be a writer."

At the end of the year she passed out these cards again. She asked us to turn the card over and write goals again. We did. For 20 years I wrote, "I want to be a writer." When everyone else read their old and new goals, I was the only one who did not change my goal. Her point was that most of us have goals that change throughout the course of our lives. We all set goals, although, as life moves forward, most of us fail at our goals -- yet we keep going. We set new goals. 

I decided right then and there that I was going to accomplish my goals. I was going to be a writer no matter what it took.  I was thinking about a novel, but I will settle with blogging. I will settle with writing for COPD.net and Asthma.net. 

So, last year I set a goal of losing weight. I was going to succeed no matter how hard it was. I started at 226. I got down to 220. I was stuck there for a while. It was hard to stick to it because I love to drink beer or whiskey and cokes. I decided I was going to have to incorporate this into my diet. I would have to plan and limit. I got down to 193 by November. 

I stuck with it, all the while the pessimism of my wife and brother in law were recited over and over again in that niche in the back of my mind. I used them as words of motivation. 

I don't know if I my point came across in this blog post or not. It was that, I think, it's good to set goals, and it's good to tell people about your goals -- or at least a few people. And, rather than beating yourself over the head when you fail, you should use them -- or at least their words -- as motivation to keep going. 

Rather, you are going to have set backs. You are going to have bad days. You are going to have days when you weight yourself and you gain five pounds over the past week (or in the case of January 1, 2017, ten pounds over the holidays). But then you consider the BIG PICTURE. A new day begins and you hop right back on the wagon. You keep moving toward your goal. 

Monday, January 09, 2017

1973:


In 1973 I was 3-years old. This was the year that a little white inhaler called Alupent was approved by the FDA. It was a rescue inhaler. It gave an asthmatic his breath back in a matter of minutes. Mom could have been given one for me to use. She was not. Instead, I was forced to stay home and suffer with severe asthma. If I got bad enough, she could take me to the hospital.


Okay, so an inhaler might not have been good for a kid. Fine. There were also bedside air compressors and nebulizers. There was Alupent solution. There was Terbutaline solution. There was Isuprel. None of these were prescribed for me, at least not for me to use at home. And understandably so, as they all had a significant affect on the heart.


Alupent was the strongest of them all, but it still had a strong cardiac affect. So, this is probably the reason doctors were afraid to prescribe it, especially for kids. It was too knew. Doctors had too little experience with it. I say this in their defense. This is why I never had access to this kind of medicine as a kid, or at least why my parents weren't given the medicine to give to me.


Okay. So, I don't want you to think I'm faulting my doctor or my parents in any way. The reason why medicine that was available was not prescribed for me was purely based on the information -- or lack of it -- available at that time. That said, let's move on.


Doctors did not send kids home with this kind of medicine back then. They did not give this kind of medicine to parents, either. I do not know why. I can, however, speculate. I bet that it had something to do with what happened in the late 1950s and 1960s. I bet it had to do with the fact that in 1956 the FDA approved the first inhalers.


These included the Medihaler Epi and Medihaler Iso. They contained asthma rescue medicines called epinephrine and isoproterenol respectively. They could give an asthmatic his breath back in a matter of minutes. And doctors were quick to prescribe then.


And they became an instant sensation among the asthma community. And asthmatics stuffed them in their pockets. They stuffed them in their purses. They placed them under their pillows and in the glove box in their cars. They were tiny, hand held devices that were easy to use, even by kids.


When asthma occurred, the asthmatic pulled out his handy inhaler and puffed. He puffed and he puffed and he puffed. If his breath came back, he put the inhaler away. If his breath didn't come back, he puffed and he puffed and he puffed some more.


I bet there were a lot more asthmatics who did this than who care to admit it. And, unfortunately, some of these asthmatics died. One theory is that the spike in asthma-related deaths that occurred in the late 1950s was due to asthma inhalers. So, the experts recommended physicians stop prescribing so many of them. As asthma prescriptions declined, so too did the asthma death rate.


Further investigation gave birth to a second theory. This one stated that it wasn't so much the medicine, but it was the idea that inhalers gave asthmatics a sense of false home. Rather than seeking help when they needed it, they over relied on their inhalers. They puffed and puffed hoping it would work, when what they truly needed to do was seek help.


So, this inspired a campaign where doctors were encouraged to educate their patients prior to doling out prescriptions for these asthma inhalers. And this supposedly worked.


I am sure Dr. Gunderson was well aware of what happened in the late 1950s. I would go as far to bet that he may even have had an asthmatic patient who died. He might have felt guilt. He may have blamed himself. And, for that reason, he did not prescribe the new Alupent inhaler for me when it was introduced to the market. He did not give mom one


I do, however, remember mom taking me to the doctor many times. I remember it was at the old clinic (can't remember name, but will add it when I do) on the corner of U.S. 31 and 8th Street in Manistee, Michigan. I remember seeing the doctor, and then mom and me sitting in an office and the doctor giving mom advice.


Still, mom was not sent home with any rescue medicine. It was not something that doctor's did. If I was older, maybe. If I was an adult, probably. But they did not want to risk their reputations as doctors sending a kid home with medicine that might stimulate the heart.


So, in 1973, a rescue inhaler was approved by the FDA. It was now available for doctors to prescribe to their asthmatic patients. This was a good event for asthmatics, but it had no impact on this asthmatics life for another seven years.

When it's busy, this kind of stuff happens...

So, I enter the patient's room and leave my cow by her bed. I left because her inhaler was in another cow. I walked to the other cow. I opened the other cow. I took the inhaler out of it, and returned to my patient's room. The curtain was pulled around the bed. A nurse was behind the curtain.


I said to the nurse, "Is my cow back behind there with you?"


She said, "No!"




I said, "I just left it there. Where could it have gone?" I said this in a facetious manner, knowing she must have moved it.




She said, poking her head out from behind the curtain, smiling. "I don't know where it is?"




I walked out of the room. I looked at the room number. I realized I was in room 9. The room I left my cow in was room 11. I said, "Well, it seems I'm in the wrong room."




She laughed. She said, "It seems you need to drink some more coffee."




"Agreed!' I said.