Weight Loss Surgery Connection to Suicide?

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At the bottom of the television screen, during virtually every newscast, there is now a crawling parade of headlines informing us of everything from the latest world disasters to which celebrity is hooking up with whom.

Recently, one story caught my eye: “Weight loss surgery connected to increased risk of suicide.”

One might assume this to be counterintuitive, reasoning that if someone’s lifestyle was so unhealthy that he underwent successful major surgery to change it, he would be so relieved with the outcome, that the resulting emotions would be happiness; possibly even jubilation.

Yet dig deeper.

First, the details; according to a study, troubled individuals were about 50 percent more likely to try to take their own lives after they lost a lot of weight with surgery.

“While we are clear and confident about the medical benefits of weight loss, especially through weight-loss surgery, I think we’re not as attentive to the potential psychological benefits or harms of it,”

said Dr. Amir Ghaferi, director of bariatric surgery at the Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Healthcare System in Michigan.

Some of the correlation might be obvious.

[Read more…]

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Please Set Cell Phone to “Nag”

There is a fine line between inquiring with concern how you might assist someone in her diet efforts; and braying persistent, repetitive, noisy, constant, loud-mouthed inquiries as to whether she knows what the heck she is doing.

The former is labeled “being supportive,” the latter referred to as “nagging.”

nag-nag-nag

As examples, supportive is gently and sincerely asking, “How can I help you with your diet?” Nagging is, “How’s that diet working? Should you be eating that? Wow! How many calories in that? Haven’t you had enough?”

Although well intended; polite support might still carry the risk that the answer is, “leave me alone.” However, it is a slam-dunk assurance that a series of harassing, pushy questions blasted in Gatling gun point-blank, rapid-fire succession promises one will receive that same reply, albeit with exclamation points and several choice expletives spicing up the retort.

Supportive infers the receiver knows what to do, but might periodically need assistance.

(Don’t we all?) Nagging implies he is an incompetent, ignorant, bumbling boob — adrift without constant instruction; and since pushing someone who desires no assistance (rightly or wrongly) is a guarantee that the end result will be no place fun; might as well avoid the journey completely.

However, if requested — and therein lies the rub — nagging might have value, or so believes a website whose goal is to keep one on the straight and narrow. Requiring nothing more than a cell phone, internet connection, and a willingness to be annoyed from afar, it can send text message reminders to keep you on task.

Deciding to inspect further, I created a profile.

“How much do you weigh?” queried the on-line form.

This presents obstacle one; do I answer honestly? Even the DMV thinks I weigh 147 pounds; must I now confess to a nameless society of cyber-food-cops my most personal number? On the other hand, I am requesting guidance; if I “creatively address” the issue, recording a more complimentary weight, it might not assist me. Already, the stress is enough to cause me to eat. Brushing fear aside, I bravely answer with truthfulness: “185 pounds.”

“What would you like to accomplish?” asks the questionnaire.

Uh, duh. From the pull down menu, I select “Lose Weight.” [Read more…]

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Fun Stuff About New Year’s Resolutions

One might think that since my professional life orbits in the galaxy of helping people change their habits for good that I might be a fan of New Year’s Resolutions.

Alien monster making resolutions

One might think that. However, one would be wrong.

Don’t misunderstand; I believe that any time one wants to make a change for the better it’s perfect. Should the passing of another year be the inspiration for that alteration, I’m all for it. However, the swing side of this first-of-the-year obsession is that each January, everyone and their brother is mouthing, “This year, I promise to…” – yet, they don’t. Blah, blah, blah. Moreover, the whole “New Year’s resolution thing” provides cover for the whole “over indulgence thing” that runs from each October through December. After all, one can fall back on the rationale; “I’ll get back in control next year. Give me another serving please; don’t be shy with the gravy.”

Anyway, I’m riding a little high on my horse. I apologize. Bottom line is that the best time to make a resolution is when you’re actually committed to doing it, whether that is January 1, March 22, or October 5. As the ad says, “just do it.”

Yet, as long as I’ve taken us this far down the road, let’s drive on and see what there is. [Read more…]

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Asking the Right Questions for a Healthier Life

I love thought puzzles.

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One might describe them as the verbal version of an M.C. Escher painting; they seem to make sense at first blush but something is not quite right.

Play with this one:

Statement #1: Statement #2 is true.

Statement #2: Statement #1 is false.

Try and figure it out. It messes with your brain, doesn’t it?

Not quite the same, but again requiring some thought, let me put forth a theory.

Do you agree that when asked a question, you have no choice but to answer it?

See what I did there. I queried and you answered, proving the theory no matter what you said. Quite likely, you didn’t answer out loud, but at the minimum your inner voice responded and demonstrated I was correct, right? (Gotcha again!) If you replied, “Yes” to the initial question, you obviously agree with the premise. Conversely, even if your response was, “No, that’s a stupid, lame idea,” it still substantiated the hypothesis because you answered the question. The only way that the notion could be proven wrong was if you blanked out after reading the question – which is obviously not the case or you wouldn’t be still reading. See, no matter how we dissect it, it rings true.

That’s because we are “hard wired” to answer questions; there is no “free will” in this venue.

[Read more…]

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The Obesity Paradox

It takes all kinds.

People can (and will) believe just about anything they put their feelings to. From the criminally tragic, such as Holocaust Deniers, to the hopeful yet silly – that Elvis Presley is still alive and living in Ottawa running a nightclub, there is no shortage of conspiracy theories or reality-free propositions available for one to latch onto.

Consider the “obesity paradox.”

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In a nutshell, the concept promotes the notion that being at one’s ideal weight is unnecessary. Actually, it goes beyond that and says that — based on studies — people who are classified as overweight (or even moderately obese) seem to have better health and mortality outcomes than “normal” or “thin” folks.

The concept is controversial (ya think?) but its foundation lies in the hypothesis that extra pounds might actually help defend one’s health, especially when it comes to certain chronic conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and high blood pressure. The “paradox” was first floated in 2003, where researchers were puzzled by the fact that heavier patients suffering from heart failure seemed to do better than their thinner counterparts. So, two plus two became five and it was deduced that having extra weight might actually be good for you.

There’s an old adage about data: “Figures don’t lie; liars figure.”

[Read more…]

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