The Obesity Epidemic and My EHR Muffin Top

Cynthia Bailey, MD|May 26, 2011

I wasn’t intending to write a post on this subject but I just read the NY Times on line article  ‘Less Active At Work, Americans Have Packed On The Pounds' and heard the 'call to action'.   The article had been up for only 1 day and there is already over 250 comments!  We are troubled by the impact our modern life has on our health, me included.

The idea that our jobs are more sedentary is one more piece to this obesity epidemic puzzle.  My job is no exception, and it's been extra sedentary with the new EHR (electronic heath records system) conversion of my previously ‘paper’ medical practice.  Our sedentary jobs are just one part of a bigger and worrisome cultural picture though.  As I see it our entire lives are more sedentary and convenient, our food is so easily had and filled with sugary and fatty things that we crave, we’re bombarded with come-ons to buy more unhealthy food, taken up escalators and elevators, want parking spots right in front of our destinations, averse to walking our errands… and we relegate physical activity to 30 or 50 minute workouts. Add to this a March post in the NY Times titled ‘Fat-Stigma Spreads Around The Globe’ and it’s all even more troubling.  According to a new anthropologic study there is “a new globalization of fat stigma” including “places where plumper, larger bodies traditionally have been viewed as attractive, according to a new report in the journal Current Anthropology”.  We’re all going to really beat ourselves up now!  Not only does extra weight impact our health, our cultural scorn will cause additional emotional pain, yet our modern life so easily leads to weight problems. I think this obesity epidemic is our biggest cultural lifestyle issue and tackling it as an individual can be overwhelming! Me and my EHR muffin top are recommitted to doing something about it and I think we all can.  The way I see it, we should make changes were we can, one step at a time (no pun intended).  Things like saying 'no' to the come-ons for foods (and drinks) that are 'bad', walking our errands more, taking the stairs, eating the 'right' things, working out more-starting where we can and moving on from there. I've had 2 months of stress with my medical office electronic health record (EHR) conversion misadventure and slipped off my healthy living practices...... and my 52 year old body has this shocking EHR muffin top to show for it! This past weekend I decided enough with the stress excuses, I'm back on my 'program' and I  feel physically 200% better already. Like most of us, my job is minimally physical, I love my job and it’s not going to change, so I'm tweaking the rest of my choices.

Cardio: I’m determined to do 2 spin classes or 1 mile lap swim workouts  each week and one brisk 50 minute walk (that’s 3 50 minute cardio sessions).

Functional Fitness: It’s gardening season so I’ll get some functional fitness in too on the weekends.  Gardening gives me a great leg workout.   An added bonus is my 3 consecutive hours of ballroom classes once a week which are now pretty ‘frisky’ and give me a moderate work out.

Flexibility and Strength Training: I’m also determined not to miss either of my yoga classes too, and if I can get in one more practice at home I get extra health points (click here to read why yoga rocks your fitness).  I'm also lifting weights and doing squats once a week (which are not my favorite).

Diet: It’s back to the Alkaline Mediterranean Diet (click here to read about it) with tight control over that teeny tiny top part where the treats fit in (and that glass of wine has to squeeze in there too, even if I live in the wine country!).

Join me!  Spring is a great time to renew our commitment to our physical health.

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