Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Should Passionate Health Care Leaders Want To Eat Better?

As a health care professional, should I be held to a higher standard for personal health?  As I type this blog entry, a half empty bag of red, white and blue peanut M&M’s sits on my desk and the yellow one on the cover of the bag is smiling at me.  The good thing is that I’ve been sharing them.  The bad thing is that I’ve been eating the majority and have since passed the recommended serving size at least a couple times.  So the question I want an answer to is, should I- or better yet, could I pull myself to eat better?  After all, one of my unknown nicknames in college was “Snackers,” largely due to my ability to put away a family size bag of Doritos and soda or other obscene serving of junk food at a single 30 minute or less sitting and act like nothing happened.  Granted, that was half a lifetime ago where I was nearly 40lbs lighter, exercised almost daily and had the metabolism to match.  Today, with 3 kids, occasional long work hours and only working out at home when I get 5 minutes instead of at a gym, things are a little different, but it’s not like I’m overweight.  Or at least that’s my opinion.  My BMI would say otherwise.   But as anyone who is on top of their game in their industry, don’t they all do whatever they can from every angle to stay on top?  If that’s the case, should all people who work in the health care industry strive to achieve excellence in personal health? 

On one side of the coin, people say obesity is a disease (and the United States is the second most obese industrial country in the world).  On the other side of the coin, some think and say that obesity is not a disease and that it’s largely the result of lack of exercise and overeating.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, actually classifies obesity as a behavioral risk factor.  So essentially, as a health care professional, on both sides of the coin, am I being detrimental to my industry (not to even mention myself) by not being as optimally healthy of a person as possible?

On June 11, 2015, the “Healthy Self” campaign was launched by the Obama administration.  Among many things, this campaign is a joint effort between the White House, and the Department of Health and Human Services to promote healthy living.  As of today, I’m going to participate in this campaign.  It may not be right of me to ask or say that everyone in healthcare should be on a path to personal excellence in health, but as I strive to be on the top of my profession, I think it’s a step in the right direction.  Part of this pledge is to post any activity that shows commitment to being healthy and using “#HealthySelfie” on social media.  You can follow my #HealthySelfie posts on twitter by finding me @therealablakeh. 

To learn more about the Healthy Self campaign, visit this link: http://www.hhs.gov/blog/2015/06/11/invest-your-healthy-self.html     

Health care is a right, not a privilege

I've been away from my blog for some time- a little over 3 years actually.  As much as I enjoyed writing, I took time away to focus on the things that really matter.  The birth of my first son and recently, his twin siblings.  I did recently discuss a topic a couple of months ago that brought me back to blogging and here it is below.
A post from July 7, 2015
We’ve all heard this before, and, I agree: health care should be a right, not a privilege.
Recently, a decision was made by the U.S. Supreme Court (King v. Burwell) to uphold the payment of premium tax credits to qualified people. The argument was over the wording of the statute providing eligibility for tax credits only to those people in states with state-operated exchanges. The court declared this claim to be invalid. The outcome of the 6-3 vote is that the Affordable Care Act may provide subsidies to people in every state, not just those in exchanges set up by the states themselves.
Photos in front of the Supreme Court of the United States, on the day of the King v Burwell Decision
In front of the U.S. Supreme Court, on the day of the King v. Burwell decision.
What many of us may not have heard of before is where to go for the best care, at the best possible cost and what is that place called? The answer? An FQHC. FQHC stands for Federally Qualified Health Center and there are nearly 1,300 such places nationwide.
Also known as community health centers, FQHCs, including Community Health of South Florida Inc. (CHI) have continually been rated as the most cost-efficient and effective health services program in the United States. The centers charge for services on a sliding-fee scale that is based on patients’ family income and size.
FQHCs provide comprehensive services, have an ongoing quality assurance program, are governed by a community-based board of directors and must serve an underserved area or population. Just because they must work for “underserved” areas, don’t think you can’t find one in your neighborhood.
federally-qualified-health-centers map
FQHCs have been around for 50 years. Many are accredited by the same agencies that survey hospital systems, FQHCs care for people with health insurance (and those without insurance) and even utilize some of the latest technology, including electronic health records.
CHI and other FQHCs will remain steadfast it our commitment to meet the needs of the communities we serve.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tax break for proving to be healthy...

So i've noticed a trend in the way I blog- it's not exactly every day.  But when i do get so motivated to put finger to keyboard, something comes out and seems to be that time again.

Here's a crazy thought- Why not give a tax break to people who can prove that they went to see their primary care provider for an annual check-up?  Say $1,000 (or whatever magic number it should be to motivate people to do it) back on your taxes if you prove that you went to see your primary care physician who also used a certified electronic health record to document your visit?

And how about another $1,000 if you also went to see your dentist and got your teeth cleaned?

Now my idea may have been discussed in some think tank, television show full of pundits or enlightened circles that I have yet to hear about, but that doesn't matter.  Prevention is key.  And like it or not, the health care system in America is changing and to some degree, it will be based on outcomes.  Show me that your disease is being managed.  Show me that your cholesterol is in control.  Show me that you don't have any more cavities.  Show me that you lost 15 pounds in 2 months.  Show me, show me, show me.  Well shit.  Show me the money!

It's expensive to shop healthy, eat organic, and drive by an entire meal that can be handed in a bag in under 3 minutes for $2.99.  Why don't we reward the people who are not being a burden on the health care system?  What i've heard very little about is what steps will be taken to encourage the behavior of people to want to eat right; to exercise regularly and to not abuse substances- and face it, therein lies probably one of the biggest problems with managing health.  The desire to want to change.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene & Healthcare Cost in America

So I could run down a list of several health related issues connected to having good oral hygiene, but I'm not going to do that.  I hope that you all know this little bit of news, but if not, do some research.  This has less to do with having a bright smile, keeping your teeth, or offending someone with halitosis; but more with helping to maintain good, physical health.  Studies show that gum disease may contribute to diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and premature birth.  Ok, so I know that I said I wasn't going to mention any of the health issues linked to your pie hole, but if you honestly need to hear more than that, then the web is literally at your fingertips.

For those of us born in America around the 70's, we've been fortunate to have fluoride introduced into our water supply.  Yeay for us, right?  Well, yes.  YEAY for us.  I urge you all- don't take this lightly.  This is probably the reason why many of us don't have the dental issues (and some health issues) our parents and grand parents have/had.  In an industry where prevention is key to reducing health care costs, I'd say that we really got it right when this was done.

If we truly desire to reduce American health care costs, we need more thought around similar preventative measures; not treating disease after the fact, but reducing the potential for disease to begin with.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Go after it like the plague (lost 15 lbs)

So it has been a while since my last blog post- but that doesn't mean that I've been sitting around scratching my butt.  By keeping up with my healthy eating plan and changing up my workout, believe it or not, I've lost about 15 pounds.

I know what some are thinking- i wasn't fat to begin with..blah, blah, blah.  Until 5 minutes ago, I would have agreed with you- which was before i looked back at my "before" photos.  :-)  Yes, I took before photos, and no, I dare not post them for eternity on the world of ones and zeros.  I actually did keep up with my 120 day plan and due to travel, work and the holidays, have only missed out on about 3 solid weeks of not working out.  Oh, and then after 90 days, my diet started going bananas.  Back to eating junk food every other day along with my 6 meals a day worth of healthy stuff- but HEALTHY JUNK FOOD.

What exactly is "Healthy Junk Food?"  Well, I did eat candy bars, pizza and chips, I do drink soda...  and on occasion, I might admit to partaking in drinking something other than water.  But I think that I've found the key.  The two white devils- Sugar and Salt.  I stay away from them along with their good for nothing cousin, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  So on everything that I buy now, I constantly check food labels for these three things.  For me, there's almost no way around the sugar or salt, but if it has HFCS, I don't buy it.  I run like the plague.  Granted, my grocery bill has gone up, but let me also mention that my waist size has gone down from almost a size 36 to a 32.  I'm now lighter than I've been in a decade.  I might not have reached my goal of slashing my body mass index in half, but I've got more energy, am less stressed, have more muscle, and am in better shape that I've been in for at least 7 years- and I did reach my new year's resolution of giving the Wife the best body that she has ever seen on me (with one month to spare).

As I ended my last post- EAT BETTER, I'll say this.  SET A GOAL.  Whatever it is, write it down.  Read it every other day to remind you what you want.  And then go after it like the plague.

ps- this is crazy, but one of my favorite things to do now is to look at the nutrition label on everything that I buy and eat.  I even read them on things that I don't buy.  And somehow I find entertainment in putting the crap back on the shelves.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lets Do Our Part To Lower The Cost Of Healthcare! (part 2)

So on occasion, I get a response from those who read my blog.  When I wrote, "Lets Do Our Part To Lower The Cost Of Healthcare!" (part 1), I heard from a new friend who said that they were a part of those who would never be able to do so much to control their weight due to genetic predisposition- and this is what she heard from a physician.  So I thought about this remark related to my post and it made me think that my original request of asking for everyone to do something to reduce obesity might have been a bit to grand.  To open-ended if you will.  Well, I am an advocate of baby steps-  find out how a change may or may not affect the greater whole before going head and feet first (most of the time anyway).  So I have a new request/comment/suggestion that should be a step in the right direction.


Researchers at Harvard state that men who switched 127 calories of carbs (think potato chips) with 1 ounce of nuts, lower their heart disease risk by 30 percent.  Now I don't think I'm obese, overweight, or at risk of heart disease, but dammit, I don't want to get there.  I don't want to be anywhere near there if I can do something about it.  So guess what I've started to do?  - GONE NUTS -

Since the beginning of August, I've been on a healthy eating plan.  One that I hope will assist me in reaching a goal of cutting my Body Mass Index (BMI) in half within 120 days.  To be honest, I'm not a fan of the BMI rating as it doesn't account for muscle properly, but you have to measure something, and where I'm trying to go, this may be helpful.  So what about this eating plan is different from what I used to eat?  For a week and a half, I've had 3 meals and 3 snacks a day and cut the junk out of my routine- with the exception of 1 cheat day a week- Saturday.  So no sodas, no chips, cookies, candy and random snacks- all things I used to eat almost every day.  I would validate to myself eating all that mess by working out and then would wonder why I have reached a plateau in dropping pounds.

In only 10 days of healthy eating, I honestly do "feel better;" replacing bad food with healthier options.  I've been pretty good so far, but I'd be fibbing if I were to say i wasn't looking forward to Saturday.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lets Do Our Part To Lower The Cost Of Healthcare!

Everyone knows that obesity is a major problem in America.  What a lot of people don't realize is that having a few extra pounds may result in other chronic conditions (congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension, stroke) that negatively impact quality of life.  As we struggle on a national level to lower the cost of health care in the United States; I wonder, what are you doing to pull (or loose) your share of the weight?

Earlier this year, I promised my wife that i'd give her the hottest body that I've ever had- and why not?  I like to exercise, and after all, she deserves it...right?  Other than the fact that I live in Miami and it's part of the culture to look your best, when I made that remark to her, I only had in mind physical attributes and wasn't considering other necessities, such as maintaining a healthy cholesterol level and finding ways to reduce stress.  Deep down, I wanted to physically return to my workout heyday of roughly a decade earlier when my metabolism was a bit faster, I practically had a cot in the gym and a job that didn't require more than 40 hours a week.  

So back to wondering what I (and hopefully you) are doing to increase the quality of life in America on an individual and national level.  I remember a time when water boarding could be conducted on my abs- I used to eat about five times a day and I remember taking in a considerable amount of protein.  Since then, I haven't followed that program.  I'm now reading a book that is encouraging me to go back to those times.  For anyone who knows me, I love eating junk food.  As a matter of fact, one of my college roommates used to call me "snackers."  Since this book, I've started to eat healthier (passing buy 1 get 1 bag of chips), changed my workout plan a bit and I'm hoping that it all works out in my (wife's) favor.

At the end of all this, I say, DO YOUR PART TO REDUCE THE COST OF HEALTH CARE IN AMERICA.  (sidebar - did you know that health care costs are the leading cause of american bankruptcy?)  Obesity leads to several other health issues that put a strain on our health care system and your body.  For most of us, obesity is an issue that we can control, but it takes some willpower.  Think of the impact we can make on the cost of health care in America if all the diseases associated with eating crap and not exercising were reduced!