Tag: Health

With Discipline Comes Friction

I read a short article this morning about Tom Brady and other various GOAT contenders that made a great point. Brady said that he’s not the most gifted athlete on the field… just the most disciplined. Someone told a story about him playing in a celebrity golf tournament in early spring. He was spotted running wind sprints in the parking lot before the tourney. When asked what the hell he was doing, his reply was “trying to win a super bowl”.

That attitude is what 90% of the population lacks. There isn’t a person on this planet that doesn’t know what needs to be done to lose weight and/or get in shape. We simply lack the discipline to do it. It’s hard. When everyone else at the table is having a cocktail, it’s hard to ask for iced tea. It’s hard to order just a salad without that creamy dressing when everyone else is ordering burgers and pasta. When you’re sore and everything hurts from yesterday’s workout, it’s hard to go back to the gym. That’s the friction that bombards us daily.

Friction is the enemy of progress. Friction is why my weight ballooned up. I couldn’t say no. Working out sucks when you can no longer do a pull up or run a mile, so why bother? I know I could change it, but it’s going to take a long time. It’s hard to picture six, eight, or ten weeks out before being able to get that pull up. You picture the discipline it will take to get the workout in every day for all that time… and it just seems like too much. And suddenly you’ve skipped a day. and then three. And we’re right back where we started. I already blew my diet today, so I may as well order pizza and start again tomorrow. I’ve been starting again tomorrow since August. Friction is a killer.

Tom Brady’s throwing coach Tom House has observed, “What separates these elite athletes, the Hall of Famers, is that they try to get better every day not by 20 percent but just 1 percent.”

“When you’re disciplined, with it also comes friction, because you’re not just doing what everyone else is doing. But if you’re willing to pile enough of those 1 percents together over 20 years, they can turn into seven super bowl rings”.

We’re on day five of the great reset. Down four pounds. Solidly in ketosis. Last night provided some serious friction. I had an event that I’d scheduled way before the reset that was all about good (non diet) food, wine, and desert. Skipping wasn’t an option. Normally this would derail me completely, but I’m determined this go-around to find a sustainable way forward. I worked out hard prior to dinner. I limited my calories pretty significantly during the day. And then I enjoyed the evening. I ate the food (and desert) and drank the wine. I fully expected to pay for this setback.

This morning I did not want to step on the scale or check my ketones. I guessed I’d be plus a pound and be knocked out of ketosis. But… ignoring reality is what got me here in the first place. I closed my eyes and stepped on the scale. And… down another pound! I checked my ketones and low and behold, still in ketosis! I’m not sure how that happened, but I’ll take the win.

Is it a 20% win? Nope. More like a 0.25% win. But it’s progress. It’s motivating. Ten weeks of work to get that pull up feels slightly closer. Definitely not skipping the workout today. Somebody needs to figure out how to bottle that feeling. Because that feeling, that glimmer of hope is what makes a diet and exercise plan successful. It’s not eating a magic combination of foods or buying the fancy piece of exercise equipment or gym membership. It’s the continued, small incremental wins against friction that make or break your march towards the goal.

I’m not on the downhill slope yet. In two weeks we have Thanksgiving. Travel. Family. Food. Lots and lots of food and drink for multiple days. I’m worried. I’ve clawed out some tiny improvements… I don’t want to go backwards. The next two weeks will be a hard core push to keep the discipline and make gains as a hedge against T-day.

Friction is a cold hearted bitch.

Bro, Do You Even Keto?

Crisis, noun

a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.

As I’ve mentioned before, my health has been in a downward spiral for a while now. I can’t point to any particular reason, other than general sloth. In September of ’20 I hit my goal weight and climbed Mount Whitney. I felt fantastic. All health markers were exceptional. I decided to take a “timeout” from the strict diet for a short period. Fast forward 14 months and I put all that weight back on, plus a few. While I’m generally physically active, as the weight increases my frequency and intensity of activity drops. Basically, I feel like crap. Tired all the time. Sore after every attempt at working out. Depressed because I can barely run a mile, when a little more than a year ago I was comfortably doing 8-10 mile trail runs at 7,000 feet. It’s truly frightening how fast you go backwards.

Some weeks prior I started trying to turn this ship around. Increased workouts, trying to run a bit again, and half-assed paying attention to my calories. And then a number of days ago the ship ran aground. I wasn’t making much progress. And then an event happened that hit me hard. In a nutshell, vanity and embarrassment at how I look prevented me from doing something fun. That was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. I finally had the courage to step on the scale again and measure BP, HR, and blood sugar. [cue blaring klaxons and flashing red lights]

I don’t remember the exact statistic, but over a three year period, something like 95% of all diets fail. That’s why the experts generally don’t want you to “diet”, but rather make small, incremental healthy choices that are sustainable over the long term. Unfortunately, in crisis management you don’t have the luxury of long term planning. You need to make choices to solve the immediate, critical issues in front of you. When the crisis is over you can revisit plans and recalibrate your long term path forward. That’s where we’re at today… crisis management.

So, say hello to my old friend the ketogenic diet. I really didn’t want to go back to keto. I was on it for almost two years. I found it very restrictive and do have some concerns about long term heart health. Back in my peak health I was just about to do some advanced calcium tests to get the true picture of my heart, and then the pandemic hit and everything was shut down. So I really don’t know what the full impact of almost two years of keto was.

But, for me keto worked. I don’t think it has anything to do with ketogenesis – there are too many studies showing equal weight loss and health results with other diets. I don’t believe insulin/sugar/carbs/inflammation, etc… are the great drivers of fat loss/gain (note – when I started keto I went hard down that rabbit hole and was a rabid convert. Like the old joke, how do you know if someone is vegan/keto/paleo/Crossfit? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.) Don’t misunderstand – I think controlling blood sugar is massively important. But you can achieve the same blood sugar control with exercise and being lean in most cases. Keto is not a magic bullet for this… but it can jump start the process.

Keto worked (in my opinion) because it forces you to pay attention to macros which lends itself to being aware of calories. High protein and fat is much more satiating, which helps curb cravings. And when you really can’t eat/drink carbs, those in-between meal snacks tend go away. Keto, for those of you who haven’t gone down that road, has another benefit. When you first enter ketosis, for a while you tend to dump a ton of water weight. The result is seeing the number on the scale plummet rapidly. You see progress and that’s self-reinforcing to keep going with the diet/exercise. Positive feedback loops are a good thing.

So here we are. Crisis management. Keto. Officially day 4. Peeing like a racehorse. In ketosis (via blood test). Down 3.6 pounds (mostly water weight). As an interesting anecdote, I am a believer in teaching your body to be fat-adapted. We evolved cycling between high protein/fat and then long periods of plant based carbs and intermittent fasting. Our ancestors had to go long fasting periods, running down antelopes, fueled only by stored fats. When I first attempted keto it took several weeks to just edge into ketosis and several more weeks of dropping in and out before I was solidly in ketosis. Throughout the next year and a half I took three or four calculated one week breaks from keto (but maintained the same caloric intake). Each time I restarted, it took shorter and shorter amounts of time to get back into ketosis. Even after a 14 month break, I was (barely) back into ketosis after only a day and a half. No fasting, just high fat/protein. Your body remembers what to do. I find that fascinating.

  • Side note for those who don’t know. Generally “in ketosis” means blood ketone levels greater than 0.5 mmol/L. After a few days I’m hovering around 0.8. At my peak 14 months ago I was generally between 1.5 and 2.3 mmol/L daily.

I’m not sure what the long term eating plan is. I originally quit because of how strict keto is. Eventually, I want to be able to have a beer now and then. My favorite food is Mexican. I freaking love potatoes. Nachos are my kryptonite. None of those are compatible with keto or my current weight. When things are back in control, I’ll need to figure out a lifestyle plan that works. The weight cycles are so incredibly unhealthy, I can’t keep doing it. I’d love to hear what you diet experts feel is a sustainable eating plan?

Besides, when the supply chain / economic collapse / zombie apocalypse finally hits, anyone not fat adapted is going to struggle. As the movie Zombieland stated, there are 53 rules for surviving. Number one is cardio. And you can’t run from zombies if you’re feeling woozy from lack of carbs. But that’s a post for another day.

You’re Going To Be Disappointed

Wow, that’s a very pessimistic title. I didn’t mean it to be. I also didn’t intend this post to be negative, although it is. I wasn’t trying to wallow in self loathing or pity, even though it may seem like it. I’m just trying to keep it real. To be honest. Ok enough of that, here’s the backstory.

Lately I’ve gathered quite a few new readers. That’s a good thing. But for reasons I still don’t understand, virtually all the new folks are connected in some way to health, fitness, and diet. My most liked and read posts are the ones somewhat related to diet and weight loss. How I need to diet. How I need some discipline. How I need to get back in shape. Why can’t I lose weight, diet, or get back in shape? There’s a clear theme going on. I honestly don’t understand why those are so popular? It clearly feels like what people want to read are inspiring stories about recognizing you need to make a change, starting the journey, sticking to it, and showing success.

And here’s where you new readers are going to be disappointed. I’m good at recognizing I need to make a change. Not so good at executing on those plans. For reasons I can’t identify, I have failed miserably at getting my health back on track. I probably need years of psychotherapy or possibly electroshock therapy to understand my inner demons, but I’m too cheap for that. I’ve done great in the past at making a change. When I lost all my weight the last time, I literally decided the day before a huge Christmas party to start keto. I resisted all the good food and drink at that party and never looked back. Boom, hit my goal weight pretty quickly and felt great. Same when I decided to run. I simply went for a run one day and never stopped.

And then eventually the wheels came off and I fell off the wagon, hard. Here I am back at square one. Except this time I can’t seem to get the mojo back. I’ve been starting my diet/exercise routine tomorrow – for about six months now. Sound familiar? Reminds me of the old joke – “quitting smoking is easy, I’ve done it dozens of times”. I don’t know why I haven’t been able to be like Nike and “just do it” like I’ve done previously? I’m happy. I’m in a good place with work. Been loving my hobbies and sports. Spent lots of time this summer with family and friends. I feel like I’m busy and productive in a good way. Life is good. I just can’t seem to put down the fork.

So I see new readers come on board via the health route… and I ignore what they like and instead write about political crap and vaccine conspiracy stuff. And nobody reads those posts. But how do I write about health related stuff when I’m not actually doing what I said I’d do? If I was a politician or a CNN contributor I’d just make it up. But I don’t want to do that. I actually haven’t felt like writing much about politics lately as it’s depressing and I worry it makes me sound like an angry QAnon guy. I pretty much wore out the ginormous motorcycle stories, so that avenue is limited. In a nutshell… I think I’ve run out of words.

It’s clear why the diet and fitness industry is worth a gazillion dollars. Everyone’s looking for that magic jumpstart. Just eat this one food, just do this one exercise and the pounds will melt off! I know that once I start, success builds on itself and the motivation just gets stronger and stronger. I know what to eat. I know enough exercise physiology to make the changes I want. I understand the health risk factors for covid because I deal with them every day at work. I know exactly what I need to do. I just can’t seem to start.

So, there we are new readers. You came for some sort of insightful reflections on my health journey. And got rantings on bureaucracy, motorcycles, and vaccines instead. So what’s next? Hopefully I’ll be writing a post in a few days detailing in agonizing detail my new knee pain because I’ve managed to run three days in a row. Or that I’m feeling a little woozy due to lack of calories, but my ketones are off the chart! But if you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s probably because I had to go buy new ski pants because I can no longer button the waistband on my old ones. And nobody wants to read about that.

Wait, did you hear that Susan Rice and Obama are secretly running the government behind the scenes? The way I heard it is…

Tony Soprano: I think it’s time for you to start to seriously consider salads.

Bobby Baccilieri: What do you mean?

Tony Soprano: What do I mean? I mean get off my car before you flip it over, you fat fuck.”

Let’s Go Brandon

“Let’s Go Brandon!” It’s currently trending on twitter. I think it’s hilarious and an absolutely perfect representation of where we’re currently at as a country. If you’re not familiar with the phrase, stop being selfish and get yo’self plugged into the social medias. ‘Cause you ain’t gunna hear this reported in the mainstream news. Anyway… if you’ve watched any large sporting event in the last few weeks, a curious event has been taking place. The crowds, tens of thousands strong, have been erupting into long chants. And what are they chanting? “Fuck Joe Biden!”.

Pro sports, college sports, doesn’t seem to matter. Once started, chants go on for quite a while. Not sure I’ve ever seen that before for a sitting president. Not once, not twice, but every single weekend at multiple events. It seems to be gaining momentum.

What’s this have to do with Brandon? At a recent NASCAR race, driver Brandon Brown won. As he was being interviewed, the crowd in the stadium broke out in an enthusiastic Fuck Joe Biden chant. The NBC reporter tried to cover for the expletive filled chant by saying “As you can hear the chants from the crowd, ‘Let’s go Brandon’,” she said. LOL

I think it sums up perfectly the current mood. Literally everything this administration has done or touched has been an unmitigated disaster from day one. And it’s getting harder and harder to cover for the continuing errors, missteps, poor decisions, and incompetence. Each attempt to explain away the disaster of the day is more and more doublespeak, deflection, and finger pointing.

So “Let’s Go Brandon” perfectly fits. Of course that’s what the crowd was chanting. And if you don’t believe it, then you are clearly part of the right wing disinformation machine. And you probably watch Fox News.

Meanwhile, my digital scale indicated that I’d lost a significant amount of weight. Far more weight than the previous scale. I reject any characterization of the number displayed as being inaccurate. I’m not going to get into the technical details of the scale, I’ll refer you to the manufacture for that. I don’t want to get too far ahead of the data. Perhaps we should circle back on the topic. With this tremendous weight loss, all indications are that I can clearly afford to eat nachos tonight. Besides, I went for a run yesterday which means the calories are paid for so the net caloric cost is zero. Works for me. Let’s Go Brandon!

Dodged A Bullet

One of the unique aspects of hospital work is the concept of being “floated”. I have my home floor where I was hired. But the hospital has the right to send me to any floor they choose in order to cover staff shortages. I guess the theory is that an RN is generic and doing nursing shit is the same on every type of floor right? Doesn’t matter that I have no idea who the providers are and many of the medications on that floor are something I’ve never seen. I have no idea what the policies are for that specialty or even how to find the supply room. Imagine being in marketing and working day after day on a particular product launch. You show up to work and your boss tells you to have to go work on a different product team today. After all, marketing is marketing, right?

Anyway, I showed up the other day and checked the schedule. The dreaded words… float to the covid floor. Sigh. Naturally nobody wants to work the covid floor, so everyone has to take a turn. Unfortunately due to the spike in cases in my area, coupled with huge staffing shortages, getting floated to the covid floor is becoming pretty common. So off I went to the hot zone.

Twelve hours of putting on a heavy plastic gown, gloves, N95, surgical mask, and face shield, going in the room to take care of business, then stripping it all off. Then doing the same in the next room. Then going back to the first room. Then the next room. Over and over and over again. These folks are sick. For the most part not much bothers me medically – but watching people struggling to breathe when there’s little I can do, is just hard. It makes for a long day.

Fast forward a few days and I woke up and just felt… off. I did a bunch of errands and then some yardwork. By early afternoon I had zero energy and a splitting headache had set in. The next morning, no change. No energy, fatigue, brain fog, and a dull headache. Classic covid symptoms. Crap! The China virus finally got me. How ironic that I’ve been writing about breakthrough cases in vaccinated people and now I’m going to be one of those statistics. In my mind I replayed all my patient encounters. Did I get sloppy with my PPE? Did I forget to wash my hands and then touched my face? I was adjusting my mask when that guy coughed on me, maybe that was it?

We have some people coming to visit and an upcoming trip, so I figured I better get tested just to confirm. Insurance will pay if you’re willing to wait 2-3 days for your results. If you need immediate results it’s out of pocket. So I plunked down my $142 and got the swab via a drive through testing center. I went home and started making a list of who I may have come in contact with so I can tell them they might have been exposed.

Negative. Negative for covid and influenza. Whew. And this morning I woke up and felt fine. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was a cold? Too many days of poor sleep? Didn’t drink enough water? Too many nachos in one sitting? Weird.

Our world has certainly changed. I never used to think twice about feeling off for a few days. Now, the slightest sniffle and we all worry that the dreaded virus finally got us. We’ve been brainwashed into becoming a society that fears normal human interaction. Half the population endorses authoritarian/totalitarian measures of control. The other half is ready riot in protest.

I live in a weird dichotomy. I live my life as normal as possible, without fear. My odds of grave injury in a motor vehicle accident are higher than being struck down by covid. I’m going to eat in restaurants, enjoy time with friends, and see family. Yet, in the back of my mind are images that not everyone sees. A few days ago I watched a man be wheeled into his wife’s room for a few minutes to say goodbye – before we pulled her off oxygen support. Another covid statistic. That’s real. It’s not a meme on Facebook.

I miss normal.

Going To The Big House

A random round-up of random things that randomly caught my eye

  • Scrolling through my extensive sources of information (twitter) I saw this headline: “Michigan Nurse Arrested for Selling Fake COVID-19 Vaccine Cards”. My first thought was this is going to happen more and more often… bring on the electronic vaccine passports! Because, you know, security and all. My second thought was, how is a covid vaccine card even a legal document? How is it illegal to sell a randomly printed piece of paper? My vaccine card only has one of the lot numbers and no signature/site listed. Anybody could have filled it out. It’s a horrible “official” document. Naturally I had to put my mad search skills to work to see if it really is a legal document. Turns out there’s about a hundred obscure statutes that could be used to charge this person. The most likely one is:

    The unauthorized use of of the official seal of the CDC or DHHS is a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1017. This federal statute makes it a crime to wrongfully or fraudulently affix the seal of any federal department or agency to a certificate, document, or paper, and likewise makes it a crime to use, buy, sell, or transfer such a document knowing that it’s fraudulent. A violation of this statute is punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to five years.

    So, that nurse is definitely going to the big house. (slang: A state or federal prison) And she should, if for no other reason than she was selling them via Facebook Messenger. Seriously? She’s not exactly a criminal mastermind.

  • I’ve gone to the golf driving range twice in the last week and hit really, really well. (for me that just means my shots mostly went up in the air and sorta straight) I’m convinced it’s the new shoes. I went with a natural toe box style to let my toes spread out more. They’re very wide. Plus, they’re very bright. They looked more subdued on the website pictures. There’s a definite clown shoe vibe going on. Oh well. If John Daily can dress the way he does, I can wear clown shoes.

  • Take a minute and watch this video titled “Every Sport a Bowling Ball“.

  • I just finished reading “Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic” by Dr Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the FDA. Quite a bit of behind the scenes information related to the inner workings of various federal agencies. It’s a little dry, but worth the read. The sad revelation is that it’s really pitiful how inept the US government is at doing most anything. We’re the freaking technology center of the universe and for most of the pandemic hospitals had to resort to faxing case count data to the CDC. The size, scale, and budget of the United States government is so ginormous it boggles the mind, yet we can’t get the simplest, most basic things right. Sigh…

  • If you’re not already, you need to be following Alaska’s “Fat Bear Week” contest. A weekly bracket competition to find the fattest bear of 2021. The winner will be declared October 5th. My money’s on bear 480, Otis.

  • Tweet of the day: In response to a post about why General Milley didn’t jump across the table and murder Representative Gaetz during yesterdays hearing… “Milley is 5′ 8″ and obese. The only thing he’s murdering is a plate of nachos”. I did actually laugh out loud at that one. Take a look at the picture – definitely not the same regal image the media carefully cultivates. Meanwhile, I’m going to think about nachos all day.

  • I’ve decided to abandon my idea of being a retirement lifestyle coach. I’m stealing an idea from another site and creating a “Contrarian University”. You’ll be able to sign up for classes, listen to podcasts, and receive personal instruction on how to be a Contrarian. I’ll be raking in the Quan. Just as soon as I create some content.

Song of the day: Living Colour- “Cult of Personality” Live in Auburn 1988

Crossing The Minefield

Because I have some time on my hands, and I’ve got my tinfoil hat shaped just right, I’m going to add an update to my previous (poorly worded) post on leaky vaccines. This one is about risk assessment. I think we’d all agree that each individual should be able to make an informed decision about the risks of getting or not getting the vaccine or booster. In a perfect world we’d see all the pros/cons and decide what’s right for your particular scenario. But what if you weren’t told all the info?

(adjusts hat) Ok, here we go. It’s starting to look like after your first dose of the mRNA vaccine you go through a roughly two week window of a highly immune suppressed state. The reasons why are not clear yet. The most likely cause seems to be that the mRNA vaccine has to turn off the toll-like receptors so the vaccine can enter the cells without being attacked by the immune system. Other options are a fall in lymphocytes and neutrophils that are seen three days post vaccine. Regardless of cause, it appears likely that you are in a highly immune compromised state for several weeks after your first dose. This does not happen after the second dose.

The impact of this is a significantly increased death rate post first dose. This was seen clearly in the Israel data and now in the Palestinian data since they are just now getting their first doses. Going back to Israel, we see the same corresponding rise in death rate following the booster.

Just to be clear, people are NOT dying from the vaccine. They appear to be briefly in a highly immune compromised state and then get covid or a cancer spreads, etc…

So to steal a brilliant analogy – we have some percentage risk by not taking the vaccine, based upon our age, comorbidities, fitness, etc… We can mitigate some of that risk by taking the vaccine, but in order to do that we have to first cross a minefield. You’d probably want to know what are the odds of stepping on a mine, right? Well, the first study on this shows a 46% increase in suspected covid during that two week period. Even the Pfizer data itself shows a 40% increase.

Don’t you think it would have been good to know that you’d briefly have a nearly 50% increased chance of getting covid and massively increased odds of being hospitalized for several weeks after getting your vaccine? The tradeoff for running across the minefield is a vaccine that is eventually 56% effective (not the 95% we were sold).

Again, I’m not arguing that you shouldn’t get the vax. I think most folks 50 and older, or folks with comorbidities should. BUT, don’t you think folks should have been advised that for 2-3 weeks post first dose you need to self isolate as much as possible to reduce the risk of getting covid? I blissfully went back to work after my first dose, including working the covid floor! And why in gods name would we be pushing the vaccines during peaking cases? From a big picture, public health standpoint, you’d want to be vaccinating during lulls in case rates.

Which brings me back to the previous post. What if we’ve created a bunch of vaccinated asymptomatic superspreaders who are inadvertently causing a spike in case rates? And then in response we push/mandate vaccinations and start boosters. We just potentially put millions of people into that two week risk window with covid on the increase and superspreaders walking around… The hospitalization and death rates will be interesting follow this winter.

Come to think of it, my tinfoil hat is feeling a little snug. Time to take it off and go do something productive outside.

Did We Screw Up?

Sit back and relax for a minute. I have a short tale that might worry you a bit. One that, if true, would prove to be one of the greatest public health blunders in history. It’s about a vaccine. Wait, wait, don’t go… this isn’t an anti-vax tirade or a rant about mandates. It’s a story about what happens when people rush to make a decision without waiting for all the data.

A question – what happens if we created a “leaky vaccine” and pushed it out to billions of people?

Here’s the background. I follow a number of statisticians. Yes, I know I’m a geek. But I like data and charts and graphs. I admit much of the stats are above my head, but I took just enough statistics to semi-sorta understand what I’m reading. Anyway, I first heard about the idea of leaky vaccines from something that Joe Rogan said on his podcast. He, of course, was immediately blasted for pushing tinfoil hat conspiracy stuff. Which, of course, made me want to read more about it. Enter the statisticians who plot and analyze the data and ignore the politicians and media wisdom.

What you want is a sterilizing vaccine. One that creates an immune response powerful enough that it instantly attacks and wipes out the virus in the host before it can replicate and spread. What you don’t want is a “leaky vaccine” that produces an immune response sufficient to protect the host, but isn’t able to prevent a buildup of viral load or transmission. Every day it’s looking more likely that we’ve produced a pretty leaky covid vaccine. This is generally ok for you, the vaccinated individual. Your immune response protects you from getting really sick. But the population as a whole…

Here’s the worrisome part. The data is showing that when a vaccinated person is hit with covid, their viral load and shedding of virus is equal to that of unvaccinated people and lasts for days. And the best part? Because they have an immune response that starts working to protect them, they are generally asymptomatic. Are the lightbulbs starting to go off? In our mad rush to push the vaccine without sufficient testing, we may have just created a bunch of vaccinated asymptomatic superspreaders, happily walking around and infecting the unvaccinated and those unhealthy folks (vaccinated or not) who managed to dodge the bullet during the first covid wave.

Israel, one of the most vaccinated nations on the planet, got hammered with a second wave. Similarly the UK and many highly vaccinated cities in the US. The hospitals are being overrun in many cities, including my own. In many places it’s far worse than the first covid wave. We’re seeing tons of “breakthrough” cases – vaccinated folks who get covid. Unfortunately many of those folks have multiple comorbidities, which is why they got the vaccine in the first place. Their outcomes aren’t great (but still better than without the vaccine). Get vaccinated so you can safely visit your immunocompromised family and friends! We need a vaccine passport so we can safely shop and go to restaurants! The potential irony would be humorous if it wasn’t so tragic.

It’s a catch-22. The vaccine we rushed into the population is clearly good for the individual, but may be bad for society as a whole. Politicians and public health officials panicked and pushed out something without knowing the potential long term impacts. And now that we’re facing skyrocketing case and fatality rates again, the panicked response is boosters! We need boosters in every arm ASAP!

Never mind that the FDA advisory panel voted 16-2 AGAINST authorizing the booster for everyone. The CDC ignored that and did it anyway. The two top virologists at the FDA resigned over the politicization and handling of all this. Yay! Trust the science bitches.

It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback, I get that. But what makes science all sciency, is a willingness to continually examine the data, re-evaluating, questioning, and rethinking your hypothesis if results weren’t what you expected. Unfortunately politics and fear forced us to throw all that out the window. Politics and vanity will keep anyone from saying out loud, “uh guys, we might have screwed up?” Maybe this is a big nothingburger. Maybe in a couple years this will be a minor, annual flu-like annoyance. Or maybe we’ll be on booster #8 and wondering why we keep getting so many mutating variants? My tinfoil hat fits me just fine, thank you.

Ivermectin Killed The Dinosaurs

The virus which shall not be named for fear of offending someone presented the United States with a unique inflection point. We were thrust into a position in which we could have fundamentally altered the health of this country. And rather than doing the right thing, the combined government and public health officials collectively shit the bed. Let me explain.

The US population is not generally healthy. We’re fat. We don’t exercise. We eat like crap and massively overconsume the crap that we do eat. Here’s a fun statistic – the United States ranks 46th in life expectancy. 46. Cuba ranks higher than the US. The number one cause of death in the US is heart disease – an almost completely self-induced problem that can be somewhat reversed with diet and exercise when discovered. 700,000 people died of heart disease in 2020. More than any other cause, including covid and cancer.

And what puts you at risk for dying of covid? Age, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and smoking. Way back at the beginnings of this pandemic it seems that the thing to do would be to scream from the rooftops that if you’re fat, out of shape, smoke, or have diabetes this disease is going to kill you. As Dean Vernon Wormer said, “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son”. Wage an all out campaign to inform the population that changing your lifestyle is no longer optional if you want to survive long term. But we didn’t.

Oh sure, there were a few passing mentions of comorbidities putting you at higher risk but we certainly didn’t make a huge deal of it. Instead we opted for punishing everyone. What we should have done was quickly isolate the elderly, keep schools open and keep the economy running. We should have made the central message, broadcast daily, that if you are fat, have the diabetes, hypertension, or smoke you should isolate as much as possible if you want to survive this. Hammer home that folks who are overweight and hypertensive, should they wish to mingle with the public, need to be wearing a properly fitted N95 mask. Not the useless paper ones or that nasty bandana you’ve been wearing for a month without washing. No N95, no vaccination and you will get covid and will probably die. Why are we afraid to tell the truth?

But that’s not what we did. We cratered the economy. We isolated everyone including the young and healthy, prolonging herd immunity. Rather than keeping gyms open and telling people that you need to get outside, exercise, and improve your health if you want to survive… we kept everyone isolated inside. The result? 42% of adults reported gaining weight. How much? An average of 29 pounds.

We gambled on the holy grail of vaccination to magically protect everyone, including those most at risk. There’s no doubt its made a huge difference in moving us more quickly towards herd immunity (since we never let the young and healthy develop natural immunity). But mayors and governors had to start opening up to have any chance of saving their economies. And the vaccine has given those who have risk factors a false sense of security. And sure enough, a more virulent version of covid appeared and now even those who’ve been vaccinated are getting sick. The vaccine isn’t a magic shield. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do. It will dramatically lessen the chances of the infection turning worse. This is why everyone should get the shot, even if you’re “healthy”. It gives you a fighting chance of keeping any symptoms mild and not ending up hospitalized. But if you’re overweight and in poor health… it may not be enough. And that’s exactly what the data shows. The overwhelming majority of people hospitalized and/or dying of covid right now have the classic comorbidities, vaccinated or unvaccinated.

So why are our public health officials not screaming at the top of their lungs about this? Are we afraid of offending people? Are we more worried about “fat shaming” than we are of people dying? For those of us who have the risk factors (and I count myself as one of them), we know what we look like the mirror. I’d rather my self esteem take a hit if it’ll force me to go for a run, than die because someone was afraid of telling me I need to drop a few pounds.

It’s time for health care providers and public health officials to be brutally honest. Stop with the silly mask charade. Form a modern equivalent of the old Presidents Council on Physical Fitness. Since we’re already printing money, how about a tax write-off for gym memberships and exercise equipment? Government subsidies to insurance companies that offer deep discounts on health insurance premiums if you can keep your BMI, blood pressure, and A1C at or below healthy limits?

Crazy talk, I know. But sadly we’d rather pit citizens against each other and ostracize folks from participating in society if you don’t take the jab. We’re scolded like little children, being told that “patience is wearing thin” and “this isn’t about freedom”. Officials are afraid to talk about natural immunity from covid because it might detract from their only message – 100% of citizens must have the vaccine, no exceptions.

Covid is going to turn endemic at some point. I think you’re foolish not to get the vaccine, but that’s your personal choice to make. We are all going to get Covid eventually, that’s a certainty. The only question will be how many factors do you have going in your favor when you do get it? Personally, I want to have had the vaccine and I want my weight, blood pressure, and A1C to be the best I can get ’em given my age. I’m just as guilty as the next person of being lazy about that. Not anymore. I’m enjoying life too much right now to lose it because I couldn’t put down the nachos.

Clearly the government isn’t going to do the right thing for its citizens. It’s up to you. So as Inspector Harry Callahan famously said, “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”

P.S. The title has nothing to do with anything. I saw it on the internet and loved it, but couldn’t think of anything to relate it to.

The Secret Is To Be Still

I’ve made a decision to play more golf. As I’ve mentioned before, golf has been the one sport I simply can’t seem to get comfortable with. So, I’m going to make the commitment and put in the effort to become average. While becoming “average” doesn’t seem like much of a goal, it is when you’re struggling to get past awful. I’m not looking to shoot par, or join the senior tour. My desire is to be able to be paired up with any group and feel comfortable that I’m not going to embarrass myself.

So with this new plan to get better at golf, I made a little resolution to challenge myself and play golf three days in a row. What’s the big deal with that? Well, it meant going out as a single and probably being placed with a group of strangers. No only does that challenge my awkward social skills, it means embarrassing myself in front of strangers with my lack of golf skills. For you extroverts maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal. For us introverts, trust me it is.

Day one and I forced myself to go to the course. I thought about just going to the driving range, but made myself go into the pro shop and say the dreaded words… “do you have any slots open for a single?” Oh, happy days – not only did they have room, the course wasn’t busy and I was able to go out by myself! It worked out perfectly. I forced myself to overcome social anxiety and got to relax and play without anyone watching. It was a very enjoyable experience and I actually played ok. Probably because I wasn’t in my head and simply enjoyed the course.

Day two and I was much less anxious. I drove to the course and… the parking lot was packed. I nearly turned around and left. But to my credit, I forced myself to head to the pro shop and say the magic words. There wasn’t going to be any solo golf this time. I was paired with a couple of young guys. They were laughing and joking around. The pro clearly knew them. He said, “I know these two look like knuckleheads, but they’re good guys”.

As we went out to the first tee, they certainly didn’t look like golfers. Late twenties, early thirties maybe. Both looked like ratty skater dudes. Flat billed ball caps. T-shirts. Baggy shorts. Lots of tattoos. I thought to myself that they couldn’t be very serious about golf, so at least I won’t be too embarrassed. As we were waiting to tee off I noticed they were both wearing flip-flops. How committed a player could you be in flip-flops? The group in front of us moved on to the green so I stepped up to tee off. I actually managed to hit a decent shot. Not terribly far but dead center in the fairway. One of the guys yells “Steady Eddy, that what I want to see all day!” I was quite pleased with myself.

Now this first hole was a par 4, slight dog leg to the right, 300 some odd yards. I’m waiting for my two partners to tee off, but they’re just chatting away. I’m waiting. And waiting. Finally the group ahead clears the green. Skater guy number one steps up in his flip-flops and crushes a massive drive that lands on the green. Skater guy number two steps up in his flip-flops and also crushes his drive, landing just a few feet short of the green. I was speechless. Whatever stereotype I had of what a golfer looks like was blown away. I’ve never seen, in person, someone hit a golf ball like that. It’s one thing to see a massive drive from the pros on TV. But you have no appreciation for how far 300+ yards is until you see it in person. And these freaking guys did it in flip-flops. Why am I so obsessed over the footwear? Because I just bought a pair of fancy new golf shoes. Nothing like feeling foolish standing there in my shiny, brand new, fancy shoes while these guys crush it looking like they’re on their way to a beach party.

I did ok on the second hole, and then the nerves of playing with these guys got to me and the wheels came off. They were super nice and very supportive. I realized they would normally play back on the pro tees, but were playing up on the closer tees for me. They gave plenty of encouragement, but it was clear I was holding them back from their normal pace of play. Eventually they asked if I would mind if they jumped ahead a hole to play a bit faster. Of course I didn’t mind as it worked out well for me and them.

Before they left we shook hands and said the standard pleasantries. But one of the skater dudes did leave me with a bit of advice. He was quiet for a bit and then said, “You know, I think most problems with the golf swing can be fixed by just being more still”. And off they went.

I don’t know if that’s good golf advice or not… but it certainly felt right. It was an interesting experience. A wise, tatted up skater dude who crushes 300 yard drives in flip-flops. The next day I got rained out, so we’ll have to wait to see what the next round brings and if stillness is the secret. One thing is certain. I’m clearly trying too hard. Maybe I’ll put the new shoes on eBay.