Doctor, Heal Thyself

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One thing I never thought about before I went to medical school was how much I would be exposed to various illnesses as a physician. I guess you could say it’s an occupational hazard, but it can be downright frightening when you are exposed to some of the most virulent microbes which circulate in communities and in hospital environments. You’re bound to catch something at intervals.

Most people think of hospitals as disease-riddled, and they’re pretty much correct. But there are other places which have the potential to make you too weak to whip a gnat.

One of the worst environments is the pediatric setting, in which walking Petri dishes, also known as children, traipse into the clinic and somehow fling their nasty germs onto you. Before you know it, you are struck with a horrific infection that require an army of medications before you begin to feel human again. I remember spending the majority of my time in every single pediatrics rotation I completed, whether it was as a student, intern, or resident, so ill that I spent my days feeling like I had been hit by a truck, with a pressure cooker for a noggin, fuzzy-brained and miserable from whatever pathogen those little brats had brought to me.

Another microbe-filled gathering place is urgent care, a setting in which I have worked regularly over the past couple of years. Last year, when I was working more shifts than ever, I contracted three upper respiratory infections which progressed to bronchitis, and developed acute gastroenteritis (stomach flu) twice. Thank goodness I always get a flu shot every fall, otherwise I am sure I would have been hit with influenza as well. I see patients who are so sick that they can barely stay awake during their exams, people who have no business being out in public.

I recently saw a young female patient with a 103 degree fever who looked very ill, so I tested her for strep throat and influenza A&B. The nurse on staff asked if I wanted both, to which I replied, “Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised if both tests lit up like Christmas trees.” And they did. She actually had both influenza A and streptococcal pharyngitis. Poor girl.

It’s my duty as a physician to care for others, and I take it very seriously. But I will admit that my attitude towards my own illnesses is similar to the attitude of the Black Knight. My attitude is that it’s “only a flesh wound”, or “just a scratch” when I am ill or injured, so when I finally break down and admit that I am ill or injured, I am definitely in a bad place physically.

I suspect this attitude is similar to that of other physicians. So keep that in mind when you see that your provider is under the weather. We are only human as well.

Should You Be Afraid Of Water Bottles And Cans?

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Sunday, 15 July 2012
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http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-lab-supplement-school/6078-should-you-be-afraid-of-water-bottles-and-cans.html

Unless you have been living under a rock you have heard about the concern over human exposure to Bisphenol A, also referred to as BPA. BPA is an organic compound (chemical formula (CH3)2C(C6H4OH)2 ) which is a colorless solid used to confer hardness to polycarbonate plastic. It is also used in epoxy resins to create and antibacterial coating in the lining of metal cans which are used in the food industry. BPA can leech from containers into the foods they hold and become ingested by individuals when those food items are consumed.

What makes BPA a concern for people is the fact that it is a weak endocrine disruptor which mimics estrogen and has substantial negative side effects on health. A U.S. Government sponsored review of the scientific literature on BPA was conducted in 2006, resulting in the following statement:”BPA at concentrations found in the human body is associated with organizational changes in the prostate, breast, testis, mammary glands, body size, brain structure and chemistry, and behavior of laboratory animals.” I don’t know about you, but such a conclusion is terrifying to me and enough to keep me invested in using containers made of stainless steel, glass, and BPA-free plastic for the rest of my life.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that approximately 93% of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies. Even at low doses, BPA causes diabetes, heart disease, reproductive issues, breast and prostate cancer, low sperm count, altered brain development and obesity. When one considers the long-term exposure to which most of us have been subjected, the implications become staggering and quite disconcerting.

Diseases Linked to BPA Exposure

HEART DISEASE – Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys discovered that men with the highest levels of BPA exposure (measured through urinary samples) were 10% more likely to develop heart disease. It is believed that BPA suppresses a hormone which has a protective effect against heart attacks, oxidative stress, and damage to blood vessels.

DIABETES AND OBESITY – BPA causes an increase in insulin release from the pancreas which causes a reduction in the body’s ability to utilize fat, thus increasing the risk for both diabetes and obesity.

THYROID FUNCTION – BPA has been shown to bind to thyroid hormone receptors, thus disrupting normal thyroid function.

NEUROLOGICAL DAMAGE – Numerous research studies on different animal models have determined that low-dose BPA maternal exposure causes long-term neurobehavioral development in developing fetuses, interfering with brain cell connections vital to memory, attention and mood. Furthermore, BPA potentiates, or boosts, central dopaminergic systems, creating increased sensitivity to drug-abuse induced reward effects.

INTESTINAL DAMAGE – BPA can damage intestinal lining, causing “leaky gut syndrome”. This interferes with the gut’s ability to block toxins and bacteria from entering the body.

INFERTILITY – Chronic exposure to low doses of BPA can impair the growth and function of the egg cells which are involved in ovulation due to the fact that it binds to receptors in the cells which are designed to bind with estrogen.

ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION – A 2009 study conducted on over 200 Chinese workers in BPA factories found that those men were four times more likely to have erectile dysfunction and seven times more likely to have problems with ejaculation.

CANCER – BPA is capable of inducing neoplastic transformation in human breast epithelial cells and has also been found to reduce sensitivity to chemotherapy treatment of specific tumors.

Where BPA Lurks

BPA is far more pervasive than you may ever imagine. Here is a list of items which have been found to contain BPA:

· Water bottles
· Food cans
· Soda cans
· Infant formula
· Wine and Beer (due to fermentation in BPA resin lined vats)
· Recycled paper (including toilet paper)
· CDs
· Baby bottles
· Dental fillings
· Plastic cups
· Hard plastic 5-gallon drinking water bottles
· Credit card receipts at gas stations
· Plastic food storage containers

The Centers for Disease Control have conducted numerous studies which have detected BPA in the urine of over 90% of adults and children tested. Another study which was conducted in 2009 revealed that drinking from plastic water bottles almost doubled urinary BPA levels. Yet another study examined subjects who consumed canned soup during one test period and fresh soup during another test period. After only five days the participants consuming the canned soup had an increase in urinary BPA levels of 1221% compared to those consuming fresh soup.

Guidelines to Minimizing BPA Exposure
Fortunately a large number of food storage containers can now be found which utilize stainless steel, glass and BPA-free plastics. In fact many shaker cups are now being constructed from BPA-free plastic. A handful of bodybuilders who still incorporate canned tuna into their meal plans have the option of purchasing their tuna in foil pouches instead of cans which are lined with BPA.

I realize that the following list is rather comprehensive, so it is up to you to decide how aggressively you would like to minimize BPA exposure.

· Do not drink out of plastic water bottles unless they are BPA-free.
· Replace plastic storage containers with those made of stainless steel, glass, ceramic or paper. If you must use plastic, look for resin identification codes (the number on the underside of containers) 4, 5, 1 or 2. Make sure to avoid containers marked with 7, as these almost invariably contain BPA.
· Avoid purchasing food and beverages which are packaged in cans.
· Wrap sandwiches in paper or cloth.
· Do not drink soda from a can.
· Avoid purchasing recycled toilet paper or paper products.
· Never heat food in plastic or place warm or hot food into plastic containers, bags, or cling wraps.
· Do not put plastic items in dishwasher.
· Avoid contact between acidic or fatty foods and plastic.
· Use metal eating utensils.
· Purchase reusable water bottles and shaker cups which are labeled BPA-free.
· Buy glass appliances whenever possible. (eg: blenders)
· Replace plastic coffee filters with ceramic or metal ones
· If you use a French press for coffee, make sure it is all metal and glass with no plastic parts.
· Wash hands after touching cash register receipts or money.

Keeping Up With Social Media Posts

SelfieSocial media avenues give people the opportunity to network, build business, increase exposure and connect with others all over the world. They are excellent tools for people who are trying to become the next big thing. But I have to file a grievance…if I had all the time in a day to post selfies and inspirational posts, I would, but because I have a career outside of fitness, I simply do not have that luxury. Numerous people have told me that I need to be more aggressive about posting pertinent items on social media channels, but they don’t realize that I am overwhelmed by what I have on my plate. I manage all three websites I have established, as well as my blog site, Twitter, Instagram, and three Facebook pages. Add to that my work schedule, photo shoots, video shoots, writing projects, training clients, food prep, etc., and I have little time to take alluring pics of myself all day. When I do take selfies at the gym or at work, people think I am being vain. So I am hit from both sides. Either I am not being aggressive enough, or I am self-absorbed. Pretty frustrating.

I also have to admit that I have a crappy camera on my phone which refuses to deliver consistently great images. I get so tired of having the wrong angle, poor lighting, or having a reach that is insufficient. Apparently, the teens and 20-somethings seem to have figured out all the best camera phone angles, and spend considerable pockets of time cropping, adding films and effects, text, borders, etc. to make their posts incredibly eye-catching. I have to admit that I am a bit envious of such skill. What cracks me up is that I have recently seen articles in major women’s fashion magazines on how to take a good selfie, indicating how much this phenomenon has become a common means of connecting with the world.

It’s pretty funny how some haters actually give ME a hard time about taking ANY time to snap selfies, often scolding me and telling me to “get back to work” or “be productive”. I guess if you’re over a certain age or if you are a career professional you aren’t allowed to avail yourself of social media avenues and post selfies? I may not be the best at it, nor do I have a ton of time to perfect the images I post, but I will do what I can to stay current and connect with the world while also honoring my responsibilities outside of cyberworld.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

SOCIAL MEDIA: A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD?

Original post can be found at: http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-business-fitness-modeling-and-showbiz/9773-social-media-a-double-edged-sword.html

Social Media LogosIf you are serious about competing and want to build a career in the fitness industry then you have probably been exploring the various social media platforms and trying to build your name and brand. Of course, you want to push for the most followers you can get, as well as build a fan base which boosts your credibility in the eyes of supplement companies. As your numbers grow, your name will become more well-known and you can claim – without bluffing – that you have inspired thousands of people.

However, with more followers come more problems, most commonly the jerks and the haters. I heard an interesting comment from one of my friends today, which was: “The more successful you are, the more haters you have.” I have to admit that whenever I have to deal with a hater, I am rattled by such energy and will never understand how people can go out of their way to spread negativity. I guess you can’t please everyone, and of course there are going to be those who are jealous of your physique and your success. This is when the blocking feature on numerous social platforms can and should be employed. Don’t bother trying to appease such spiritual leeches. They are not worth the trouble.

Some fans and followers (thank goodness, it is the exception and not the rule) develop a distorted perspective in which they believe that they are connected or bonded to the fitness personalities they are interested in. This quickly turns into an obsession, with the fan holding onto a sense of entitlement which can be dangerous. If such a fan feels disregarded, a cascade of psychotic behavior can ensue.

Another dangerous and disturbing situation found in social media circles is the impostor syndrome. There are individuals out there who may claim to be you, and will use your likeness, your name and your titles to build fake profiles. I am sure you have worked your ass off to get to where you are now, so it is time to do due diligence and make sure that no one is taking your good name and wearing it. The small bit of flattery which may be at play is completely eclipsed by the creepiness and the invasion of pretending to be someone else.

Thankfully, the vast majority of people are level-headed and rational. However, as your numbers grow, you must be aware of the issues which may arise and take measures to protect your name and reputation in the industry.

The Importance Of Branding

426525_530792570284517_479689802_nThe fitness world is packed with people who are trying to make their mark, so it has become increasingly more difficult to stand out in the crowd. Let’s look at the common characteristics among fitness people who are successful. They are all incredibly fit, attractive, photogenic, good with performing on-camera, and have a wide appeal to consumers. But successful fitness people have one very critical quality which they share: they know the importance of BRANDING. It is no surprise that the pool of beautiful, fit people who are scrambling for stardom is considerably large, which makes it vital for fitness people to establish something unique and marketable if they want to rise to the top of the heap.

How does one approach such a task? The first thing to do is to define your main audience. You can look at trends from social media to see who is following you and target the largest group. Then you need to determine what it is about you that grabs that target audience, whether it is your age, your gender, a specific training style, a distinctive look, a great product, etc. Once you have done that, you can use hashtags on social media to describe your unique qualities and to spark the interest of your target audience. If you have a certain key phrase you use all the time, USE IT! It is astonishing how effective using a key phrase can be in promoting your personality.

Make sure you have a website which is updated regularly, and direct your followers to that website whenever possible. Though having a slick website is a nice bonus, it is more important to have SOMETHING for followers to go to, even if it is a free site like Wix. Many people will just shy away from fitness personalities who do not have a site established. There are several website template sites which are decent and which provide all the basics you need. Once you have established your brand, you can always upgrade to a more complex or detailed site.

On another note, I am always surprised by how many people want to establish a foothold in the fitness industry, but do not have business cards. I cannot tell you how unprofessional you look when you are trying to network, only to tell interested parties that you do not have a business card to hand to them. Business cards are pretty inexpensive these days, and in some cases free (Vistaprint.com is one site which offers free cards), so GET ON IT!