Sunday, September 23, 2007

Blog 015 - sunsets

Over twenty-five years ago I was sitting in a lecture in medical school listening to a professor talking about something. I don't remember what the subject was. But, I’ll never forget that in the middle of the lecture he put up a slide of a fragile, yellow flower poking up from a city street. The brightly colored little flower was in stark contrast to its barren concrete surroundings.

The professor asked us to look at the picture and consider that there is beauty all around us in the world, even if sometimes we have to try hard to find it. He pointed to the flower and said "See, here through a crack in the asphalt in this urban jungle, a tiny flower struggles to press its face against the sun - beautiful!"

He was right. It's easy to forget these days that we live in such a wonderful world - there is so much ugliness and despair that one can become overwhelmed. Seeing the good things sometimes takes an effort.

I live 3 minutes from the ocean by bicycle. You might think that means I'm at the beach every day, but I'm not. I often find that I just “can't find the time.” This translates to “I don't always make the effort.”

When I’m feeling gloomy I find the time for a bike ride to the beach. I sit on the sand and listen to the sound of the waves; I watch the sea birds swooping and soaring over the water, and I marvel at how the setting sun paints the sky in brilliant red and orange hues.

It doesn’t make the troubles in my life or the world go away, but the experience helps to restore me. It gives me the strength and the will to go on trying. It reminds me of the eureka moment I had when a professor showed a picture of a simple yellow flower stretching its petals so hopefully toward the sky.

This weekend I thought I’d share my bike ride to the beach with you by capturing some of it with my video camera. I've posted a compressed file on this blog and at youtube. It’s also on the video page of the Fitness Rocks website. I'll be sending it out as a podcast later this week. Some of the detail was lost in compressing the file to upload it, but I think it’s still pretty. I call it "Sunsets." Send it to a friend who’s feeling down.

I hope it brightens your day.

Monte Ladner

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blog 014 - what's your HEART score?

On Saturday September 22, 2007 on Fitness Rocks Podcast 064 I will have an interview with medical researcher Dr. Arch Mainous from the Medical University of South Carolina. We will be discussing his work in developing the HEART score which is a simple scoring system designed to assess ten year risk of coronary heart disease based on self-reported data. I have reproduced the HEART score for men and women in this blog post so you can get your own score. This is not intended as medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Regardless of the results you get with this test, you should discuss them with your personal doctor.

HEART Score for women:

Age (years)
45 - 49 - 0
50 - 54 - 2
55 - 59 - 2
60 - 64 - 2
History of Hypertension - 2
History of High Cholesterol - 2
History of Diabetes - 4
Smoking Status
Never - 0
Former - 0
Current - 3
Body Mass Index
<30 - 0
>30 - 1

Estimated 10-year risk - Total Points
<10% - 0 - 6
10 - 20% - 7 - 9
>20% - 10 - 14

HEART Score for men:

Age (years)
45 - 49 - 0
50 - 54 - 0
55 - 59 - 2
60 - 64 - 2
Family History of Heart Disease - 2
History of Hypertension - 1
History of High Cholesterol - 2
History of Diabetes - 2
Smoking Status:
Never - 0
Former - 0
Current - 2
Physical Activity:
Often or very often - 0
Sometimes - 0
Seldom or never - 1

Estimated 10-year risk Total Points
<10% - 0 - 2
10 - 20% - 3 - 5
>20% - 6 - 12


Do not draw any conclusions about your individual risk of having a heart attack or developing heart disease from this score without first discussing the results with your personal doctor. I encourage you to print out this blog and take it to your next doctor's visit. Check out Fitness Rocks Podcast 064, Saturday, September 22, 2007 to listen to an interview with Dr. Mainous, the medical researcher who developed the HEART score.

An abstract of Dr. Mainous' article can be found by clicking this link to the American Jounal of Cardiology.

Monte Ladner, M.D.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Blog 013 - the deadly burger

In 2007 the number of Americans who are obese kept going up, according to the Trust for America’s Health. I’m not surprised.

My oldest son graduated from college last May with a degree in Math – 3.87 GPA in the Dean’s Scholar Program at the University of Texas at Austin. He’s a really smart kid, and I’m very proud of that.

I bring up my son in this discussion of obesity because his next stop in life is culinary school at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He is not, by the way, overweight. My enthusiasm for fitness has been embraced by all of my kids. I’m very proud of that, too.

He spent this summer living at home with us and working as a chef at a local restaurant in our hometown on Cape Cod. He works a shift from around 2:00 PM until close to midnight five days a week. He is home during the day and he watches cooking shows on television. I normally never turn the television on, so this is a new thing for me to have this background noise. I don’t like it.

Yesterday, I was walking through the living room and stopped briefly to see what he was watching. A woman who I recognized as one of the more popular cooking stars was preparing something she called “Butter Burgers.” I felt compelled to watch.

Two beef patties with a huge dollop of butter mixed with herbs smeared between them, wrapped in bacon and then slathered in mayonnaise. The television audience was wild with enthusiasm for this lethal burger.

Every year Americans get fatter. Being obese is associated with significantly higher risks for all chronic diseases, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The Trust for America’s Health claims that in a public opinion survey 85% of Americans stated that they believed we do, in fact, have an epidemic of obesity. So, there is a real public health problem, and people apparently know about it.

But, you can still become rich and famous in America teaching people how to make Butter Burgers. What am I missing?

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Monte Ladner