A Generational Problem–Childhood Obesity In America

As a woman of a certain age I remember being very active, no I didn’t say athletic. I was never very good at sports, but again I was active. In fact all the children of my generation were. As the first lady of the United States of America has noticed, our children are over weight. The one thing that she misses is that if we look at the parents of the children we will probably see  they are over weight also.

Back in the day children played outside with the kids in the neighborhood. They walked to the neighbor’s house, played pickup softball, stickball and such. There was no cell phone to call their friend, no Skype. You walked to the corner store and to school.

Our eating habits have changed because of convenience. My mother always cooked breakfast, and very seldom if ever did she ask my siblings and I what we wanted. My mother was a consumer science major so she was into nutrition, but all of the other mother’s on my street cooked breakfast also. There were no snack bars, very little sugary cereals, no sugary drink for breakfast, oatmeal was cooked on the stove not in the microwave. Now today our breakfast is eaten in the car on the go. It can be held in one hand and is never made fresh. Sugar is added to almost every product including the bottle water that most children drink. So when our children and/or grandchildren want breakfast we give them what they are familiar with—we ask them what they would like to eat. We watch as they eat bowl after bowl of sugary cereal often adding more sugar to the mixture. In fact most of them are eating on the average of 2 to 3 servings at one sitting.

The media tells us we as a nation are drinking less soda than in the past, BUT it fails to tell us that we are drinking more energy drinks, coffee beverages and other concoctions that are full of sugar or high fructose syrup.

We all say that we microwave and/or buy fash food because we don’t have the time to cook, but is that the reason or are we just dare I say “lazy”. Remember when you learned to read, you practiced while your mother cooked dinner. There was no such thing as a “snack”, candy was a treat, and soda was never with a meal.

There was basically no such thing as a personal trainer to get you in shape. There was no need. You walked to your friends home, you walked to school—even if you rode the bus, you still had a distance to walk, and if it were raining, you ran. As a child you walked to the corner store or rode your bike. Sometimes you even put your younger sibling on the back and rode with them. You ran up and down hills.  But playing has changed, we’ve gone from pickup games, to play dates to  Skyping your play date. We’ve gone from never going in the house, to never leaving the house. Remember when a can of soda was considered two servings, and now it’s one serving.

Things have changed, but we as parents and grandparents can assist in eliminating this problem of obesity.  There can be wholesome meals prepared in less than 30 minutes, and you can purchase wholesome meals for the price of 5 hamburgers, fries and soft drinks.  There can be after dinner family walks, Saturday morning walks around the track at the local school.  There are free workout videos on cable television. As the adult in the house we can monitor what foods come into the house.

The are consequences of childhood obesity are many.  There is heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and much more.  The emotional toll is sometimes harder for children than the health issues.

To find out more about how to fight childhood obesity talk with your family physician or your local branch of the American Heart Association.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Make it as healthy as possible.

Honoring Dad–Happy Father’s Day

Their presence was never in doubt; it was as it should be. They were always there in the neighborhood in every single house. You could see them every day. Most of them left early in the morning while others would just be coming home. Dinnertime was always held around their schedule, and everyone’s presence was expected.

Their jobs were as varied as their personalities. The factories employed some; stores were the employers of others. There were those who worked in the carpentry business and others who could repair any and everything. One even worked for the school system.

These individuals took their faith very seriously even though some did not attend church regularly. They were all Protestants with most being Baptist, one Church of Christ and even one Christian Methodist Episcopal member.

The strong sense of education was instilled in all of them even though some had not received a high school diploma. There were those that had gone to trade schools or learned a trade in the military. Inside this small group was one that had graduated college. Yet they were basically the same. In each of their households college graduates would be produced.

There was the love of sports that could be heard and seen on numerous days. I don’t remember any teams they routed for except the Dallas Cowboys, the Womack High School Leopards and later on the Longview Lobos. If any of them ever played organized sports, I don’t remember– except for the one.

Since it was before the age of central air, the outside was important to all of them. They believed in growing things even though none of them were what you would call a gardener. Some were into flowers, others trees and even others vegetables. In essence our neighborhood was abundant with life that was shared with everyone.

In each house the nightly news was seen. Most were Walter Cronkite followers. In one house though, the Huntley Brinkley Report ruled the news hour. All were very knowledgeable of the world. Voting was not something taken lightly; they took it as an earned honor and did so with gusto and pride. There was not a Republican among them.

Their love of family was always there, but their upbringing did not consist of showing affection in public. They had been taught to be strong, to be the protector, and most of all to be the best provider possible.

Strong Black fathers who headed their households with strength and dignity were abundant on Della Lane in Longview, Texas in the 60’s and 70’s. These gentlemen were good husbands and loving fathers. The last one left us this year. To all of them I thank you for teaching the children of Della Lane what “fatherhood” means. I thank you for leading by example, especially the teacher, sports playing, Huntley Brinkley watching, Methodist one–my dad, Quintell Cooper. Happy Father’s Day and God Bless to all strong fathers.

I lived on Della Lane in Longview, Texas for all of my childhood.  For most of that childhood the neighborhood held the same families, so in essence I grew up with the same people around me.  There were fathers in every home on Della Lane, and as far as I can remember on all of Fox Hill–which is what we called our part of town.  The fathers on Della Lane were: Mr. Robert Adams, Mr. R. T. Scott, Mr. Boyd Bradford, Sr., Mr. Emory McLemore, Mr. Tom Garlon, Mr. Roscoe Adams, Sr., and my daddy, Mr. Quintell Cooper.  All of them are gone now, but they live on in their children and grandchildren because they led by example.

If your father or father figure is still with you, don’t forget to give them a call.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Keep Austin Fashionable–Fashion X Austin: Men

Austin, Texas has the motto “Keep Austin Weird”, but now Austin can add another motto–“Keep Austin Fashionable”.  It highlighted its fashion side showcasing men’s wear at Fashion X Austin: Men.  The beautiful event was held at a private estate in Central Austin where Cadillac showcased its newest models.

The night was perfect for the occasion with the mild summer breeze and beautiful venue. There was great food provided by Catering With A Twist, refreshing drink provided by Goose Island, Deep Eddy Vodka and Rebecca Creek Whiskey, fun people and most of all great men’s fashion.

Below are a few images of the wonderful event.  All photos were taken by Ivan Miller or Occhio Appello.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Lea’s Story–Surviving A Stroke

Can you remember the feelings that you had on a big day–a wedding, job promotion, graduation or whatever?  Remember all the excitement of planning for the day?  Remember not eating or over eating, crying then laughing, too little sleep, drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks by the bucket.  Then there was the slurred speech that you attributed to just being overly tired. Remember feeling that your neck movement felt strange. There was the numbness in your arm and/or leg, but again you theorized that you were just tired.  The stress of the moment.  The dizziness that you felt was because you forgot to eat breakfast or you ate that sugary candy. For some reason you were just too tired, you couldn’t seem to even move.

These and other symptoms could mean that you are having a stroke.  When women of a certain age think of stroke victims we tend to think of our grandparents, but if we think back our grandparents may have been our age or even younger.

LeaThe story below is the story of Lea and the stroke symptoms on one of the most memorable days of her life–her wedding day–September 27, 2013. At the age of 41, Lea was very excited about this day, but as with most brides, she was exhausted from all of the planning and hoping that it would go off without a hitch. She had planned everything to last detail.  She was checking every minor detail because it was her wedding day.  She started feeling a little bit different, but did not know she was having transient ischemic attacks or what are called TIA’s–commonly called mini strokes even though she had them before.  Since she had seen a doctor before, she felt that she was okay. While dressing for the wedding, her speech became slurred, and it seemed her face had dropped slightly and she was just so tired she couldn’t even drink water–it dribbled down her chin. She felt woozy.

After a little rest time, Lea felt better and went on with her wedding.  I can just imagine what she thought of when the symptoms started–people are here, I’ve already paid for the event space, what will people  think, I’ll feel better when I can rest, you know all the excuses that women come up with.  Sure enough she was soon back to her old self, and life was good. The honeymoon would take place later when all of the excitement of the wedding was over, but life was about to take a turn. As her cousin who is a doctor had told her when she learned that she had been having mini strokes, Lea was about to have a major stoke.

One Saturday she suffered a TIA that caused her to lose consciousness while at work.  Again, she went to the hospital, and again they sent her home because she was not showing any signs or symptoms for a stroke.

The next Thursday, she and her husband got up early (about 7:45 am) to hear her cousin who is a baker being interviewed on the radio.  Her husband noticed that her face was drooping and that her speech seemed to be slurred. She even told him she needed assistance to go to the bathroom–she was a bit woozy. Since she already had a doctor’s appointment for 11 am that morning she did not go to the hospital, she just rested until it was time for her appointment–the cost of the emergency room visit was also a factor.

When she made it to the doctor’s appointment, her doctor immediately sent her to the ER at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.  The doctors at the hospital were able to treat her, but she was outside of the 4 hour window from the onset of symptoms to receive the clot busting drug, tPA.  **According to WebMD: guidelines say the drug should be given within four and a half hours after stroke symptoms begin, but this study shows that the earlier patients receive the drug within that window, the better.

stroke FAST 6Lea was able to walk later that day, but she continued to worsen during the night.  Her left side of her body was not usable.   After leaving the hospital, she was confined to a wheel chair for a couple of months, but after intense therapy, and now participating in the BITS program (Brain Injury Transitional Services), she is now able to walk with the assistance of a cane.

Lea is alive today and wants to share her story with others. By sharing she wants others to know the signs and symptoms that she didn’t know.  Lea wants others to learn to talk with the doctors and recognize the FAST signs of a stroke–F–Face, A–Arms, S–Speech, T–Time.  She wants everyone to know that with the onset of the symptoms to go immediately to the hospital because time is of the essence.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.   Think FAST when you have symptoms that may be the onset of a stoke.

To learn more about the signs, symptoms and treatments for a stroke go to:  http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/ .

In Tarrant County, Texas you can also visit the American Heart Association where they have information concerning strokes at:  http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Affiliate/FortWorth/Texas/Home_UCM_SWA007_AffiliatePage.jsp