Monday, August 5, 2013

The making of an action hero pt22

Entry #21 I grew up in the out-of-doors. Whether it was running wild in the woods behind our house in Vermont or hoofing it across the sparsely populated mountainsides around our home in North Carolina, I spent a significant part of my youth amusing myself in nature. I fondly remember my times with boy scouts, repelling down a 60 foot cliff in the fifth grade, horseback riding and swimming at camp Raven knob, And fishing at my scout master’s property after a night of fireside antics in high school. I learned to swim on the shores of Lake Champlain with the Red Cross. Every summer my parents took us on a vacation that included friends on the shore of Lake Michigan and the isle of palms. I treasure the memories of swimming, body surfing, canoeing, and rafting on those trips. It didn’t feel like it then, but even through college I was involved in lots of activities, groups, and projects. I didn’t always fit in, but I always had something to do. So, I tend to look back at boy scouts as one of the major influences on my childhood. The values I learned, the skills I acquired, the friends I made contributed to making me who I am today. My personal differences with some of the BSA’s policies have kept me from taking part in scouting as an adult. You can love something as a child, treasure that memory, and still question the source of that childhood joy. This leads me to a recent article I read in which I discovered that the Scouts banned kids with BMI indexes over 40 from attending the national jamboree this year. You can find their policy here: The following quote makes perfect sense to me: “The national jamboree is a physically demanding experience. West Virginia is called "the Mountain State" for a reason, and our new home, the Summit, offers a very different environment than Fort A.P. Hill. The 2013 National Scout Jamboree is "on foot," with all participants and staff walking/hiking everywhere; there will not be bus circuits or personal vehicles on site. While a lot of the site is level, there are regular changes in grade as part of everyone's daily schedule. The Staff Village is approximately a mile away from Twelve Points, the flag plaza in the Summit Center; staff will make that hike, or one that is similar, at least once and probably twice every day, and participants will be hiking even more. A number of our activities require more stamina and fitness too—think climbing, rappelling, rafting, mountain biking, and skateboarding. It is essential that all participants and staff are prepared for their Summit jamboree experience.” So the location and type of activities will be physically demanding. There won’t be alternate forms of transportation, Check. In other words, you better be able to walk, because that’s the only way you’re doing anything while you’re there. That being said, I have issues with the following. “The Jamboree Medical Staff will review all applicants with a BMI of 32.0–39.9 and consider jamboree participation based on 1) health history, 2) submitted health data, and 3) recommendation of the applicant’s personal health care provider. For applicants with a BMI >31.9, a recommendation of “no contraindications for participation” by the applicant’s personal health care provider does not necessarily guarantee full jamboree participation. The jamboree medical staff will have final determination of full jamboree participation. Applicants with one or more of the following risk factors may be requested to provide further documentation, including cardiac testing, pulmonary testing, or further information from their physician to ensure the applicant’s ability to participate. • Hypertension • Diabetes mellitus • Tobacco use • Dyslipidemia • Prior heart attack • Coronary angioplasty/stent • Coronary artery surgery • COPD • Sleep apnea requiring CPAP or BiPAP • Prior stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) • Family history of premature (before age 55) coronary artery disease * Jamboree Medical Services will provide specific instructions to the practitioner to determine eligibility. * The national jamboree cannot accept for participation any applicant with a BMI of 40.0 or higher.” First, the body mass index is a terrible way of evaluating a person’s health. I rated as over weight in high school, even though I was in near Olympic condition. I’m not saying that it isn’t an acceptable starting point for evaluation simply that as a primary criteria it sucks. If you have a BMI of 40, then you might have some health issues. But, that doesn’t mean you aren’t in condition to take part in the jamboree. I’m five foot seven and weigh 297 pounds. The walking around bit let alone a pidly mile or two wouldn’t be a problem for me. I cover more than that every day getting my groceries. Second, there are better ways of mitigating risk without cutting a growing portion of the population out of your roster. If you’re going to have a doctor sign off on attendance, list a series of categories and make sure that the doctor has approved each Scout for that level of activity. Set weight limits on stations. Draft a healthy living program. Make exercise part of Scouting. Being fat doesn’t mean you can’t live a full and rewarding life. I’ll grant you it makes it demonstrably harder to do so; but weight and height aren’t great indicators of physical capacity, especially at the upper end. Third, I’m wondering why fat people, smokers, and drinkers are singled out in this document. I get why a group teaching life skills to thousands of 10-18 year olds wouldn’t want to promote smoking and drinking. Generally that sort of thing is handled in the attendance rules by simply saying that the camp is a no smoking zone and that alcohol isn’t permitted on the premises. I’m good with that. Those are habits you don’t want little Johnny bringing home from the largest Scouting event in the country. What I don’t get is why these three issues are specifically singled out. I’d say someone in a wheelchair would have problems in this setting. I’m sure use of marijuana or cocaine is just as undesirable as alcohol. What about asthma? Isn’t that more of a concern than someone with obstructive sleep apnea? So why is it just these three groups that are identified on the opening page? At a certain point, when you start focusing on specific groups, that attention starts to look like prejudice and elitism. I doubt that was the intent here. More likely the administration wanted to keep the mountain biking event from turning into the coronary cavalcade. This lead to a well intentioned if poorly positioned policy. My concern is less over the political correctness of that decision and more what it says to twelve year olds who, let’s be honest here, don’t have a lot of control over their diet. What it says to me as an outside observer is that fat scouts are second class scouts. As a safety concern that’s reasonable. As a general policy that isn’t the kind of message you want to send as one of the leading civic youth groups in the country. Balance this message with promoting scouts as a way for overweight kids to lead a more active lifestyle. Develop a nutrition merit badge. Add healthy to the scout law as a thirteenth component. Push for positive change, not for exclusion. On a happier note, I spent the weekend on Amazon shopping for goodies. Foremost on that list was a Nutribullet blender. The nutribullet is specialized to pulverize veggies, nuts, ice, and frozen produce into a smooth easily digested beverage. We’ve been having more blended meal/drinks lately and the ability to use a compact blender is very attractive. I don’t want to go smoothie happy, but there are some times, especially on the weekends, where having a health shake would be simpler than preparing a full meal. It also comes with blender containers that are more meal-sized, so you can blend and consume, rather than blending, poring a messy mixture into a cup, and then eating. The entire package is supposed to be cleaner, simpler, and more compact than our current blender. I also ordered a few components for the beast survival day pack ™ and the training DVD set for my steel clubs. I’m really going to enjoy opening the incoming packages and assembling the pack. The clubs represent hope for the action hero diet, but an eventual loss of free time and earlier mornings for me. There’s some ambivalence there that I expect to last until I get into the rhythm of the clubs. I’m seeing progress on many fronts. The beast cave ™ is coming along. I have to move some furniture around and consolidate some items, but it’s going to happen. Already it looks much more functional than a month ago. I got home today and started feeling like god was draining his water hose through my nose. Also, everywhere I went I smelled meat outside (my work is near an Outback steak house, an Italian eatery, and a major grouping of sit down places.) After almost 60 days without any red meat the brunette and I decided a five guys burger was in order. It was good, though not as good as I remembered. Lots of “bad food” is turning out like that. I think I’m supposed to feel bad about eating a huge meal but in reality I really needed this. I’m happy going back to lean meat and veggies; I just needed to fill this craving. I’m well aware that indulging cravings once every 60 days is fine, it’s turning that into once every thirty, then every week that causes problems. Whatever; got to live life I say. Starting weight today: 297.4 pounds. Intake: Breakfast=a bowl of oatmeal with mixed fruit. Work meal=A turkey and pepper jack wrap, an apple, Greek yogurt, and some unsalted almonds. Dinner=a big old burger and half a small fry. Going to go to sleep now and hope the morning is better. I took tomorrow off to read war bound when it’s released on audible…stupid sickness isn’t going to stop me enjoying that.

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