Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Last United Nations Photo!

A nice pic from the United Nations that I forgot to put up (Swimming is one of the people sitting up at the panel)

Disclaimer: The Assembly Hall was actually empty, so we all went up for a faux photo shoot--but for a minute I totally had ya! (One day I'll actually be invited to speak!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Swimming's Climate Series

After coming back from Europe an enlightened woman (well, sort of, my hair is still wild and out of control) I am starting a series of posts on Climate change called 'Swimming's Climate Series' where I will be confronting the health effects of climate change. At the World Health Assembly in the UN Geneva I attended a session that has completely opened my eyes to this issue. Especially because it was placed in the context of how climate change is affecting human health. My class project and paper are on this topic and I will be sharing fast facts and discussion on this in a series of posts in the hopes to educate someone, anyone out there reading this. Climate change really is occurring, think about the last time we had a string of 90+ degree weather growing up? Can't remember it? That's because global warming has escalated us to these increased heat waves in the past decade.

The heat is insane here and it is only getting hotter. How did this happen? To distill this down, cars/plants/transportation leads to pollution and carbon emissions which leads to destruction and deposition of the ozone and carbon. Carbon traps heat so that leads to increased global temperatures. For more details about the actual science and data see here.

How does climate change affect me? Because the integrity of the atmosphere  has been compromised there is now sustained presence of heat which can lead heat exhaustion and heat stroke which can lead to death.

Here are some of the hardest hit cities: http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/EnvironmentalHealth/32887
Notice that they are some of the poorest cities in America. Again we stumble upon the issue of how corporate and congressional action ends up impacting the poor the hardest.

What does this mean for us? Not only is our environment affected and ecosystem disrupted, climate change is rapidly affecting human health. 

Here are basic ways to start becoming more educated on climate change as both an environmental and a medical issue:

(1) Know your heat terminology. Here's a website that will help you understand the differences in ky words used by both the National Weather Service and healthcare professionals. The major ones are:

Weather Terms:
Heat Wave - Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.
Heat Index - A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.
Heat Advisory - Heat Index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).

Health Terms:
Heat Exhaustion - Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim's condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
Heat Stroke - A life-threatening condition. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.

(2) How does heat affect my health?
 Read here for more detailed info: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/heat-wave-health/

In a nutshell, our natural physiology allows us to keep our body temperature within a range (only a few degrees above/below 98 deg-F). Additionally, there are mechanisms such as sweating during exercise and a change in the set-point temperatures during fevers that allow the body to self-regulate its temperature. This is all contingent upon a stable environmental temperature. As the temperature in our environment climbs, our bodies will exchange heat (the physics of heat transfer from high to low areas). Thus, if we consistently have days that are in the 100s our bodies will consistently be stressed to absorb heat from the environment, but at a certain point this exceeds our capacity to self-regulate and leads to health complications such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Why is heat bad? Well many of our cellular and protein function rely on working at a stable body temperature. At elevated temperatures, enzymes/proteins that carry out body functions such as breaking down food into energy will denature. This leads to tissue and organ failure and eventual death.

(3) Here's a quick link to a clip from Real Time with Bill Maher. This clip is mainly for entertainment purposes but dapples in the debate over climate change from a different perspective. If you don't care about your health, the economy, the planet, then maybe you'll care that your beach house off the Florida coast is going to be under water very very soon.

Stay tuned, I will be tackling this from the ground up!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

This week's lessons learned

Ed Sheeran-I'm a mess

This week was quite crazy for Swimming, but in it I have learned some humongous lessons that will hopefully impel me to change and grow

(1) Emancipation is a rite of passage.
(2) Being an independent woman means managing my own stuff-even if it means living entirely differently.
(3) Retail therapy is NEVER the answer.
(4) Building my relationships with others has been time well-invested. I love the people in my life and even more so I appreciate my ability to get along with people from all walks of life. I have learned a great deal from so many different people. 
(5) I know the answer and I know what to do.
(6) Don't every let anyone's pessimism or negativity steer you in the wrong direction.
(7) Approval is unnecessary. 
(8) Trust yourself and your reasoning and your motivation.
(9) Some relationships are getting in the way of growth.
(10) At any given moment there are infinite possibilities. I just let one go, but there are infinite more and I will know when it's time to move on.
(11) It is time I changed the conversation and dynamic around my personal finances.
(12) Learn to sit with indecision and insecurity instead of panicking and frantically seeking answers.
(13) Never act in a space of panic, stress, or indecision.
(14) Sometimes the most dysfunctional relationships are the ones where it isn't immediately obvious that there is dysfunction.
(15) I need to take drastic action to tame my mind. A shout out to headspace.com for some much needed help on this front. I am extremely neurotic and compulsive.
(16) Nosce te ipsum (know thy self) and then listen.
(17) As long as I am dependent on someone else in such a basic way I am going to have problems building with other endeavors.
(18) PK has been, singlehandedly the best example of an independent woman who can manage her own sh*t and I am lucky that I have such a strong example to follow (THANK YOU)
(19) It is absolutely imperative for me to get my stuff together internally and personally in order to attract solid people in my life.
(20) I have extremely solid people in my life that have, undoubtedly, helped me tremendously in this insane process.
(21) I Have the power to stop myself from spiraling.
(22) I must focus on being truly independent and playing my part.
(23) From MB many years back (I think circa 2011--but goes to show that wise words will never be forgotten):  Protect yourself: protect your mind, the health of your mind, protect your integrity the strength of your character, don't let it go and always want the truth to win. Zealously fight for your self, and for others.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!---On Resilience

First off, Happy 4th of July! I've talked about this before, but one of the most pivotal books in my Comeback has been Dr. Alex Lickerman's The Undefeated Mind. I found that he wrote a fantastic Huff Post article on how we can learn resilience that I'm going to print an excerpt from here. (Here's the full version)

Sometimes such a victory requires a single dramatic intervention fraught with risk; at other times, a series of multiple, small interventions whose individual effects may be minor but whose collective power is vast...Learning to accept pain, for example, really does make pain easier to withstand, yet sometimes only slightly. But when added to a fierce determination to accomplish an important mission, as well as to an expectation that accomplishing that mission will require the feeling of even more pain, strength often appears that makes large problems seem abruptly small. Though the effort required to maintain a high life condition often seems great, in reality it only needs to be wise...sometimes we only need to pull a lever a few degrees to move our lives in a radically different direction.

For resilience really can be learned. As amorphous as the concept of "inner strength" often seems, our ability to survive and even thrive in the face of adversity, our ability to push on through disappointment and discouragement when obstacles arise in the pursuit of our goals, is as measurable a quantity as is the strength of our biceps. And like the strength of our biceps, it can also be increased.
This, then, is what it means to possess what I call an undefeated mind: not just to rebound quickly from adversity or to face it calmly, even confidently, without being pulled down by depression or anxiety, but also to get up day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade -- even over the course of an entire lifetime -- and attack the obstacles in front of us again and again and again until they fall, or we do. An undefeated mind isn't one that never feels discouraged or despairing; it's one that continues on in spite of it. Even when we can't find a smile to save us, even when we're tired beyond all endurance, possessing an undefeated mind means never forgetting that defeat comes not from failing but from giving up. An undefeated mind doesn't fill itself with false hope, but with hopes to find real solutions, even solutions it may not want or like. An undefeated mind is itself what grants us access to the creativity, strength, and courage necessary to find those real solutions, viewing obstacles not as distractions or detours off the main path of our lives but as the very means by which we can capture the lives we want. Victory may not be promised to any of us, but possessing an undefeated mind means behaving as though it is, as though to win we only need wage an all-out struggle and work harder than everyone else, trying everything we can, and when that fails trying everything we think we can't, in full understanding that we have no one on whom we can rely for victory but ourselves. Possessing an undefeated mind, we understand that there's no obstacle from which we can't create some kind of value. We view any such doubt as a delusion. Everyone -- absolutely everyone -- has the capacity to construct an undefeated mind, not just to withstand personal traumas, economic crises, or armed conflicts, but to triumph over them all.
Attaining this state may seem impossible, an ability granted only to an extraordinary few like Viktor Frankl or that great champion of freedom, Nelson Mandela. But the tools those luminaries used to achieve their goals are available to us all. Extraordinary people may be born, but they can also be made. We need only look around at the number of people in everyday life who demonstrate the same resilience as a Viktor Frankl or a Nelson Mandela for proof that an undefeated mind isn't nearly so rare a thing as we think.