Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Sunday musings 4/16/17

Sunday musings…

1) Easter. On this, the most holy of Holy Days in all of Christendom, Happy Easter to all

2) Fitness. I find that I have become something approaching a ceremonial fitness adherent. It is not an attractive look, sadly. Fitness is a habit, one that I’ve drifted away from of late.

Time to dial it back in.

3) Tracker. The MIO Slice is the 4th fitness tracker I have now tried. And abandoned. The attraction for the slice was its “always on” measurement of PAI or Personal Activity Intelligence metric. Based on the degree and duration of exercise that elevated your heart rate above your resting rate, the PAI has been validated as a health measure that directly relates to longevity in Swedes. For a measurement geek like me, it was simply irresistible.

One sticky little issue, so common to all the other trackers extent: the damn thing doesn’t work.

Listen, if you’re gonna create a measurement that depends on tracking heart rate, it stands to reason that you should be able to…you know…measure heart rate. The Slice can’t, at least not on my wrist. 60 minutes after a WOD in which I got up to ~100% of my age-adjusted max predicted HR, my little tracker dude was still reading a pulse of 115/minute. Feeling pretty fresh and relaxed I was skeptical. Two fingers to my carotid, a $15 Casio and a 0:15 investment of time revealed that my gadget was off by a scant—wait for it—100%. My pulse was 58.

While it may turn out that the PAI is, indeed, a valid measure of fitness/health (though it skews way too far in emphasizing aerobic exercise IMO), the MIO Slice is just one more example of the folly of fitness trackers in general. They are, at best, an amusing diversion only slightly more complex than a toy. The notion that an employer can assess the health (and therefore insurability) of an employee by using a fitness tracker is ludicrous. The best one I’ve used so far basically just made crap up, but the Nike Fuel Band and its silly Fuel Points was still the most fun of the bunch.

Maybe I can score one on Amazon.

4) Invisible. A family member is about 95% of the way to being diagnosed as having Celiac Disease. This is what you have when the ingestion of gluten, a protein found in grains, incites an inflammatory reaction in the lining of your intestines. This process has prompted Clan bingo to take a deep dive into the science of this disease, and it has exposed us to some interesting patterns of behavior in our society.

You can’t see Celiac disease, and this is where the societal observations come into play. It’s not unlike diabetes, or most of the more common mental illnesses that plaque us. People who suffer from all of these look pretty much exactly like people who don’t. Same thing with folks who have Celiac disease. I won’t bore you with the science, but suffice it to say that over time the damage done to the intestinal tract from exposure to gluten in those afflicted is as severe and threatening to health as one sees in heart disease. Like all of these examples, one only knows if you are talking with someone who has Celiac disease if you are told so.

It’s astonishing how hard folks work not to believe you.

At the moment I am at 36,000 feet, flying home with Mrs. bingo from a visit with Lovely Daughter in the Low Country of South Carolina. We saw everything from “I can’t guaranty that there’s no cross-contamination in that batch of ice cream” (saving a possible insult to the gut) to “Really? Subbing rice for the noodles ruins that dish” (leavening the meal with guilt). Funny how some diseases prompt incredulity, even judgment, isn’t it? Think back a bit to our discussion about depression and suicide for another example.

One need not immerse oneself in learning the details of every “hidden” malady in order to prepare yourself for the inevitable interactions you will have. Sometimes having a specific checklist for every eventuality is simply not feasible. Here it is probably better to simply develop a kind of emotional expertise, one that allows you to accept what you are hearing as true and move to accommodation as your first response. It’s just another example of how a “kindness reflex” makes things easier.

It’s Easter. What better day to start.

I’ll see you next week…

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