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February 1998 Issue
by Michael Fick
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Welcome to Health and Fitness.

Yes, the name's been used before. But don't you hate those magazines with the tables of contents so cutesy you can't tell what the articles are about?

Not gonna do it.

You knew from our Table of Contents what this column is generally about. Now let's get specific on what it's about, because you'll see many of these topics in coming months.

It's about health. I have no formal medical training, but I read far more about health than the average bear -- which probably reads more about health than many human beings. I've experienced and studied many medical problems, for several reasons: 

  1. I'm 54. My recuperation powers, vision, hearing, and athletic prowess are slip-slidin' away. I've been through hernia surgeries, vertigo, tinnitus, Meniere's disease, sudden deafness in one ear, a hearing aid, a wide variety of musculo-skeletal booboos, a nose job, dental surgery, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, balding, bifocals, a simple syndrome that mimicked a heart attack, high cholesterol, hay fever and allergy shots, precancerous skin damage, frequent severe bronchitis, ambulance rides for pseudo stroke symptoms, a protesting prostate, and countless medical tests to diagnose all those.

  2. I'm fighting back every step of the way. I read extensively about our bodies in general and my problems and goals in particular, and I practice and preach what I learn. I can now better judge how to improve my body, what's right and wrong with my body, when it's time to consult a doctor, and which doctors and treatments are right or wrong.

  3. 50 years of individual and team sports, including some intense motorized body busters, have busted my body numerous times. They also motivate me to study and eat and exercise right so I can keep doing them. 

  4. I seek medical help for every tiny thing that doesn't seem right in my body. My Air Force and Veteran's Administration medical files are huge, into four volumes. But no doctor or HMO is more interested in my health than I am, so I get involved in my diagnoses and treatments. My medical records contain many of my own analyses, which doctors have considered extremely helpful. About a dozen physicians have asked me, based on my observation and presentation of symptoms, whether I am a physician ... or what my medical specialty is.

It's about fitness. I spend months each year windsurfing many days a week, often 8-10 hours a day, in gale force winds and overhead waves, at a pace that leaves many 20-year-old athletes lying in their vans gasping for air and carbohydrates. Before this was decades of racing motorcycles and snowmobiles in terrain that would choke horses. These sports demand and develop superb aerobic and anaerobic fitness, which demands and motivates extensive reading in sports nutrition and physiology.

It's about humor. Funny is fun, and it's already obvious that I'm a hedonist. Because I'm writing this column for you and me rather than for untold wealth, we're going to enjoy it. Just like MASH surgeons used humor to bevel the hard edges of life, I will use some grim or bathroom humor here to make grim or bathroom situations more palatable. Who wants to read a medical treatise about a topic as ripe for humor or potentially untouchable as "Irritable Bowel Syndrome" or "Beans: Nature's Most Healthy Musical Instrument"?

It's about opinions. Because I'm outspoken and opinionated, I have my soapbox handy. Sooner or later I'll read your kids -- both the ones you bore and the ones you married -- the riot act about wearing protective gear for sports, about smoking and obesity, etc. I might even push the topical envelope to pontificate on such rare, controversial, apparently antiquated concepts as ethics, loyalty and morals, because they impact our emotional health.

Because I'm not a health professional, because I'm pragmatic, and because no one is reading this column for professional medical expertise, I will write at a practical level. I will try to distinguish among mainstream medicine/physiology, single-guru hypotheses, and my own conclusions and recommendations. That way you can usually decide for yourself whether to accept my comments at face value, rush to a doctor, or research the library or internet. If in any doubt, consult a professional provider. Keep in mind that I'm basically a jock and an engineer.

You hold the reins, in the form of email. Suggest anything from new topics to a new writer for this column, tell us how much you enjoy the column or the ezine, and ask questions.

Here are some ideas for future topics. Please add more, but realize I may not have time to research some that are too foreign to me.

  • Whole Grains: Why We Need Them, What They Are and How to Eat Them.
  • Beans: Nature's Most Healthy Musical Instrument.
  • Sleep Better, Feel Better, and Lose a Little Weight -- at No Cost.
  • Switch Off Your Brain and Go To Sleep -- Nowzzzzzzz.
  • Don't Diet ... Just Eat Right.
  • When Can Low Levels of the Good Cholesterol be a Good Thing?
  • You May be Causing Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Stop It!
  • Stop "Working Out" and Start Playing.
  • Do You Really Want to Work Such Long Hours? Get a Life!
  • The Right Way to Lift Weights.
  • Exercise: Don't Sweat the Details; Just Sweat.
  • Butter ... or Margarine? Forgeddaboutem!
  • When You Shouldn't Work Out.
  • Double Your Rowing Machine's Benefits.
  • Get on Your Butt and Read!
  • When to See a Doctor.
  • Stop the Bronchitis Cycle.
  • Switch Off That Sore Throat.

We're going to have fun with Health and Fitness. Join in.



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