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Don’t Miss the Bus

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Well, I don’t know about you folks but this is been one incredible summer and fall for me. On a personal note I finally got my man cave finished and I have been working diligently over the last several months helping my daughter and her husband move into their new home on Long Island. I think I’ve finally completed my list of “dad things.” With all the travel back and forth to Long Island it is only in the last couple of weeks that I actually had the time to find the top of my desk again and get busy writing The Forum. 

Professionally I have, as I’m sure you have, been monitoring the debates over health care reform. The intensity and negativity of the rhetoric on this issue has been nothing shy of overwhelming. This will clearly be one of the most significant domestic challenges that we will face in our immediate future. Just recently, Government executive.com announced that the federal health insurance premiums will rise by another 8.8% for calendar year 2010. Especially for those of us living on a fixed income, like CSRS, who will not get a COLA this year, that’s a significant bite. Hopefully, our elected officials will stop their partisan bickering and resolve this challenge in a way that addresses the interests of all parties adequately. One thing is certain; this will be an interesting debate. 

There’s an old story about a man, let’s call him John Smith, who was going to take a bus trip to visit his family in South Carolina. He went into the bus station and purchased his ticket. While waiting for the bus John was walking around the station and noticed a scale that promised to tell him not only his weight, but also identify other personal information. Curious, he stepped onto the scale, and dropped in his quarter. After several moments of whirring and clanging, the scale produced a printout, which stated, “Your name is John Smith. You are 206 lbs., which is 26 lbs overweight. You are waiting for the bus to South Carolina to visit your family. Have a nice day.” 

John was dumbfounded by the accuracy of the scale and couldn’t believe it possible. After several minutes he figured it had to be some kind of trick and decided to give it another try. So, back onto the scale he went and in went another quarter. Once again, more clanging and whirring and out came another printout which said, “Your name is still John Smith. You are still 206 lbs., which is still 26 lbs overweight. You are still waiting for the bus to South Carolina to visit your family. Have a nice day.”  

Now John was beside himself and just couldn’t believe the scale could know these things. As he wondered how the scale knew these details of his life, John noticed a novelty shop across the street from the bus station. He visited the novelty shop and purchased a wig, a stick-on mustache, a pair of toy horn-rimmed glasses and a cap. Armed with his new “identity” and determined to fool the all-knowing scale, he once again entered the bus station and stepped onto the scale. He deposited his quarter and after the whirring and clanging stopped, the scale once again produced a printout which said, “Your name is STILL John Smith. You are STILL 206 lbs., which is STILL 26 lbs overweight. You are STILL planning to visit your family. However, while you were wasting your time in the novelty shop, you missed your bus to South Carolina. Have a nice day.” 

While the point of this little story may seem to have much to do with health and wellness, it’s also not as subtle as you may think. Consider the following: 

Clearly, these data indicate that when it comes to wellness we, as a society, have missed the bus.

It may seem that these statistics focus on our growing waistlines; however, obesity is directly related to and exacerbates numerous other serious problems such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and related cardio-vascular conditions, diabetes, renal failure, etc. Our trips to that novelty store provide us with disguises like, “I’m not obese, I’m simply a ‘plus’ size,” or “I like myself this way,” etc. However, when we put in our quarter and wait for the whirring and clanging to stop, our note will continue to read, “You are STILL XXX pounds overweight.” 

In the coming months I will provide you with numerous suggestions on how to maintain, or regain, control of your own personal wellness starting with some simple advice for shrinking your waistline. In the meantime, here are a few simple techniques to help you and your families stay healthy for the holiday season:

 Until next time, “ALL ABOARD!”

 Yours in Good Health,


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