Tuesday, March 27, 2018

GUEST BLOGGER Alisa Pittaluga: Boyhood Is Not a Disease

The Favorite Son: competing and being a boy.
Why we are failing our sons and what we need to do about it?

The current ages of my three sons span from toddler to teen, and so my world is now consumed with everything boy. My oldest child who recently left for college, is not only a beautiful young woman, but also a convenient model for comparison in my now boy-centered world. I am worried about my boys. I believe boys in this country are in trouble. How many boys, compared to the number of girls do you know who have been diagnosed with a learning disability? How about prescribed psychiatric medication? Diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder? Diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? Autism?   

A lot more boys, right?

Our education system, our culture, and our medical professionals have been waging war on boys. Elementary schools today are staffed mostly by women. Anyone who has ever worked in a female dominated workplace knows that the atmosphere is much different than in a male dominant work place. Young boys are brimming with energy, which is not appreciated in elementary schools today. Assignments, topics, rules, and expectations are all geared toward female students. From the time they start kindergarten, boys get that message that their activity level and interests are wrong. Add Common Core to the equation and now you have over-stressed teachers trying to cram developmentally inappropriate curriculum into too small a time span. Truncated recess and physical education to make more time for classroom instruction confound the traditional male learning style.

Expectations for kindergarten students today are equivalent to the expectations for a second-grader just a generation ago There is little socialization play and significant book learning and computer time. This approach is a disservice to young children who are multi-sensory, learn through movement, touch, sound and vision. A one-dimensional medium, i.e. looking at a screen, does not produce learning. By contrast countries with the best education systems, such as Japan and Finland, incorporate much more play and movement into the early years. And no testing. Other countries know and acknowledge the basics about boys: boys are less able to sit than girls, boys require more physical activity.

Now in the United States, kindergarteners come home and, rather than being able to play after their long day of sitting in school, regularly have an hour of homework. Five-year old boys are routinely diagnosed with ADHD because they can’t sit through kindergarten (or their homework) and are medicated. These medications have short term and long-term side effects. And, medicating gives the message to boys that they are not okay the way they are and a pill is the solution to all problems. Is this really a message we want to give our young boys when drug addiction is an out-of-control problem in this country already?

Our culture has become outrageously and ridiculously hyper-sensitive. Any form of aggression is not okay. Anything even resembling a weapon is not okay. Competition is not okay. Standing up for yourself is not okay. Killing animals for food is not okay. Being too loud is not okay. Even looking at a woman in the “wrong way” is not okay. Men and boys are in a precarious position.

A seven-year old student in Maryland was suspended from school for
using his imagination and making his Pop-Tart look like a gun.
The natural instinct of the human male is to protect, to fight when threatened, and to compete for power. Men are driven by their desire for respect. A man who does not protect his family and stand up against a threat cannot gain respect. Yet, the feminization of our culture communicates boys from the earliest age that all of their instincts are wrong. Let’s face it, if you watch two eight-year old boys playing there is a lot of noise and a lot of aggression. There is usually some type of made up weapon, wrestling, screaming and shoving and . . . they love it. This play, common among many mammals and, in particular, most primates, develops skills in boys that will make them develop into strong men. However, these behaviors are no longer permitted in our schools.

Recently, my son told me that he was playing football at recess. He had the ball and elbowed his friend out of the way while running. The lunch monitor pulled him out and screamed over and over “Why would you do that?” My other son pushed another boy at recess because the boy told him he was a better football player. The boy pushed back and they moved on. I received a call from the school from the principal who said to me, “I’m not sure why they would do that.” I responded, “They’re boys. That’s the reason.”

At home, we are a firearm responsible family and have guns and a gun safe where the firearms are securely stored. My husband hunts and teaches my boys to hunt. I believe if we eat meat, my sons may as well know where it meat comes from. There are people that won’t let their kids near a house with a gun. And believe it or not, many boys want to hunt. Hunting was the basis of society and was rite of passage for boys throughout history. Yet, boys are unable to talk about hunting in school. At Thanksgiving years ago, my preschool age son drew a picture of a turkey and told the teacher we chopped the head off and then cooked it. Not surprisingly, his teacher asked for a special conference to discuss the “situation”. 

As an Occupational Therapist (OT), my job is to evaluate and improve the child’s level of functioning. I have learned in my 18 years of being a therapist that the there is always a reason for a behavior. OTs are put in a unique position. Because OTs do not diagnose conditions or prescribe medication, many have become master sleuths to answer the question, “Why does this child behave the way she (he) does?” We have to look beyond the most likely causes and consider the less than obvious- like sleep, lights, sounds, touch, and reflexes. Did the child start the behavior after a certain food? After a vaccine? After being in a crowded loud room? Behavior is a symptom. Even nonverbal kids give clues. A ten-month old who repeatedly bangs his head on the floor is suffering from brain swelling from a vaccine reaction and is trying to relieve the pressure in his head. The autistic child who becomes aggressive after lunch just ate gluten and now has severe stomach pain.

Health management organizations and socialized medicine encourages quantity and not quality. As such, doctors now spend less than five minutes with patients. There is absolutely no way they can get to the root of the problem in that amount of time. A parent goes to the pediatrician and says her son won’t sit still in school. Rather than an answer and a course of treatment, the parent leaves with a prescription. Unfortunately, medicating the symptom without resolving the problem only exacerbates the problem and long-term side-effects from the medication can be profound. 

So, how can we save our boys?

Do your homework. Question everything that is injected, prescribed, or fed to your son. Do your research. The number of vaccines given to children has quadrupled since the mid 80's. Kids eat more sugar and processed food than real food. Children take more medications than ever before. Still, diagnoses of childhood diseases including autism, ADHD, and obesity among others have never in our history been more prevalent. And, research suggest the biological make-up of boys is such that they react more severely to toxins in food, medications and vaccines. Hence, this may contribute to the increase in diagnoses among boys.
There are many health professionals who can get your son on the right track such as chiropractors, naturopaths, functional medicine doctors and craniosacral practitioners, to name a few. Consider how your son spends the majority of his school day. The environment where he spends his time is crucial to his self-esteem and well-being. The academic success of a five-year old is not the are not the most important thing. Consider his emotional health first or he will be less likely to be successful in the long run.

There are alternatives to public school including home-school and private school. A parent can put all the boy-friendly activity and boy-friendly curriculum you want into the day. There are many great private schools out there that offer more hands on and outdoor activities for boys.  And many of them will work with you on finances. If circumstances preclude home schooling or private schools, there is still much a parent can do within the constraints of the local public schools. Remember, generally, teachers are not the enemies. They, too, are trying to survive under immense pressure. Have and open dialogue with your son’s teachers about movement and sensory breaks throughout the day. Many teachers may be more than willing to bring these things into the classroom. Say no to homework in the early grades and opt out of standardized testing to relieve the stress on your son. Most teachers will accept your limits on homework if you explain up front that your child is having trouble with the amount assigned. Help your son select boy-friendly research topics and boy-friendly books. Introduce these to the teacher if they are not already used. There are even books on finding boy-friendly books.

Alisa Pittaluga
And lastly, let your boy be a boy. Restrict screen time. Let him play in the dirt, wrestle, fight, run, and yell. Let him take risks. Question everything. Resist the culture and teach your sons that being a boy is not wrong.

Having earned an M.A. in Occupational Therapy from New York University, Alisa Pittaluga has worked in pediatric occupational therapy with infants through teenagers for nearly two decades. She is the mother of three boys, ages 2, 10 and 14, and a 19-year old daughter. Alisa lives with her husband of 20 years and her children in Orange County, New York.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hilarious Dating Quotes

Garry Shandling
"I'm dating a homeless woman. It was easier talking her into staying over."

Dave Attell
"I was on a date with this really hot model. Well, it wasn't really a date-date. We just ate dinner and saw a movie. Then the plane landed."

David Spade
"I'm a gentleman and I was always taught it's rude to talk about a woman's age or weight unless you are breaking up with her."

Joey Adams
"Never let a fool kiss you, or a kiss fool you."

Clark Gable
"It is an extra dividend when you like the girl you've fallen in love with.

Larry David
"Golf and dating don’t mix."

Matthew S. Field
"There should be a CarFax for single women. If you were interested in dating a woman, you could check her major accidents, hidden problems, whether she’s a lemon, and warranty information."

Alex Reed
"I hate first dates. I made the mistake of telling my date a lie about myself, and she caught me. I didn’t think she’d actually demand to see the bat cave."

Rodney Dangerfield
"I like to date schoolteachers. If you do something wrong, they make you do it over again."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Java Junkie: My 30-Day Trial of Elevate Coffee

A lot of folks around here are waking up to Elevate Brew Coffee.
(Image courtesy of Marie Molnar)
So, in the little town where I live, there’s been sort a groundswell for a healthy coffee called Elevate. I decided to check it out for myself. Wait, I think I’m getting ahead of myself a little.

Let me start again.

I meet a friend for coffee a few times a week. A little more than a month ago, my friend, who's a professional fitness athlete, told about an instant coffee she'd started to drink and suggested that I try it.

I said, “Instant coffee? Um, no thanks.”

After a few more days, my friend told me that this instant coffee, Elevate, was really changing her life. She told me about another mutual friend, a local business owner, had been drinking the coffee and lost a ton of weight.

I said, “Yeah, that’s great. Whatever.”

Finally, my friend gave me a couple of single serve packets so I could try it myself. So, I did. Frankly, the first time I drank a cup of Elevate, well, I felt . . . different. It was good feeling. It wasn’t so much the taste, but the way it made me feel.

During my single father journey, admittedly, I’ve become a java junkie. On a typical morning, I'd drink a half a pot of coffee, or about eight cups, at home. Then, have a couple of more cups at a café during the day. Ironically, I’d drink as much as a half-gallon of coffee a day, but I’d still crashed every afternoon. I had tried everything I've heard would eliminate the afternoon crash from Vitamin B to 5-Hour Energy and Red Bull, but nothing worked for me. Literally, there were days when traveling for business I’d have have to stop at a highway rest stop to catnap.

I’d drink as much as a half-gallon of coffee a day, but I’d still crashed every afternoon.

After drinking one cup of Elevate a day for a few days in a row, I noticed a couple of other effects from the coffee that gave me pause. I resolved to do a test, albeit not necessarily scientific. Using myself as the guinea pig, I resolved drink one cup of Elevate Brew Coffee each morning for a month and report my findings. My 30-Day Elevate Test ended on Saturday, March 4, 2018. These are the results.

Company marketing materials claim:

Drinking Elevate Brew Coffee will help you lose weight, feel great, and change the way your brain craves the wrong foods. We attach the root of your bad food eating habits in your brain while suppressing your appetite. Your body will reboot, burn more calories, and speed up your metabolism.

Included on the list of ingredients, Elevate’s “proprietary blend,” are caffeine anhydrase and other natural stimulants from a number of sources including dark roast coffee, espresso, cocoa, green tea, and green coffee extract. Another ingredient, chromium polynicotinate reportedly helps to improve the effectiveness of insulin to keep blood sugar at an optimal level and reduce carbohydrate cravings.  Other claims made by Elevate include more natural energy, more clarity and focus, elevated positive mood, memory booster, increase metabolism, curb hunger cravings, eliminate jitters, and lose weight naturally.

In spite of the “official” name, Elevate is not a “brew coffee.” No one will confuse the taste of Elevate with brewed coffee or a pour-over using good, fresh-ground beans. Frankly, Elevate’s a little bit bitter and has a hint of an herb flavor. It certainly isn’t any worse than Sanka, though, which I would occasional choke down during my college days when cramming. I drink my coffee black, but my friend who drinks it adds a little bit of non-dairy creamer to take the edge off.

Did Elevate deliver more energy for me? Absolutely. Whereas, I would drink eight cups of regular coffee a day, one Elevate each day immediately stopped my afternoon crash. Elevate’s claim that its coffee does not create “jitters” has been true for me. Finally, at the end of the day when it was time to sleep, wow, did I sleep well? Yes, I did. I slept the sleep of the innocent, although there is still some question about the state of my innocence.

At the end of the day when it was time to sleep, wow, did I sleep well? Yes. I slept the sleep of the innocent, although there is still some question about the state of my innocence.

One, rather irritating, consequence of drinking one cup of Elevate is the diuretic affect it had on me. For about the first two weeks, I had to empty my bladder on the hour, if not more frequently. Frankly and pardon the reference, I had to (urinate) like a race horse on Lasix. Because of the increase in urination frequency, I was often thirsty. I estimate I drank a gallon or more of water each day to remain hydrated. The good news? The diuretic influence of the coffee moderated to almost normal during the third week.

For me, the weight loss impact has been moderate. The first time I stepped on a scale was on Day 5 of my 30 Day Elevate Test. I’d lost four pounds. However, I’m certain that weight loss was water. On Day 7, I stepped on the same scale and I’d gained back two pounds. My net loss wast two. My weight did not change by as much as an ounce for almost three weeks. Then, on day 25 when I stepped on the scale, I dropped those two pounds again and I'm pretty sure that is real weight loss and not just water. So, my net loss is about four pounds, which is within the range of my regular weight fluctuation. My professional athlete friend lost exactly 5% of her body weight in roughly five weeks. The business owner whose body type is similar to mine has dropped 15 pounds.

And, yes, my craving for carbohydrates has declined precipitously. I had been in the habit of munching on nachos or chips ‘n’ salsa while watching a ball game in the evening before bed. Now, I rarely eat again after having dinner at around six o’clock each evening.

As far as the other claims about providing more clarity and focus, an elevated positive mood, and a boosted memory, I’m not sure Elevate has really done any of those things. I’m usually in a pretty good mood and I don’t think Elevate has had any impact.

Want to learn more? Click HERE.

One unintended consequence that has turned out to be a nice benefit, at least for me, is some money saving. During a typical month, I’d go through at least two pounds of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee at home at a cost of $10 per bag. Then, I’d buy more coffee at a café on weekdays, or on at least 20 days during the month at $5 per day. In total, I spend about $120 each month on coffee. Now, I only want (need) one cup of Elevate each day to satisfy my coffee and caffeine appetite. Considering month’s supply of Elevate is $50, I saved about $70 this month. Now, rather than sipping coffee all morning and during the early afternoon, I drink lemon water instead.

Bottom line? While I’m not sure every one of Elevate’s claims were true for me, the benefits that have impacted me have been well worth the investment. I’ve had the energy to avoid “hitting the wall” in the afternoon. My food cravings have curtailed, but the jury is still out whether it will have a material impact on my body mass index. Anecdotally, I know a people who have lost weight while drinking Elevate. My biggest complaint, the diuretic aspect of Elevate, was distracting for a couple of weeks. However, that hadn’t been as much as an issue as the month progressed.

Snake oil?

I don’t think so. In fact, solely based on the fact that Elevate has eliminated my afternoon crash, I recommend it to people who experience a similar problem. If it also makes people get healthier by assisting weight loss and reducing the likelihood of diseases linked to obesity like heart disease, diabetes, and osteoarthritis, among others, well, that’s pretty good, too.