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January 2009


The History of New Years

 No More New Years’ Resolutions

  • Kid’s Corner -

    Returning to School after Christmas Holidays

  • Mom’s Corner -

    Watch out for Asthma-It’s Worse in Winter

  • Dad’s Corner -

    After Christmas Depression

  • Planet Earth -

    Falling prices paid for recycling has impacted the environment

  • News -                                                                                                         The growing obesity epidemic in China

Welcome to the Doc Grubb newsletter for January 2009. We hope you had a safe and happy Christmas, Hanukah and a Happy New Year’s celebration!

The History of New Year's

New Years is the oldest of all holidays and was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago spring to celebrate the new plantings. The New Years’ celebration was moved to January 1 in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons.  They began to create New Years’ Resolutions about 150 B.C. The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances who was always shown with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Because he had two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future and became the symbol for resolutions. The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year's gifts.


This is the time of year when many people make a “New Year’s Resolution.” This year I have made a special resolution…to NOT MAKE A RESOLUTION!

After years of making New Year’s Resolutions that I never seem to be able to keep and which make me feel guilty for the rest of the year about my failure, I’ve come up with the perfect, final New Year’s Resolution.  “I’m not going to make any New Year’s Resolutions!”

              Everyone makes New Year’s Resolutions but about 95% of people making resolutions fail to keep them! Even with this high failure rate, about 50% of American adults still insist on making one or more resolutions each year. The usual resolutions people make are “this year I’m going to stop smoking” or “I’m going to exercise two hours everyday” and my personal favorite “this year I’m going to lose 10 pounds.”             

First of all, January is a terrible time to start your New Year’s Resolutions. The stress of the holidays only makes it that much harder for you to keep a resolution. This year, instead of making a New Year’s Resolution “to lose weight,” let’s decide on a specific amount of weight that we want to lose, make that our goal and then plan on how to reach that goal. Even a 10% reduction in your weight, which seems like a small amount, can have huge health benefits such as reducing your blood pressure, lowering the level of sugar in your blood and decreasing the stress on your bones and muscles.

Any goal must be Specific, Achievable, Simple and Measurable (just remember SASM). Let’s walk through how we set our goal to lose weight.

Specific-a realistic goal is to lose ½ to one pound a week. That’s all! You are setting yourself up to fail if you try to lose more weight. So, using my higher math, for an adult a specific weight loss goal is to lose one-half pound a week and SIX pounds over a three month period.

Achievable-to lose one half pound of weight in a week you need to decrease the amount of food you presently eat by 1,700 calories. That means that every day you only need to cut back about 200 calories. A typical candy bar or a small bag of potato chips contains around 300 calories so just by not eating that candy bar or bag of chips means you’ve already achieved your daily goal of cutting out 200 extra calories.

Simple-Exercise for 30 minutes a day in addition to cutting out the 200 unnecessary calories. Walking a mile will burn up about 100 calories, so if you combine exercise with cutting back on eating unnecessary calories ensure you lose that unwanted half pound of weight.

Measurable-the simplest measurement is to weigh yourself once a week on the same scale at the same time in the same clothes. If you put your weekly weight on a piece of graph paper you can track how your weight is decreasing. Another simple measurement is how loose or tight your clothes feel. If your pants are getting looser and looser you know you are losing weight. (By the way, a great reward for losing weight is to buy a new pair of pants.)

To really stay focused on your goal, share your goal with a friend and check in with them each week to let them know the progress you’ve made to reach your weight loss goal. You’ll try harder to reach your goal if you know someone is rooting for you to succeed. Even better, have someone set a weight loss goal with you and then you have a partner and can support each other.

Commit to a realistic plan and you will succeed in losing weight. Start with small, specific changes in your eating and exercise habits. Bad eating and exercise habits are not formed overnight and neither are good ones. It takes about 12 weeks to replace a bad habit with a good habit. A missile fired at a target will continually make course corrections in flight because of wind blowing it off course. Think of yourself as a missile heading toward your weight loss goal. Expect that you will be “blown off course” several times during the three months. Some days you will eat too much or exercise too little. Just make the correction and get back on course.

Remember that “life is a journey and not a destination” so that when you reach your goal set another one that is Specific, Achievable, Simple and Measurable. You don’t have to wait until the next New Year to set a goal!

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You just had a long break from school for the Christmas Holidays and have enjoyed being away from school. You might not be looking forward to going back school and the daily school routine.


I bet you have a certain routine you do every night and every morning when you go to school. Get back into that routine a couple days earlier before returning to school. Go to bed earlier and get up at the same time you normally get up each morning. Read some of the books you brought home from school which you never got around to reading or studying during the Christmas break.


It might be scary for you to return to school again. Maybe you are being bullied by someone or you just don’t want to leave home. Don’t cry or throw a tantrum. Not returning to school only makes you feel worse. There are a lot of days when I don’t want to go to work, but work and school are important for all of us. School is your job and if you do it well, you will learn how to be successful when you are older and start a real job.


              There may be other things that may worry you when you return to school. Because you haven’t been at school for several weeks, you might struggle to perform fitness activities that you did before Christmas. You haven’t been out on the playground or involved in the school’s physical activity program and have eaten more fast food, cakes and cookies than you normally eat. Don’t worry. Your body will quickly become adjusted to the new physical demands you make on it and will be right back where it was before the Christmas break.



This is also a good time to help make your school “greener.” In my son’s school, he and his schoolmates are recycling fruit juice containers through a program called “Terracyle.” This program will pay money to the school for every juice pouch that is sent in to them. The school can then spend the money to purchase new copies of their worn-out school books. They recycle the juice pouches and I’ve even seen totes made out of the pouches. How cool is that!  For further information please visit their website at  Maybe you can start a program like this for your school!


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Asthma is now the most common chronic ailment among children in the United States and the number of young people with asthma keeps growing. One in four emergency room visits nationwide is asthma-related, totaling 5,000 per day. Combined with medication and specialist visits, $19.7 billion is spent on asthma treatment annually.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition in which a person's airways become swollen and extra mucus blocks air from reaching the lungs. The oxygen in the air is vital for the body to help all the cells breathe and a child can quickly die if the air can’t reach the lungs. An asthma attack may be triggered by many things, such as your child being allergic to a specific plant or animal, but equally dangerous is stress which can disrupt the immune system, causing hypersensitive and easily inflamed lungs. So it’s even worse if your child has an allergy which causes asthma but then is also exposed to air pollution or has stress in the school, family or neighborhood.

Asthma is the leading cause of missing school and can cause poor grades, missed extracurricular activities, and social isolation.  Schools take childhood asthma treatment seriously and always make sure they know which child has asthma and if they need to have medications in school to take in case of an asthma attack.  Ashtma attacks are especially prevalent in the winter months and the ‘February Epidemic’ is a well documented phenomenon that will hit in a couple of weeks. Most asthma attacks are caused by a virus. During the Christmas break most children aren’t around as many children as they are in school, but when kids return to school they are exposed again to viruses from other children and these can trigger asthma.

Many parents and a lot of doctors will also allow children to have a break from their medications for asthma over the longer holidays, when they are exposed to less triggers so it is absolutely essential that medications are restarted prior to going back to school. Don’t be fooled by how well your child is doing off the medications and think “well…they must not need their medications anymore.” Most of the medications are used to prevent or minimize the seriousness of asthma attacks need to be taken about a week before they are at their maximum effectiveness.

Be sure you update your child’s written Asthma Action Plan if it’s changed over the holidays and provide a copy of the new plan to the school the first day your child is back in school.

 The February asthma epidemic will happen, but preventative measures can be taken now and during the first few weeks of school to help keep children with asthma out of the hospital.

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Depression in Winter

I always think of the holiday season as a joyous, happy period. Unfortunately, for some dads, the end of the year holidays is not the happy time of cheer and goodwill that it is supposed to be.  For dads who are separated from or without family and friends, it is a lonely time. Seeing that everyone else is spending time with family and friends makes them feel even more isolated.

Even without the extra stress of the holiday season, many men get “the blues” in winter with a low mood, lack of energy, increased irritability, overeat and gain weight because they eat too much rich food, especially carbohydrates. You don’t exercise as much, you have lost interest in socializing and find yourself sleeping more or being just being “tired”  during the day. All of these symptoms may be signs of depression.

These feelings in depression may be secondary to an identifiable stressor, such as losing your job, a divorce or a death in the family or even the holidays. In other people it seems like everyone in the family is depressed so that depression occurs because of the genetics in your family. In other people there are no stresses and no family history of depression and they get depressed every winter.

Compounding the problem of depression around Christmas and the holiday season is fewer hours of daylight that occur from Thanksgiving past Christmas. So, in addition to holiday depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can also play a role in depression during the holiday season. Winter depression is usually treated with antidepressant medication, psychological therapy and bright light /light box therapy which provides a very strong source of light to replace the missing hours of daylight.

Although the stressors that can cause holiday depression cannot be completely eliminated, there are a number of suggestions that can help keep Christmas and holiday depression at a minimum.

1. Don't try to do too much. Take some time to care for yourself with a quiet afternoon alone, watching a good movie or reading a good book. Exercise is a key part of any treatment plan that I prescribe to my patients with depression.

2. Do your Christmas shopping during the off-peak season next year. You might even want to make presents to give to your friends, or to draw a Christmas Card. You might discover a hidden talent.

3. Don’t spend too much money! When the bills come in after the holidays you’ll be even more depressed. Buy gifts based on what your budget can afford.

4. Watch what you eat during the holiday season. High sugar and non complex carbohydrate foods may only make depression worse. Don’t eat the whole fruit cake or drink the whole container of eggnog by yourself. If the new pants you bought for Christmas don’t fit you’ll feel even worse.

5. If you are sad about loved ones who have left you, be grateful that you had them as part of your life.

6. Share your time with others. If your co-workers don’t have family or friends in the area, have them join you to celebrate the holidays. It’s hard to be depressed when you are with close friends or co-workers.

7. Holiday depression usually gets better once the holidays are over.


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In our previous newsletters we have constantly stressed how important it is for us all to recycle everything we possibly can. In our household there is very little trash that goes into the landfill because we recycle almost everything, such as newspapers, magazines, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, kitty litter, well, maybe not kitty litter. But even some kitty litter is compost-approved.

              Plummeting global market prices, as much as 80% for  aluminum, paper, plastic and steel are forcing recycling companies to lay off worker, cut expenses and stop accepting certain materials because of their decreased worth.  Prices started dropping in early fall when many of the commodity markets in Asian, especially China, stopped buying metals and paper for their factories. Many economists are predicting that the depressed recycling market will continue for the next two years.

A recent article in USA Today entitled “Down Market Curbs Recycling” focused on how this huge decline in the global economy has impacted the recycling business. The prices paid for paper, plastic, steel and aluminum have fallen incredibly. For example the price of aluminum has dropped from $2,000.00 a ton to $1,000.00 a ton; steel has gone form $200.00 to $77.00 a ton; copper has dropped form $1.50 to 40 cents a pound and cardboard has gone from $115.00 to $40.00 a ton. For instance, he said, recycled cardboard has recently been worth about $35 a ton, compared with about $150 a ton six months ago. High-grade office paper has dropped to $75 a ton from a recent high of $240 a ton. Prices for scrap vehicles, which last year were as high as $300 have dropped to less than $50. The price for worn-out car batteries has dropped from $10 to $4.

         Because the recycling companies in the USA can’t sell the materials they have collected, they have been forced to cut back with massive layoffs of their workforce. It’s so bad that some companies or localities are now CHARGING companies to drop off recycling instead of paying them for the recyclable materials. In addition to not buying as much materials, many companies are now holding on to materials to see if the price is going to go back up and sell at that time. But they're also facing a lack of space. If their strategy is to buy and hold, assuming prices eventually will come back up, they risk running out of room. Storage room is less a factor with metals than it with other recycled materials. Paper from the Northwest that used to be sent to China to be turned into cardboard boxes is no longer needed there. It takes lots of room to store paper and it deteriorates quickly so recyclers have cut back on buying paper the most.

              If recycling facilities cut back on curbside services, residents will get out of the recycling habit. Then the mountain of materials will go to the disappearing landfills instead of being recycled.

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I just read a remarkable article in USA Today entitled “China wrestles with growing obesity” that discussed the weight problem in China. Most of us have a image of Asian people being slender but reportedly, as we’ve exported that fast food culture to Europe and now Asia, the population is rapidly catching up to the United States with their weight problems. There are between 6 to 10 million adult Chinese (about 30% of all Chinese adults) become obese each year. China still lags the USA, where two out of three people are overweight or obese but it is projected that the Chinese will be just as large in 10 to 20 years.

Nearly ten percent of Chinese children are obese. Increased wealth and living standards, as prosperity brings the country out of poverty, has given China an obesity problem. Some feel that the main cause for China’s weight problem is the popularity of American fast food, because “everyone wants to eat just like the Americans.” This is a new problem because during the days of the communist policies and wide-spread poverty most Chinese remained thin.

 Traditional Chinese cooking is also part of the problem. Traditional recipes fry meats in oil and that unhealthy fat by itself is fattening. China’s obesity problem is also related to its one-child policy. If you only have one child you are more likely to spoil your kid by overfeeding him or her. They actually call this “the Little Emperor syndrome” which we also see in America. Another contributing factor is China’s emphasis on academics for children, focused on bettering their futures, rather than athletics. It’s good to see that China has now started a program to have schoolchildren exercise at least an hour a day. They must also change that psychological feeling that body fat represents health and prosperity. This is because they remember the China in which famine and chronic malnutrition caused the deaths of millions of people in the 1950s.

              Just like the government in America, the Chinese government does not realize the financial and social impact the huge proportion of people with diabetes and hypertension will have on the next generation. China must start prevention now, or fall in to the same trap as the U.S. and Europe who spend huge amounts of money on drugs to treat, instead of preventing obesity and continue to what the percentage of people who are overweight or obese, grow and grow and grow.

One hopeful sign that China is taking obesity seriously is their use of traditional alternative medicines such as herbal remedies, acupuncture and massage therapy. The belief that Traditional Chinese medicine can help people burn fat, suppress their appetite and increase the rate of metabolism may lead them away from the “Americanization” of the historical Chinese diet of whole grain rice, vegetables and a small amount of meat.


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Our free newsletter “The Worm’s Eye View” is uploaded to the computer each month. Each issue includes valuable information for all members of the family as well as the inclusion of the most up-to-date information concerning medical research and treatments.

As a subscriber you will be sent announcements of my new books, CD, and seminars at reduced prices and fees. Sign-up now.

You should read my latest book, “Solving the Weight Loss Puzzle.” Please go to the order page and read part of the first chapter. You will learn a lot from this book why everyone has gained weight and the Three Secrets to normalize your weight.


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