Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Three life changing books for me (and possibly the grand kids) this year.

Fast Life by Michael Mosley (British physician-journalist for the BBC) – book given by Kari Gunderson.
Dr. Mosley recounts his search for the best longevity/health advice from top animal researchers and refashions their findings into a feasible human approach that involves low calorie (500-600 kcal/day) fast twice a week for 12 weeks then once weekly thereafter.  Indeed fasting, performed by many cultures for eons, we now know biochemically reverses insulin resistance (my problem) of type II diabetes, renews the body through stem cell production and autophagy (cleanup process), promotes anticancer immunity and remodels the hippocampus (improves memory).  And of course for those more visually inclined induces significant weight loss and waist loss (loss of visceral or abdominal fat that drives metabolic syndrome, obesity …).  Now each time we snack every 2 hours or overeat we push the insulin pedal to the floor – store, store, store – in the tummy fat depot.  Fasting is the only way to reverse and break down your abdominal fat!  And, it’s cheap! The personal impact has been remarkable, rejuvenating, empowering: normalized my fasting glucose, lowered my cholesterol by 50 points, reduced my weight by 10% and waistline by 2¼“, changes I would not have thought possible at my age.  More energy, more spring in my step, more conscious of what I eat ... and all new pants.

Grit:  Power of passion and perseverance by Angela Duckworth (a Chinese-American McArthur winner and psychologist at U. Penn – before that teacher, McKinsey consultant, neuroscientist)
Dr. Duckworth (née Lee) is searching for the holy grail of success.  She studies populations as disparate as West Pointers tried to survive the mental and physical rigors of the Beast challenge, grade and middle schoolers trying to win the National Spelling Bee and highly successful business (Jamie Dimon), academic, puzzle (Will Shortz), sports (Rowdy Gaines, Pete Carroll) figures.  In fact, she finds that her grit scale predicts the outcome better than any objective measure such as grades, standardized scores etc.  That is, the not-so secret special sauce to success is perseverance and passion.  And she argues with data that grit can be developed from the inside out in oneself (interest, practice, purpose, hope) and from the outside in inculcated by parents, teachers, coaches, mentors … culture.  It made me think a lot about how our family including Rachel, John, Ben, Theresa and myself developed grit … and how we can help Jack and Naomi find their inner gristle to survive and thrive in the rigors ahead. 

Hammy Naomi & Jack waiting for the Skytrain, Vancouver
Reading about Nanette's baguettes (from Steve & Mary) X-mas
Waiting for the school bus this morning

The gift of failure by Jessica Lahey (teacher, educator and lawyer – talk heard by Rachel)

Parenting is hard.  In a similar vein to Grit, Ms. Lahey decries the current trend for overprotected, failure-avoidance overparenting (a mouthful) where parents challenge teachers regarding their child’s poor grade …  instead of allowing the teaching moment of facing failure and finding the solution and a pathway forward between the teacher and child.  This over promotion of self esteem can result in concomitant loss of ability to overcome adversity as a child and more worrisome even as an adult.  She provides examples including from her own child rearing where parenting “to the rescue” leads to ineffective transition to college and adulthood.  The latter is corroborated by administrators at Stanford and Harvard.  She provides a road map of autonomous activities and parental approaches by school age.  Not:  “You’re so smart …” leads to a fixed mindset  But:  “That was a great effort” leads to an open mindset.  In controlled studies, either praising innate intelligence rather than effort or paying for good grades diminishes intrinsic long term engagement and motivation!  Again, this can be countered by appropriate parental behavior, modeling and language.  As our Rachel and Ben’s first pediatrician and my mentor/friend at UW Dr. Memee Chun who constantly told Teri and I (even as 60+ year olds) when dealing with Ben and Rachel “Zip your lip”.  

Ms. Lahey's schema - Rachel has it posted next to her mirror