Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Serious business

I have serious business to address today. I read a lot of blogs, and sometimes I read the comments. But I know for sure that I don't read comments on old posts, so my regular readers probably did not see a comment that got left on this post from last week: Not broken by default. No need to go there and read it, because I'm going to reproduce that comment here and address it in its entirety.

I'm a little torn about this. First, I hate to give this person attention just for being negative, especially when there are so many kind comments that show up - people that I don't even know (and people I do know) say supportive things all the time. I'm so grateful to my readers for taking the time to check out what I have to say, and I don't expect them to agree with me all the time - I'm just happy that they're reading. I have no idea who is out there most of the time, and often it feels like I'm just talking to myself. But then I'll get a comment from a stranger and I'll realize this blogging thing is a way to connect to people, and that's very rewarding. But on the internet, just like in the real world, there are people who know how to behave, and people who do not. With the positive comes a bit of negative.

The other reason I feel torn is that this comment was not just negative, but quite cutting and personal, and it is painful to write about it at all. I kind of want to pretend it didn't show up so I don't have to deal with the distress of responding to it.

But the bottom line is, some accusations were made, and I want to defend myself. And I also want to make the point that there are polite ways to disagree with someone that do not resort to getting personal. I am always happy to debate an issue on the blog, and I understand that reasonable people can disagree about all kinds of things. The key, I believe, is to keep it polite, specific to the issue you really care about, and focus on issues or behaviors and not people and their motivations. Judge arguments, not people. Here is how the comment/criticism could have been worded:
I take issue with your stance on doctors' advice. I personally feel that doctors' advice is really important and valid, particularly advice on heart rate limits for exercise. My reasons for feeling this way are ... (personal experience, friends' experience, different perspective or evidence, etc.)
Then I could have responded to the specific issue. But I'm totally getting ahead of myself here. I'll get to the actual comment now. I hope that we can have some discussion about this here on the blog, make something positive out of something negative. If you would like to chime in, I encourage you to leave a comment here or on the original post. Probably here would be best. Don't just think it, write it. Okay, here is the comment, and I will address it one paragraph at a time because it is long.
You sound kind of like a guy I once knew who said it was cool if we had unprotected sex, because he knew his body, and "knew" he didn't have AIDS. Ha!
Wow, that was some start. If you want someone to take you seriously, make sure your first sentence isn't an insult. And that is not just a low blow, but an odd analogy. But let's move on.
I know you don't like hearing what your doctor says, because it goes against your personal beliefs/obsessions. But from an outsider's point of view, you do sometimes sound like a cult member. You won't be "talked down to" by outsiders, you don't want to hear a different point of view (even if the person has good intentions), and you want to do exactly what you want to do for your own reasons, whether or not it alienates those around you. It makes me sad, and yes, I'm worried about your baby.
Obsession. Cult member. Those are very hateful words. Name calling is for first graders. Talk about the issues. And you're worried about my baby? Wow. I'm so fucking touched. But let me get to the thing that bothers me most. I don't make decisions based on personal BELIEFS. I made decisions based on evidence, mechanism, and logic. If I see evidence, mechanisms, or logic that challenge my current view, I read more. I learn more. I'm a Ph.D., I'm a scientist, research is what I do. I have changed and adapted my views on nutrition, fitness, and health a great deal over the last several years. Maybe you should go read the archives and catch up.

And I don't just buy in to all the CrossFit guru talk - if you've read my blog at all, you should see that I differ from CrossFit's official stance on many, many points. A major point of my writing on the blog is to analyze fitness and health issues, to try to understand them for myself and not just parrot what other people think. If I don't have anything original to say, what's the point of having a blog? By the way, I'm not even a member of a CrossFit gym, I have no affiliation with CrossFit. At this point, I occasionally do a CrossFit workout, and I do some scaled-down lifting and other strength training. For the record, I don't think there is any conspiracy (anti-CrossFit or anti-Paleo) on the part of doctors or the medical establishment, just massive self-delusion about what actually works for short and long-term health. Read Gary Taubes' 500 page treatise on this subject to get more informed about how the medical establishment can and has unintentionally twisted decades of research. When you're done with that, I have about a dozen other books, 20 or so blogs, and hundreds of articles for you.

You know what? Maybe I am a little bit obsessive. So is anyone who cares enough about something to write a blog five days a week for more than two years. I appreciate obsessive people. They give the world great gifts - art, literature, music, scientific and technological advances. I'm not saying I'm doing that, but at least by caring about something enough to write about it every damn day, I'm trying.
As one small example: the heart rate guidelines, as far as I remember from when I was pregnant, were about making sure you keep your body temp. in a healthy range. Too high, and it CAN risk damage to your fetus' brain. It's not some anti-Cross Fit conspiracy invented to give you, Amy, a hard time.
You say this is one small example. Does that mean you take issue with all of my points, some of them, or just this issue? Is it exercise that concerns you most, or are you criticizing my turning down unnecessary tests or my nutrition plan? If this is the only concern, your reaction seems to be a bit much. If it's more, why didn't you address the other issues?

But I'll answer this one. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology revised their 140 bpm guideline years ago, but many practicing ob's don't know this and continue to preach it. My doctors never gave me this specific number but I read it all over the place and so I wanted to bring up the specific number. It does not have any basis in data or observation, it was just a number some guy picked fifty or more years ago. I am completely aware of the overheating recommendations and have been careful to avoid that. In a fit woman, going over 140 bpm heart rate does NOT equal overheating. More on this here.
Also, I had a midwife for my first pregnancy, and believe me she was no angel. When I called her one night after the birth to ask a breast-feeding question, she got very annoyed with me for interrupting her dinner and actually told me I can't "just call her like that" to ask questions about something that was scary to me (as a first time mom). She was a crank and a quack. Just because you might find someone who will go along with everything you want, and will support your supposed "empowerment," doesn't mean that person is looking out for you. She may have just as much of an ideological agenda (on the other side) as you ascribe to the so-called western doctors who you presume are motivated simply by degrees of liability.
I never said that all doctors are bad or all midwives are good. I'm sure there are good and bad of each. I only spoke about my personal experience. I'm sorry that you had a bad experience. Having your concerns dismissed by a medical professional feels bad, doesn't it? It breaches trust, it is upsetting. I do believe that doctors are less likely than nurses to question themselves or learn new things because they are used to being in a position of authority, they are used to not being questioned. There are exceptions, of course. There are great, open-minded, intelligent, analytical doctors out there (Dr. Michael Eades, Dr. Kurt Harris), but that was not what I observed from the doctors I personally interacted with. And I don't expect anyone to look out for me. That's why I do my own research and take care to understand every aspect of my health, nutrition, fitness, and medical care and don't trust someone blindly.
You are a smart woman, and clearly you have lots of ways to talk yourself into whatever you want. But there is nothing wrong with loosening up a bit for the sake of the helpless life growing inside you; he is completely at your mercy and your decisions now WILL affect his development. Go easy for a few months, then when the cord is cut and he's physically independent from you, go back to whatever harsh regime you feel you need to maintain to make yourself happy. What on earth do you have to lose?
This is just a horrible thing to say to anyone. You are judging me without knowing me. You are assuming I am doing harm to my unborn child based on something I wrote. Have you ever worked out with me? Throughout my pregnancy I have noted the changes I make in my workouts. I'm not doing anything close to what I did before I was pregnant. OF COURSE I put my child first. OF COURSE I don't go to overexertion. I'm just saying that one set of guidelines does not fit all. For someone who is overweight and out of shape, I would not advise lifting heavy or getting out of breath and then recovering. But for someone who is starting out as a competitive athlete, as I did, recommendations can and should be different. What on earth do you mean by take it easy? What behavior of mine exactly are you protesting? Getting my heart rate over 140? Lifting weight? Getting off the couch? And "whatever harsh regime you feel you need to maintain to make yourself happy"? What do you know about my training? What do you know about what makes me happy, about my years-long journey, about my struggles and what fitness means to me? What the fuck are you criticizing?

You came to my website and attacked me personally. This is what really gets me. I didn't ask you for your opinion on what kind of a person I am. Do I think that pregnant vegans are taking serious health risks for their unborn children by not eating animal products? Yes. Do I go find their blogs and tell them that? NO! That is completely disrespectful and inappropriate. Women should support each other as mothers, not tear each other down. You don't have to agree with someone to respect their right to make their own decision.

And what do I have to lose by complying with whatever the medical establishment tells me? I'll tell you, because I already lost two babies. I got sick of them shrugging their shoulders and telling me there must have been some genetic defect. I did my own fucking research and found out that I miscarried because I am celiac. I strictly cut out gluten and ate Paleo for a year and a half, and I got myself strong and healthy with exercise and lifestyle changes. Then I got pregnant right away, and I've had an extremely healthy pregnancy with absolutely no sign of problems. If I had continued to listen to the medical establishment, I would have continued to eat a grain-laden, low fat diet, I would have been overweight, suffering from gastrointestinal problems, pre-arthritic knee pain and migraines, I would have gone through expensive and invasive fertility testing and treatments, and I would have continued to lose babies.

Everyone needs to stand up for his or her own health and well being. Do not be bullied. Do not be judged.


Julie Petro said...

This post was an epically awesome object lesson in "why it's a bad idea to go to a stranger's blog with an ax to grind and grind said ax while taking material out of context, making outrageous assumptions, all the while hurling personal insults to the blog owner."

It is, however, a great way to get the shit smacked out of you. If you're into that kind of thing.

Sid said...

Posts made by readers like this make them feel safe and comfortable behind their keyboards while living their bland, colorless, waste-of-time lives because they were too scared to ask any questions. I routinely mention you and Mike to a friend of mine when on the topic of nutrition and the research that goes behind it; the facts presented by the two of you (via Facebook and this blog, and the gym when we both attended) constantly make me wonder how the "norm" became so skewed, and have left me convinced that no longer are our best intentions in anyone's mind. This poster is the fuel for these ideas, a mindless drone who is still wondering why that low-fat Pop Tart and 20 minute elliptical routine, three times a week, won't let her shed a few pounds. With her brilliant parenting, I'm sure that years from now, the children, both hers and yours, will be having this same debate.
So put bluntly: she's a fucking idiot. Sorry for the language, and for a ranting post attached, but I just wished to chime in this once. Hope all is well.


stephanieb272 said...

Like you said Amy what is necessary and best for one person is not what is necessary or best for another person. My teaching partner swims around 3000 to 4000 yds every single day. She continued this regime throughout her entire pregnancy including the day she went into labor. Not only did she swim this much, but she continued to do flip turns. She just adapted to the changes in her body. She has a beautiful boy who is turning 2 this week. Another example is one of my instructors at the Y. She has her PhD in anatomy. She continued to do headstands through out most of her pregnancy because as an anatomist and researcher she could find no evidence to support how this would harm her baby. She too has a beautiful son who is a few months old.

On another note, like you I gave up wheat because of fertility issues. I would say unfortunately for me it didn't change that problem, except I have such an amazingly awesome son through adoption that I can never be sad about the way things worked out. However, I did find it fix and helped so many other health problems I was having including chronic pain from endometriosis, and serious gastrointestinal issues. People ask me all the time how I can not eat wheat, but really it is easy because I feel so much better and I feel so terrible when I do eat it.

Try not to let this person get to you. Some people just have a need to spread vitriol, which is too bad.

Joe said...

Hey Amy,

I think this is an incredibly well-reasoned response to what was obviously a hurtful comment. It's always difficult to not effectively be able to defend yourself since you don't actually know where the attack is coming from but I think this post is an excellent example of how to do so.

Bluescaptain Joe said...

Hey sis -- haters gonna hate, that's all there is to it. I suspect, though cannot confirm, that you done got trolled. Unfortunately there are no cyber police, so all you can do with these folks is brush it off and let them be wrong on other blogs. If this rude and disrespectful person comments again, you need to just silence her voice. If you have to, go to screening comments, but don't let anyone steal your precious chi. (I say 'chi' in a very metaphorical sense, by the way, not with an actual belief in it). Brush it off, let the haters hate. Perhaps feature this gif on your blog from time to time: http://www.gifbin.com/bin/052009/1242032359_haters-gonna-hate.gif

hugs, and keep fightin the good fight.

Anonymous said...

I love how much research you had to back everything up, way to go :) Fantastic response!