Healthy Step 6


For this health step you are to drop all super heated potato products, i.e. potato chips and fries.

Overview of our American problem – are you pre or post “event”

This is Joe and I have regained control of Thindex Lodge.  Bear with me as we sort out our responsibilities around here. Casey is spending the foreseeable future in “time out”. He is usually such a good dog but this website responsibility has been a bit too much for him.

Prior to my dog taking over the website, we discussed being sure that you have assumed control of your body urges and can make rational decisions about your health. You should now be sitting less and walking more.  A good figure is to walk an hour for every four hours that you sit. Most people can do that by shutting off their TV set and using that time to walk. Does reading that cause you to shake your head in despair and say “no way”?. How about selling your big screen? Same reaction? Discontinuing your cable or satellite? With an adult in the wheelhouse and you doing a progressive walking and exercise program, we can confidently move on.

In this health step there are some technical reports that I have tried to avoid till now.  By the time you get through with this step, you should be able to see why this country is moving steadily toward obesity and deconditioning and you are caught up in the process. You will also see why this country has more cancer than “less advanced’ countries.

successful weight losers

We can start with some people that have lost weight and kept it off. A nice bit of work on this was done by Dr. Rena Wing at the University of Pittsburg in the article The Fight Against Flab.

She found that if you were fat as a child, it did not matter, you could still lose as much weight as anyone else. Eighty-nine percent of those studied changed both eating and activity. (see why my lousy retriever, Cassey, wants you to walk?) Some people ate smaller portions like Luigi Cornaro (see guest speakers)  and others ate less of certain foods and cut back on fat.

Seventy-five percent of those successful weight losers had a “trigger” such as a spouse leaving, back pain, fatigue, high cholesterol or going to a reunion or perhaps seeing a picture of themselves.

These folks were successful weight losers i.e. they kept it off. They are the 12 percent that did it where 88 percent  of all dieters failed.

Participants said that getting it off was hard and keeping it off was easy. They watched fat intake. They exercised and ate about 1380 calories a day with no more that 24 per cent fat. How much exercise you might ask? About 400 cal a day or approximately 4 miles a day of walking if that is your way of exercising.

Half of them weighed every day. Ninety-five percent said their quality of life improved and ninety- two per cent had more energy.

What was not mentioned here is that these people all had an adult in charge of the problem, guiding their ship to a successful voyage for life. Call it motivation, dedication, inspiration, perseverance, mind set, or throwing out the monkeys – it’s needed for success.

side benefits of weight loss

Not mentioned in the review is the avoidance of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, syndrome X, arthritis, and more maladies that afflict the overweight folks in our country.

By the time you wade through these health steps, I hope you will have enough information to face life and act like an adult like these people did and live to ripe old age, attending the funerals of all those nay-sayers that said not to worry about a little flab or a little hypertension, etc.

Are you pre or post-event?

If you have come this far, you are one of two types of people that are interested in better health. The first type is what we can call “pre-event” and the second is “post-event”.

“Pre-event people” are concerned because they are heavy and de-conditioned and know they are headed down the wrong road to bad health but they still feel fine. They also may have some family history of disease that they would like to avoid by a healthy change. These people are generally smart. There is a school IQ and a life IQ. They are not the same. These pre event people have a high life IQ. They want to avoid spending money and time in doctor’s offices waiting for bad results and taking pills for problems that are caused by faulty life styles. They think that having a high thindex throughout their life is worth the effort. They are absolutely right. They get an “A” for lifetime IQ.

The second group is the “post-event” people. These may be the smartest people in your class at school but they didn’t get the memo on how to eat and exercise. They had hypertension, or a high cholesterol (200), high fatty acids, diabetes, suffered a heart attack, a stroke, back pain, flattened arches, and aching joints of the legs. This is your body talking to you. It gives you these nagging problems because it is unhappy with what food it’s getting and the lack of exercise. Your body doesn’t know it is living in the year 2010 +. It still thinks it is living hundreds of thousands of years ago, running and walking about 12 miles a day searching for food. The food was scarce  (mostly plant and fruit based) so your body survived on minimal calories. The body hasn’t got a clue what to do with calorie-dense foods with no exercise. It has no mechanism to deal with too many calories. If you are in this second group, you are welcome here but you may have more work to do than the first group that is “pre-event”. On the other hand, you may have more motivation because of your “event”.

Heart Disease and Cancer

There are two big health problems that we can lessen with exercising more and changing what we eat. Cancer and cardiovascular disease. These are the big cripplers and killers in our country that are less of a problem in other countries.

Lets discuss cardiovascular disease first. We used to think of heart disease as aging related. Our bodies get old and so does our heart and then our heart gives out and we die. That was the way things worked.

Egyptian mummies had heart disease as seen by calcifications of their arteries on CT scans, as explained in the Los Angeles Times article, A History of Heart Disease. Meat was preserved with salt and the pharaohs were not into jogging so it is no surprise that they had heart disease.

Heart disease in America was rare before 1900. It has seen a steep growth due to diet changes and easier lifestyles – more like a Pharaoh in Egypt. It has gone from a rare problem to be our number one killer of both men and women, as discussed in Darrell Miller’s article, Fight Cardiovascular Disease. Cardiac deaths are now the number one cause of death in both men and women in America. Breast cancer gets all the hype and publicity but heart attacks kill more women.

Hundreds and thousands of years ago humans were not dying from heart disease. This is a lifestyle problem, plain and simple. If you eat minimally and run 12 miles a day it is unlikely that you will have a heart attack. Here are just a few of the lifestyle changes that have impacted our health in recent years.

• Availability of fatty high calorie foods, ice cream and other dairy products, fatty meats, processed meats, entry of processed foods like cupcakes, doughnuts, and low nutrition bread

• Proliferation of fast food outlets that have no products that are healthy

• Change of jobs from labor to sit down jobs

• Entry of TV into the home where we sit and watch ads that sell unhealthy lifestyles. (In my opinion this has been the worst of all health disasters for Americans.)

• Entry of the food middlemen that study our tastes and preferences and then tailor their foods and fragrances to our palates making them hard to resist. I urge you to watch the video on doctor David Kessler’s interview regarding his book “The end of overeating”  (video section at the lodge)

• Removal of trolley cars in 46 cities by an industrial consortium backed by an auto maker, tire maker, and gas company

• Proliferation of the automobile and road systems causing urban sprawl and more sitting throughout the day getting to work.

• Introduction of cigarettes doctored to our tastes, addicting and killing millions of Americans including World War Two soldiers (by sending them free cigarettes)

• Marbleizing of red meat begun in the 1940s and 1950s. The marbleization is mostly done by feeding corn, not a normal food for cows. Corn has omega – 6 fats which is inflammatory to our bodies when we eat marbleized red meat.

• Invention of the supermarket where food is all available in one place, cutting down the need to walk from store to store as is still done in many countries

You may be able think of many more reasons why we have so much heart disease in this country. As you sit there reading this, you need to know that heart disease is a life style problem that can be reversed.

The Pressure to Eat: Why We’re Getting Fatter

Animal Products Are Linked to Heart Disease

Noninvasive Cure for Heart Disease

What does vascular disease look like?

What happens to make the arteries get crusted over? Or, why can’t our really cool bodies deal with a few too many calories and not enough exercise? Read the artherosclerosis wiki to learn why it happens and what goes on at the cellular level. It reads like a foreign language but it has some good pictures to show what our number one enemy is at the cellular level and grossly in the blood vessels. This disease is what you need to avoid.

How early can it occur? It can be detected as early as age 4 with the help of a microscope. There are autopsies of soldiers from the Korean war at age 18 showing 70 percent had vascular disease, sometimes extensive. The wiki  link above discusses the controversy about what causes and what helps the vascular disease that is our number one killer in America.

Below is a link to an excellent presentation that is easy to understand from the Khan Academy.

Inflammation rears its ugly head

The following is a link to a discussion on the role of inflammation, measured by C reactive protein in the blood. It talks about the controversy of what causes arteriosclerosis and what the role of inflammation is in causing vascular clotting events. The bottom line is that people that eat incorrectly and do not exercise are at risk for a heart attack, but if their inflammation is low they may be at lower risk.

Even Casey, the lousy retriever can see that it is an epidemic in the American population due to dairy products, animal fats, trans fats, too many calories, too much sugar, not enough omega 3 fats, and too little exercise. My opinions are influenced by the work of Pritikin, Ornish, Harris, Esselstyn, Campbell and others that show strict dietary changes and increasing exercise can reverse heart disease. If you prefer to passively take more and more medication and not modify your life in any way then you have not made progress toward health and Casey may take you off his preferred people list if he ever gets off probation.

The diet that we recommend at is similar to the Pritikin program from the 80s and the diet recommended by Dean Ornish M.D. and T. Colin Campbell PHD. It is proven to help cardiovascular disease and lower the risks for cancer. Obviously, if someone has very advanced vascular disease with heavily calcified arteries and multiple levels of stenosis and plaque formation there will be limited succes


Heavy people have increased cancer risks so that is an obvious reason for our high cancer incidence in America.  Another theoretic reason is that we are exposed to so many more chemicals here in our foods and water. Cigarette use causes about a third of our cancers. Inactivity also has a significant effect.

This link shows up –to-date information on which cancers are becoming more prevalent while others are decreasing.

New York Times Article Discusses Rise in Child Cancers

We are a bit off subject here in showing an article about pediatric cancers. This whole website is about what you can do to protect your health future by making changes in your life. Big changes. This article mentioned above is about protecting kids. Little kids. They have no blood brain barrier for the first year of life and in utero so they depend on us for protection from the un-seeable toxins in the environment. This drives home the concept that our environment is heavily contaminated and the kids are the “canary in the mine” in that they are telling us by their cancer rates that there is a problem. The diet changes in the next few health steps will minimize your exposure to carcinogens in the environment.

In summary, you are either pre or post “event”. You have seen a smattering of data that shows our health problems can be prevented by changes in how we eat and how much we exercise. If you are post event then your motivation may be higher but your potential for great health may be jeopardized by the nature of your event (large heart attack for example).

In health step 7 we will discuss dietary changes that will help you minimize your environmental exposure. If you have not increased your exercise then it is doubtful that diet will help you. It boils down to controling  yourself; sitting less and walking or exercising for two hours per day. Want some data to show you are not alone in getting motivated? Check out this link, Do High-Fat Diets Make Us Stupid and Lazy? Maybe your “monkeys in the wheelhouse” is the very act of eating incorrectly that can keep you immobile and unmotivated.

Watching the same amount of TV and continuing to not exercise? Don’t bother with health step 7 and I’m taking you off Casey’s Rose List. He may not be around much longer anyway. And by the way, you need to get off of soda pop and hyper-heated potato products.

Joe says he is taking me to the shelter after my nap

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Lodge Overview

Welcome to Thindex – your guide to better health and life.

This website is a little off–the–wall (like all of us, maybe). I'm not trying to sell you anything, and I'm not trying to collect information about you.

The purpose of this website is simply to help you improve your health and, ultimately, the quality of your life and eventual destiny.

That's it. No hidden agenda.

This website is my push to get you to change So, come on into the lodge and feel free to browse around for a bit. I hope that you find the information helpful.

Joseph R. McFarland MD

What you can find in the Lodge:
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Where do I start?

Thindex is an easy going website, focusing on your health improvement. Getting healthier isn't complicated or expensive. If you do it without outside help you will have a much better chance for permanent lifetime success.

  1. step one: Click on "Calculate my thindex". Enter the data requested. You will need an accurate time that it takes for you to walk or run a mile to get the complete data for your thindex. The dot between the green and red lines is where you fit in to your age group. Hanging close to the green line is where you want to be. Below zero is not good unless you are very old. Most Americans will be below zero.
  2. Step two: Use the information from Step one to make a decision about improving your health and destiny from this moment on.
  3. Step three: Cruise around the website and check a few of my blogs, the videos, the guest lecturers, pollution and diet news. Also check the rose of the day and Casey's Corner for kids.
  4. Step four: You can use this site and the 9 health steps to move yourself towards better health. Or you can do your own thing and check your progress with our calculator.
This site is put together by Joseph McFarland MD. As an Orthopedic Surgeon, I have seen some nasty wounds over the last 40 years. I have never seen wounds as bad as what we Americans are doing to ourselves by eating unhealthy foods and not getting nearly enough exercise. These wounds can heal if you reverse the cause. The information you need is all here and it is all free.

Calculate my Thindex

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Health Steps: There are 9 progressive health steps that ease you slowly towards better health.


Blogs: A variety of health topics


Guest speakers: Talks by a variety of diet experts


Recommended reading: Diet and exercise books in which we believe.


Rose of the day: Daily rose with comments that you can mail to friends or enemies, telling them how you are doing.


Casey's corner: Pollution and general advice for young kids.


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Why pick on soda pop as the first thing to eliminate as you go through the health steps?

Look up Sylvia Booth Hubbard – soda. She lists an even longer list of soda pop related problems. "Thirteen new ways colas ruin your health" (protected)

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Potatoes are a good starch source but when overheated above boiling produce acrylamide , a known carcinogen. These products are oversalted and some still contain trans fats which cause arteriosclerosis.