Tag Archive | Dominique Wilkins

spring cleaning and the NBA Finals

I recently decided to revisit some of my old posts, brush them off and bring them out for some fresh air–a kind of spring cleaning. I found a few that I have now fluffed up or polished, but this one is screaming for immediate attention.

As I write, I am sitting and watching Game 5 of the NBA finals–Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors. The postseason with the advance of Cleveland and LeBron James has necessitated this postscript to “dominique et moi”. There, I wrote about my meeting with NBA legend and diabetes ambassador Dominique Wilkins on his visit to the health center where I worked. (Yes, really! Did you miss that one?)Curry Powder in India, Chronic Kidney Disease

In that meeting, I asked Dominique how he felt about famous athletes using their celebrity to market unhealthy products–making reference to LeBron’s Pepsi ads which were running at that time. Though not to single out LeBron, I do find certain celebrity endorsements particularly troubling. During this year’s final rounds, LeBron has been featured in an ad for Kia automobiles. The spot starts out with him sitting alone in his kitchen, eating a bowl of cereal with a box of Fruity Pebbles prominently displayed. The milk is in a plain, round, unmarked glass bottle. Just as he raises the spoon to his mouth, his zen moment is interrupted by a maintenance worker outside the window wielding a noisy leaf blower. LeBron leaves the table, miffed that his quiet moment has been disturbed–but not before five camera shots feature the Fruity Pebbles. A few more distractions pursue him until he finally finds solace in the quiet, obviously roomy and reclining back seat of his Kia.

I have been catching up on recent seasons of Mad Men so I know how these pitches are made by ad companies. But, please can someone please tell me what marketing seduction was intended here? Does Kia own Post Foods or are they just sleeping together?  What demographic is eating kids’ cereals and buying fancy-ish cars–long legged adolescents saving their lawn mowing money? And, why is LeBron party to it all?

Ironically, recently as I watched LeBron on the court, I noticed he seemed more lean and lithe than I remembered. I turned to Pete, my source for all things sport and nutrition related. Concerned he may have missed something, I implored him to get me some scoop on LeBron’s diet. Thirty seconds later he was back to me with a report that sure enough, this incredible sport’s phenomenon was adhering to a lower carbohydrate diet and was playing minus fifteen to twenty pounds this season. I was not surprised. I knew it! No Fruity Pebbles for King James. And, I am also going to venture that he’s likely lactose intolerant and not much of a milk drinker.

Well, I do hope that these athletes heed some warning from Dominique. Not even the creme de la creme are immune from negative dietary impacts and diabetic consequences. Well, except maybe LeBron–because the way he plays, he likely is immortal. And, they should be mindful of the messages they embody through their endorsements. But, hey, what food is that his nemesis is hawking on his jersey? Curry? You mean that the anti-inflammatory spice blend that may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and that contributes to some spectacular shooting?  I wonder who is marketing that.

For a look at what LeBron is really fueling on, and what he actually drives, see here.

For a look at what Steph Curry is doing to promote healthy eating, see here.

For a look at a 4-time NBA Champion’s thoughts on nutrition, see here.

In health, Elyn

OH, DEAR ME. After writing this whole thing, I went to look up the ingredients of Fruity Pebbles for a link, only to find out that Fruity Pebbles is also a LeBron James endorsed Nike Air Foamposite One sneaker!! Wow. Your thoughts?

photo (2)dominique et moi

November was Diabetes Awareness month. Or, so I am told. For me, every month is diabetes month and every day is diabetes day, as nary an hour goes by without my sharing sacred space with someone who has diabetes. Sometimes this is the shell-shocked newly diagnosed, other times, it is the weary veteran of the disease. Read more.

Advertisements

dominique et moi

November was Diabetes Awareness month. Or, so I am told. For me, every month is diabetes month and every day is diabetes day, as nary an hour goes by without my sharing sacred space with someone who has diabetes. Sometimes this is the shell-shocked newly diagnosed, other times, it is the weary veteran of the disease.

So, a few weeks ago when my dear friend and favorite diabetes educator Marie handed me a flyer of some local events in my community, sponsored by one of the national diabetes organizations, I agreed to distribute copies to my patients. Looking it over, I caught sight of something interesting. Tucked among the listings for some talks at a nearby hotel on various dietary topics, like Healthy Eating for the Holidays by some local nutritionists–was mention of a presentation to be made by Dominique Wilkins–the former NBA All-Star who played primarily with the Atlanta Hawks. My inner basketball jones, relatively well tuned from my life with Pete and Morgan perked up.   photo (2)

Dominique Wilkins–who was just so you know, born in France–was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2000, just shortly after retiring from his long career. He is now a committed ambassador for the cause, passionate about helping others. While I doubted if many of my patients would travel across town for the other events, I thought some of them might be excited by the prospect of seeing the Human Highlight Film to make the effort. I asked Marie to get the date posted on our electronic message board.

A few days later Marie called me into her office and said, look at this email. Our CEO was informing her that the basketball legend’s PR folk had offered us a drop-in appearance at the Health Center and was wondering if we could garner interest with only a few days notice. Go for it, I exclaimed giddily, anxious for the opportunity to present some celebrity inspiration at our humble clinic. I quickly found a few other employees who shared my excitement and called a few of my “guys”, apologizing for making any assumptions about race, gender, age and sports interest. When a 13-year-old patient of mine who I mentioned it to seemed quite aware of Mr. Wilkins’ basketball legacy and excitedly understood the significance of such a visit, I maintained my enthusiasm.

At the appointed day and time, wearing sensible high heels to enhance my own short stature, I walked through the doors to the waiting room and there was Dominique Wilkins–graceful and stunning. I went right up to him, looked way up, introduced myself and shook his hand. We were now on a first name basis. I told him my husband taught me to enjoy the game of basketball by watching him play. I appreciate sport for its expression of the human body and its choreography, and Dominique certainly embodied both. He seemed touched.

The crowd in the waiting room was small but attentive. Some were there to see him. Others were just innocently waiting for their medical appointments. Dominique addressed his mixed audience. Basically, his impromptu message was that diabetes is a serious but manageable disease. Do what you have to do to deal with it. He matter-of-factly listed the basic dictates: do some physical activity that you enjoy for at least thirty minutes on most days, give up the sweets, stop drinking juice and soda and follow your doctor’s advice.

Apparently, as he was talking his talk, a woman sitting behind me was reacting with noticeable disbelief. He challenged her discomfort and questioned her on what she was thinking. She essentially said she thought he was talking crazy stuff–mere mortals could not do what he was suggesting. These simple declarations which are easy to espouse, are unfathomable and overwhelming to many–no matter who is delivering the message.

Diabetes is crazy making. It pulls the rug right out from under you when you thought you were just minding your own business. No other health condition asks so much of so many. The multiple actions required for ‘self-management’ are daunting. Once the blood is commandeered by an excessive army of sugar molecules, it demands some pretty strong sacrifice and extreme behavioral changes in a bargain to help assure that you get to keep all your digits. Minions are condemned for just starting the day with that big bright sunny glass of OJ and satisfying thirst with one of those ubiquitous caramel colored cola elixirs. No one said anything about diabetes and how it damages the heart along with the kidneys, nerves, eyes and brain, did they?  As Dominique gently goaded the woman to challenge her resistance, I saw in her face the communal shock of the masses, the same shock that had evidently once brought this Adonis of a man to his own knees when he received his diabetes diagnosis.

I then raised my hand to ask a question. I was interested to know his thoughts about celebrities–and celebrity athletes in particular–who endorse products known to be detrimental to health. I did mention a player’s name and I did mention a beverage product. Dominique’s defense was a little weak as he responded with “Who wouldn’t do that for a million dollars?”  I don’t know–millionaires, people who know their messages matter, someone who might spend a day with me in my office seeing the onslaught of diabetes–its victims increasingly both younger and more significantly laden with this burden of glucose metabolism gone awry? He rebounded by saying that many athletes give a lot of their time and money to supporting important causes. Yes, this is true, but nonetheless, there it was, the constant contradiction.

Yes, the contradiction that favors and forgives corporate irresponsibility while individual and societal health is decimated in its wake. Another example of the kind that leaves our government and the rest of us pathetically pawing the ground trying to find and fund ways to clean up the mess. Per year, the company that makes the product I referred to, spends something like 1.7 billion dollars–could that be right–on advertising just its beverages; and the athlete will earn about $60 million. May I add that the companies that market diabetes drugs are also raking in some big bucks. Meanwhile, my patients and many like them sit among the rubble of a broken health care and food system often without two good glucometer strips to rub together.

Dominique’s response did not diminish my admiration for his work or for his play. He is doing something valuable in bringing his efforts to diabetes awareness. He showed up and talked to my patients. They and I appreciated it. Still, I sighed deeply. Diabetes can be a grim disease–especially for those without some modicum of financial resources, intelligence and fortitude–and access to good quality food and medicine defined in its truest sense.

Interestingly, Dominique, well endowed with more than a modicum of these necessary ingredients, shared that the most challenging part for him to do in order to address his own condition was exercise. After 18 years as an elite athlete in top physical form, peeling his body back off the couch and wrangling it back into servitude, was the last thing he wanted to do.

Well, here’s to all the things I would do in service to the public health if I had just a few of those millions of dollars. What do you think? What would you do?  Let me know.

In health, Elyn

Check out this infographic from this company American Recall Center which is committed to providing important consumer health information particularly related to prescription drugs and medical devices. http://www.recallcenter.com/life-diabetes-diabetic-bloggers-want-know/

Rose's Plate

Rose’s Plate

My Plate Haiku

Food is medicine

Farmers are doctors, Cooks priests

Eat, pray, eat, pray, love.  by Gordon