So, my buddy Tom Emerick, President of Emerick Consulting and formerly Vice President, Global Benefit Design at Wal-Mart, sent me a copy of his new book about week or so ago. It’s called An Illustrated Guide to Personal Health.
It was co-authored by Robert (Bob) Woods, PhD who teaches timeshare management at the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Hmmm, employer types, what’s up with that?
I wanted to read the book because it came from Tom, but I was not particularly looking forward to it. I was expecting the usual wellness and fitness fodder. You know what I mean, page after page full of admonitions to watch your diet and do your exercises. I thought perhaps there would be some recipes tossed in and maybe a picture or two showing the proper way to do a pushup or a crunch.
So it was a lovely surprise when I flipped open the cover to the Table of Contents and found that “Chapter 1” covers the topic, “Avoid Hand Dryers in Public Restrooms.” What? No, diet advice?
Well, that’s not exactly the case. The authors cover diet in chapters called, “Ignore Fad Diets,” “Drink a Glass of Red Wine Daily,” “Give your Fork a Rest,” and “Don’t Take Multivitamins.”
I scanned the rest of contents and was intrigued to find other seemingly odd ball Chapters:
- Job Misery is a Killer
- Let Kids Play in Dirt
- Don’t Go to the Doctor for a Cold
- Laughter Heals, Boredom Kills, and
- Envy is a killer.
Not your typical health book
Hmmm…I thought…this is definitely not your typical health book, you know the type, usually written by people like me, trained as a doctor and used to preaching “the facts” of health and wellness.
You may have noticed that I put the word chapter in parentheses because each of the chapters in this small book are just a bit over one page long. And, each is charmingly illustrated by Madi Schmidt. Although they thank her, the authors don’t really tell us much about Madi, an oversight that will, hopefully, be corrected in future editions.
Each of the chapters starts with a quote from somebody well known. One that caught my attention because it so profoundly reinforced the chapter title, was “Avoid Surgery Unless You Have No Other Choice.” It was from the late Joan Rivers:
“I’ve had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware.”
We all know how badly her last encounter with surgery turned out.
Fun, but not fluff
Now I may be making this sound like a fluff book, but in fact, it is not. Each of the brief treatises is based on studies published in reputable journals or books. As the authors say in the introduction,
“Much of what we have written here is documented science. The problem is so-called scientific studies in health care are often contradictory. For example, a certain vitamin supplement may raise your risk of cancer according to one study, but another study says the same vitamin may lower your risk of heart disease. What do you do? Since we all have a hundred or more health risk factors—the combinations and permutations of which are mind boggling—we just have to do the best we can.”
They go on to say,
“Sometimes our cited statistics don’t match up. One study reports 70 percent of something and another study of the same thing reports 72 percent. We are aware of this but decided to report each study’s results faithfully. We didn’t fiddle with the numbers to make them consistent.”
The bottom line
Taken all together, this little gem of a book provides practical information to help people keep themselves healthy outside of the healthcare system. As Tom and Bob tell us,
“Doctors are pretty good about treating you when your’e sick. But they really can’t do much to give you greater well-being or make you healthier.”
“An Illustrated Guide to Personal Health” aims to fill that gap.