My dad is a hero to me. My dad was and is the original MacGuyver. My dad has an enviable gift. He has the innate ability to solve the unsolvable problem. Most people who have met my dad, and have known him for any time at all, recognize his ability to find the not so obvious solution to a very obvious problem.
I recall that my dad was visiting my house, and I was telling him about a problem; a tall tale as it were. You see, I live in the country on roughly two acres of land. And, we have trees. When we moved there 20 years ago, the trees were not a problem but they were a big problem at the time my dad visited. The UPS and FedEx drivers were complaining that the tree limbs were hitting their trucks when they drove down the driveway. While we don’t get any critical foods like bacon via a delivery service, I could not afford to have the deliveries stop. So, I had a big problem.
I actually couldn’t see past the problems, and there were many of them. I lacked the funds to call a tree service, and my ladder was limited to eight feet. I had some hand saws, no ability to climb (still too heavy at the time), but I had teen age boys who could operate a hand saw. I explained this to my dad. I started rattling on about chain saws, pole saws, extension ladders, etc, and then I stopped talking. Then all sounds of nature stopped, birds quit chirping, nearby neighbors stopped to listen, deer in the nearby fields stopped eating and looked up, the breeze quit blowing, and my dad spoke.
You see, I had presented my dad with all sorts of data, but very little information. To summarize, I had:
- no money
- no tree service
- two teenagers
- no climbing skills or ability
- no extension ladder
- a couple of hand saws
- no chain saw
- no pole saw
Fortunately, my dad has this gift. He looked at the data presented to him, and ignored most of it. While nature paused, and the earth stood still, my dad delivered this eloquent speech, using words similar to this: “Why don’t you just move the RV under each tree and let the boys stand on top of it and cut the branches with the hand saws?”
You see; I have an old RV. It was part of my payment on a contract that I had with an employer. My dad knew that the RV’s engine ran, and his suggestion to use it as a tree cutting platform made perfect sense. When nature started making noise again, and the earth resumed rotation, I started laughing out loud. While I thought I had presented all the known data, in the universe of this problem, I literally couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I couldn’t see the information, because I had buried myself with data. While I was busy over thinking the problem, worrying about the resources, gathering the data and making mathematical calculations, my dad had a real world, inexpensive solution that fit my budget.
When we first start our journey to better health, most of us have a tendency to overlook the obvious information, and we start gathering lots of useless data. Most of us have been conditioned, through a lifetime of observation and learning, that the most important data to track while attempting to gain better health, are weight (in pounds or kilograms), and calories of food consumed. The truly advanced people, who truly understand health, will also measure the amount of calories that are used up throughout the day. While these two data points are somewhat important to know and understand, they aren’t the most vital data points, and can have no meaning it all in many circumstances.
You see, the most vital piece of data to gather is the heart beat. If you wake up in the morning, and your heart is still beating, you are presented with a whole new 24 hour period to make improvements to our health. As long as our heart doesn’t make excuses, we have the foundation for better health. Some of us measure this data, by using heart rate straps while we perform exercise. Now days, many watches monitor the heart beat for us.
The second most vital piece of data is breathing. If you quit breathing, for any substantial length of time, the heart will quit beating, and you will have lost your ability to improve your health. Many nurses and health practitioners will count the respirations, or the number of times you take a breath in a minute. But, these two pieces of information are most vital. Without either of these, you simply can’t improve your health.
Unfortunately, outside conditions such as temperature, physical or emotional stress, sleep, rest, time of day, and high voltage electricity can all effect these two basic measurements. My wife walks by me, and my pulse quickens, and my breath momentarily stops, as I view the vision that is her complete loveliness. Two simple data points, but they can have so many outside or external influences, that making data comparisons can be difficult.
During the coming weeks, I’m going to explore the who, what, why, when and how of data collection. I’ll go in depth into how to evaluate whether the data is really information worth capturing, why you might want to capture and use it, and what types of informed decisions you can make with the data that you are gathering.
The data can be a source of information that tells a story; a story that helps us make decisions for better health. The stories it tells us may be confusing at times, but we’ll learn to evaluate and learn from these stories.
In the mean time, I’m going to think about my hero dad this week, as father’s day approaches. See, my dad was carb fueled for his entire life, up until about three months ago. He’s fueled by Ketones now, because carbs are for suckers. I can’t imagine what types of problems he’ll be solving for the rest of his life. But, I don’t want to put too much pressure on him.
It’s time that we all become heroes.