By DIANE PHILLIPS
News alert. Today is Valentine’s Day. That is, it’s a news alert for anyone who drove to work today with blindfolds on and did not see pop-up florist stands proffering roses for those to whom planning ahead was something that could be procrastinated.
It’s a news alert for anyone who has been married long enough to believe his wife will forgive him if he forgot to buy her chocolates this one time, just like she did last year when he forgot to buy her chocolates that time and she promised to forgive him this once.
Everywhere you look, there are symbols of Valentine’s Day. In stores, ads in the paper, all over the internet with the things you can buy. In grocery stores, heart-shaped boxes bulging with promise and calories dominate space normally reserved for products with less urgent threat – buy me now or forever pay the price for not.
On West Hill Street where Graycliff never ceases to amaze with its colourful overhead display, this week’s splash is kisses and hugs.
If the trappings of Valentine’s Day are everywhere, the underlying question is where is the love? And is Valentine’s Day a real holiday or an economic boost powered by Hallmark and hope? When you think about the real meaning of affection and respect, picture the innocence of a young child and dog running on the beach, hair and fur equally wild and wind-blown, waves lapping. Or imagine the feeling of a weak and wrinkled, elderly hand grasping that of a grown daughter, pouring all the strength the old man can summon to thank his daughter for looking after him. Imagine the look in her eyes when she smiles back at him, saying I will never stop caring for you, Dad. No bouquet of flowers or box of candy can warm the heart more than that smile or squeeze of a hand.
That doesn’t mean that soppy cuts it for everyone. Celebs, for instance, are far more likely to indulge, because they can, in gifts that are as attention-seeking as they are. Take the case of Jay-Z, for instance, who gave his wife Beyonce a platinum-coated cell phone that cost $25,000. Hopefully it came with minutes. Not all gifts have such happy endings. Actress Angelina Jolie reportedly gave her partner Brad Pitt an island in the shape of a heart with a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. That, of course, was before he was no longer her partner. Actor and Scientologist Tom Cruise gave his fiancé Katie Holmes a $20 million jet. She married him but that did not work out too well, either. As I recall, they divorced in 2012. Maybe she used the jet for a speedier getaway. Then there are the gifts that are truly out of this world, like the trip on a Virgin Galactic spaceship that Katy Perry bought Russell Brand for his 35th birthday. And how did that work out for them? If Virgin makes it, Brand will be flying solo.
News alert. It’s Valentine’s Day and if you have not figured out what to get that someone special in your life, how about popping a bag of popcorn and watching the classic Ike and Tina Turner movie, What’s Love Got to Do with It, Anyway? Then try to get the music out of your head. And by the way, do remember to tell those you care about what they mean to you. OK, you can say it with flowers if you insist. Long-stem red roses with the thorns carefully pruned placed in my arms as we walk along the shore…
Taking heart month seriously will help improve our health
Valentine’s Day does remind us of one thing we all have in common. A heart. While the promise of love might make it beat a little faster, a whole lot of what we eat is sure to slow it down, harden our arteries, possibly give us sleep apnea and for one in every seven of us in The Bahamas, cause diabetes. Pretty scary stuff.
February is not just the month of Valentine’s Day; it’s Heart Month. The World Population Review pegs The Bahamas as the most obese country in the Caribbean region and 21st in the world. It’s no wonder heart disease and related conditions – hypertension, stroke – rank as the number one killer in the country. And the interesting thing about heart disease, just like prostate cancer – it’s totally preventable.
Our high consumption of processed foods, fast foods, fried foods, overconsumption of carbohydrates, our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are all contributing factors. We know these things. We have heard them over and over. Put down the fried chicken, turn down the Biggie drink and grab a ball or bike and get out there and play, ride, exercise. Whether we act on our knowledge and change our habits is another thing. But what we don’t necessarily know and what is new in the war against obesity and heart disease is the increasing interest in intermittent fasting.
That’s according to information shared at a fascinating session held last Wednesday at Rosewood. Sponsored by Cleveland Clinic Florida, the heart talk drew nearly 150 people who cared enough to forsake the cocktail hour for conversation with leading doctors, including the Minister of Heath Dr Duane Sands, local experts Dr Jerome Lightbourne and Dr Graham Cates and Chairman of Internal Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Florida Dr Gabriel Gavrilescu.
It’s interesting that we think three meals a day or six small meals a day or some combination of the two is the optimum eating habit schedule. Historically, when man was a hunter and gatherer he ate when he pounced and did not eat again until he was hungry -- and then only if the hunt was successful. Intermittent fasting, an old way that may be making a surprising comeback. If you try it, let me know how it goes. Some ideas are harder to digest quickly than others.