1. I used to be obese
I’m currently in the best shape of my life. My lipid profile isn’t bad either. But I wasn’t always this way. I used to be 30 pounds overweight and had chronic GERD and frequent back pain. This was 2005. My blood pressure and fasting glucose were creeping up to a danger zone. Was this a sign of insulin resistance? Perhaps. Regardless, it was fueled by lots of late nights in consulting, combined with calorie-dense but nutrition deficient meals (and lots of Oreo Cheesecake and beer).
In 2007 I settled into a new job and could finally grab control over my lifestyle. I had come back from a snowboarding trip completely exhausted and trailed behind the rest of the group throughout the trip. I had to fix myself. I took this as an opportunity to overhaul my lifestyle. I researched “fat loss”, particularly leveraging the blogosphere. I began playing racquetball and started Crossfitting. I cut out empty calories, paid attention to where my food came from and started down the paleo/primal path. I also learned a lot from Gary Taubes. To share my efforts, I started a facebook page that chronicles my workouts and meals.
2. We’re headed down a dangerous path
It wasn’t till I backpacked through Central America that I realized how food affects much more than just our bodies. Earlier that year, a friend suggested I read Omnivore’s Dilemma. I had it on my Kindle but didn’t start reading until I was on a “chicken bus” in Nicaragua. I was reading about the maize that made its way to the US on the same path that I was travelling. I looked out the window and saw cows grazing in pasture while learning about CAFOs for the first time. I realized that this country, who’s GDP is 1/20th that of the US’s, produces its food in such a different way than we do. There was no military-industrial-agriculture complex and obesity was scarce (through rising). I discovered the connection that food has not just with our health but with the environment and society.
3. I ‘m at Cal. I want to learn and connect with the brightest
Great… I was impacted by a book on agriculture and another on revisionist history of nutrition. I lost a lot of weight and feel a lot better; what does this have to do with facilitating a class and getting involved with a blog!?
- I’m at one of the most progressive universities in the world
- Michael Pollan is an adjunct professor here
- I’ve taken several classes in corporate strategy, business models and marketing
- I’m passionate about health and sustainable agriculture, and there must be a class on this somewhere else at Cal, right?
Well, kind of. I found a DeCal course that was taught last Spring during my first year of business school. I cold-emailed Jenna asking if she was facilitating again in the Fall since there was nothing else offered that sounded interesting. She needed another pair of hands. I offered and suggested we incorporate another one of my passions: social media. We assembled a team, developed a course and here we are half way through the Fall 2010 semester!
Hence “Food, Sustainability and Health in Social Media.” The course is divided into how food affects 3 systems:
- The body
- The environment
We explore each of these topic areas through the lense of social media rather than textbooks and “traditional media.” Assignments are not delivered on paper to sit in a filing cabinet. Instead, students will write blog posts, comments and become a part of the global discussion.
While teaching is a great learning experience, I’m learning even more from my fellow [younger] millennials who are students in the class. We have a great group of enthusiastic bright minds who are devoting a lot more of themselves to causes than I am. These are the people who are going to make a difference. Look out for some great writing from them over the next few months! This is their blog – all I can do is help create a platform for them.