The Superstress Solution, by Dr. Roberta Lee, M.D. (Hardcover, 2010)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
As someone who has endured many kinds of stressful events
(earthquakes, tornadoes, fire, flood, hurricane, IRS audits, and other
natural disasters), I feel qualified to review a book on stress. I've
also written a course on this topic so I come at it as a published
My insights into handling stress made quantum leaps when I began
studying Chinese martial arts in the early 1980s. Dr. Lee is of Chinese
decent (third generation Chinese American). Thus, I was not surprised to
find myself nodding yes, yes, yes as she explained one concept and then
another. Much of what she says is outside of the mainstream discussions
of this topic. And that's really too bad, because she's right on target.
I was born with an immune deficiency that persists to this day, yet
have not been sick since 1971. I credit this mostly to my dietary
choices. Dr. Lee makes dietary recommendations that are very close to
what I would recommend. Even Dr. Lee's Famous Salad Dressing is nearly
identical to my own dressing recipe (I don't add honey, and I use
balsamic vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar).
One thing she doesn't mention is where to get your green tea. I get
mine from an ethnic Chinese grocery. I think it is an important quality
consideration. For one thing, the tea bags don't have staples. I'm
guessing Dr. Lee doesn't buy her green tea from the local chain grocery,
so isn't aware that many brands of green tea aren't up to the standards
she probably takes for granted.
Why are our diets so similar? It isn't because her information is
widely known and practiced (it isn't). The similarities are there
because we have arrived at solutions that work, though by different
paths taken to get there.
The similarities go beyond diet. They go to the core philosophy:
health care. At the time I'm writing this review, there's a national
debate about "health care" yet nobody's talking about actual health
care. They are talking about medical care. These aren't at all the same
Medical care means cut, burn, or poison to treat the disease. And
sometimes, that's necessary. But usually it's preventable. In all cases,
it's expensive and in many cases astronomically so.
Over 90% of recurrent medical care would be prevented if continued
treatment were contingent upon implementation of health care. For
example, to get continued treatment for prostate cancer men would be
required to reduce body fat to under 8% (easily achievable at any age)
via a supervised portion control program. Or they would be denied the
continued treatment, because their own behavior is defeating the purpose
of the treatment anyhow. This may sound harsh at first, but if you
reflect upon all of the facts, you can't help but conclude it's the most
humane way to proceed. It's also the least expensive.
But instead of healing people, we subsidize sickness-inducing
behavior and then complain that it costs too much to treat the sickness.
This is like throwing rocks at your windows and then complaining about
the replacement costs. The current "health care debate" is about
deciding who will control the repair process instead of reducing the
number of rocks thrown--maybe it would be nice to bring some competent
adults into the "debate."
Medical care costs are ten times higher than they would be if we had
a 'treat the person" approach rather than a "treat the disease"
approach. Personal misery, of course, is also ten times higher than it
needs to be.
Dr. Lee's approach to solving stress-related illness goes to the
underlying problems, treating the person to solve the disease rather
than treating only the disease and leaving the person unhealthy. This is
one of the stark differences between "conventional medicine" (treat the
disease) and "holistic medicine" (treat the person).
My own "mainstream" physician is an old-timer who tells patients
things they don't like to hear and who insists on practicing health care
rather than just medical care. When I went to him earlier this year with
a nasty thumb infection (a tick had burrowed into my thumb, yuck), I
just wanted him to lance it and give me antibiotics. I thought that was
all he could do, and I was wrong. He used a combination of medicine and
health care, impressing the heck out of me.
Dr. Lee is of this same caliber. While many overworked doctors will
just prescribe a drug and hope you get over whatever is causing you to
stress out, it's not a real solution. The drug reduces (or shifts) the
symptoms, but it doesn't solve the problem.
Part of the solution involves proper diet, which is something most
Americans describe as "nutty." People who observe my food choices often
ask, "Are you health nut?," to which I reply "No, I'm just not a disease
nut." What goes into the typical American shopping cart is appalling. No
wonder people get sick.
Why anyone would drink "osteoporosis in a can" (soda) or eat "colon
cancer in the dough" (bread with hydrogenated oil in it) I have no idea.
Engaging in such practices defies logic, especially when you consider
that these behaviors also promote obesity. If Americans dropped just
these two behaviors, our national "health care crisis" would end because
two big drivers of disease would be gone. Yet, it's the rare shopping
cart that doesn't contain BOTH of these toxins.
Dr. Lee's diet recommendations provide sane alternatives.
Of course, the book isn't just about diet. I expound on that because
it's the easiest part of the total solution to implement and it provides
fast results. Dr. Lee provides what I consider a complete solution,
though others may disagree. I've read other books on stress and think
most of what is said is off target or suggest things that just aren't
practical. This book doesn't have those shortcomings.
So, what's inside it?
She writes a nice introduction that lays out the basic concepts. It
also explains her perspective on how we arrived at the current super
stress as normal situation.
Part One consists of the first two chapters. Chapter One, Super
Stress in Your Body and on Your Mind, discusses the symptoms and sources
of chronic stress. Chapter Two provides a way to assess your level and
type of stress. It provides four questionnaires that aid in this
purpose. I think just going through the questionnaires can be helpful
because issues that you might not think of are right there.
In Part Two, six chapters delve into the tools for stress reduction.
I mentioned food (Chapter 4), earlier. Chapter 5 is titled "Rest and
Motion." These are the two "physical" chapters; the others are about
mental and social tools. These other four areas are typically
under-rated and under-utilized. Conventional medicine doesn't address
them at all.
On a related note, talk therapy, which treats the person, has been
supplanted by "prescription therapy," which treats the disease. This
sorry state of affairs is driven by Medicare requirements and yet we're
supposed to believe that expanding government involvement into medical
care is going to help.
Part Three consists of the last two chapters, and is all about taking
your own personal stress solution from thought to reality. Chapter Nine
provides a four-week program that will produce results for anyone
suffering from chronic stress. Chapter Ten provides a sustainable
strategy for stress-proofing, but that strategy is modified into four
variations. Which variation you use depends on the stress types you
identified in Chapter Two.
As with anything else that actually works, this program requires
personal commitment and discipline. You have to replace old habits with
new ones, and that takes time. Occasionally, it means being frustrated
because the old behaviors took over. But if you stick with it, you'll
find the results you were seeking.