Fall 2004 - Patient Newsletter

I Am Just Wild About Harry!

By Jody Abrams

The issue of being fat for most of us has been a life long challenge that originated in childhood. I was a card-carrying member of Weight Watchers in first grade. Thank God for little Lynn Chitow, one of my classmates. She preferred my daily snack of baby dill pickles packed by my mother, to her Hershey Kisses and most days, was willing to make a trade.

Along with punishment of dieting came the torture of exercise, which again for me, was a nightmare. I am sure that I am not the only child who was not picked for the team. Only where I went to school, there was no adult teaching tolerance, so most of my gym classes were spent on the sidelines instead of in the trenches developing my curve ball.

When you are a fat child and even a fat adult, it's hard to take advice about fitness from some well-meaning svelte exercise guru who has never walked a mile in your shoes and who doesn't know what it is to have one's confidence eroded by these types of childhood experiences.

Having spoken with Harry Pino, I am pleased to tell you that all is about to change. Harry Pino, Ph.D. is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist and the newest member of the OCC staff. I was asked to interview Dr. Pino as a means of introducing him to you all though the newsletter. In preparation for this article, I spoke with Dr. Pino for approximately an hour, but I have no doubt that he could have talked with me all day. Dr. Pino is very passionate about fitness, but more than this, he is passionate about our struggles as fat people en route to becoming the healthiest, fittest people that we can be.

Dr. Pino has never had a weight problem, but he has been surrounded by family members who have struggled as we do. Dr. Pino lost his father approximately four years ago due to complications of obesity. It has been Dr. Pino's personal experiences with loved ones struggling with obesity that has spirited his studies and research. Dr. Pino will tell you himself how passionate he is about his career. Dr. Pino will also tell you how committed he is to fostering our individual successes with fitness. One only has to listen to Dr. Pino to know that he is a person of more than his words.

Dr. Pino moved to Massachusetts from Florida. His work brought him to practicing in the North Shore area. Approximately two years ago, Dr. Pino began reading about the OCC, its work, and philosophy. He thought there was a component missing, so he wrote a proposal to Drs. Saltzman and Shikora outlining his ideas and was invited to join the OCC.

Dr. Pino told me that his intent in working with the clinic is to provide a clinically-structured exercise program. Dr. Pino was quick to point out that the program will have various components that will help a patient to achieve fitness gradually. Dr. Pino wants us all to know that he is approachable and sensitive to our needs and our struggles. Dr. Pino has begun a lecture series on Thursday evenings from 6:30-7:30 P.M. in the Wolff Auditorium. The title of the series is" Physical Activity for Life Education Lecture Series."

In addition to this lecture series, as a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, Dr. Pino fancies himself an advocate. He wrote a critical thirty-page letter to Dr. Phil and he has his eye on health clubs too. We discussed that while our thin-obsessed society is very preachy around advising fat people to exercise, often we are not welcome in many health clubs. Many fitness centers are not geared up or even staffed with educated professionals who can provide proper instruction commensurate with our individual needs. This issue seemed to be a pet peeve of Dr. Pino's, who was quick to tell me that he is on it, having visited every fitness center in Boston in the hopes of developing some guidelines to educate these centers around our needs and to help make them more user-friendly.

We should have learned as children how to move our bodies through space and to have both pleasure and success in doing it. Movement is a joy, not a punishment. Just like the gastric bypass surgery is a tool in learning to eat again, so is Dr. Pino a resource for us in learning to love our bodies and to use them to move our spirits in order to gain grace and mastery over our bodies as we become the best that we can be.

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