Saturday, January 26, 2008

Why I Created This Blog

I am morbidly obese and I have been struggling with my weight since I was in elementary school when I was just a few pouds overweight, but extremely conscious of it.

I started my first diet at 13. It "worked" in the sense that I lost 15 lb. one summer and looked good. But it didn't work in the sense that I ended up putting it all back on in High School and then some by the time I graduated from college.

Since then, I have been on them all. I've been on Nutri/system (and lost my gallbladder in the process). I've been on Jenny Craig. I've been on Weight Watchers. I've been on Atkins. I've tried it on my own. I've tried smaller portions and taking smaller bites. I've tried eating slower. I've tried cutting out artificial sweeteners.

At this point, I am extremely well educated about nutrition and I read labels like crazy. I also will not eat food just because it's in front of me. I take home doggy bags from restaurants because their portions are huge and I won't eat something if I'm not hungry or if it's not tasty. I rarely go to McDonalds or other fast food places as I don't really like the food. (I wouldn't go at all if I didn't have kids.)

As for exercise, I'm not a big jock -- I'm happiest curled up with a good book or playing on the computer -- but I've always been interested in activities that count as exercise. I did intramural sports in college. I have joined a gym in the past and when I don't go to the gym, I exercise regularly in other ways.

I do all the little tricks, too. I park my car far from the stores when I go to the mall. I don't take the elevator unless it's at least two stories, sometimes three. I don't let the bag boy take my groceries out to the car.

Believe me, I've tried everything I can think of and none of it works. Or at least not in the long term.

I once lost 70lbs because I am very strong-willed and not the least bit lazy. I joined Jenny Craig and I joined a gym and went 2-3 times a week.

It was a glorious time and I felt so good about what I’d done, but I couldn't keep it off in the long run.

Why not? It's because my body lies to me and tells me it's hungry whenever I try to reduce my calorie intake. Not being a masochist, I can only ignore my body for so long ... generally about 1-2 years ... before I start giving it what it wants.

So everyone who thinks fat people are just a bunch of lazy, ignorant people who are making excuses for themselves can kiss my butt.

To those who think the average person is uneducated about food, well they probably are. There are an amazing number of uneducated people out there. But I'm not one of those people. I don't think that if the label says "0 Trans fat" that those cookies are actually good for me.

But you don't get to be morbidly obese because you don't understand a nutrition label or exercise enough. You can get 25 lb. or maybe even 50 lb. overweight from not practicing good nutrition and being sedentary, in my opinion. When you start talking about at least 100 lb. overweight you are talking about a biological problem. No one would do that to themselves on purpose and no one whose body is normal could even gain that much just by picking the wrong kind of foods and not exercising enough.

I have read all the literature I can get my hands on about what scientists know about this issue and it has become very clear that most of the advice doled out in traditional diet programs doesn’t work.

They just finally figured out that the advice to take at least 20 min. to eat every meal -- including your snacks, like a sane person can take 20 min. to eat 6 oz. of yogurt -- is garbage and doesn't work, for example. We also know that the very act of dieting -- depriving yourself of calories, not just watching what you eat -- puts your body into starvation mode at which point it starts to fight back.

We also know that diet programs don’t work.

According to existing medical research, fewer than five percent of all dieters succeed in losing a significant amount of weight and maintaining that weight loss over a five-year period. Ninety percent of all dieters regain some or all of the weight originally lost and at least one-third gain more.

Try to convince me that 90-95% of all overweight people are just lazy and uneducated about nutrition and exercise or just need to start taking walks. You won't be able to do it. It's not logical. If something doesn't work for most of the population, it's a fraud.

A few years ago, I had a revelation ... I had been dieting, thinking about dieting, going on a diet, or falling off a diet, for over 35 years. If there was anything else in my life that I kept going back to, in spite of it not working for me, my friends and family would be dragging me kicking and screaming away from it. But I knew if I announced I’d joined another diet program, they’d pat me on the back and give me all sorts of positive feedback. It’s crazy!

As a result, I decided to give up dieting forever. I decided to eat what I wanted when I wanted and exercise as much and how I wanted. I threw the word “supposed to” out the window. And I started to lose weight.

But like everything else I tried, it didn’t work. Just like the diets, my “non-diet” diet caused me to lose weight at first, but over time I gained it all back and then some. Sound familiar? At this point, it’s been a few years and my weight has stabilized around 220-225 lb. This is the weight I was at when I had my last very successful weight loss experience and it appears to be the weight my body thinks it should be.

It’s also way too much weight for me. It interferes with my life and with accomplishing what I want to do. My cholesterol is higher than I like and my blood pressure is high enough to require medicine.

Therefore, I must do something.

Since dieting doesn’t work and not dieting doesn’t work and exercising doesn’t work and changing my lifestyle doesn’t work, I’ve decided to get that lap band surgery. It’s scary as all get out, and you have to totally change how you eat and risk not being able to eat all sorts of good food ever again, but it works. It works for 75% of the people who get it. Compared to how many people dieting doesn’t work for, those numbers are huge.

However, I’ve decided I don’t want to tell people in my real life about it. I don’t want the public scrutiny, for one thing. I want to try this out in my own way and my own time.

That means I have to wait until I can take a vacation. Which means it won’t be until the summer or fall.

In the meantime, I’m going to get prepared.

The first step is to cut out all carbonated beverages. You can’t have them after so I might as well get used to it now. Since Caffeine-free Diet Coke is my crack, it’s going to be difficult. But I’m game.