Monthly Archives: July 2012

Trying To Lose Weight? What Really Makes Me Mad

So, I already whined about just how heavy a lot of Americans are.  And I whined a bit about the responsibility we each have for our  own weight loss.

Now let’s talk about what I call the real villain in this battle of the bulge.

Follow the Money
This is America.  If you can make money off it, no matter what the cost to other people, other businesses and even other countries, we do.  Want some examples?

  1. When there were no other loopholes to crawl through and the state’s attorney generals finally insisted that big tobacco companies pay up for all the damage they did with their products, didn’t we just export cigarettes to 3rd world countries?
  2. Didn’t a very large consumer brand deliberately develop and implement a marketing strategy t sell its baby formula to 3rd world countries where the formula needed to re-hydrated with clean water and under sanitary conditions, neither of which existed?
  3. Isn’t one of the multi-national agri-businesses being allowed to genetically modify basic food crops like corn and wheat and quite possibly adding a deadly bacteria into the mix?

The business of weight is no different.

The Road To The Fat Farm
Companies build brands — supposedly brands we can trust to bring us healthy products or at the very least, products that do no harm.  These same companies then create products with ingredients that are cheaper for them, almost always refined and, if you look carefully, almost always contain at least two types of sugar, one of which will be high fructose corn syrup.

Next, these companies develop strategic marketing plans designed to make all of us (and I do mean all of us) reach for their particular corn chip or soda or cereal.  And reach for them we do.

According to the CDC, one half of the US population consumes sugary drinks…every day.  People drink this dressed up sugar-water even though they know it is linked to Type II diabetes and to cancer.

And we snack…man do we snack.  In fact, it’s estimated that almost 100% of us snack.  And all that snacking is not helping us with our weight problems.   According to a 2011 CNN report, we snack more, now, than we ever did.  Americans are eating constantly.  The same  study showed that the size of the snacks we eat has grown by 12%, right along with our waist lines.

What Really Makes Me Mad
Right behind the companies that make products infused with sugar, refined flours and high fructose corn syrup are the companies hawking easy weight loss.  I don’t like brands that market junk food; I hate companies that market diet aids.

But we buy these products, too.   In 2010, revenues for companies selling weight loss products was $60.9 billion dollars.

And according to the FDA, these weight loss pills and potions don’t meet any of their promises.  Worse yet, the FDA says they often contain dangerous prescription drugs that can cause real health problems like stroke or heart attack.  Anybody old enough to remember Fen Phen?  It worked, if it didn’t kill you first.

How To Lose Weight
So, I’ll go back to my original premise, the one I posted about first, the one learned because my husband has Type II diabetes and we both ended up on his diet.

  1. Stop eating all the time.  Did you now it only takes 100 extra calories a day to gain about a pound a month?  Or to put it more positively, as the American Diabetes Association ways, Did you know that it only takes 100 extra calories a day to gain a pound a month?
  2. Stop eating snacks that contain high fructose corn syrup, refined flour and sugar.
  3. Read labels!  There is sugar in everything and usually in 3 or 4 and sometimes 5 different names are used in the ingredient list including just plain sugar to corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey (yep, it’s good for you but it’s still sugar).  In fact, Harvard has a published list of all the variations on a theme of sugar so you know exactly what you are eating when the label says maltose or crystalline fructose.  Yep, that’s right, they’re both sugar.
  4. Stop drinking soda!  If you can give one thing up, give this up.  But if you have to drink carbonated brown water, go for diet.  At least you won’t be pouring white sugar down your throat.
  5. Cut down your portions.  It is not hard.  Just start measuring so you know what a cup really looks like.  You’ll be surprised.
  6. Learn what foods are good for you and instead of having 3 cups of sugar-coated cereal, have oatmeal with a bit of almond butter or peanut butter.
  7. Eat fresh and eat local – support your neighbors and get the freshest, best foods for you without supporting an Israeli or California grower who ships thousands of miles and uses some pretty fancy tricks to preserve produce so it can do so.
  8. Start walking or riding a bike or dancing, skating, even jumping rope.  You may find out that you like it…and your joints and organs will thank you.

I know it’s hard to think about and even harder to do.  It was for me.  I wanted to lose weight the easy way.  But when my husband got a life-threatening illness, I decided it was time to take the plunge, change my eating habits, clean up what I cook and how and start enjoying the very healthy way of life that we both, now lead.

Give it a try.  You might find out that it costs less, feels better and, in the long run, improves your life immeasurably.

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Trying To Lose Weight? My Gripe!

Okay, so there are some people in the United States who, legitimately, have to have help losing weight.  Some people truly have glandular problems.  Or genetics makes it more difficult for them to control their weight.  But really…

Look around.  Very young, teenage, mid-20’s and on up through the ranks…Americans have tipped the scales and more are overweight than not.

Here’s the bad news.  Being fat is just the beginning of this tale of woe.

Behind all those extra pounds are billions and billions of dollars being spent on diseases that are directly linked to carrying extra weight – diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hip, knee and ankle wear requiring replacements, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and yes, even cancer.

The numbers are there – how many obese, how many associated diseases, how much faster death is going to arrive at your door if your favorite foods are large portions — all fried, dipped in sugar or laden with high fructose corn syrup.  And still, people plow through refined foods like white bread, pasta, and french fries and wash them down with soda.

The numbers on how much obesity is costing this country are almost as staggering as the numbers of people who are overweight.  We spend more on obesity than we do on smoking.

In fact, it’s estimated that, if something doesn’t change,  in just 6 years, we will be spending just under $200 billion (that’s billion with a b) treating the results of overeating.  More than 1/3rd of the US health care budget is going to be eaten up by the preventable diseases resulting from obesity.

If it’s preventable, why are so many people in this country not…preventing it?

That is the big question.  And some of the answers are almost as disturbing as the  problem, itself.

I’m not a doctor.  Not a nurse or a health care professional of any kind.  I am old…er.  I have gained and lost the same 20 pounds for more than 40 years.  I blamed my lightly padded hips on my daughter for 40 of her 45 years of existence.  But I was lying to myself.  You see, I know what caused my overweight condition and, I’m willing to bet, most of the excess weight the rest of us are dragging around.

You aren’t going to like the cause.  I didn’t either.

I kept opening my mouth and inserting food – granted not french fries or hoagies or even donuts (although I dreamed about eating donuts) but I wasn’t eating healthy foods.  Bottom line?  I was, am and always will be the only person responsible for how fat or how thin I am.

This is not a revelation.  It is a fact.  Instead of opening my mouth and shoving food in it, any food, food I thought tasted good, food to fill an idle moment or a sad moment or a lonely moment….I decided to shut my mouth, stop thinking of food as solace and start thinking of it as fuel, energy, a  way to power my body, not soothe my brain.

Guess what?  It worked.  In 12 months, I lost 38 pounds.  And I really didn’t think I had 38 pounds to lose!  But I did and it was easier than I thought it could be.  And my hips don’t ache anymore.  My food bill has gone down because I’m not buying $5 bags of corn chips or cases of sugar water…I mean soda.  And I like walking, riding my horse, gardening  and doing yoga without any pain.

Guess what else I learned?  There are no magic pills that let you eat all you want of everything you want and “…still lose weight.”

Anyone else wake up and realize your weight is directly tied to your hand which is directly tied to your mouth?  Share your story.

And in my next post, I’ll share what really makes me mad about obesity!  Warning: You may not like what I have to say.

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Confessions of an Older Woman

I have a confession to make.

No, not the naughty kind.  This confession has to do with getting old.  I have written about growing old before but this is different.  This is about expectations not met.

I thought growing old would be okay.  Sure my body would be “lightly padded” and gently overworked.  But people would call me “spry” and remark on how much energy I had.

Confession:  I was wrong.

That’s big for me.  “Wrong” is not a word I utter very often in the same sentence with “I”.

It seems that being the spry old lady who is a ball of energy is not in the cards for me.   I have chronic pain.

Oh, I’m still active.  I still ride my horse, do yoga and Qi Gong and garden but every activity comes with a price these days.  Pain.

The real downside is I know that all of my aches and pains are the result of self-inflicted injuries I incurred in my youth and middle years:

  1. A knee that blew playing tennis just a bit too hard.
  2. The wrist I ripped the tendon off while lifting a very large piece of furniture (a granite-topped Hoosier cabinet) against my husband’s wishes.
  3. The foot I accidentally rolled over with a cabinet filled with dinner plates.
  4. The concussions (5 to date) I have had from everything from a roller skating accident to being thrown from my horse.
  5. The separated shoulder from hitting the racquet ball wall a bit too hard.
  6. The broken ribs (6) from riding, horse-play and just plain clumsiness.
  7. The sprained ankles (4 times) from tripping over a dog, running to tell a news crew to get going and cover the earthquake (a whole nother story) and falling down steps and up a hill.

Those are just a few of the ways I have insulted various body parts over my 60+ years.  What’s funny is that I had my shoulder operated on in February and right now, it’s the best joint in my body.

Still, I will get up every morning – albeit a little slower – and put one step in front of the other all day long, despite the pain.  Why?

Because I am still here, still able to get up, still able to gripe about pain while some of the people I love the best are not.  And I am lucky enough to still be taking this ride we call life with the man I married 28 years ago…

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