Posted tagged ‘Obesity’

I Want to Stop Wanting

May 20, 2013

In recognition of my carb addiction I am now attacking it with a different approach, perhaps it is genetically manipulated wheat and wheat gluten which is ubiquitous in all things delicious which makes my craving heart beat faster.  I am experimenting on myself by eliminating wheat and wheat gluten for about a month to see if I notice a difference.

While shopping with my kids, getting them some pretzels in the gluten free aisle (which cost almost $6) they asked why the healthy stuff cost so much.

I told them that processed foods can be made cheaply.  They taste good but they don’t stay with you.  I have had my share of Fritos.  The first one is always glorious but the 20th, not so much.

You may find this article enlightening.  General Mills apparently said to make healthier food it would cost the company over $500 billion a year.  However, to live as an obese person, it costs roughly $8,000 a year.  And more than 80% of America is obese.  No wonder healthcare costs continue to rise.  So many diseases can be controlled or eliminated by maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.

For some time I’ve known that your more basic and healthiest foods are on the outside aisles of the grocery store.  The sneaky good stuff that has to tell you it’s healthy is on the interior aisles.

My kids are almost out of school for the summer.  I don’t want to give them a legacy of poor choices.  I don’t want them to ruled by their stomachs as they nosh their way into adulthood.  They are not going to be very happy with me.

But I’m not very happy with me.  I want to stop wanting.  I wish the food industry would help me on that but I think I have to go it alone.


Queen of Denial

April 27, 2012

When most people diet, they force themselves the foods they desire.  You deny yourself enough and you take in fewer calories, thereby losing weight.  You’re not an idiot, you knew that already.  You also knew that once you are off the diet and you have what you desire again, back it comes.  

That works for some people.  Not everyone,  because if it did we wouldn’t be wallowing in obesity.  Seriously.  I don’t remember this as a child.  I’m in a public place and I look around and people aren’t just a little overweight, they are magnificently huge.  I am amazed by it all.  And yet, there is so little sympathy and understanding.  You see an alcoholic, someone addicted to gambling or nicotine–nd many say they need treatment.  You see someone fat and you say they should just get some exercise and shut their big, fat, mouths.   

But obesity is a symptom of a disease.  Here, I’ll even throw in a definition of precisely what disease is from a medical dictionary:  “An impairment of the body or one of its parts resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms.”  

And here’s where denial comes in.  Culturally, we deny the fact that the obese have a disease.  You can’t just wish away diabetes and cancer.  You can’t just wish away obesity either.  Of course every diseased person has that wish.  You have no idea how many times, how many years, I would wish that I would wake up thin.  Or smaller anyway.  I would actually wish I had some non-fatal wasting-away condition and I would just wake up, better, and 100 pounds lighter.  I’m not kidding either.  And I know I’m not alone.  

The non-obese public, in my opinion, denies that obesity is a disease.  The obese deny that they have the responsibility to fight for their health.  They, and I say they based upon my own experience and talking to thousands of obese and formerly obese individuals, they even deny that they ate something.   I have such a problem with that.  Did you eat ALL that?  No, I didn’t.  Uh, wait a minute, maybe I did.  Maybe I did devour all those calories.  Isn’t a can of Pringles a single serving?  No?

Denial is, at its essence, a defense mechanism.  For instance, I will just desire my feelings for you.  That way, if I pretend they don’t exist then I don’t have to deal with them.  Dealing with them would mean I would have to act upon them one way or the other.  However, if they don’t exist then I can stay on my current path.  Deny that you’re fat.  Deny that you’re in love.  Deny that you’re a failure.  Deny that your life is a cesspool.  Denial comes in pretty handy.  

It’s been said that once you accept you’re out of control then you can start to rebuild.  I have always said I am in control of my actions, the good and the bad.  I don’t blame anyone for anything I do. So,  I guess it comes down to this.  Admit to yourself that what you’re doing and the life you’re living is or is not satisfying to you.  I would say, “are you happy?” but I have only vague recollections of a few minutes of what I would call happy.  I have spent most of my life denying my feelings about anything (except my children).  I have tried to contain major highs–because you can go nowhere but down, and major lows–because they suck.  Consequently, I am almost always detached, level, numb.  It takes a lot to keep yourself numb.  

However, in my case, I have so many memories of food equaling happy that I turn to it to change my mood.  And I realize I have always done that.  That’s why I understand the alcoholics, the smokers, the junkies.  You get in such a state of denial that you just want to feel nothing.  Or maybe you want to feel what you think is normal.  I actually get a rush of happy when I shop.  I feel almost that good when thinking about what I need to buy.  Just looking at shoes online can flip me like a pancake. (Mmmmm, pancakes.)  I try to channel it for good when I work as a stylist.  I can accessorize as brilliantly as I can cook.  However, it makes me wonder.

Can anyone truly get past denial?  Or is the act of avoidance so ingrained that we, collectively, are doomed to live unsatisfied lives?  My personal belief is only you, the person who wants to change, can change.  No one else can change you.  It all starts with you.  If you feel a change is in order, and then you can’t seem to move past it, then, other than feeling totally fucked, you have to kick it into gear.  What’s just one thing you can change so your life will be what you want it to be?  I started with bread.  I gave it up completely.  Now that I’ve conquered that I need to take a bigger step.  I guess I’ll need some new shoes for that.


You Think You Know Me?

April 15, 2012

When a person has suffered great loss, it does not always show in their eyes, or their actions.  To much of the population, loss is equated with death of a loved one.  But there are other losses.  The pain of losing quality time with a trusted friend, the torture of separation, the loss of mobility, the loss of pounds. I live in the US where over 30% of the residents are obese.  My eyes pass over a crowd and my inner monologue goes something like this:  Those horizontal stripes aren’t doing her any favors, Seriously, a tank top?  And he’ll never see his shoe is untied.  

I used to be not just obese, but super, morbidly obese.  This was not the super power I was looking for.  Although it did give me the ability to become invisible.  When you’re that large, most people just don’t want to look at you.  They look at your eyes, the tops of your ears, or just past you.  

In the event you don’t know what classifies as obese, it is having a BMI (body mass index which takes into consideration both your height and weight) of 25 to 30.  Mine was 60.  I called myself the Manatee.  I breathed like Darth Vader.  

I had lost the ability to cross my legs.  When I got into my Honda, my tremendous breasts rode upon the steering wheel.  Sure, it’s funny now.  Not so much at the time.  My obesity exacerbated my condition that one out of ten women have since birth called PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome).  PCOS means you’re fat, hairy, and can’t conceive.  Hirsutism was not my bugaboo.  Thankfully.  

My job as a radio broadcaster made my life public.  People were always disappointed when they met me in person.  I stopped talking in public places (the line at a movie theater, the grocery store) because my voice was so recognizable.  When people confronted me with recognition they usually said things like:  I thought you’d be taller (that means you’re fat) and I thought you’d be a brunette (that means blondes can’t be smart).  

I was vaguely aware that Carnie Wilson had lost weight because of a surgery.  My friend Lesa did the same in 2001.   I remember telling Lesa, “that seems a little severe, I’d rather have a brownie.”  To quote the Sassy Gay Friend video series, I was being “a stupid bitch.”  

I had already accepted the fact that I would never have children and never be attractive to anyone but my spouse, whose vision is greatly impaired.  My weight kept me home and on the couch.  That is no place for this bouncy, bouncy personality to be.  So I attended a three-hour seminar at Centennial Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.  By the end of the three hours I was ready to have the RNY gastric bypass procedure right there with a plastic knife from the cafeteria.  (By the way, water and cheese sticks, not the fried ones, are what is served at three hour seminars attended by morbidly obese people.  If you want M&M’s you’ll have to bring them yourself.)

It’s funny how before that seminar I really had no intention of getting the surgery.  Over three hours it redefined my life, my purpose, and changed everything.  (Yes, I found my “special purpose”.)

Close to $200 billion, yes, with a B, is spent on obesity and obesity-related diseases every year worldwide.  Diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, depression, headaches, infertility, joint pain–those are the main co-morbid conditions that weight loss can control, reduce, or cure.  

What changed my mind?  I saw myself at 60 and immobile.  Even though I was just fat and otherwise healthy, I knew that as I aged the excess weight would destroy me.  What’s unusual, looking back at it all, is my appearance, my loss of ability to conceive, my low self-esteem, my loss of myself–none of those were enough to make me change on my own.  The next question usually is, if you can follow the food plan given to you to prepare for surgery, and for one month after surgery, can’t you just lose it on your own?

No.  No I couldn’t.  Some can.  I couldn’t.  I.  Know. Me.  I feel deeply.  And I’m addicted to carbohydrates.  The bad kind.  I have had a life of sitting back and taking it all in.  I can get a lot out of a person by talking to them and listening because, remember, no one really wants to engage a super morbidly obese woman.  You can’t.  You’re too busy thinking:  does she know how large she is?  She could be pretty if she’d just lose weight.  How does she buckle her seat belt?  Does she only eat at buffets?  

Dr. Douglas Olsen performed my surgery on October 25, 2002.  At the time, I was his largest (BMI-wise) patient to get a laproscopic RNY gastric bypass.  I also had my gallbladder removed as mine was going bad and would soon take to robbing convenience stores.  My surgery took closer to eight hours as opposed to the usual two.  It set me free.

I lost 101 pounds in six months.  That was the start.  I received a surprise email from Carnie when her book I’m Still Hungry came out.  She and I had started talking and writing to each other and she included me in a paragraph (page 94, go look).  

Both she and I had two children after our bariatric procedures.  All is well.  Yet, I’m still the manatee on the inside.  Some call me a narcissist.   At least I know the story of Narcissus.  But the obsession with my appearance now is actually based in amazement.  There are so many photos of me because I still don’t know or believe what I look like.  The constant attention I get, from men especially, always has me wondering if they have the right girl.  Clearly, they meant to moon over someone else.  (Please  note, I am not opposed to mooning.)  

What only those who have kicked obesity in the ass can understand is weight loss does not change you on the inside.  Ever.  I’m still the fat girl who wasn’t asked to the prom.  I’m still the one who my 6th grade “friend” said was “the nicest girl he had ever met, and also the ugliest.”  I’m still, as Mary Elizabeth pointed out in the 4th grade by holding up a National Geographic, the manatee on the cover.  


I don’t say that to gain sympathy.  That’s not something I need. It’s just to point out perspective.  You never truly know what’s going on in someone else’s head, or heart.  I have been known to say “I only know what you tell me.”  True.  But I may have sat back and watched you.  I may have surmised a lot.  And, as I have always said about myself, “elephants never forget. ”  

So what is the grand moral to this?  Don’t wait.  No matter what it is, don’t put it off.  If you want to lose weight, start on it now, don’t wait until Mondays, or rationalize Fridays are free days and screw it all on the weekends.  If you love someone tell them, this may be the last time you see them.  If you’re unhappy spend some quality you time and try to sort it out–or seek a professional’s advice.  Just don’t wait.  That is my sole regret.  I wish I would’ve had the surgery 15 years ago.  I lost so much of my life to being trapped.  I have only made a few big mistakes.  Settling on living life in a tremendous body was one of them.  It won’t happen again.






That leaves celery

June 23, 2011

Well, it’s not as grim as my friend Wendy suggested.  What can you do to lose weight and/or keep it off?  Today the New England Journal of Medicine published a study.  They, yes the mysterious they, had studied over 120,000 people for 20 years.  Those who were studied were not obese.  At least, not 20 years ago.  On the average, the participants gained 17 pounds each.  What happened?  Well, the people they were talking to didn’t eat right or exercise.  I know, huge (no pun intended) surprise.  There were certain foods the participants wrongly (for their waistlines) chose to eat en masse.  These foods will also come as no surprise:  Potatoes in any form, especially (“Wonder Twins Unite!”) in the form of a potato chip or French fry. Butter.  Ah buttah.  Nothing like it is there?  I bake with it, but I don’t cook with it (fine line there).  I still remember Letterman’s gag about eating a stick of butter as a snack.  However, one of my doctors said to use butter because it will help signal to the brain that you are full.  You may recall that when fat-free foods, especially fat-free treats, were introduced, people didn’t seem to pick up on the fine details that fat-free didn’t mean calorie free, or sugar-free.  You think fruit juice is healthy?  Nah, eat the fruit, don’t drink it.  Fried foods, desserts–yeah, you already know not to indulge in those.  Personally, I rarely eat anything fried (although I am well aware of its deliciousness), I’m not into fruit juice and pasta is useless to me–I prefer the sauce.  Sweets,  there’s the rub.  I bake them constantly.  Then I usually give them away.  My dad rarely eats them and he has a profoundly sweet tooth.  As do I.  Mmmm do you like potted meat?  Well, it’s not good for you.   An Italian sub is rife with processed meats.  Tasty as they may be, processed meats should be avoided.  Now lettuce turn to unprocessed red meat.  Yeah, avoid that too.  And that would be lamb, beef or pork that hasn’t been preserved in some manner.  So no processed meat, no unprocessed meat, got that?  Soda, that added at least one pound every four years.  I haven’t had one since October 25, 2002.  Yet sometimes I wistfully smell someone’s freshly poured Coke or Pepsi.  God forbid I get near IBC root beer.  Whole grains–good, refined grains–bad.  Learn the difference.   A refined grain is usually steeped in starchiness and chemicals.  They occur when natural grains are stripped of everything good and decent about them and pumped up with chemicals and preservatives.  For example, dark pumpernickel bread would be a healthier choice over that white bread that you can actually get to form a ball in your hand.  Trans fats were discovered to be bad in the late 1950’s. And they’re still bad.  Hydrogenated vegetable oil is Super Bad.  That’s the ingredient you need to look for to avoid trans fats because, in the end, they raise your bad cholesterol level and lower you good cholesterol.  Generically, you’ll find trans fats in all the foods you currently love:  Pastries and cakes, French fries (unless fried in lard / dripping), doughnuts, cookies (the bane of my existence), chocolate (I thought dark chocolate was good for you? aaaaaa I hate these studies), margarine (see, butter is better), shortening, fried chicken, crackers.  Sonuva.  Crackers, that’s just uncalled for.  Aren’t Wheat Thins health food yet?  Because you can’t eat just one.  And again with the potato chips.  Well, all chips.   As I look at this again, perhaps Wendy ( was correct.  Celery is the answer.  It is quite satisfying with garlic salt or hummus.  Or garlic salt AND hummus.  Here’s the good news.  Wait, let me think of it.  Ah yes, more fruits and vegetables.  Try some new ones, hey, there are so few familiar food choices left to choose from so have at it.  Chicken, turkey and seafood, they’re OK.  Unless we’re talking mercury levels or hormones, but I’m not.  But you already knew that didn’t you?  If we all ate non-processed lean proteins and fruit and vegetables AND exercised more, we would lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.  I know, simple, eh?  You’re doing that already, right?  Yeah, me too.  Here’s the bottom line, we all know for the most part, what is a healthy food choice.  And yet, we consistently don’t make them.  Sure, I’m speaking for me.  No, no, come to think of it, I’m speaking for most people.  Two-thirds of Americans are overweight with a BMI of 25.   One-third of American age 20 or older is obese.  That means their BMI is 30 or more.  BMI is Body Mass Index just in case you’re not keeping up.  I had a BMI of 60.  I was super morbidly obese.  Please note, the super did not grant me the power to fly or be invisible.  I refer to that Jane as the manatee.  Even though the beloved manatee is an endangered species, I don’t ever want to look in the mirror and see that Jane again.  Like I said, we all know what to do in order to be healthy.  We are often bogged down by addictions, desires, compelsions if you’re Barney Fife, rationalizations.  I can’t see if my arteries are clogged.  But I can my jeans not easily zipping.  So what I have to remind myself is what do I want more (Punk, I talk to myself in Dirty Harry’s voice).  Do I want the half a brownie or do I want to wear my low-rider jeans? 


It lives

June 15, 2011

Yeah, it’s been awhile.  I would love to write that since I last posted that everything is under control and going great.  But then my nose would grow and that would be an unflattering look for me.  Oh, that horrific test I had to have?  Waste of time.  I can now block the entire experience out of my mind.   Oh wait, I can’t, because no one forgets an anal probe that lasts over half an hour.  Now I’m beginning to wonder if I was with actual human medical staff or aliens.  Huh.  Anyway, I have been very busy professionally.  And trying to get my eating back under control.  One of my doctors is delightful.  Really, it’s just me with a white coat and a medical degree.  Well, I assume he has a degree.  I haven’t asked to see it.  And frankly, I don’t care.   He’s hilarious.  I bring him cookies and we talk about how to get me to stop eating.  Eating what I shouldn’t that is.  But really, I kind of wish sometimes I could stop eating.  When I was moderating the bariatric support group last week I was looking at the shiny, hopeful faces (shiny because it’s hot out, and they’re morbidly obese, hey, I’ve been there).  Surgery, diets, pills, nothing short of wiring your jaw shut (does anyone know someone who does that?  I think I’m interested) will stop you from eating what you shouldn’t.  The desire lives.  It lives inside of me like a raging monster.  Yesterday I fed the monster.  With crackers.  Something I should never, ever do.  Even though crackers are like manna from heaven they are just carbs.  Crispy, delicious carbs.  And I have come to find out that I am not just a food addict, but a carbohydrate addict.  Refined sugars and carbs trigger something in my brain.  No, really.  I wouldn’t make this up.  If I can get off the good time carbo highway then the craving diminishes.  I mean, it never really goes away, does it?  No.  And it never will.  But anyone who has quit alcohol or nicotine knows it takes at least three weeks to get the craving to reach a level they can handle.  I continue to fail.  I can’t seem to get through the three weeks.  And I start over every day, every hour.  Now I’m not morbidly obese anymore.  Actually, I was super morbidly obese.  I’m not that either.  But I’m not where I want to be.  And anyone who has spent time with me knows I don’t like to be out of control.  As a matter of fact, everyone knows I am The Decider.  No matter what you heard from anyone else.  It’s me.  I make the decisions, I tell you what to wear, I tell you what to eat (but in a less threatening way than how all that just came out).  Yet, The Decider is cursed.  As a believer in fairy tales, I will continue to try to break this curse.  As of today, I have been carb free all day long.  The only problem is I’ve only been awake an hour.