As a writer, I spend a lot of time in a seated position. This has, over the years, been wreaking havoc on my neck and spine, and I have, in recent decades, attempted all manner of movement to minimize the negative effects. One effect was to eat more and gain unnecessary weight. Over time this became the norm for me. But should it have been?
I read an interesting analysis from a cardiologist on the different diets and misconceptions propagated by various organizations each pushing their agenda–you know, high fat, low fat, no carbs, keto, high carbs, no sugar, no wheat–there are more variations than I can count.
It’s always something.
I think it’s safe to say that whatever your dietary input is, moderation, not an excess of calories, moderate to no alcohol, exercise, and sleep seem to be the real markers of a longer and better life.
That’s not always an easy thing to achieve.
I’m 6’ 2” and according to BMI charts that doctors use, should weigh anywhere from 175lb to 186lb for my ideal weight. And yet since age 30 I have hovered between 210 to 230lbs. That’s a BMI of 26 or more.
I have noticed the heavier I am the more medical issues pop up, such as fluctuations in blood pressure, blood lipids to name a few. I’ve also noticed that it is harder to stay lean as you get older. You just LIKE food more. And food likes you, too.
The heaviest I weighed was just over 230lbs some decades ago, back in the day of poor eating habits, fast food and low exercise. To me, that was a visible weight, extra chins, belly fat… After changing my eating habits–I do not do junk food, soda, processed anything–my weight easily dropped to 218 lbs. And there it stayed for some years.
My blood work wasn’t too kind with elevated triglycerides and somewhat elevated liver function tests, an indication of fatty liver. I found that my anxiety level increased, odd sensations related to that. Lung congestion. Sinuses slammed.
A few years ago I followed the no wheat diet (Dr. William Davis ‘Wheat Belly’), no bread or pasta allowed, and easily dropped another 10 lbs. But it was difficult to maintain while everyone else was eating bread and pasta. I love bread and pasta. Bread and pasta love me, too.
I could happily be vegetarian, but again the rest of the house has to also be and they’re not. I can forego meat, although chicken and fish are favorites. I couldn’t do Vegan: too extreme and the fake versions of Vegan food just do not meet taste standards no matter how much I drink! Don’t call it cheese if there is no cheese in it. And cauliflower rice is no more rice than beans. Just call it what it is.
Sugar is death with a smile…
And then there is the drinking.
The drinking has always been moderate, with small bouts of excess. Wine, Scotch, Vodka, also produces higher blood sugar yields. Alcohol gets quickly converted. Wine has a higher calorie count than scotch, but scotch has a higher alcohol content. That all translates to one word–sugar. Sugar is death with a smile.
Sugar is in everything. Things that should have no sugar wind up with sugar because taste makes you eat more. Low fat=high sugar. Low sugar=high fat. Processed fat, not natural fat. Chinese food has a secret ingredient. They add sugar to the meat!
Sugar, excess calories, processed fats all wind up becoming glucose stored by your liver and straight to the areas of your body you are most critical of. For men, it is the Dunlap, the overhanging belly that prevents them from even identifying their genitals, although it does keep their feet dry on a rainy day. For women, it invariable goes to the rear end first and then a female Dunlap. Triple chins. Arm fat that flaps as you move. The body likes to hoard fat.
Rice, pasta, bread…ugh! But I love them all. And brown rice is not worth the time of day for the little fiber you get. Cereals I can do without. Most are sugar and cardboard with some vitamins sprinkled on. And that’s upward of $5 a box. For what?
But this messes with your entire system. Extra weight adds stress to your heart and lungs. Your immunity is less (See Covid stats) and life. becomes more awkward. Everything from clothing to mobility. And once you start down that path, the obesity march is almost self-perpetuating, made worse that society has prevented fat-shaming to such a degree that it has become the norm. Almost 72% of the country is now obese. Go to Target and check out the mannequins. They are reflective of society.
Worse still, watching entire families of obesity, including the young kids. It is more than shaming; it is unhealthy and sets them up to accept failure in the things they cannot control.
At 230 lb, I felt unhealthy. At 218 I was still affected. At 208 things were better but still it showed. My sleep was affected. I was mentally exhausted, brain fog.
I needed to change it up again.
I started restricting carbs and calories, opting instead of toast or pasta, or anything processed, to eat avocados, steak, chicken, fish and lots of vegetables, fresh and organic. At first I opted to try Shiitake noodles made from yam flour that tasted okay when mixed in a soup, but eventually decided to keep it simple. Many people will tell you that saturated fat is bad for you, but that depends on what the fat is. Fat by itself is needed by the body and as close to natural as you can eat it the better. Avocados are a great example. Eggs and avocado for breakfast. Chicken and vegetables for lunch. There are lots of sites that denounce any of these items. Research for yourself to decide. I decided that the standard American eating habits were slowly killing me.
You can die here with little effort…
Gone went anything instant, and when eating out I pre-selected what I would have. Why? Take a look at the menu of this popular restaurant–The Cheesecake Factory chain.
Cheesecake Factory is a family favorite. You can die here with little effort. Look at the calorie counts for this restaurant. Forgetting the lovely warm bread you get at the start with your alcoholic beverage, Guacamole and chips, an appetizer with 1420 calories. Thai-Coconut Lime Chicken will cost you 1980 calories, the side of French Fries will cost you 1060 calories, and that healthy salad you thought would be good for you comes at a whopping 1200 calories. The whiskey and ginger you washed it down with came at 260 calories, and, last but not least, you are at The Cheesecake Factory, you eat cheesecake, a slice of Vanilla Bean Cheesecake adds 1170 calories. That totals 5890 calories.
Chances are your breakfast and lunch were also 600 calories each, so another 1200 calories, not including drinks.
According to MayoClinic.com, a sedentary adult needs 2,150 to 2,550 calories each day to maintain a weight of 200 lbs. You’ve exceeded that by over three times the number of calories.
Even Cheesecake’s “Skinnylicious” menu runs 480 calories for an appetizer, 530 calories for the chopped salad.
When we eat there I have to plan ahead. I order the Edamame appetizer at 100 calories, Tossed green salad with vinaigrette for 200 calories, and a junior steak at 300 calories. No cheesecake. Still 600 calories, but knowing that I will be eating out I made sure to have a lite lunch. It’s all about debit and credit.
The final frontier…
When I started my weight loss this time I weighed 208 lbs and wanted to first reach 200 and then see if I could reach 186lb. I was 24 when I was last at 186lbs. That would be waist size 34. At 208 lbs I was waist size 36.
I managed to lose a pound every four days without really bothering myself or considering I was missing anything. I eat meat, eggs, vegetables, little bread (only real sourdough because of the enzymatic reactions in my favor), and still enjoyed my one scotch. I avoided processed where I can. I try not to think about it too much.
I reached 200 lbs a few months ago, then dropped another few pounds for good measure (I call it the cheat extras as it goes up and down in that range). And with that weight came a size 36 pants purchase. After waiting to be sure the weight wasn’t coming back, and even adding back some bread, here and there, and a little pasta here and there, I swapped out my old 38 wardrobe for a size 36 waist.
Now I want to go further.
Do not listen to what your mother told you about your plate…
For the next half-year I will be working on one of my other weaknesses. I was raised to finish what was on my plate. Pile it on my plate and I will eat it. It used to be kids were told they had to finish as there were starving children in Africa or China. The movie ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ had a twist with a child being told there were starving children in America.
My goal is to take HALF the plate and create a dividing line. Enjoy the half. If I am still hungry then take half of the remaining amount. The goal is to have leftovers. This is difficult. I wrestle with that. Especially when dinner is really tasty. Right now my success rate is a low 30% but I’m working on it.
Luckily the things that I like (vegetables) are high in fiber, so eating more of those things isn’t an issue. For example, I love sliced chilled celery and tomato as a stand-alone salad with a homemade olive oil/vinaigrette dressing.
It is all one giant, profitable lie…
We forget we live in a marketing world where what is best for you is NEVER what they tell you. Processed foods that are low fat are usually high sugar, equally bad, and vice-versa. It is one big lie that keeps us addicted to the additives that keep us hungry.
The thing is that once you stay at a weight, your body adjusts.
Even the organic label has been corrupted. You have to know where your food comes from and how it got to you. Free-range hens versus grass-fed hens versus cage-free hens. Which egg do you buy? There is a difference as anyone with chickens will tell you – you know when you crack that egg and find a fiery orange yolk versus pale.
People desperately want to be sold the magic bullet, the fountain of youth, the weight loss while you sleep plan.
And worse; when you look Online you can find contradictory information on virtually all things which makes determining the truth exceedingly difficult. Experts will argue that low fat, high fat, vegetarian and vegan are all either good or bad for you, depending on the expert. There is no real consensus. Even doctors hold a wide-range of opinions.
I find this is true with most things, and I believe it is intentional. A confused populace will eventually stop fighting to find truth and will accept whatever the easiest thing to the palate is. And if you are in marketing then that means SALES!
This is true for health, diets, politics, religion. Think about it. You want to know, don’t you? But if you cannot be sure you always choose the safe fallback position. It’s human nature. Just look at the glut of TV ads designed to numb you into submission. Go on, have that gooey quadruple burger with bacon, smothered in that special sauce dripping off the sides. It’s only a buck!! ANd look at all the happy people eating it.
Life is short. We have normalized obesity as part of the modern no-shame culture. And while people should be whatever weight they want, to accept it because all stigma has been removed does not make it the right choice. The same is true for most things. We have normalized many things that should not be considered normal.
If you want to see what the world’s most obese person looks like click HERE.
Writers sit for long periods…
Writers sit for long period, focused on work that is intensive and it allows for time to pass rapidly. Meals are important. I like green tea, both caffeinated and decaf, and drink it all day. Green tea has theanine, an amino acid, and that acts to calm you, but also suppresses your hunger. It also tastes good.
Developing good habits while writing means not only in the mental discipline for your work, but also in the choices that affect your health. You can eat well and enjoy what you eat. And with your weight under control, you can splurge here and there.
So take care in what you believe, and who told you the information because it may be right or it may be wrong for you, not just because some doctor said so You know your own body and you know what makes you happy or unhappy in your life habits. And you’re competing against your own bad habits and vices.
But that’s the only way you will achieve anything in life.
PS: As of March 2022 I am still 198 lbs awaiting the next challenge. Any day now…
PPS: Read more about the obesity epidemic in America HERE.
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