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Posts Tagged ‘shortcuts’

March 26, 2012

Wilson Fill-Ups

9:26 am - Posted by Gregg

I admit it. I’ve begun to wonder if singer Carnie Wilson’s aim is to become the poster child for people (like myself) who don’t think that invasive weight loss surgeries are the answer for most people battling excess weight.

According to People Magazine, Ms. Wilson had lap bad surgery on January 18th of this year – after having gastric bypass surgery 12 years ago. “[This new surgery] was the right decision for me,” Ms. Wilson tells People, “And I’m doing really well so far. It’s all about taking good care of myself.”

Taking care of yourself? Well, if that were true, you might have tried eating less, exercising more and getting plenty of rest rather than risking your life and health with another invasive weight loss surgery (especially since the first one clearly provided only a temporary fix).

As someone who lost over 250 pounds of excess weight without surgery (or pills or fad diets), I have been somewhat outspoken in regard to what I believe it really takes to permanently lose excess weight. And invasive weight loss surgery isn’t necessarily one of the methods. For starters, there have been numerous examples of people undergoing invasive weight reduction surgeries only to lose the weight quickly and then regain it again. My personal theory on this is that it’s because the real issue of excess weight needs to be addressed by paying less attention to what’s going on in our stomachs and more attention to what’s going on in our heads.

In regard to Ms. Wilson’s most recent surgery, Dr. Robin Blackstone recently told MSNBC, “We have to begin acknowledging that obesity is a chronic disease.”

Chronic? Maybe. Treatable through surgery? Not necessarily.

People who undergo these surgeries often report that they spend the first several weeks or months after surgery throwing up (because their now reduced stomach sizes cannot hold the same amount of food they are still trying to consume). Just because you can’t force down food anymore doesn’t mean that you are “Cured.” This alone proves that the real issue might not have been addressed. And it certainly seems that with enough determination, the stomach can be re-stretched even after one of these types of surgeries. And this is shown to potentially be true by examples like the one Ms. Wilson is setting. Too often we look for the “Quick fixes” instead of committing to the hard and challenging work that real and lasting change often requires.

Was it tough and sometimes miserable for me to stick to a common sense diet and exercise program after a lifetime of bingeing to excess (all of which led me to weigh over 450 pounds)? Yes. There were days and even weeks that were pure hell. But I stuck to it – much like a racehorse with blinders on, never losing sight of my goal. It’s this goal – or reward – that makes monumental life changes worth working for (and even struggling for). Checking ourselves into surgery doesn’t necessarily solve the issues – nor does it truly test our resolve. What’s more, as extremely overweight people, any kind of surgery can be a risk, medically.

Ms. Wilson, a mother of 2, previously reported that pregnancy derailed her weight-loss efforts. In early January, Ms. Wilson told People Magazine, “I’ve had so much stress in the last year, so it’s really a struggle. I’m definitely up in weight.”

Finding excuses to overeat is easy. We’re all stressed. We’re all facing monumental challenges that we can potentially use as excuses to turn to substances (food, alcohol or otherwise) that can harm our health if not consumed in moderation. The trick is to take the focus off of the excuses and, instead, bring the reasons to get healthier to the forefront. These reasons to lose weight (health, happiness, looking damned fine in our skinny jeans) can then excite us and act as true motivators for accomplishing any goal. Sure, it will take time. It will take work. But it will be worth it. And once the goal is met and success achieved, we will know we accomplished it without shortcuts that might require taking more shortcuts in the future.

I wish Ms. Wilson success and health on her journey toward permanent weight loss. But I also wish strong consideration of ways to lose weight other than gastric bypass or lap band surgeries (either separately or 12 years apart) to those facing the battle of the bulge.

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March 19, 2012

Walk like a man

9:24 am - Posted by Gregg

What I’m about to share isn’t pretty. But it does address some of the unattractive side effects of being morbidly obese. And although I thought the following was something I’d never publicly share, I realize that owning it is one of the tools I can use to make sure I never again tip the scales at over 450 pounds.

As you might imagine (or might be aware of through first-hand experience), life in the fat zone is pretty unpleasant across the board. But besides suffering the physical side effects of my gluttony (acid indigestion, labored breathing, profuse sweating, sleepless nights), I was also dealing with the fear of being mistaken for a woman.

At 450+ pounds, I had bigger “breasts” than most of my female friends at the time. Add to that, the overhang from my belly was so enormous that my penis had retracted into my pelvis – giving my crotch an appearance more inline with ‘camel toe’ than one of masculine prowess. The ‘perm’ I had recently gotten for my hair wasn’t helping any of my angst either (although getting it did prove I still cared about my looks – even though the only clothing I could fit into during that time was Size 4XL sweatpants and an oversized gag T-Shirt I’d won at a bookstore because it actually fit).

I decided it was time to take action. But instead of getting sane about my health and changing my eating and exercise habits, I resorted to other measures. The first was to grow a beard in order to be sure that my manly face hair would keep me from ever being mistaken for a woman. But wait, there’s more. I also began stuffing my sweatpants with a pair of rolled up socks to help create a “bulge effect.” At last, I was sure that there would be no confusion in regard to my manliness during the few times I allowed myself to be seen in public. (At over 450 pounds, I had become a virtual recluse.)

Cut to one late evening at a grocery store, when I pushed my cart down a surprisingly crowded aisle and a little girl screamed out to her mother, “Mommy! Mommy! Why does that man have boobs?”

Everyone turned. Everyone stared. I’m not sure if I was more embarrassed of my heaving man breasts or my cart that was full of the most fattening food products available at the market. As the wheels of my cart squeaked loudly, I pushed past the inquisitive child (resisting the urge to shove her deep into a shelf of cereal boxes) and quickly abandoned my cart and left the store.

Turns out my masculine makeover didn’t really work all that well. Although today I see it as one more step on the path toward finally waking up and realizing that what I needed to do was not manipulate my excess weight, but get rid of it.

I share this whale of a tale not only for your amusement (although trust me, it’s fine to laugh at it – I certainly do), but to perhaps inspire you to think about what methods you might be using to “fix” your health that really do not carry much weight (much less have little or no effect in the long run).

By examining the ways in which we’re trying to fool ourselves into thinking our condition can be lived with, we might just jump ahead a couple of steps and move onto some real – and surprisingly simple – changes that can have a lasting effect on not only our overall health, but also our psyche.

If you want to share some of your shortcuts when working toward a goal that proved to be quite useless, I promise I won’t laugh. Instead, I’ll give you a knowing wink and a gentle smile. And if we happen to chuckle together, then so be it. After all, sometimes the best lessons can also be the most amusing.

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