Losing Weight Is A Heavy Burden

More than one-third of U.S. adults (34.9%) are obese.  Additionally, almost twice as many women as men who are not overweight think that they are. 25.3% of men and 47.9% of women defined as within their normal weight range think they weigh too much.  Whether it’s actually needed or not, that equals a whole lot of people with weight concerns.

Sadly, even when we know better, changing for the better is hard.  While millions of people run out each January determined that this will be the year they lose weight and get in better shape, most people quit the gym after 6 weeks.

Hard to break the obesity cycle

 

 

 

 

 

Having just started on my personal quest to get physically fit once more, I have encountered a lot of stumbling blocks that makes me understand why some people have trouble breaking out of the loop of one failed attempt after another.

Cravings

Just about every person has some kind of guilty pleasure; one of my favorites is a scoop of vanilla with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, and butterscotch drizzled all over it.  Obviously these things are not very healthy and when you start out full of enthusiasm for your new endeavor, it is easy to put them aside.  But what about days that cause stress about your quest to improve?  Say you go a whole week and your weight stays the same?  Or parts of your body are hurting all the time because of the new activity level you have?  A lot of people cave at the first sign of frustration and are back at their old habits.

Cost

Americans spend over $60 billion annually to try to lose pounds.  Gym memberships, diet programs, even new workout clothes all drive this section of the overall self improvement industry.  A lot of people get exited to change, but after their motivation flags and they wonder if the money spent is worth it.  Some look at the costs and get frustrated, and give up before they start.

Poor Habits

Some people have been doing breakfast at the same coffee house or doughnut shop for years.  Others have lunch every day at their favorite “greasy spoon”.  It is easy to take on calories without even thinking about it.  One of my personal downfalls is a glazed doughnut and a Venti Peppermint Mocha at Starbucks to the tune of 980 calories.  My regimen right now calls for about 1850 calories a day.  So I am halfway there, with very little real nutrition.  If I didn’t have a fairly good metabolism all these years I would probably look like a whale now.

 Physical Discomfort

Let’s face it.  Even people who claim to enjoy exercising don’t look like they are having too much fun during the process.  So if these sculpted athletic types sometimes have trouble pushing on, how much harder is it for someone not physically used to that sort of thing?  Having recently gotten back into keeping myself in shape, I am rediscovering all kinds of new muscles…because they hurt.  It would be very easy for a lot of people already unhappy with their lives to quit in the face of one more thing making them feel badly.

Emotional Distress

It is hard enough some days to get out there and hit the treadmill just because you are tired and sore.  So now you get to the gym and the person on the machine next to you looks like something out of a movie about Greek gods, clad in flashy colored and fairly revealing spandex.  You look at yourself in your loose fitting t-shirt and frumpy sweats, and the thought comes to mind it’ll take forever to look good as the other patrons.  Add to that the people who seem to come to these places and treat them like a sweaty, grunting singles’ bar.  The aches and pains and shortness of breath are bad enough without an audience.

Psychological Blocks

Very often, people end up overweight as a result of being unhappy about other things in their lives.  Sometimes people will not even be hungry, but are comforted by wrapping themselves in a blanket, plopping down in front of the tv, and drowning their sorrows in something just for the taste to cheer themselves up.  This can quickly build on itself, as now, in addition to whatever else was bothering the person, they are now overweight and uncomfortable.

Virtual Escapes

On top of this, there are all manner of electronic diversions to redirect emotional problems and keep people even less active.  Considering that South Korea has over 100 clinics specifically geared toward treating video game addiction, this can be a serious threat to people’s efforts at going outside and getting healthy.  There have even been stories of people dying while playing games because they stopped eating for fear of losing even a second of game time.

Thankfully, many health organizations are working to help combat some of these problems.  Many gyms employ customer care reps that call patrons if they haven’t been in for a while to try to motivate them to return.  Some gyms are gender specific to help mitigate the ogling that makes some people uneasy. Organizations like Weight Watchers International use customized meal plans that allow you to enjoy some of your favorite foods (just on a smaller basis) and have weekly support meetings to help keep you on track.  And even video game companies are starting to build timers into their software to remind people to spend some time out of the virtual world.  Hopefully, these efforts will help people get their health in order.

 

4 Responses to Losing Weight Is A Heavy Burden

  1. Shane: Thought I’d contribute to your blog. BTW, one of the leaders of the NY Kitchen Diet Association I mention below was your cousin Anita’s great grandmother: Leonie Wurlitzer Eilers.

    Since food is so personal, try this first. Think about dog food. How in the world did dried chunks of dry dog ‘food’ become the ‘healthy’ and sensible way to feed our canines? Why don’t we feed them organ meats or beef? That would be better for them, wouldn’t it? Yeah, I agree it would be expensive. Dried food is more practical for the budget and the companies promise that it is healthy

    Check out this link: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/ideal-dog-food/ I love the author’s comment, “It looks like the pet food industry may have taken advantage of the dog’s remarkable willingness to eat just about anything.”

    . . . I’m sure companies would never pull the same trick on people. Right?

    Weight loss is topic that has become overwhelmed by ‘common sense’ that’s completely false. The reasons for this are plentiful and blame can be placed on scientific hubris, corporate marketing, folksy wisdom, misplaced incentives, and more. There’s so much confusion that it’s difficult to figure out any sort of truths. But, for what it is worth, after seven years of research reading actual studies and studying commentary, here are just a few of my own personal conclusions and thoughts:
    1) Quality nutrition is paramount for good long term overall health and performance. But, what is quality nutrition? That is where we’ve screwed up people.
    2) Calorie restrictive diets do not work in the long term (lots of studies back this). In fact, people can starve to death while being overweight. Instead, think of calories this way: There are ‘Good Calories and Bad Calories’. Want to know more? Read Gary Taubes book on the history scientific nutritional studies by the same name. Calories are not all made equal.
    3) Weight gain is a sign of malnutrition. Sometimes it is the overconsumption food, but sometimes it is just the consumption of the wrong food for a given body. One example: My ex gf was a WW leader. She found lots of heavy people who were eating too little food (and poor quality food). WW wasn’t about customized food meals, but about encouraging them to give up eating poor quality foods and to teach/incentivize them to eat enough of the good food. WW didn’t promote exercise at a corporate level, because they found eating habits were the root cause of the problem as well as the path to success.
    3A) Exercise, while good for a variety of things, does not appear to lead to weight loss. In fact, no quality studies support that conclusion. I know that’s a hard one to choke down. I had a hard time with that, too. Exercise can make us look sexy, can make us feel better, can make us stronger, but no studies have shown that it directly leads to the loss of adipose tissue. Our bodies aren’t simple thermodynamic equations, mostly because our bodies respond differently to different types of food (sugar causes our bodies to react differently than a piece of fish).
    4) Two main paths to eating success (meat/fat low carb vs vegetarian) help muddle our understanding of what we should eat. While my research and personal pref led me to the meat/fat area in my food intake, I wanted to understand why both groups seemed successful at reaching reasonable body weights. My conclusion is that both groups tend toward quality foods and eschew the boxed foods in the middle of the store. In other words, both discourage highly processed sugars and flours found in foods and soft drinks. That seems to be a reasonable/practical nutrition intake strategy for most folks (and thus weight management).
    5) Most stores aren’t good sources of quality food. For example, most milk in stores is HIGHLY processed. The fat in milk has some of the best nutrition in the form of fat soluble vitamins and minerals, yet that is heated up (pastuerized) and beaten out (homogonized). In the end, we have to pasteurize nearly all our milk anyway because it is produced in low quality methods (primarily grain/junk fed) that produces milk that is unsafe to drink raw. In fact, from the 1860s through the 1930s Certified Raw Milk (aka grass fed, nutritional dense milk) that was used as medicine (though drank like regular milk) and prescribed by doctors in New York City as part of the NY Kitchen Diet Association’s successful effort to help malnourished folks.
    6) Do some research into how Cholesterol became ‘bad’ and you will utter a few OMGs. The Framingham Studies, and their poor interpretations, are paramount in our current understanding of cholesterol (and the subsequent drug development). And much of the blame for our pursuit of cholesterol on the first place is the result of a man named Ansel Keys (know for the K-Rations development). His take over the American Heart Association resulted in a variety of changes.

    That’s just a glimpse at how messed up our food system has become. And, going back to dogs, read about the 2007 dog recall. Do you know what was done with some of the dog food that was recalled (not good enough for the dogs)? It was sent to pig farm in Half Moon Bay, CA, where it was fed to pigs. Those pigs were destined for our dinner tables. http://www.amazon.com/Pet-Food-Politics-Chihuahua-Coal/dp/0520265890

    I hope that encourages you to explore the misinformation of food science more thoroughly. It’s fascinating!

    - Dave

  2. I reached an all time high weight of 247 when I was 36 years old. I was bending down to put air in one of my tires and heard this loud pounding in my head, as my heart boomed a few beats. I realized at that point that my coffee and pastry breakfasts were not healthy.
    It took me a few years, but I trimmed back to 230. I stayed there for almost two decades. Then 18 months ago, I went to the dentist and he refused to work on me because my blood pressure was, in his words, “in the stroke range”.
    I was shocked. I had pretty much convinced myself that the 230 mark was my honest weight and I could live with it. I called the local clinic to schedule a check-up (first one in two decades) and at age 60 I wondered what maladies I might discover beside the elevated BP.
    The check-up took place on December 24th, a time for me when sugar flows like a river in Christmas goodies, pies, cookies, candies, treats. My blood sugar tested at 160 and the doctor I had never met before immediately prescribed Metformin for me. I asked how long I would be on that, since up until this time I had not been on any medications for my 60+ years on the planet. He told me, “The rest of your life.”
    I determined that was not going to be the case. After the exam I was also prescribed with a BP medication Lysinopril. I then spoke with the hospital dietician and she said that I could try and treat both the glucose levels and he BP with diet and exercise and perhaps minimize the medications. (Polite word for drugs) I made a decision to do that.
    After believing for over 20 years that 230 was my ideal weight, I began eliminating all white stuff from my diet. This was not a “I can’t have that” sort of trip, but rather a, “I’ll have this instead” plan. I removed breads and wheat products from my menu, amping up the veggies and fruits. Added more nuts and less grains. (have an oat based pumpkin seed flax granola about twice a week). Both my wife and I, (empty nesters) have sworn off of pre-packaged and MSG loaded prepared foods. No box dinners, very few canned things (beans, stewed tomatoes, sauces) Over the first 6 months of that new plan, on a slow and steady decline, I lost 27 lbs. Beginning at 232 on December 24th at home before visiting the doctor’s office, I reached 205 on June 15th.
    Again, my emphasis is not on dieting, but on making good, healthy meal choices, without hamstringing myself and/or my conscience about “cheating” of points or portions. ( I have reduced portions and found I am still a satisfied as before without the after dinner blahs from over-eating)
    I encourage anyone who reads this to simply find a reason that you want to live more healthily. Mine exist in six little people that call me Pepa. I want to be around for them to see them graduate and marry and beyond. Now, as I walk around, in addition to the compliments about how good I look (not one that was ever that conscious of appearance before) I realize that I am lighter by three bags of unpeeled potatoes that I used to carry around with me. It really is an exhilarating feeling.
    Stairs are taken two at a time when many of my contemporaries walk a half block through the lobby for the elevator. Sorry to have taken so much of your reply space but I just love sharing my story to anyone that will listen (read).
    Oh, I almost forgot. Two months after the initial check up I stopped taking the Metformin for my elevated blood sugar and I have maintained a constant count of between 80-100 (perfectly normal) blood sugar for the past year and a half. I have also maintained the weight at between 205-210, with this morning’s weigh-in at 209. I plan to reach 200 before the end of summer, by increasing my outdoor activities and my intake of fresh, garden grown vegetables. I would love any response any of you have regarding this issue. hit me up on Facebook at:
    https://www.facebook.com/carrotman24

  3. Okay, I feel the guilt….as I sip my wine, knowing full well that I did not exercise today. My excuse is always the same: I have housework to do. I would rather clean the toilet than sweat at the gym.

    However, as time marches on I know that I have to exercise to keep my health and mental faculties. I don’t blame anyone but myself. I’m not lazy because my house sparkles and everyone has clean laundry.

    I promise to walk in the park….tomorrow.

    • You know, house cleaning is still physical activity! And I didn’t write this to make folks feel guilty. My intent was more to recognize all the difficulties I have recently discovered trying to get myself back in good health. As long as you are finding ways to keep yourself active, that counts for something.

Please let me know what you think! Even if you disagree!