The Crazy Woman’s Guide to Health

It’s no fun being fat. I know. I’ve been there. Diets don’t work – ever. I know. I have done that too. Dozen of diets have been tried and lost by me and probably by you.

We lost the weight slowly – hating every minute of what we are doing and eating – only to gain back every pound with every item we had given up that went back into our mouth.

I have friends of the Vata type – thin. Ayurveda – a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India – holds that there are three fundamental body types.

We’ll talk about those in another column and I will enlighten you on what the other two are. Suffice it to say, Vatas in general can’t gain weight no matter what they do. They have their own crosses to bear. You really can be too thin.

But that’s not what we’re worried about here. Those of us who have ever been fat will never have to worry about not being able to gain weight is my guess – unless we’re dying of some food-propagated disease that is.

Being fat is sad, frustrating, humiliating and rules every decision, every facet of life, when you are. It tells you what clothes you can wear, where you can go, who you can date or marry – or what jewelry you can don. (I had a beautiful amethyst beaded necklace that I couldn’t get around my fat neck) Being fat even determines who your friends are. It is also deadly.

After losing 40 pounds about nine years ago, I had an iridologist who used to come to the island periodically to see clients. He told me if I had not lost the weight I was only ounces away from Type 2 diabetes.

I have no doubt that was true. My maternal grandfather and his sister both had it. And though she was never diagnosed with it, when my mother died she was missing a leg and her eyesight – glaring indicators for diabetes.

Formerly known as adult onset diabetes, these days kids have it.

A medical study reported out in 2003 by Dr. K.M. Venkat Narayan, the head of the diabetes epidemiology department at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, stated that “one in three American children born in 2000 will develop diabetes if they adopt the nation’s inactive and overeating lifestyle, according to a new government report.” For Hispanic children, the odds are even worse, Narayan said. Ten years later, we’re there.

But if you are saying to yourself, “Hah! I’m not a kid. I’m well into my adult years – eat whatever I want – and haven’t gotten it up to now,” don’t jump back on that couch yet.

The same report indicates even after 60 we still have a one in five chance of getting diabetes.

Nice, right?

Europeans? Nope. Chinese? Nope. Africans? Nope. Americans? Yep.

But not everyone who is fat goes through the heartbreak of dialysis, loss of limbs and eventual blindness.

A dear friend of mine, who in his teasing of my vegetarianism used to brag about being able to eat pork fat with impunity, is dead.

After at least one triple by-pass, he died of heart disease at 62.

In these bodies, we don’t get away with anything. At times it may look like we are, but we’re not. Our abuse of these fragile packages will show up sooner or later. We call it disease. And we have a million excuses for why we have diseases. My favorite is: genes.

But speaking of dis-ease: My best friend from high school, who had graduated “Best Looking,” topped out at 411 pounds 10 years ago. He couldn’t fly or go to the theater because he couldn’t fit into the seats. He was saved by a doctor who didn’t mince words.

“You’re fat,” he told him.

“Well, I know I’m a little chubby,” my friend replied, a bit deflated.

“You’re not chubby,” the ethical doctor told my friend. “You’re fat.”

I know how terribly uncomfortable I was at 50 or so pounds overweight. I cannot imagine being 200 pounds overweight. After trying and failing to get a tummy staple, my lifelong friend hired a nutritionist and listened to her. Through portion control and serious consideration of what he was eating, he lost more than 140 pounds. He’s still overweight, but his legs aren’t seeping fluids anymore and we can once again go to the movies together. Oh yes, and he can walk without having to stop every block to catch his breath.

It’s your life. How do you want to spend it? If you want to be a size 10 again (or whatever size you wore in high school – if you were thin then) and feel good about yourself it is a total lifestyle change you are looking at. I know. I’ve done it both ways – diet or real change. But until I was willing to give up – a day at a time, forever – things like cake, ice cream, junk food and soda, nothing permanent was going to change.

There’s lots more to say about this and I will. I have lived it more than once. But the changes I have made have stuck this time and I am keeping the weight off. I’ve kept most of it off for nearly 10 years, with a bit of a gain – 10 or 12 pounds – that I have since taken off with yet another big change.

So let’s start with this: Decide on one thing that you know is keeping you fat and decide you are never going to touch it again. No matter what. Soda (of any kind) might be a good way to start. That includes sugary fruit drinks or fruit juice in general (highly concentrated fructose is worse than refined sugar, according to alternative medicine doctors.) I drink water and tea and, occasionally, a coffee.

Drink water; it is the only thing needed for life. And maybe take a 30-minute walk on the beach – or anywhere. Let’s start there and we’ll pick up more next week.

Food note: “It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos, or Pringles).” – Michael Pullan “Food Rules, An Eaters Manual”

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