Tuesday, January 23, 2007


This entry was prompted by a story on AOL about a poor guy who managed to end up with the dubious title of heaviest person on the planet. He started out at 1200 pounds and he’s down to about 800. We won’t even go into the crap on the boards except to say that there are some really strange people out there.


I didn’t have much success with weight loss until I did some Internet research and got my hands on some good books. I highly recommend Andrew Weil and Dean Ornish. They both walk you through how your body processes the food you eat. What happens when your system processes highly refined carbohydrates for example? The reaction your system has to high fructose corn syrup. Short version of the story? It’s just about as bad for you as trans fats and it’s in even more foods. It’s used as a preservative as well as a sweetener and it’s poison, no matter where you find it. You can keep a person alive on glucose. Even though sucrose breaks down to glucose and fructose your body doesn’t use it the same way. Really screws up the way your liver works.


I don’t know if this has changed. Dr. Ornish mentioned in one of his books that insurance companies were willing to pay thousands of dollars for bypass surgery but nothing beyond the cost of a basic office visit for counseling on diet. Since the bypass surgery will probably have to be repeated if the patient doesn’t change his diet that seems very counter productive.  This was in the mid-nineties. This may have changed and now be part of a wellness benefit if your insurance has something like that. If you even have insurance.


Frankly, gastric bypass surgery is out. Not only do I find the risks unacceptable, but I can’t afford it. Even if my insurance picks up part of the tab, I still don’t have those kind of bucks in my bank account.


Let’s not even go into that sinking feeling that comes when you discover your tax dollars for farming price supports are going to provide incentives for agribusiness to grow crops like corn and soy because they get part of their costs paid, not because people eat that much corn and soy. Then you have a crop that needs a market and a lot of it ends up as high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated cooking fat. Talk about shooting ourselves in the foot.


Anyway, our answer was to eliminate almost all processed foods from the menu. At least if I cook it, I know what went into it. (I hope. Mom was rinsing packaged salad greens before the E-Coli outbreak) Read the labels, read the labels, read the labels. As I’ve said before, imagine my surprise at finding that *())&* corn syrup in my Italian sausage. Avoid any food labeled “diet.” Too many diet foods are lower calorie versions of the foods that caused the trouble in the first place. You aren’t going to lose your taste (or craving) for candy if you don’t quit eating it even if it is labeled “diet.” One exception, Fred Meyer puts out a killer non-fat, non-sugar yogurt WITH fruit in it, not just fruit flavoring. They use Splenda and it only has 100 calories per serving.


Cutting down the fat or the sodium in a highly refined chip product doesn’t change how your body processes the carbohydrate and that’s where the real trouble is. I’ll break down once a month or so at work. Usually when I’m really tired. I suspect that what my body is after is the vitamin C in the spices that flavor those chili cheese corn chips. (I know there’s no vitamin C in the chip, it’s just how my body lets me know what I need. If I take more Vitamin C as a vitamin the cravings go down.) Frankly, my main weak points are salty or spicy items. Most sweets have moved into the “yuck” column. They’re just too sweet.


Ironically, there is a study out that shows that women who drink diet sodas actually gain more weight than women who don’t.


One theory is that drinking something sweet with no calories triggers a response in the body encouraging it to expect that calories are coming. When “nothing” shows up the body activates your appetite in an effort to get something, anything that it recognizes as food. Great, just great. The only ones who win are the soft drink companies pushing their overpriced, flavored, fizzy water and the ad companies they hire.


If you aren’t careful, you end up fighting your body. Cut back too much and your body slows down your metabolism to compensate. Try to mix a weight lifting program that’s overly ambitious with a weight losing program and your body tends to go “?.” Also, I’ve discovered that your system has to adjust to the weight you’ve lost. I’ve forgotten how many inches of blood vessels you lose for every pound you lose but it has to go somewhere.


Add in your system trying to metabolize what’s been trapped in the fat that’s being released and any medications you’re on and you can end up dealing with things that never even occurred to you. Let’s just say that in the last few months I’ve ended up with “irritations” in places you don’t want irritated and leave it at that. Great Mother. Cut a gal some slack will you.


Bottom line is this. Most of us know about as much about how our bodies work as we do about how our computers work. If not less. In high school health was a six-week unit we took in PE. I think we got a little nutrition information in Home Ec but that was an elective and boys (who need this information as much as girls) tend to not take Home Ec. Not back in the sixties anyway. Of course if we get too much good information we’ll take one look at ninety percent of what’s in the grocery store and run screaming out the door. Can’t have that, can we?


hope5555 said...

My battle with weight has been going on for a long time, and mostly takes place in my head. Outwardly not that many people notice whether I'm a little heavier or a little thinner; I'm the main one who notices.  Lately I've been fighting the fight with both barrels:  Jenny Craig plus a personal trainer.  Sure, it's working, but what about when I get tired of spending all this money?  Will it be back to ice cream and M&M's on the couch?  Hmmmmph.

tenyearnap said...

I like Andrew Weil, too. He is both sensible and eye-opening. He makes you realize things about food and how it costs both your body and the planet.
I've been at a "plateau" as they say for about four months now. That guy in the story certainly is inspiring!--Cin

toonguykc said...

I grew up hearing that the human body is the most marvelous complex machine in the universe.  I'm not so sure about that anymore.  I vote for The Slinky.  But that's just me.


sistercynthiadr said...

The body adjustments are really starting to hit me.  I've noticed the changes in my skin for several weeks now.  I know how it will be looser and then gradually tighten back up again.  The dosages of my medicatons have pretty much all needed changing.  Cyclical things also seem to be more intense now, but I can't blame all that on the weight loss.  By the way, I've read this several times, and you've made some really excellent points here.