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Archive for the ‘Obesity’ Category

“Tear Down this Wall” has become a famous quote by former president Ronald Reagan when urging the then Soviet Union to take down the Berlin Wall to symbolize increasing freedom. And, so with lesson #1 of “The Course in Weight Loss,” we are asked to tear down our own symbolic walls of suffering and false perceptions that are preventing us from experiencing life and relationships to their fullest.

While running the Berlin Marathon this past year, I remember pausing as I ran under the Brandenburg Gate to imagine just how an East German might have felt when they were first allowed to cross under these very gates to the West. I am sure I cannot truly comprehend, but I suppose they felt as if a weight had been lifted. As if a brand new world, literally and figuratively, had opened up for them. I got chills the moment that I crossed under those gates.

While there was much heartache and suffering that lead up to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, breaking a physical wall made of bricks is actually much easier than tearing down the emotional wall that we have created for ourselves. Each brick in our own wall represents some facet of our suffering that we have yet to release. For some, this wall manifests itself as a wall of fat shielding the sufferer from the world and people around them. We console and feed our suffering with food and excess….we cannot deal with our anger or fear and instead we try to eat our anger and fear. While I may not be overweght, I still have a wall that needs some tearing down to be totally free from the power that I give food and weight.

“A Course in Weight Loss” presents us with words that represent the bricks of our wall. We are asked to reflect on each “brick” and contemplate whether it pertains to us. The words representing these bricks are as follows.

  • shame
  • injustice
  • anger
  • protection
  • fear
  • pride
  • unforgiveness
  • selfishness
  • judgment
  • jealousy
  • disdain
  • greed
  • excess responsibility
  • laziness
  • pressure
  • dishonesty
  • exhaustion
  • arrogance
  • burden
  • inferiority
  • stress
  • embarrassment
  • heartbreak
  • self-abnegation

Yep, that’s it. LOL! It’s enough to last me a lifetime. I am positive I will come back to this again and again. All of these bricks evoked some thoughts for me, but the heaviest bricks at this time in my life are those of selfishness, judgement, pressure, and arrogance.

Selfishness. I grew up as basically an only child, I believe I became selfish because I didn’t have to share with anyone. As an adult, I still carry the need to have things my way, on my terms, when I want, etc. And, in doing so, I sometimes disregard the wants and needs of others. I have been working on this with my husband so that even if I don’t want to do something he does, I still go and do it because he enjoys it. It made me wonder the reason that I cannot have peace in seeing another joyful? Or the reason that it is so hard for me to do what others want to do? I think some is that I feel I’m wasting my time, but in my experience, even doing exactly what I want does not make me happy. I commit to opening myself up to those around me and experiencing what they enjoy or at least watching them enjoy it.

Judgement. That’s an ugly one. I believe that being so critical of myself has manifested itself in being critical of others. After contemplating this oh so heavy brick, I believe by reserving judgement of others I may begin to experience a loving and nonjudgemental attitude of myself. I am certainly still working on this one.

Pressure. I, no doubt, create this brick for myself. It’s my need to please and to not dissapoint that creates my pressure. I feel that I shouldn’t make mistakes in my job, at derby, at home, with my friends and with my weight. I put pressure on myself to try to be everything, but I end up failing and just fulfilling my own prophecy that I am never enough and am dissappointing. I need to allow gentleness to come into my heart. I am only 1 person. I can only do what I can do. I have realized over the last few years that I have a very hard time asking for help. It makes me feel that I failed, I should be able to do it on my own, it makes me weak…all of this is not literally true, its my perception. This year, I am going to reach out to a willing hand, a listening ear, an open heart.

Arrogance. For me, arrogance is just a branch of judgement. I really do not have much confidence in myself. So, I think my actions of arrogance are a facade of confidence….to let others think I am confident when I am really not. The arrogance comes off in downgrading others to make myself look better. This is not healthy for that person or myself. This year, I am going to be conscious of others’ successes and allow them to relish in their success without making them unworthy in my mind.

This wall wasn’t built in a day and it certainly is not going to be destroyed in a day. But, day by day, I will work on these bricks that give me a heavy heart and emotional shield. I will definitely still need to revisit lesson #1 time and again and again. I appreciate those that are still here with me as you read this long post. I am hoping that it provokes some thought for your own growth and provides you with the means to break down your own wall, brick by brick.

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When will the burger wars stop?  America’s waistlines can’t take it anymore.  The newest addition to the king-size burger comes from Hardee’s.  They have released their 12-inch burger on a couple of  test markets in the U.S., one of which happens to be right here in Indiana.

The 12-inch cheeseburger packs a punch at 850 calories and 20 grams of saturated fat, which is a suggested limit of saturated fat for someone trying to reduce their cholesterol levels. 

I was shocked to hear that it was only 850 calories, it looks much more extreme.  However, the BK Triple Whopper trumps the 12-inch burger with 1200 calories.  Even sandwiches at Panera Bread contain 700-900 calories, but the newest burgers seem to get the most attention when it comes to extreme sandwiches.  Although, Panera Bread tries to maintain a “healthy” persona, while Hardee’s loves spitting in “healthy’s” face. 

I am sure Indiana is eating the foot-long burger up and it will be unleashed on the rest of America very soon.  I predict a triple 12-inch burger in the near future.  Any gamblers out there?

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So, my hubbie and I went to see Inception this weekend, which was great, by the way.  I highly recommend it.  But, I digress.  We went to see this movie on one of the hottest and most humid days of the summer.  We, like many others, thought it would be a great idea to spend the afternoon in a cold, dark movie theater.

If you’ve ever gone to a matinee on the south side of Indy, you completely understand the reason that Indiana is one of the fattest states in the nation.  I thoroughly enjoy the art of observation, and did not only notice the large size of the people in attendance, but also the ridiculously large size of the food and everything else, for that matter.

If you haven’t been to see a movie in the theaters lately, let me bring out the evidence that proves that pretty much everything is large!

Evidence #1: Large ticket price for 2 adults to a matinee showing of a movie on the Imax.  $32 total….yowzer!

Evidence #2: Hubbie and I decided to share a drink and a bottled water.  I asked for a medium-sized drink, this seems reasonable to me, should be about 20 oz….wrong! What comes out is what I think might be a 32 oz, but I am not positive as it is difficult to hold with 1 hand, which in my book, constitutes a Large drink.  And, the kind teenager behind the counter asked if I would like to make it an actual “large” for 25 cents more.  Hmm, let me think, I am not sure that I brought enough gear to carry a keg of soda and I am pretty sure that you offer free refills?  No?  Oh, and did I mention the $4.25 price rape for a 32 oz drink?

Evidence #3: Most patrons at this particular matinee were over a BMI (body mass index) of at least 40.  I am not saying that you can’t be healthy if you are overweight.  There are many that I know that aren’t very healthy and they are underweight or average size.  Just sayin’ that most of the customers were large by most people’s standards.

Evidence #4: A woman, and this is independent of her size, ordered a bucket of popcorn. For herself.  You may wonder how I might know that?  Well, everyone else in her party had their very own popcorn, although not a bucket.

Evidence #5: Did you know that you get to put your own butter on your popcorn now?  Craziness…it comes out of a pump which I imagine has a hose connecting to a vat of liquefied fake-butter, which will from now on be referred to as “futter.”   The woman with the bucket of popcorn decided that she needed more futter on her popcorn, like there isn’t enough in the plain popcorn that is popped in flavored oil.  She put her bucket-o-corn under the futter dispenser and showered her popcorn with futter.  Finally, after a minute, she stopped.  Wait, she just need to shake it up, back for more futter.  WOW!   Wants some popcorn with your futter?  Gag!

Evidence #6: Finally to the movie, and hopefully away from the food for giants to the Imax theater….largest screen evah, in Indiana anyway.

Evidence #7: And, the large-ness doesn’t stop there.  The seats are meant for kings, and big kings at that.  And, despite the large seats, the arms of the seats can flip up so you can  have even more room.  I saw many of Evidence #3 have to use this option.

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Wishes are for birthdays and genies.  Goals are meant to be worked towards.  A french writer once said “a goal without a plan is just a wish.”  I whole-heartedly agree with that quote, especially in regards to weight loss.

More times than I care to estimate, patients will come to me with a “goal” of weight loss without any thought of how they might achieve this goal.  This is like me saying that I am going to run a marathon without having a training plan.  We need to come up with a training plan for weight loss. 

Usually the conversation goes something like this:

Me: So what brings you here today?

Client: I want to lose weight.

Me: Alright, so what are your goals surrounding weight loss?

Client: Weight loss IS my goal. (Client usually has a very confused look on their face as if I did not hear them the first time.)

Me: Okay, I understand you want to lose weight.  How can I help you with this?

Client: Well, that’s why I came to you.  (At this point, I imagine they are expecting me to get out my wand or spell book and cast a incantation that will allow them to lose weight right here and now….sounds simple, right?  I may or may NOT have a spell book or magic wand.  However, if I did, I most definitely haven’t figured out how to get rid of excess weight with it…if I had one, that is….hmmm, will consult Mr. Potter.)

Me: Okay, but have you thought about what YOU are going to do to achieve this goal?

Client: Well, that’s why I came to you.  You are the dieitian, you tell me.  (Aaaah…this always makes me laugh.  As if, whatever I say, they will do.  If  that was the case, then why didn’t the last 15 diets they followed work?  The books and the group leaders tell them exact ly what to do.  What happened there?  And, if I had such power, why isn’t my husband doing my laundry? )

Okay, I know most of you are thinking, well, isn’t that your job, Eve?  Well, yes it is, but I need some participation.  I do assist clients in goal making, but, in my experience, it is usually the clients that come in with a plan that are more likely to succeed.  I can help them make their plan more managable.  I am not saying that if they don’t have a plan that they won’t succeed, but it’s certainly less likely.  And, it is even more unlikely that they will succeed if I am the one making the goals for them.

I try to work with clients to make smaller goals that lead them to their ultimate goal of weight loss.  They need to focus on behaviors and actions that they can DO.  Weight loss is not something that one does, exercise is something that one does.  Okay, now after this has all been said, back to the conversation:

Me: So, what goal do you want to make to support your weight loss?

Client: I am going to eat healthier.

Me: Okay, what does that look like for you? (I ask this because people have such extremely varying ideas on what “healthy” eating entails.)

“Eating healthy” is about as good a goal as “weight loss.”  There is no plan.  We then discuss that we need to make specific goals that deal with behaviors.  Now maybe they’ll understand.  I give them examples.  Back to the conversation:

Me: So, let me help you a little with this. You told me that you drink four 12oz regular sodas per day.  Is this something that you would like to change?

Client: I don’t know.  I guess that would help me lose weight if I cut it out, huh?  But, I really like my cokes.

Me: It sounds like you don’t want to give these up completely just yet.  Would you be willing to work on cutting back?  (Here I acknowledge that she really likes her cokes and have sensed her apprehension to give them up completely.  I am giving her a way to ease into these changes.)

Client: I think I could at least start to cut back.

Me: Okay, great.  Do you think limiting to two 12oz cokes per day is doable?

Client: Yes, I CAN do that!

Me: See, now we have a goal that you can DO and is measurable!  Goal #1: Limit cokes to 24oz per day.

And, then our discussion stems into making more goals that deal with behaviors and are measurable.  Many times clients think these very small goals are silly and not significant enough to make a difference.  But, if this client were to only make this goal and nothing else, and assuming that she was able to achieve this, she could, theoretical, lose up to 30lbs in 1 year by cutting her coke intake in half, which reduces her calorie consumption by 300 calories per day.  Small changes do add up, but only if they can be maintained.

Making goals is hard, making achievable and measurable goals is even harder.  Assisting clients in focusing on behavioral-centered goals is what I do, then its up to them to do the rest.  Weight loss is NOT a behavioral-centered goal.  Examples of behavioral-centered goals might include:

  1. I will include some protein with each meal and snack. (We will formulate a list of things for the client to choose from.)
  2. I will drink 48oz of water daily.
  3. I will do some activity for 10 minutes daily, 4-5 days per week.
  4. I turn off the TV during dinner.

So, the moral of this, whether the goal is weight loss or a marathon, a plan is needed, or its really just a wish.

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Lack of exercise and overeating are easy targets to pinpoint as obesity causes, but now the Center of Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is targeting toys in Happy Meals.  In a letter written to McDonalds, the CSPI “demands that McDonalds stop using toys to market Happy Meals to young children.” 

The CSPI makes very good points and it is clear to me that McDonalds, and most other fast food conglomerates, for that matter, target kids.  Heck, have you walked down a cereal aisle or the yogurt section of the supermarket?  It is all colors and cartoon characters.  This is not a new thing.

The letter states that because of the toys, kids will “pester” parents for happy meals, and thus, the kids will then consume the unhealthy box of food with loads of fat and calories, which will eventually lead to obesity.  But, will it?  I imagine if parents allowed their kids to eat happy meals everyday it could possibly lead to consuming too many calories and an overweight child.  But, this is assuming that the child is not active and that the rest of their diet is unbalanced.  This is a big IF!

I know what you’re thinking, we live in America, most of the kids are overweight and even obese, we have to do something.  And, I totally agree.  However, do we think banning toys in Happy Meals is going to reduce obesity in America?  Maybe, but I have my doubts. 

The thing I don’t like about this letter is that the CSPI insinuates that parents somehow cannot control what their children consume.  It assumes that a 5 year old is the ultimate decision maker of what goes on their plate.  If this is the case, then we have more problems than obesity in America. 

I am not trying to condone what McDonalds or other fast food giants do to get customers, I actually think its pretty shameful.  But seriously, where is the consumer responsibility?  And, to blame a new toy on obesity in America?  Really?  How often does a new toy come out?  Every new movie, every quarter?  It is certainly not everyday.

Just as I wrote about Ronald McDonald and other fictional characters in a previous post, toys are the latest scape-goat for childhood obesity.  Taking away cartoons and toys is not going to make kids skinny.  Kids need to get more activity, including in schools, eat meals at the dinner table instead of in front of the tv or in the car.  Parents need to take responsibility for what young children eat, that’s what parents are supposed to do, right? 

CSPI, I like you, but please stop making ridiculous claims that won’t do anything to curb obesity in America.  Please start spending your money on educating parents on what will make a difference: budget planning, meal planning, cooking, gardening, etc.

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After talking with patients for 10 years, I’ve come to an unscientific conclusion that the average American has 3-dimensional flavor…..fat, salt, and SUGAR.  The per capita consumption of sugar in the United States is somewhere between 150-170 pounds annually….thats roughly 231,000-261,800 calories from added sugar per year.  And, we wonder why we are facing a obesity epidemic in America?  Really?   As a reference, in 1951, the per capita consumption was 95 pounds of sugar annually.  Now, that figure includes sugar that is added to processed foods as well as table sugar that is consumed.  I just want to focus on the sugar that people knowingly add to their foods, which may be around 20-30 pounds per capita annually. 

I’ve heard it so many times before, but it still amazes me the amount of sugar that people add to already sweet foods.  Today, a patient told me that they add sugar to their tomatoes???  I’ve listened as they tell me they add sugar to already sweetened cereals such as honey nut cheerios and fruit loops.  Sugar to fruit like berries and melons.  Personally, I think this completely ruins the fruit….it gets mushy and watery.  Oh, and I can’t forget sweet potatoes…they add brown sugar, honey, and marshmallows.  I wonder if they’ve even eaten a plain sweet potato….completely delicious and sweet all on its own.  I’ve seen people add sugar to milk, carrots, beets and popcorn.      

What happened to eating foods the way nature intended?  While Americans have been on a sugar high, did aliens come steal our taste buds?  I don’t get it!  I will just try to keep a straight face when tomorrow’s patient tells me that they add sugar to their soda. *sigh*

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Food as addiction? Doesn’t make sense, does it?  We need food, right?  Food isn’t like cocaine, we have to eat.  However, considering the obesity epidemic that has overrun America and my experience with patients, it appears that many cannot kick their over-consumption habit.

Addicted to food?  Many scoff at such an idea and believe that obese individuals just lack will-power or need to exercise more, which may be partly the case, but what if there is more to it than that?  A study from Nature Neuroscience and another from the Journal of Nutrition, just to name a few, give some insight into the inner workings of brain chemicals in relation to food.

But, what if humans have not quite adapted to the high-sugar, high-sodium, high-fat foods that encompass the modern American diet?  As our food has become increasingly more convenient and processed, so has our waistlines. Coincidence?  Probably not. But, that certainly does not prove that food addiction is real.

I can only speak from personal experience with bulimia, which some experts believe is a form of food addiction.  I actually went to 12-step meetings through Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA).  They had a structured meal plan that was devoid of all sugar and processed foods.  I can’t say if it was the elimination of the processed foods or the structure that allowed me to work on my issues surrounding food and body image, or if I was just “ready.”  But, it was a breakthrough for me at that time.  Before then, no amount of therapy or anti-depressants were able to pull me out of the bulimia spiral.

My diet has changed since the FAA plan and I haven’t felt out of control with food and am able to enjoy desserts once in awhile without overeating, but that wasn’t always the case.  I do believe that my ability to stay sane with food has stemmed from a structure with eating and eliminating most processed foods.  I don’t ever remember a time during my bulimic days that I was binging on apples or salad?  Weird, I know, seems like just the right binge food, huh?

I can’t prove that food addiction is real, but I would guess that many with bulimia, binge-eating disorder, or the main character in the movie Lbs. would have a hard time believing that it isn’t real.  Lbs. was released on March 26, 2010 to limited theaters, mostly on the East Coast.   I am hoping that it will at least get to Chicago, but I may have to wait until the DVD comes out, which is of an unknown date. Below is the trailer to Lbs.

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