This post is meant to serve both as an informational one for you, and a therapeutic one for me. I am severely overweight: 366.6 lbs. as of the writing of this blog post. I have gained exactly 6 pounds since February 5, 2010. I am willing to allow for fluctuations due to water weight, clothes, time of day, etc. but that is a tough way to explain 6 pounds. I know the truth deep down, I have fallen off the wagon, and I have not been eating right all the time; more importantly, I have not exercised much at all. Once this month is all. I have also fallen into the “tomorrow” trap. The “tomorrow trap” is the mindset that we are all very good at getting into “This is my last day, tomorrow, I get serious” Well, here is the truth: TODAY IS NOW, TOMORROW NEVER COMES. Every day is today, we never live tomorrow, we only live today.
TODAY, I GET BACK ON THE WAGON.
I have started today with a meal of steel cut oats; it is healthy, full of fiber, and good for me. Furthermore, I have learned to enjoy it. I have often heard that it can be helpful to equating food to fuel. Hamburgers and fast food is equivalent to the crappy, sludge causing gas that gunks up your system and eventually causes your car to die an early death. Oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, fibrous foods, are equivalent to top-notch gasoline with STP fuel cleaner in it: not only does it make your system run well, it can even clean out the crap that has been left in there from previous bad fuels.
If you think of it that way, it makes eating well an easier decision…sometimes. It is also very important to understand your own motivations. This can be difficult for us, because to admit we have a problem is difficult, particularly for men, who always have to not have problems, and always solve it on our own. I have been there, denying, ignoring my weight, saying “I’m a high functioning fat person, I can still run, I can still get up the stairs without getting winded”. I have actually said: “I can get up the stairs without losing my breath”. Can you imagine being in a physical state where getting up the stairs without becoming winded is a VICTORY?
I am getting older, and my knees hurt sometimes, my lower back hurts sometimes, my gut hurts, my body is telling me all day, every day “something is wrong, fix it now!”. The problem is, when those aches are all you have ever known, it does not seem like anything is wrong. I am SO good at denying there are any issues with me, that somehow my severe weight level is okay, because I live a healthy enough life. News flash for me: Double the weight of an optimum weight person is not a healthy enough life.
Here is a startling statistic, I am obese. At 366.6 pounds, I have to lose 149.6 pounds to be OVERWEIGHT. I need to lose a normal weight for a 5′ 3.5″ person to become OVERWEIGHT. To become optimum weight, I need to lose 186.6 pounds. I am supposed to lose more weight than I should weigh at the end of things.
I just noticed another thing: while writing that last paragraph, I got scared, and I reached for another spoonful of my oatmeal…emotional eating in action. Looking back on my life, I can see that I was set up for weight gain, nearly everyone in my family is not just overweight, but huge. Rather, they all WERE huge. There are still a few of us, but a number of my cousins have lost boatloads of weight. Who can blame us, either, we were in a big Italian family. Family dinner meant 2-3 entrees, 3-5 side dishes, a loaf of bread, pop for some, milk or water for others, and anywhere from 3-6 desserts. The idea was to have choice, the reality was that we all ate some of everything.
The other things is: and I know it will probably pain him to hear it, but I always wanted to be like my dad (still do). When we went out to eat, he at everything, he sometimes ate what my mom or sister didn’t, until, of course, I was old enough to help them out with what they couldn’t finish. All You Can Eat buffets were not dinner, they were a chance to get your money’s worth. I don’t at all blame him for my weight gain; he was living the life he was used to living, I just tagged along. We are a product of the environment we live in, and Italians eat.
Like I said, a large portion of my extended family was huge; my cousins all lost a ton of weight, my uncles are all on weight watchers, aunts losing weight, my father losing weight. And therein lies my greatest motivation in the world. Deep down, I still want to be like my father, and he has done more in the past year than I can imagine. He has been so, unbelievably motivational. I don’t blame him for my weight gain, but I most certainly attribute some of the 40+ pounds I have lost thusfar to him. I have a picture of him on my wall of motivation. I love talking to him about his journey. He is such a strong person, to be able to do this, and that is all the motivation I should need. I know that by him losing all of this weight, he is saving not only his life, but mine as well. I can only imagine he has already added 10 years to his life span, and he has an opportunity to add probably another 15-20 years.
In the old days, when we were together, him taking another slice of bread, another serving of lasagna, another cookie was license for me to do so. Now, his ability to refuse that extra serving of lasagna is enough to drive me to turn down another serving. Sure, I might have another serving the next day (leftover lasagna is delicious) but my body can handle that much better than putting a serving of lasagna on top of an already full stomach.
Before I go further, I should mention that one book that has been instrumental in helping me to address my food addiction and my personal demons is The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict
it is a great book, in which food addiction is compared cocaine addiction, or alcohol addiction (two addictions I have not had personal experience with, but I can only imagine are horrible). The problem with food addiction is: you cannot stop eating food. You are an alcoholic, you stop drinking for the rest of your life; that is not to say it is easy, but once it is out of your system, it is not a major issue. Imagine telling an alcoholic, you have to have one drink, three times a day, every day for the rest of your life, but you can’t go back to being an alcoholic. No alcoholic in alcohol’s multiple millenia history could do that.
The key is to change my mindset about food: FOOD IS FUEL. There are two people in the world, those who base their thoughts around food, and those who don’t. Some people go out to a restaurant as a means to do a required activity, and to socialize with others. The most important part is the socializing, when I go to a restaurant, all I care about it when the waiter is bringing the bread, when is our food going to arrive, I wonder, should I get a dessert? What about soup, that sounds good, ooh, but if I get soup, and an entree, and a dessert, I’ll look like a fatty (yeah, THAT’S what’s going to make me look fat, it’s not the 180 pounds of excess body fat) so I better just choose one or the other…maybe I could split a dessert with another person.
Meanwhile, you are all talking about important matters that would probably interest me if food weren’t in question.
It isn’t always that bad, but food is definitely always at the back of my mind, I can rarely just enjoy the conversation. Then the food comes, and the girl across the table isn’t going to eat all of her pasta…god that looks good. I can’t ask to try it though, that would make me look like a fatty, so maybe if she offers, I’ll say I’ll try a bite. Just a bite, but…if she’s not going to eat it all, or take it home, maybe two bites. No, just say no, or you’ll look like a fatty…okay, one bite is ok. My main issue is that food is a pleasure item, not a fuel item. Therein lies the problem, when you eat for pleasure, that is all you are interested, you will eat until you stop feeling pleasure; you will feel pleasure until you are so stuffed that it hurts…physically HURTS to eat more. Again, this isn’t always the case, but it is the reason I cannot go to all you can eat buffets anymore, it is the reason I can’t cook food to have leftovers. I once made a quadruple batch of lentils and rice, and stored it in three servings, and served a bowl for lunch. All four servings were gone by the time I went to bed that night.
All of this has been written as a means of me kind of getting into my head. Writing can be therapeutic, and as a guy, I have trouble straight up asking to talk to someone; talking to an “anonymous” source lets me get my thoughts out, and allows for some therapeutic thinking.