03 May 2011

Topical Tuesday: Obesity

I realize that the media is saturated with the death of Osama Bin Laden.  However, I really don't want to talk about that.  I have very mixed feelings and don't really want to have a heated debate about the entire controversy.

So, today I am going to talk about something that has been dear to my heart. This what my students call "real talk." I've struggled with obesity since my teen years. After having two children and going through a really emotional and messy divorce in my mid 20's, I had gained approximately 40 pounds. Consequently, having a third child did nothing but make the weight gain more profound and I gained another 40 pounds. This compounded with a family history of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and diabetes was just a recipe for disaster.

For some time in October I was experiencing headaches, sluggishness, heart palpitations and dizziness. The urgi-care doctor recommended I have a complete physical since I was also receiving care for kidney stones. I was a HOT mess! I waited until January to see my doctor.

Once my vitals were taken by the nurse, my doctor entered the exam room and looked over my chart (which is now online, I have some issues about confidentiality and security but will save that for another post). Dr. K. looked me in the eye and said, "You are going to kill yourself. You're only 37 and morbidly obese. You have borderline high blood pressure. This is just the beginning. You will have heart disease, diabetes and who knows what else by the time you're 50."

I was shocked because no other doctor was ever that blunt with me. Dr. K. told me to get in more fiber via complex carbohydrates, plenty of vegetables, 2 ounces of meat per day, 8 cups of water daily, only 2,000 milligrams of salt per day (which is only a teaspoon!) and I must take water pills to lower my blood pressure. No fast food, no sauces, no pastries or simple carbohydrates, no readily prepared foods and above all NO ADDED SALT!

My first thought was, "What the flagnog? Who the hell does she think she is?" But despite my immediate anger, a lightbulb went off and I realized she was right. I had to do something differently because I was on a path to destruction. So, I stopped eating the bad stuff. I had withdrawals like you wouldn't believe. I keep a food log everyday on my iPhone using the Lose It! app. I exercise by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking on the treadmill three times per week and lifting small cans (not strong enough for regular weights yet). I also don't eat late night snacks anymore; 7 pm is the cutoff. All in all, I began at 258 lbs and am now down to 235. I lost 23 pounds in eight months. I probably could have lost more but am proud that I got even this far.

I will not lie.  There are times when I crave a cookie or want to have a bagel with cream cheese but so far I have been able to keep these cravings to a minimum.  I would love to hear your struggles, successes and strategies on living a healthy lifestyle.  It's nice to know that perhaps, I'm not so alone in this never ending battle against obesity.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:

Obesity 001
Fast Food


LTM said...

What a fantastic story--and congratulations to you!!! Keep up the good work, girl. You can do it! You ARE doing it~ :o) <3

Jan Morrison said...

I love how honest this post is, Chary! I struggle a bit with weight but it was a long time coming so I never got in the habit of dealing with it much. I have other health concerns that alternative doctors and some ternative (just made that up) ones felt nutrition might work with. A couple of years ago, I went on a cave-woman diet. No wheat, no fruit, no sugar, no starches, no booze, no coffee or tea - greens and protein. I felt great and lost weight without effort. BUT IT WAS HARD. My allergy doc wanted me to stay there for ever and I did for about six months but then it was slipping here and there and then! Fat and asthmatic again...
I will go on it again but I did miss a glass of wine...
Keep on keepin' on - move whenever you feel the urge. Moving is key, I believe...

Amber T. Smith said...

I feel your pain, Chary, I really do. My mother and all of her siblings all suffer with being obese, and the trait has passed along to me, and to a certain extent my girl. It's not that we eat a great deal, our bodies just don't seem to have good metabolisms. I lost and kept 42lbs off last year - right up until Christmas - but I've gained 7lbs in the last five months, even though I am more active than ever and am still pretty strict when it comes to the naughty food stuffs. I need to get back on the REALLY strict regime again, but it's so, so hard.


Hart Johnson said...

Oh, Chary, I only knew a tiny portion of this. Good for you for being so good for so long (and not complaining!). It really is a huge lifestyle thing--I know that. I struggle, too... a lot... (a lot more loudly, even). I definitely need to get solidly onto the 'be good' bandwagon... Like Jan, it is the wine that is hardest for me to give up, though I suspect I am less moderate with it than she is (which means I can also fall into those late snacks)

Unknown said...

@ LTM- Thanks. It was really difficult to write this. I suppose acceptance that one has a problem is the first step. Thanks for the encouragement.

Unknown said...

@ Jan- Thanks. I hear you. I'm not supposed to have any alcohol either but I indulge in a glass of wine every now and then.

I have never heard of a cave-woman diet. You have much more will power than I do. Six months is a great accomplishment. I wish you luck honey and now that I'll be cheering you in the background when you decide to begin again. :D

Unknown said...

@ Tara- I hear you! It is so hard to stay on the path. Especially with temptation all around us. I hate social gatherings because I know I am going to fall off the wagon.

Just like you, obesity seems to be hereditary in my family too. Almost all the females are overweight or morbidly obese. *sighs* Thanks for the encouragement. :D

Unknown said...

@ Hart- It's so hard to be good. Wine! It will be all our downfalls. *laughs*

But seriously, you are active walking to and from your job everyday and from what you say, you don't make poor choices when it comes to eating. I hate the late night munchies. They are the worst.

Good luck Hart. I hope we all can just use each other as a circle of support.

I'll hollah at all of you, if I need you. :D

ralphswurld said...

I feel you. I have a friend who's been battling with her weight and was even told to undergo bariatric bypass surgery as an option to loss weight. But she was persistent to do it without surgery and she changed her lifestyle, chooses her food wisely and get a lot of exercise. After 2 years now she's seen the fruit of her self-control and discipline.