A History of Obesity
I’m fat. There’s no going around it sideways. I’ve known it for a while. To be truthful, I’ve been fat for longer than I’ve been thin. I was born in the 60s, and hit puberty in the 80s, when the Food Pyramid was first seeing its meteoric rise. I struggled with my weight from the time I turned 13, and began skipping meals and eating only dinner in an effort to control my weight. I went from 108 at age 13, to 113 by age 15, 118 by age 18, and 125 by age 20. I couldn’t stop the slow creep. I was active. In high school I was young and fit, and I was on the Drill Team, as well as playing Powder Puff Football and being the goalie for the girls’ field hockey team. In college, I weight-lifted, and by that time, I was 145 and totally ripped, but still obese already.
I broke my ankle in the early 90s. Shattered it, in fact, somewhere around age 26. I was off my feet for two weeks with my foot in the air, for six weeks in a cast, for two months in a walking cast, and another year learning to walk again. They told me I would never dance or wear high heels, and I broke my butt in physical therapy proving them wrong, but that 145 pounds of muscle turned to 165 pounds of fat. My bones are so small that they had to use the children’s microscope to repair my ankle, and I was already morbidly obese, one year after the repair. By 2001, I was married at a whopping 185 pounds, and it didn’t stop there. My weight crept up and up and up. I couldn’t get it to stop. Nothing I tried worked.
What Were You Putting in Your Mouth, Woman?
You might ask what was I eating? Clearly, if I was gaining weight and needing to diet, then my diet had to be the problem. I must have been a compulsive over-eater, snacking too much on Doritos and cokes and eating too much candy and ice cream. Surely I snacked between meals, and ate nothing but junk food? You’d be wrong. I actually eat sweets rarely. I might have dessert once or twice a week, or a fancy coffee once a week. I might eat a small piece of chocolate when it was that time of the month, to stabilize my mood. But I never was and never have been a cookie-monster or a person who’ll sit and eat an entire cake, or someone who’ll eat four bags of jellybeans. I never craved sweets to the point where I’d eat them every day. I rarely subbed a pastry for breakfast, or tried to convince myself that junk food was actual nutrition. Especially after I developed Fibromyalgia, I worked hard to keep my sweet intake confined to holidays and special occasions, and I tried to eliminate preservatives from my food.
A typical day for me was a waffle, or a breakfast burrito, or a piece of toast with cream cheese, or an English muffin with cream cheese, or Cream of Wheat, or cereal, or a muffin for breakfast. A typical lunch for me was a sandwich, or a Lean Cuisine, rice, leftover pasta, a baked potato, or a sweet potato. A typical dinner was a meat, a carb-laden side dish, like potatoes, pasta or rice, and a marginal veggie that I wouldn’t eat half the time. Snacks were sometimes fruit, sometimes yogurt with granola and fresh or dried fruit. Sometimes nuts. Sometimes tiny portions of leftovers. Often pretzels or Frosted Mini Wheats.
See where I’m going with this? I ate high carb, low fat as a rule, and couldn’t control my weight or my appetite. I didn’t eat a lot of junk food. I wasn’t gorging on cookies, or cakes, or ice cream, or pies. I also didn’t drink a lot of junk. I drank one cup of coffee with two tsp of sugar or honey, one Gatorade, and all water. Furthermore, I didn’t gorge myself at meals. I rarely went back for seconds, and for the last five or six years, I lost a very VERY slow five pounds per year by HALVING the portions I ate at mealtimes, and increasing the number of times I ate. As per 90% of the current nutrition and diet advice, I trained myself to be a grazer.
So why was I still fat? And why was I getting fatter? And why did I feel horrible and tired, and foggy, and crabby? Why were none of the diets working?
The Search for the Perfect Diet
I guess you could say, I’ve been desperate for a while. I’ve tried every diet that conforms to the Food Pyramid and popular research, from Weight Watchers to Nutrisystem, to South Beach, to halving my portions, and basically starving myself. I was always hungry, I was always frustrated, I was always thinking about food and trying to find ways to avoid food. The thing is, all of those diets basically told me to eat what I was already eating. I’d cut out my few desserts and sweets, and maybe lose a pound, but nothing would really change, because I’ve never been an overeater – I would naturally stay between 1500 and 2000 calories, which is the amount at which all diet guidebooks say I should lose weight. For me, it was impossible to lose weight because all of the diets told me to do more of what I was already doing. The very definition of insanity is doing more of the same thing and expecting a different result!
So what changed? An old friend returned to my life, and during one of our early conversations, I had a visit to the doctor. While I was at the doctor, they used an electric blood pressure machine on me, and I got a reading of a whopping 175/105! It was appalling and I was terrified. Knowing that I often run high on the electric machine, I asked them to retake it with the standard sphygmomanometer and it was thirty points lower! While that vindicated my belief that the digital blood pressure machines are an evil conspiracy by the drug companies to push everyone onto blood pressure medication, I was also 146/90 on the handheld meter, which was still far too high.
After hearing about this particular problem, my friend – we’ll call him “J” – basically took over my diet. I was absolutely against him doing this. I absolutely fought every step of the way. I had all sorts of fears – many of them valid – and all sorts of excuses – none of them valid. My biggest fear revolved around getting rid of Gatorade. I drank one Gatorade Fruit Punch every day. The extra electrolytes helped me with the shaking that had developed from my Fibro. Without it, I was bound to tremble all the time. It made me feel absolute panic, I argued against it, and at the least tried to retain Gatorade in my diet. I NEEDED my Gatorade!
J put his foot down. Absolutely not. He wasn’t going to watch me stroke out because my blood pressure was a mess. I was to go off sugar completely. No sweets, no drinks, no desserts, and no “sneaky” sugars which are in just about everything from milk to mayonnaise. I protested vigorously, but after a long talk, and quite a bit of tail-kicking, I came grudgingly on board. I’ve always been a label-reader because I’m severely allergic to sucralose, aspertame and stevia. I began to put those skills into overdrive, and it seemed like everything had sugar as an ingredient. (And if you think that’s bad, you should see how many different sneaky names the food industry has for sugar. You can be a diabetic, totally off sugar, and still have blood sugar problems because you’re ingesting sugar under another name.)
I went off sugar on May 9, 2018, and within two weeks, I saw a marked improvement in my energy level. I didn’t lose any weight, because I wasn’t really omitting anything major from my diet. After all, I didn’t eat many sweets to begin with. Omitting the sneaky sugars netted me a pound or two, but aside from that minimal weight loss, how I felt was SO different. My pain levels went WAY down. My energy levels went WAY up. I felt great. That alone means that I will not go back to a high sugar lifestyle again. The difference in how I feel is incredible.
On May 22, 2018 I began the Ketogenic Diet. I started with Dr. Ken Berry’s 3 First Steps to Going Keto (Credit Card NOT Required) NO sugar (been-there-done-that), NO wheat, rice, corn or oats (a bit harder). I also had to change up my cooking oils. There’s a lot of very good science behind how this all works, and the chemical processes that take place, but I’ll talk about them in another post. I’ll also include citations and links to websites where you can check all this stuff out. However, if you’re desperate to know more, you can have a look at Butter Bob’s “Butter Makes Your Pants Fall Off” video on YouTube. He breaks it down so it’s easy to understand. You can also check out Dr. Ken Berry’s video, “Help, I NEED to lose 50 pounds (or More): Good! You’ve Come to the Right Place…”
So far, it’s been difficult to omit carbs, since I’m living with other family members who are in all cases skeptical, and in some cases downright afraid for my health. I have been successful however. I will say this: Once you understand the science behind the chemical processes in your body, you understand that there is more than one way to get energy, and a more effective way to lose weight. Furthermore, you understand why you weren’t losing that “stubborn belly fat” that seems to be plaguing so many of us. I haven’t had much in the way of carb cravings, I rarely crave sugar and I’ve lost 5# in the ten days that I’ve been on the Ketogenic Diet. I’ll keep you posted on my results going forward.
Don’t tell J this – but I’m going to stick with this diet, even if he doesn’t stick around. 😉