Sunday, January 01, 2006

January 1st, 2006: Time to Get Serious

I’m a professional loser of weight. I remember doing Pritikin, Atkins, TOPS and Weight Watchers when I was barely out of middle school. I was a miserable teenager who weighed almost 215 lbs by age 15. I hated myself! In 1998 I embarked on a serious weight loss plan involving Weight Watchers. I was single and could afford the expense, time and energy required to lose almost 200 lbs in three years. However, I could not get below 162 for months on end. Because my goal weight was 135 lbs I became fixated on the scale and on failure. I lost confidence, grew frustrated, and began to feel that old, familiar self hatred. I regained the weight in a remarkably short period of time. I went from a size 10 person who ran in the morning to a size 30 person who can’t walk from the car to the grocery store door without running out of breath.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the scary changes in my health I’ve been experiencing. When I read aloud I find I have to take deep breaths quite often. My blood pressure is high and my cholesterol is over 200. My back hurts when I have to stand for more than a few minutes, so doing dishes is painful. My shoulders hurt when I raise my arms, as if they are too heavy for their sockets. My right leg feels very weak- sometimes I fear it will collapse when I’m climbing stairs. I have headaches at least once a week now, and the huge amount of Pepsi I drink has lead to teeth problems. I have pain on the sides of my tongue every few weeks. I am anemic. I have chronically dry skin to the point where my legs looks like alligators! I could go on, but I’ll spare you for now.

The point is, I’ve been living on SAD- the Standard American Diet. It’s a diet of junk. Salt and sugar make up a large part of what I eat. Pepsi, some days, is the only thing I drink. Other days I drink very little of anything. I rarely eat vegetables and eat even less fruit. I have tried to substitute healthier foods for the unhealthy ones, like diet pop for Pepsi, but it doesn’t work. If it ain’t Pepsi, it simply will not do. Drinking the imposters eventually leads me to wanting the real thing again. I’ve come to learn that if I want to stay away from unhealthy foods, I have to also stop consuming their imitators. Fat-free stuff isn’t any better for me than the fat-filled counterparts.

As of today I weigh 341 lbs. I am 5′ 6″ tall. I am overweight because I consume more calories than I expend- simple as that. Why I consume too much food is no mystery. Food makes me feel temporarily happy. It distracts me from stress and it gives me a familiar pleasure when I’m feeling sad, lonely or anxious. I saw a therapist for a while who explained to me that food increases my serotonin levels and has therefore become an addiction. I can believe that - totally. But while it helps me greatly to understand my depression and how I use food to medicate myself, I find that I can analyze myself until the cows come home without getting better.

What I really need is to revamp my diet. I am taking a holistic approach of body, mind and spirit. Obviously I need more than just a physical change in body size to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I’m hoping that with healthy, whole, fresh foods in my system, I’ll rid myself of addictions to carbs, sugar, salt, etc. Perhaps ridding myself of those substances will result in a clearer mind and will result in a body that doesn’t crave food to combat depression. Maybe I won’t even experience depression any longer- who knows? I am starting the raw food transition now because I understand that one can go through some pretty yucky detox for a couple of weeks (or longer!). I start classes in late January so I hope to be through the worst of it by then. The first suffering I will experience will likely be caffeine withdrawal. Woe is me.

These are the symptoms with which I’m starting the year

-Eyes water for a couple of hours each morning
-Stuffy nose/post-nasal drip
-Sneezing in the morning
-Sides of tongue hurt for days at a time
-Bad gums (probably gum disease)
-Stiff neck and back
-Blotchy complexion, some acne
-Low grade headache in morning, sometimes throughout day
-Severe lower back pain all the time
-Pain in knees
-Low energy, low stamina
-Uneven sleeping patterns
-Often feel hot
-Very noisy digestive system
-chronically dry skin
-Resting heartrate = 80s and 90s
-341 pounds (about 200 lbs to lose)

-Few vegetables, almost no fruit
-High saturated fat and trans-fat
-LOTS of sugar and caffeine
-Hardly any water

-Fitness? What fitness? I can’t climb one short set of stairs without huffing and puffing. If I have to hurry down the street even a little, I’m breathing heavily for a ridiculous amount of time.

When I lost 200 lbs around the year 2000, I was walking 5 miles to work and back, playing racquetball, dancing, rollerblading, was going to the gym, biking, and taking a spinning class. My resting heart rate was in the high 30s and low 40s first thing in the morning. During the day my resting heartrate averaged in the low 60’s.


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