Brian’s Column: Leaving Fat City

Leaving Fat City
Maybe Oprah shows us the way out

This is an early column of mine (December 2006) that seems fitting to recycle at this time of year…

Everybody_ReadsIn some of my writings, and in my conversation, I’ve been insensitive and negative toward people who have a glaring weight problem.  Recently, when I came to realize one of my friends is truly suffering from the problem, I felt the need to make amends.

Jack (not his real name) has gotten noticeably larger, too.  He’s a great guy, and I care about him, about his health and longevity.  All he seems to get from his friends, including me, is laughter or offhand comments about fatsos.  My column today is partly an attempt to redeem myself.

I started by thinking about the dimensions of the problem.  In New Pilgrim Chronicles I have a footnote:

According to a statement of the International Congress of Obesity, 9/2/2006, obesity is a pandemic that threatens to overwhelm health systems worldwide with illnesses such as diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, stroke, and some forms of cancer.  More than one billion adults are overweight, outnumbering the 600 million undernourished people of the world.

So, clearly obesity is a major issue.  What makes the problem worse, especially in America, is agricultural subsidies that have led to massive surpluses of corn sugar.  Cheap calories make it easier to eat more.  Finally, sexually charged advertising wants us to imagine James Bond thrives on cheeseburgers and Budweiser.

Women have their own black beasts: confectioners are always suggesting such things as boxes of candy being rife with deep sensuality.

Many people will be astonished to realize how low their optimal weight really is.  For example, I’m 5’10” and charts (courtesy of Ray Kurzweil’s book Fantastic Voyage) say my ideal weight range is 158-180 lbs.  I’m close to 190 lbs, so I’d like to lose 20 for self-image.

For my friend, who’s about my height and weighs another 90 lbs. more than me, I can only imagine the anguish he feels in the self-image department.  Just getting started when the goal seems so remote has to take the ultimate in gumption. But that’s where I’m finding the solution lies:  Gumption and taking one small step at a time.

Last weekend I went into my favorite independent book store in Michigan, Everybody Reads, and asked for literature on diet or obesity.  She found a great source: O (the Oprah Magazine), with an article about the celebrated Bob Greene Best Life Diet that Oprah Winfrey successfully adopted.

First you discover why you eat improperly and who you are. Greene’s first question is “what is the best life possible for you?”  Taking a page out of Ayn Rand, he helps you learn to love yourself and what you are worth becoming, i.e. your “best life.”

Second, start moving.  You find out how to get active, to exercise at a level you’ll maintain.  After the first four weeks, take a few of the more harmful foods out of your regular diet.

Third, you’ve acquired the healthy habits of a lifetime.  This isn’t a crash program, just a steady advance of daily little victories.

The article has little cardboard cutouts with helpful tips: For example, don’t eat within two hours of bedtime, space three meals and a snack all of approximately equal calories, wait 20 minutes before having seconds, and so on.  Great stuff!

SunFLOWerSo in looking for something that might help my friend to find his way I seem to have found a sound program for myself. (!)  Jack, what’s sauce for the goose…  So to speak.  Anyway, best wishes to everyone in the same boat who can use the advice.

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