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Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

August 15, 2013

The day the music died

1:28 pm - Posted by Gregg

The other day I was driving my dog, Latte, home from the dog park and suddenly realized I was singing along with Ke$ha’sOnly Want to Dance With You.” As I approached a stoplight, I quickly stopped mouthing words and resumed my “Just a normal guy driving” pose — out of fear that nearby drivers would not only see my grooves, but might make fun of them. Then it struck me… When the heck did I stop feeling comfortable dancing and singing along to favorite music while in my car?

I remember back when I was just out of college, driving around my “little” Nissan and weighing over 450 pounds. Even though terribly aware of my weight and terrified that other people were judging me because of it, when I was in my car, I felt comfortable enough to crank up the tunes and move and dance as if I were in a music video. True story!

I even remember one time when I pulled up to a stoplight and was dancing and singing along with an old school Jody Watley song. There was a car full of young women at the light in front of me and I could see them turning around to see me flaunting my moves and grooves. Even though they were laughing, I didn’t feel like they were doing so in a mean way. So I just kept dancing and entertaining the crowd — until the light turned green and they drove on.

But I now realize that sometime between back in the day and the present, I became too self-aware and that I am currently seemingly afraid to dance or sing in my car (overtly anyway) — this even after taking off over 250 pounds of excess weight. Seems to me I should be much less self conscious now. And yet I’m more chicken than ever to let my freak flag fly when driving.

Don’t get me wrong. If it’s nighttime or if there aren’t a lot of cars around, I’m probably putting on a show when solo (or with Latte) in my car. But it makes me sad that my “ham gene” has somehow gone dark — or, at the very least, lessened over the years. And you know what? I’m going to work on getting braver, caring a little less and once again begin to sing and dance to the music as if no one is watching.

After all, life is for living, right? And being silly?

No matter what your size. No matter what your situation. Finding joy in the smallest moments can fuel our happiness factor, which then helps us in other areas of our lives — especially the challenging ones like successfully dieting or making another positive change.

So join me in making a fool of yourself, won’t you? I promise that if I see you performing a music video in your car, I’ll either dance along or burst into a round of applause. Because in my book, anyone feeling free enough to dance and sing in their car is living life to its fullest. And that’s a beautiful thing that I aspire to get back to. No matter which song is playing.

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July 17, 2013

Sickly sweet

11:40 am - Posted by Gregg

Finally, a few media outlets (including The Huffington Post) are giving attention to what seems to the major hypocrisy surrounding Beyonce Knowles Carter signing a $50 million deal to promote Pepsi while having also been a significant part of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move fitness campaign.

As reported in The Huffington Post, “Like Coca-Cola, Pepsi has long been criticized for targeting children (and adults) with sugary drinks that, when consumed in excess, have negative effects on long-term health.” Readers of this blog will not be surprised to know that I consider soda (both sugar-drenched and so-called “diet”) to potentially be one of the leading factors that contribute to obesity — not to mention poor health in general.

In a recent interview with Flaunt, Beyonce responds to the few critics who’ve called her to task on what seems like a major conflict of interest. Asks Flaunt, “Some were critical at your participating in a Pepsi campaign after you moved your body for childhood obesity. Where is the balance between your career objectives and your philanthropy?”

To which Beyond responds, “Pepsi is a brand I’ve grown up seeing my heroes collaborate with. The company respects musicians and artistry. I wouldn’t encourage any person, especially a child, to live life without balance.”

Uh-huh.

Some reporters, including The New York TimesMark Bittman, aren’t letting Beyonce off quite so easily. He writes, “Knowles is renting her image to a product that may one day be ranked with cigarettes as a killer we were too slow to rein in” and even goes onto note, “From saying, as she once did in referring to Let’s Move, that she was ‘excited to be part of this effort that addresses a public health crisis,’ she’s become part of an effort that promotes a public health crisis.”

I, for one, applaud Mr. Bittman for taking Beyonce to task. It’s this kind of hypocrisy that undermines the efforts being made to fight childhood obesity. CNN’s diet and fitness expert, Melina Jampolis, shares more on the dangers of drinking soda in her column, Is Drinking Soda Really That Bad for You?, which you can check out by clicking here.

As for Beyonce, I imagine the $50 million she’s supposedly earned from Pepsi will help contribute a lot to the overall health and well-being of her and her family. But what about the health and well-being of everyone who idolizes her and drinks Pepsi as a result of seeing her constant promotion for the company?

Kind of hard to swallow, isn’t it?

http://youtu.be/_2smYVl0zrk

Photo Source: ONTD

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12:44 pm - Posted by Gregg

Have you heard the latest news regarding obesity? According to USA Today, the American Medical Association (our nation’s largest physicians’ organization) recently decided to recognize obesity as a disease — one that requires a range of medical treatments as well as prevention. USA Today goes onto report that for years obesity experts have worked tirelessly to have obesity recognized as a disease that deserves the kind of medical attention and insurance coverage that other diseases are afforded. “Previously the AMA and others have referred to obesity as a major public health problem,” writes USA Today‘s Nanci Hellmich in her article.

As someone who continually tried to seek medical attention (through insurance) while trying to lose excess weight (and was often denied it, which resulted in my “topping out” at over 450 pounds), this news comes as a double-edged sword. One would hope that if the medical community recognizes obesity as a medical ailment, insurance companies will step up the plate and cover programs that can help people lose the excess weight.

But I also worry that, as is often the case in the medical and insurance communities, that these “treatments” will consist of, more often than not, prescription drugs and invasive surgeries — when I believe that the real cure for obesity is in our heads.

I spent many years giving my eating addiction more power than it deserved. Much like several addiction support groups might encourage, I believed my need to eat (and, as a result, becoming morbidly obese at an early age) was beyond my control. In other words, I thought of myself as powerless. But at the end of the day, in my most humble opinion, our declaring ourselves as powerless over our addictions is not necessarily the sanest path to overcoming its challenges.

As human beings, we cannot cut out and avoid food (no matter what some of those juice fast enthusiasts tell us). Instead, we have to think of food (and drink) in a new, healthier and more moderate way. I’ve always believed that the hardcore dieting mentality (“I canhave this, but can’t have that”) is what really gets us into trouble in the first place. None of us got fat by eating one cookie. Or even two. But eating the whole bag of cookies (on top of a quart of ice cream while washing it all down with a Diet Coke)? Yeah, that might be one of the causes (but I digress).

Fact is, I did not get fat (right around first grade) because I had a disease. It’s because I was making poor eating choices. Environmental reasons (abusive parents, learning unhealthy eating habits, etc.) aside, it wasn’t until I took control and decided I was more powerful than food, more powerful than drink and more powerful than my addiction, that I made some positive, permanent changes — and dropped over 250 pounds by eating less and exercising more (along with drinking lots of water and getting the necessary amounts of sleep). It’s a simple formula — one that doesn’t include being powerless or blaming our obesity on having a disease.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not knocking medical supervision. In fact, when changing one’s eating and exercise habits, you absolutely should do it under a doctor’s supervision in order to protect your heart (and other internal organs) as well as your joints and bones. The more informed you are (and the safer your weight loss journey), the better chances of permanent success. After all, the end goal is better health and a happier life. Being a potential supermodel (which, by the way, you are) is just an added bonus!

But the thought of doctors being more willing (able?) to prescribe pills, surgeries and other “tricks” to take off the excess weight makes me want to run for the nearest bag of cookies. Instead, I’ll remind myself that I’m stronger and more powerful than any addiction. Perhaps this is why I’ve kept off those excess 250-plus pounds for over a decade.

So no matter how our community (and individual) obesity problem is classified, let’s not forget that that the real cure comes from inside ourselves. And that’s actually the best news to come out of all of this. Whether you know it or not, you not only already have what it takes to drop all of your excess weight — you’ve had the power all along.

Photo Source: The Menace of Obesity

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February 20, 2013

King of denial

10:29 am - Posted by Gregg

It’s no secret that New Jersey governor Chris Christie is fighting the Battle of the Bulge (and doing so rather unsuccessfully to date). So when he recently appeared onThe Late Show with David Letterman eating a donut, he was applauded for beating his critics to the punch. By addressing his weight issue on humorous terms, he not only made light of the subject, but also made several headlines the next day (not a bad move for a potential 2016 presidential candidate).

But soon after Christie’s appearance, his health was questioned by former White House doctor Connie Mariano (who had, in fact, helped Bill Clinton to shed 30 pounds back in the day). Mariano voiced concern about Christie’s health — even going as far to say that she would worry about him suffering a heart attack if he were in the White House.

And suddenly, the joke (and Christie’s own sense of humor on the subject) was over. Instead of addressing Mariano’s concerns in a healthy (debate) kind of way, Christie fired back, making himself out to be a victim (in that his children had heard Mariano’s comments and had come to him out of concern) and even going as far as to publicly tell Mariana to (and yes, I’m quoting), “Shut up.”

What happened to Christie’s goofy, fun loving, donut eating persona?

As a former obese man (who weighed north of 450 pounds), I can relate to the governor’s tactics to stay ahead of the criitics by making fun of one’s self before anyone else does. I had a whole calvacade of go-to jokes that I could pull out anytime in order to put strangers at ease. I had a routine involving wicker furniture that would leave people laughing in the aisles. I understood that my being morbidly obese was a sometimes uncomfortable situation for people to deal with (mentally). Thus, I also knew that by bringing up the topic in a humorous way (as Christie did when appearing on The Late Show), I could allow my girth to be acknowledged and, therefore, let peoples’ attention to turn to other topics. But unlike Christie, I never lost that sense of humor.

Christie’s instant attack on Mariano tells me that he could potentially be as uncomfortable with his extreme weight as political pundits are. Fact is, Mariano brings up some very valid points. You simply cannot weigh as much as Christie does (or as much as I did) and not face severe medical implications. The fact that Christie attacked back in such a confronting way shows that he’s very insecure about this topic and that’s the matter of real concern here.

After Mariano made her comments, Christie had an excellent opportunity to continue the national discussion about obesity — both in regard to the challenges of being obese, the various prejudices obese people face and even the personal responsibility one must take to finally win that Battle of the Bulge. Instead, Christie showed that he not only suffers from a fat belly, but also, potentially, a fat head.

This doesn’t surprise me. Because being in denial of real facts is one of the things that keeps us from conquering our goals of losing weight. I remember weighing over 450 pounds and telling people, “I don’t understand why I’m so heavy… I don’t eat that much.” When, in actuality, I ate a lot and should have been in touch with exactly why I weighed as much as I did.

Time for Christie to get more in touch with reality, too. Not only for his political career and his own weight, but also his own kids (who aren’t actually being victimised by Mariano, but potentially are by possibly not having a full life with their Dad due to Christie’s own morbid obesity).

What’s your take on Christie’s donut eating stunt? Mariano’s reaction? Or Christie’s response that Mariano should, “Shut up?” I’d love to hear what you have to say, so please comment below. You can be sure I’d never suggest that you “Shut up.” Although I might suggest sharing a donut together (assuming there’s no wicker furniture around).

Photo Source: Daily News

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May 28, 2012

Raise the woof

9:15 am - Posted by Gregg

“If your dog is fat, you aren’t getting enough exercise” — Unknown

As some of you know, I am the proud puppy parent to an adorable little ball or fur named Latte. Since he’s a mix of two smaller breed dogs (Maltese and Yorkshire Terrier) and because he was the so-called runt of his litter, Latte’s weight has peaked at just over 6 pounds. Add this to his lighter fur color and I’ve been armed with the aside that ‘Latte is as close to a Size 0, natural blonde as I’ll ever get to being.’

And yet, all kidding aside, I have been very careful to never feed Latte more than he needs – not to mention to always make sure he eats very healthfully and gets enough exercise. People joke with me about being obsessive about Latte’s health and weight. And I must admit that I am. But this is because I’m often appalled at the number of overweight dogs I see when taking Latte to the nearby small dog off-leash park. Out of the corner of my eye I’ll spot what I think is an animatronic footrest waddling across the park – only to later realize it’s an extremely overweight dog.

Any vet will tell you that it’s just as unhealthy for a dog to be overweight as it is for a human to be. And putting a dog on a diet is quite difficult (something I’ve vowed to never have to do with Latte). One look down the dog food aisle at your local grocer (seeing all of the bags of ‘diet dog food’) will show you that the canine population is facing as similar of an ordeal regarding obesity as we humans are.

One of the biggest culprits of this fat dog epidemic is owners – and even trainers – who use food as a reward.

Latte, a trained service dog, had a wonderful teacher who was determined that dogs learn commands and behaviors through praise and love – rather than treats and food. In fact, part of Latte’s ‘final exam’ for becoming a certified service dog required him to travel 30 feet to someone calling him while moving past a number of dog cookies and treats scattered in his path. If he stopped to sniff or eat one of the treats, he wouldn’t have passed (or graduated, as it were). This might sound like a mind game of sorts, but as a service dog (and even for his own safety), it’s important that Latte come when called – no matter what temptations lie in his path.

To be honest, I’m not sure that even if I was on fire and running toward a bucket of water I wouldn’t be tempted to stop if someone laid out chips or ice cream in my path. But Latte? He’s the man. He can do it. And I love that although I have food issues, my dog does not.

What can we humans learn from this? Mainly to keep our kids (be they human or furry) and ourselves from becoming too motivated by food. Love and praise is a much better – and healthier – reward (mentally and physically). Sure, food can often be a treat that can be savored and enjoyed to its fullest. But when held out as a reason to accomplish something, we’re sending others (or ourselves) the wrong message.

Even as you build rewards into your own life when working toward a goal (whether weight loss, career or otherwise related), create rewards that won’t harm your psyche or (heaven forbid) turn you into an animatronic footrest.

And just for the record, a lick from an adoring puppy is one of the very best rewards there is.

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