Posts Tagged ‘the wizard of oz’

July 23, 2012

Don’t be a pill

9:24 am - Posted by Gregg

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Big news in the world of dieting… The U. S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new prescription diet pill named Qsymia. Note that I refer to this as “Big news,” as opposed to “Good news.” And this is because, personally, I don’t think anything out of a jar or bottle (whether prescription strength or over-the-counter) can ultimately provide what we really need to take off the excess weight.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the desire for a “Cure all” that’s as easy to incorporate into our lives as taking a pill or waving a magic wand. When people find out I used to tip the scales at over 450 pounds, they excitedly ask me how I lost the excess weight. When I tell them I did it by eating less and working out more, people often register dissapointment — as if I’ve given them unsettling news that they would have rather not heard. These same folks usually never stick around long enough to hear that by using common sense I not only took off all that excess weight (over 250 pounds!) within a year’s time period, but also have kept it off for over a decade.

Nope. People are too busy wondering about elective surgery (“I know! I’ll have a foreign object inserted into my body and wrapped around my stomach!”) or some kind of diet aid (“Guess I shouldn’t wear white underwear while taking Alli because of the anal leakage“). The list goes on. People want the “magic pill” — in its various incarnations (including surgery). And they’re willing to pay big bucks for it — not to mention potentially sacrifice their health as a result of ingesting it and/or undergoing it.

As for Qsymia, yes — patients did lose weight during clinical trials (going down from an average of 227 pounds to an average of 204 pounds) according to CNN. But some consumer advocates are worried because some patients involved in the clinical trial suffered from an increased heart rate as well as metabolic acidosis (a condition which can lead to hyperventilation, fatigue and anorexia). There are additional concerns about birth defects since one of Qsymia’s ingredients is topiramate (an anti-convulsant that has been linked to cleft lip and cleft palate in babies born to women who took topiramate for migraines and/or seizures). And who knows what other potential side effects might be found out as a result of taking a drug like Qsymia for a lengthy period of time? Anyone remember Fen-Phen and its harmful side effects?

While “curing” being overweight through anorexia (one of Qsymia’s potential side effects) might initially read as ironic, it’s a reminder that anything that can potentially harm our health deserves serious consideration. The whole point of losing weight and getting healthier is to avoid having to take pills for other ailments (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.). So why take an additional pill to help the other ailments we already take pills for?

Fact is, at the end of the day, it’s all about willpower. And this willpower can work in both directions. Just ask people who’ve undergone gastric bypass surgery who spend the first weeks after the procedure throwing up violently because they insist on eating the same amounts they did before the surgery, even though their stomach has been made smaller and can’t handle the same amount of food.

The good news is that willpower can also work for you, rather than against you. And this means you’re already armed with everything you need to conquer the battle of the bulge. No pills or magic wands necessary. Just start cutting back your portion sizes, choosing healthier foods (at least during some of your meals) and begin a simple exercise program like walking three to five days a week. Add drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep to the mix and you just might be surprised how quickly you’ll go from feeling ‘so fat’ to ‘all that’. We’re all supermodels after all. And the path to realizing that is simpler than anything you might find in a jar, bottle or on the shelf.

Remember in The Wizard of Oz, when Glinda the Good Witch told Dorothy, “You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas?” Well, much like Glinda (sans the glitter), I’m here to tell you “You’ve always had the power to lose the excess weight.” It really can be as easy as ‘flipping the mental switch’ and deciding today’s the day you’re going to begin your journey to true and lasting health. No diet pill (new or otherwise) required.

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9:23 am - Posted by Gregg

By now, many of you have likely seen at least a clip of the YouTube video posted by Robert, a 23-year old man who weighs over 600 pounds and says he made the video in hopes that it will go viral and that he can get some help to lose weight. At one point during the video, Robert lists the kind of help he’d like to receive: “Nutritionist, personal trainer, Dr. Phil, Biggest Loser, anything — anybody you know” in hopes that “Eventually someone will see [this video] and maybe then I can get some help.”

As someone who once tipped the scales at over 450 pounds, I feel deeply for Robert — and I can relate to not only his desperation, but also to his labored breathing as he tries to get his message across. And much like Robert, I remember a time when I felt like the answer — the help — needed to come from some outside source that was beyond my reach. In fact, from when I first started gaining weight during the first grade, to when my electronic scale would register only “ERR” (short for ‘Error’) when my weight spiraled past 450 pounds post college, I continually looked for answers on the outside. Yet not unlike Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” the real help — the real solution — came when I realized that the answers had been inside me (and within my grasp) all along.

Until someone is really ready to face the hard facts and the challenging work that losing excess weight requires, no amount of outside help can really do the trick. And this is because there are no tricks. And believe me, I’ve tried most of the so-called quick fixes. As I continued to fail and continued to gain weight, I’d always blame these attempted solutions. “Nothing’s working,” I would proclaim to anyone who would listen — usually while I was downing a whole package of cookies or eating a meal that surely equated to a serving size for 4.

If it seems like I’m dispensing a little tough love for Robert, I am. That’s because sometimes tough love is the best — and most useful — kind of love. Those people who might pity Robert or think his plight different from anyone else who wants to get healthier is more inline with an enabler, rather than a motivator. The ways to lose weight are actually pretty simple: Eat less. Eat healthy. Move more. Add drinking enough water, getting plenty of sleep and lots of positive self-talk to the regimen and you’ve got a winning combination of “Help” that can transform anyone’s life — even Robert’s.

I shudder to think where Robert could end up. While he might be a good grab for TV ratings, unless he makes a real decision to do it himself (no matter what diet program he chooses), he might never know true success. Add to that, quick fixes often result in quick re-gaining of the weight. Taking off and keeping off the weight require constant work. And as with any great success, much of the work must come from within.

Upon seeing Robert’s video, The Today Show’s diet and nutrition expert, Joy Bauer, posted some terrific tips. Joy’s suggestions are as simple as they are brilliant: 1. Start walking — every day. 2. Cut your portions in half. 3. Wipe out liquid calories. It’s possible that at first pass, Robert might be put off by the simplicity of Joy’s help. And yet that’s the beauty of getting healthy (and well). It’s not rocket science. We know what works. It all comes down to wanting it enough to commit to it. And no, it’s not going to be easy. But it is going to be worth it.

Robert’s plight serves as a good reminder for the rest of us. What is it we’ve convinced ourselves we can’t accomplish or what goal is it that we tell ourselves we can’t we reach because we don’t have the “Help” that we see as missing? Sure, there are many different ways that outside help can enhance our lives and assist us in reaching our goals (health related or otherwise). But we’ve got to not only be open to help, but open to committing to it — not to mention committing to finding the strength that’s waiting inside us, ready to be tapped and ready to help us be the very best that we can be.

Here’s hoping that Robert finds what he’s looking for — and that he realizes the real help he’s asking for has been within his grasp all along.

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