Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On and off

I have been on Weight Watchers since December. Since then I have lost a total of 10 pounds. Doesn't sound like much, especially since I want to lose a total of about 60 lbs. It's a painfully slow process.

Weight watchers has been in business for decades. They have altered their formula and their methodology in recent years and now the latest program is called the momentum program. They even have a cute doll puppet to represent hunger in their commercials.

But the secret is no secret - eat better and exercise more. Blah.

I admit I feel better when I am thinner. I have battled weight my entire life, from the time I was five. I ate my way through my parents' failed marriage, sexual abuse, divorce, and lost jobs. I used food to help me through tough times and to celebrate good times. I don't know if I would call myself and addict, but dependent, yeah. Absolutely.

The tricky thing about food is that you have to eat. You don't eat, you die. It's managing what you eat that's the secret. Weight watchers uses what they call "points" programs, based on the calories, fat, and fiber in each meal. They also require you to journal, and the weekly meetings are sources of encouragement.

I joked at my first meeting in December that I felt like I should say "Hi, my name is David and I overeat." The program makes the point that it is not a cure-all. You can go off Weight Watchers any time, and unless you have some miracle pill to take, you will gain weight.

Some people complain about measuring foods, saying that it's not convenient. But let's get real - we all measure what we eat, even if it's to say "that's enough," as we spoon our fifth helping of Mac n cheese on our plate.

WW also helps deal with what's called "emotional eating," using food to deal with pain. That's mostly my problem. Food was something I could control, and something that made me feel good. From my brief limited studies of the brain, there is something to that. Food - especially certain kinds of food like chocolate - does make you feel better. It releases some chemicals in your brain that make you feel better.

But emotional eating always brings a load of guilt with it. Which of course starts the addictive spiral - you feel bad, so you eat, then you feel relief, but then you feel guilty for overeating, so you feel bad, so you eat. Round and round until you die of a heart attack.

My best man's death last year was a shot across the bow for me. He wasn't overweight, per se. To look at him you would say he was average. But he died at 61 of a blood clot that broke loose and went to his heart. One of the contributing factors could have been his diet. He liked to eat, and used to joke "you have to die from something." But not from this; and not now.

So in order to live, I will write down what I eat, stick to the program, go to meetings and continue the battle of the bulge. It's harder the older you get, but it is a battle I must win. My mom died at 60. My grandmother at 70. Both had high blood pressure (something I don't have, thank God). My grandmother was diabetic and my mom was overweight all of my life. So I have to do something. Again.

A helpful site for others who struggle with weight is Scientific American's webpage. Check it.

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