1. A 2008 documentary called My Big Fat Body shows comedian Frank Payne undergoing a series of tests to find out the health status of his over 300-pound body (over 160 kilos). If your Body Mass Index is over 30 (which mine is), it's a very sobering fim. It made me imagine my organs wrapped in yellow fat and my liver shot through with fat. It reminded me that my fat takes up room that my lungs need and makes my throat narrower. It made me think about how my skeleton is compromised by my extra weight (my extra is about 50 lbs/23 kgs) and how my arms can't even rest naturally at my sides because of the fat in the way. The film pointed out that leg and foot joints are stressed by twice a person's weight each time they take a step. So each of my knees has to manage about 366 pounds with each step. Ugh! Some of this I knew, but remembering it was just as alarming as learning the new information.
Frank's doctors also tell him that his vital signs and tests show that he has a high probability of having a heart attack. So Frank spends about three months exercising and adjusting what he eats and loses some weight. He looks better, feels better and at the end of the film he announces that he'll continue his new habits so he can live a full life. After watching this documentary, I googled Frank to see what happened next. Well, I don't know if he stuck to his healthy lifestyle -- and maybe he did -- but I found his obituary showing that he died in 2012, four years after his documentary was released. Talk about a wake-up call.
2. Another film called Facing the Fat (2010) shows a man named Kenny Saylors who weighs even more than Frank did at the beginning of his film. His experiment is to fast for 40 days, taking in nothing but water. His experience repeats some of what Frank went through, but he doesn't lose as much as he expected to (he ends up fasting for 55 days). I looked him up, too. He now has a Facebook page called Reinventing Kenny where he's documenting his renewed attempt to lose weight (since doing the documentary he had put on even more weight, hitting a new high).
What struck me on Kenny's page is that he says this time he's using exercise and diet, and he says he's losing more weight doing it that way than he did with the water fast. Diet and exercise cause Kenny better weight loss results than eating nothing at all. There's an eye opener!
3. After going through a major depressive episode earlier this year, I realized that a big part of my 2016 weight gain was mood swings. When I hit the bleakest period of this depression in March and April 2017, I really laid into the cookies, snack cakes and other baked sweets. Once doctors changed my anti-depressant and it started taking effect, I was able to re-evaluate my habits.
2017 has definitely been the year of binge-ing for me. I've hit a new high weight, even higher than it was the year my husband ended our marriage and my mother died. But with the help of my new meds, plus sessions with a zen shiatsu massage therapist, just in the last week I've finally been able to put down the Little Debbie Swiss Rolls (yeah, I'm sure they look disgusting to you, but this is what I get hooked on).
One thing Kenny and I have in common is that we were thin kids and then thin adults until we suddenly (in less than a year's time) put on pounds and pounds of fat in reaction to emotional life circumstances. I can tell he feels as I do: I'm obese, but this is not my body. I've got to get back to who I really am and that means losing all this extra fat and getting back into the clothes I wore in 2012. But that's not realistic. At the age of 50, I'm probably not going to wear a size 8 again. But I'm sure I can at least give my lungs their breathing room back. I can at least bring down the abdominal bulge that makes it hard to buckle my sandals. I'm sure of that much.
|My fatness on 4 June 2017|
So, once again I've committed to exercise at least four days a week, I've backed off the sweets and I'm eating more produce and nuts. I've decided that if I have to have bread or cookies, I have to bake them myself, making the ingredients as healthy and low-sugar as possible, plus slowing down my consumption. It's like the Japanese proverb I've been seeing in more and more places: Fall down seven times; stand up eight. I have failed so many times to kick my sugar addiction, to become genuinely healthy, and to stop feeding myself junk. So! Here I go again.