Posts tagged ‘Forks Over Knives’

January 7, 2013

Weightloss Resolutions: Are you in the 38%? (And A Public Service Announcement)

If you’ve been watching TV at all in the past week, weight-loss is a hot topic as it is every year at the beginning of the year.  Today I heard that about 38% of Americans have weight-loss as their New Year’s Resolution this year.  I’m not sure how that compares to previous years or even the validity of that number, but assuming that is correct, that’s a pretty big percentage of our population.

Most years, during the first couple of weeks into the new year, I try to tune out all of the weight-loss commercials, programs and news stories.  Tonight, I could not. I cannot honestly even tell you what show was on because I wasn’t really watching, but was working on other things and was too lazy to shut it off after the news was over, but then there was a story of a woman by the name of Valeria Levitin.  When her picture came onto the screen I happened to look up and my jaw dropped.  I couldn’t stop staring.  Horrified, my eyes were glued to the screen through the duration of her story.  Valeria, like many others, was talking about weight-loss, but not in the way you might think.  Valeria suffers from Anorexia and is speaking out because while she is struggling to stay alive, girls are idolizing her.  At age 39, Valeria is 5′ 8″ and a mere 59 pounds.  She is literally skin and bones, her body is dying and yet she is receiving fan mail from girls asking how to be like her.  Valeria is in the news, speaking out, because she doesn’t want anyone idolizing her.  If you haven’t already seen her story, I recommend you do, however, I will warn you that the pictures and video of her are disturbing.  Horribly disturbing.  And while I feel awful saying that, I’m writing this to help share her message.  She is going public because she is suffering, can no longer digest food and doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else.

I wish I could say my “public service announcement” ended here, but it doesn’t.  Almost immediately following Valeria’s story, was a very brief story of Paula Deen’s weight-loss.  Paula Deen  is known for her cooking, but her recipes, until recently, are far from healthy.  With their sugar and butter and fat are they tasty?  Sure.  Healthy?  Absolutely not!  So while I commend Paula Deen for her weight-loss, I think it’s important to remember why she lost weight.  Paula was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes which is typically brought on by diet and being overweight.  I’m not going to say I know what it’s like to be her or to have Diabetes, because I don’t.  I have family and friends with the disease and have talked with them about the impact of diet, which leads me to my next point.  I am extremely angry with the message Paula Deen is giving people!  She originally claimed that she lost weight because she cut back on Sweet Tea.  While she may have done this, it wasn’t the full truth, but that wasn’t what angered me.  Tonight, while watching the clip on her weight-loss, Paula Deen said that you can still eat whatever you want, you probably just can’t eat as much of it.  I wanted to scream,  “NO YOU CAN’T!”

We’ve all heard it, “everything is okay in moderation”.  I’ve come to cringe when I hear that.  I used to think that too, and use it when I wanted to justify what I was eating, but in the past year I realized that I used it all of the time.  I could justify nearly anything by using that phrase. But over time I realized that while I may be able to fool myself into thinking that phrase made everything okay, but my body begged to differ.  Sugar is sugar, butter is butter, fat is fat.  Although we may lie to our bodies, our bodies know what we are doing be it too much or too little.

I didn’t want to write anything about Paula Deen based solely on that quick clip, so I surfed the web looking for proof that it had been taken out of context.  It had.  Sort of.  I saw quotes of her saying, “I eat more salad and more vegetables.” But I also saw a quote of her saying her weakness is buttered biscuits and that “you can have two, you just can’t have them three times a day”.  Oh.  My.  Goodness!  Please don’t let Paula fool you.  This is NOT moderation!  Moderation is eating healthy every day and having treats once in a while, not going from six buttered biscuits a day to two a day.  Two a day is still fourteen in a week.

I realize that many people have weight-loss goals for their resolutions.  Five pounds by vacation, twenty pounds by my reunion, etc.  and while most people may do better or feel motivated by a goal date, I’d offer that if weight-loss was your resolution that you consider revising it instead to “eating healthy” or “living healthy”, meaning changing your focus from your weight to your health.  While I’ve been fortunate to not have severe weight issues, I have been on both ends of the spectrum.  When I was young, I couldn’t gain weight not matter how I tried and while some people may say “Lucky!”  it wasn’t.  In high school I weighed 110 at just under 5′ 8″ and on more than one occasion people stopped to ask me if I was anorexic or bulimic.  And I was always called “skinny”.  “Skinny” began to burn in my ears.  My weight stayed that way until my early thirties and then after I had my son my weight jumped around.  At one point someone asked me if I was pregnant again when I wasn’t.  For a woman, that’s about the worst thing you can hear.  Devastating.  But at the same time, it was a wake-up call.  I started looking to make changes, healthy changes.  I wanted to get back to when I felt good and felt good about myself.

Some might say I’m sensitive about weight, but honestly, I’m not.  Very rarely do I step on a scale.  These days I go purely by how I feel, what I’m eating and whether I’m getting enough exercise and sleep.  In other words, my focus is on being healthy.  I don’t diet.  I don’t do weight-loss challenges.  I don’t focus on what I can’t do, but what I can.

Last year I did 3 or 4 challenges through the 8 Weeks to a Better You! blog.  These challenges taught me to shift my focus away from just food, diet and weight, to living a healthy life.  I started Clean Eating a few years ago, but found myself still looking for more.  Last year, through conversations with a friend, I found out about the movies The Gerson Miracle, The Engine 2 Diet, and Forks Over Knives, among others.  These movies opened my eyes to the reality of food, the American diet and its connections to Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, the list goes on.  This awareness led me to Vegetarian Times and ultimately to The Flexitarian Diet book by Dawn Jackson Blatner.  After years of searching, I finally feel at home with food.

I now eat many plants (fruits, veggies, beans, etc.) and limited grains.  My portions, while not much different in size, are drastically different in proportions.  No longer is meat or pasta a “main dish” and salads and veggies are no longer “sides”.  If I were to eat what we should have as a “serving” of veggies at a party I would clear off nearly half of a veggie tray (etiquette prevents me from doing that)!  Cow milk is no longer in my fridge, and has been replaced by soy milk, rice milk or almond milk.  I’ve experimented with a lot of foods I haven’t eaten before and am very pleasantly surprised at how much my whole family likes them.  (My son asks what we “get” to have at the next meal.)  My husband, who grew up on meat and potatoes and never ate salads or vegetables now eats everything I make.  He has seen changes both physically and on the scale and says that he didn’t know that he didn’t feel good until we made the change.  And while I haven’t weighed myself lately, my body has changed and I feel really good.

So while 40% of the population has New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, I ask you to think less about “losing weight” and more about being healthy because if you eat good food and take care of yourself, your body will figure out the rest.  And if you choose to simply “lose weight”, I beg you to do it for the right reasons, do it to improve your health, not harm it.  And if you know of someone who may be doing it for the wrong reasons, please show them Valeria’s story.

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!