Great News! My donation site is live at www.longislandpaddle.com . As you may already know, I am doing this paddle as a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association. When you visit the page, look on the right for the donate button and a special button that will allow you to join my "Tour de Cure" team! When you join my team, you will be able to ride your bike on the Tour de Cure with me next JUNE! It will be a blast!! You may be wondering why I am so passionate about getting rid of diabetes. Actually, it's more than that.
Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines obesity as “an increase in body weight beyond the limitation of skeletal and physical requirements as the result of excessive accumulation of body fat[i].” The truth is, obese or not, nothing about an “accumulation of body fat” makes life easier and stealing the ease from our life qualifies excess body fat as a dis-ease. This disease is particularly nasty because not only does put your health at risk; it is particularly difficult to treat. The reason is that it can be "treated" by anyone other than the person afflicted and the key is a change in mindset.
While I don’t believe that fear is the best motivator, the process of becoming aware can be scary. Becoming aware of how serious a threat this is, and of its complexity, and of how it could attack you will help you discover its weak points. As a good general, athlete, or chess player would tell you, the only way to gain victory over a difficult opponent is to attack their weak spots.
Two thousand-five hundred years ago, Chinese general Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt”[ii] In the post that follows, I will help you to help you first know your enemy and then I will help you to know yourself.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), obesity is second only to smoking as a leading cause of preventable death in the United States. [iii]The key word in that sentence is “preventable,” for you absolutely can change your future by changing your present. By examining and ultimately changing any one of your current thoughts about how the way you eat and move, your life will get better. No matter what your scale says, even a small amount of weight loss could improve your life and maybe even make it longer. Research shows that small weight losses of less than 10 percent of a person’s body weight can improve all the heath complications that go along with being chubby.
One of the most common and dangerous of these complications is type 2 diabetes. So common, in fact, is the link between the two diseases that the organization Shape Up America! coined the term Diabesity®as part of an initiative to raise awareness of the growing prevalence of obesity and diabetes being joined at the hip. The key message of their campaign is that for most overweight people, type 2 diabetes can be controlled, cured, and prevented through weight loss and physical activity.
One study showed that a mere 2.2-pound weight loss in a person who is diabetic could add three to four months to his life! A 22-pound weight loss reduced the risk of premature death from diabetes by an amazing 35 percent.[iv]
Maybe the old adage: “Life is short, so eat dessert first” needs to be amended to read: “Life is shorter when you eat too much dessert”
Are you tarnishing your golden years?
While living to a ripe old age is good, aging gracefully is much better. Life is not a contest to see who can live the longest. What good is it to live eighty or a hundred years if the last thirty are miserable? Think of the time and effort you put in now as investments in your wellness retirement portfolio. Just as small amounts of money saved over a lifetime allow you the financial security to enjoy old age, small changes in the way you think about your health and weight will compound and grow, allowing you truly to enjoy the fruits of your life’s labors. It might seem impossible, but that the Twinkie you are about to wolf down could seriously influence your ability to hop on a plane when you are 80. If you are holding a Twinkie right now, think about how much more fun it would be to spend your eightieth birthday lying on a beach Costa Rica instead lying in a bed at a nursing home. One simple change is to know when you are and are not really hungry. If you are no longer hungry, don’t keep eating. Food that you don’t really need is actually worth more to your future when it is in the trash. Even if you are in the middle of chewing food that you know is not right for you, it’s not too late. It is not actually a crime to throw out food and you can even spit it out.
According to You: On a Diet, by Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. (Free Press, 2006), diabetes causes your body to age one and a half years for every year that actually passes.[v] Therefore, if you are diagnosed with diabetes when you are 40, by the time you are 45, your body will actually be 48. That means by the time you retire at 65, your body will already be ready for that nursing home. Add that to the likelihood that you will be blind and missing a limb or two by that time and you can begin to understand why my diagnosis of diabetes was such a strong motivator for me to lose weight and why I am now doing this paddle for the diabetes association.
At only 34 years old, I had the medical history of a 60-year-old. All it took for me to become a man who can now go running with my 18-year-old son was the awareness that I could become better. Thanks to a single spark of awareness, I can now even borrow his pants if I need to.
As you gain weight, your risk for health problems grows by leaps and bounds. Those extra pounds have been linked to, and, in many cases, are directly responsible for, a whole host of nasty problems. Diseases like osteoarthritis, hypertension, acid reflux, urinary incontinence, gallbladder disease, depression, diabetes, hyper-insulinemia, asthma, sleep apnea, congestive heart failure, anemia, coronary-artery disease, menstrual irregularity, infertility, cancer, psychological dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, and social discrimination have been attributed to an excess accumulation of body fat. The good news is that changing how you think about your weight and health can eliminate them.
Being a parent, the quality of my children’s lives is even more important than my own. When I learned that because of the combined affect of obesity and diabetes scientists are predicting that our children will have a shorter life expectancy than we do[vi], it made me a little sick. You need to be aware also that the lifestyle you lead creates an atmosphere that permeates the lives of those around you. Like secondhand smoke, they can’t help but to breathe in some of your lifestyle. Research shows that obesity runs in families. I remember once my doctor asked me if obesity ran in my family. I said, “Doc, nobody runs in my family.” It would have been funny if it weren’t true.
While I was heavy, both my kids were chubby and sluggish. Now, both my son and daughter are thin, fit, and healthy and they have no concept of what it is like to be “on a diet.” They have absorbed my beliefs about staying active and eating well. Knowing that even my smallest lifestyle changes have improved the future lives of my kids certainly helps me keep going. Protecting the ones you love from having to go through the struggles you now face would be a wonderful gift.
Did you know that your losing weight could even improve the life of your pets? I remember one time that I recommended a client, Patrick, start a walking program. He told me, “I just don’t like to walk.” I mentioned it a few more times, but this belief made him very resistant to go out and take even a short walk. After weeks of disappointing weight loss, he had a breakthrough and lost weight. As we talked, he told me that he started walking his dog. “I don’t know,” he said. “It’s just not the same as going for a walk alone. I love my dog and this gives me time to spend time with him. I think of it as training time for him. He loves it and when I get home from work he can’t wait to get going.”
Simply by changing one thought about taking a walk, Pat not only got moving more, but because he went for his walk the moment he got home from work, he avoided heading to the kitchen for his traditional after work snack. As a result, he not only started to move more, he broke one of his problem food habits, which caused him to eat less and he lost weight. Transforming one thought about walking (that it was “training for his dog” rather than for himself) set off a cascade of other positive changes in Pat’s life, including the change of having a happier and healthier pet.
[i]http://mercksource.org/pp/us/cns/cns_hl_dorlands_split.jspzQzpgzEzzSzppdocszSzuszSzcommonzSzdorlandszSzdorlandzSzsixzSz000074081zPzhtm Downloaded:8/8/2012 1:59:28 PM
[ii] Tzu, Sun (2009). The Art of War. London, UK: Ailax Merchandise (UK) .
[iii] Flegal K, Graubard B, Williamson D, Gail M. Excess Deaths Associated with Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity. JAMA 2005; 293:1861-1867 (Confirmed by phone: CDC, Media Relations, Karen Hunter (404) 639-3286
[iv] Lean MEJ, Powrie JK, Anderson AS, et al. Obesity, weight loss and prognosis in type 2 diabetes. Diabetic Med. 1990; 7:228-233
[v] Oz, Mehmet, and Michael Roizen. You: On a Diet: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management. New York: Free Press, 2006.
[vi] Olshansky SJ, Passaro DJ, Hershow RC, Layden J, Carnes BA, Brody J, Hayflick L, Butler RN, Allison DB, and Ludwig DS, “A Potential Decline in Life Expectancy in the United States in the 21st Century,” New England Journal of Medicine, 352:11, pp. 1138-1145