Uncovering the Elephant

Yesterday a friend announced that she had received her emblem for losing 10% of her body weight in the Weight Watchers program.  First thought, congratulations!  Second thought, why haven’t I been going?  Last summer I looked for a local program and found one a mile from my house.  I checked the meeting times, thought about it, and then dismissed it.  I couldn’t see myself feeling well enough to get to the meeting every week.  It was too early.  It was at a gym where I’d have to pass by millions of fit, trim people.  Blah, blah, blah. 


Summer is over, I’ve gained weight since then, and I’m still not doing anything substantive about my obesity.  You hear me glossing over the side effects of prednisone (slow metabolism, weight gain), talking about my valiant efforts to exercise (awful damn rare), and discussing my cooking (but not the overeating part).  In almost 300 posts, I have not had a real discussion about my weight. 


Obesity is truly the elephant in my living room.  Since my diagnosis with lupus I have gained a whole person.  I have a BMI of about 50.  I need to lose half my body weight.  At least a part of my pain and morbidity has to be due to this weight.  Yes, it’s a by-product of therapy, disease, and genetics, but that isn’t an excuse for not dealing with it. 


Well, wait.  I have dealt with it, to some extent.  I’ve Nutrisystemed.  I’ve purchased exercise equipment.  I’ve walked.  I’ve counted calories.  I’ve made intake journals.  I’ve Atkins’d.  A couple of these things have actually produced weight loss, but not sustained.  Mostly because I haven’t endured.  And I haven’t gotten out there and stood up with other fat people and said “Hello, my name is Essie, and I am fat.”  


This morning I did three and a quarter hours of continuing medical education on fat, exercise, and diabetes.  It is a miracle that I’m not a diabetic, but knowing more about current treatments can only help.  There were some concrete, brief lessons that I can share with you from my morning work:

1.  It takes more exercise than we thought to help maintain weight loss.  If you lose 10% of your body weight and want to keep it off, you probably need 275 minutes/week of exercise – not the 30 minutes 5 days a week that we used to recommend, but 55 minutes per day, 5 days per week. 

2.  Losing 20% of your body weight usually puts diabetes into remission.  Imagine that:  If you weigh 200 lb, and lose 40, you can make your diabetes go away.  No more medicines.  No complications. 

3.  48 hours of cutting back on your calories will make a huge change in fatty liver.  Two days (!!!) of eating reasonable calories can turn your fatty liver around-talk about baby steps. 

4.  There are newer diabetes medicines in use that have huge advantages over the old stuff:  improved GI function, weight loss instead of weight gain, fewer side effects.


I figure going to a group program will be good for me.  First, I’ll burn more calories just by getting dressed and getting in the car and walking into the building than if I was still sitting at home.  Second, I’m very competitive, and  I should be using that to my advantage.  I will cut calories all day long to beat out Mary Sue by a quarter pound weight loss.  Third, I need the help.  Clearly, tackling this alone hasn’t worked.


Since last summer the weight loss program down the street has closed.  Now I have to drive 10 miles.  I am going to put on my big girl panties and stop being a whiney baby and go.  Isn’t that what the tiny little 8 lb 6 oz baby Jesus would do?  (Please refer to the Book of Talladega Nights, Chapter 3, Song of Ricky Bobby)



6 Responses

  1. Good luck, Babe! It’s a tough job (as we know), and unfortunately we’re the only ones who can do it. DAMN!!!

    However, in the last few months, I’ve lost 40 pounds, and a number of clothes sizes. My magic bullet was stopping eating between meals. Mostly not too much of a problem.

    I think I’ve hit a plateau, though, and will probably have to increase my exercise to do more. Unlike you, though, I don’t have a competitive bone in my body, so the WW thing probably wouldn’t do me any good.

    Anyhow, I wish you well. The spectre of diabetes ought to be enough to scare any of us into weight loss.

  2. Essie, your ability to openly express your introspection, and the depths of your self-acceptance are inspirational to me. ; )

  3. Way to go, Essie! You’re impressive!

  4. Go Team! Rah Rah Rah!

  5. Fantastic post. I think losing just 10 percent of your bodyweight is enough to beat back type 2 diabetes for many people. Studies indicate that 20 percent is extremely effective. I think you’re right. 30 minutes a day does not cut it. I find that even when I do 30 minutes of vigorous treadmill or eliptical, it’s not really enough to do more than keep me where I am. For actual weightloss, closer to an hour is required. At least for my metabolism. I run into the same problem everyone else does: time and priorities. But more and more I consider my health to be the overriding priority. Saying that and doing, however, are two separate things.

  6. Thank you for this blog, I have had great pleasure and have learned much from reading. Is is OK that I’ve linked here from my blog? And good luck with the weight loss! You will get there.


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