Shayne on You: Eat less, move more

Dear Maggie,

Iíve been overweight my entire life, even as a child. Itís only become worse in adulthood. Iíve tried every program, every diet, every pill, and while Iíve actually lost weight on a few of these, I always gain it back again, and when it returns, it brings company! I just canít live this way any more.

Recently, I inherited $10,000 from my aunt. I want to use the money to pay for gastric bypass surgery. My husband wants to use it to pay off bills. My mom thinks it should go into the bank for the kidsí college fund. My skinny friends say if I wanted to lose weight I could do it without surgery Ė that I just donít have any will power. I know the surgery is risky.

What do you think I should do?

Fat & Frightened

Dear Maggie,

Spring is right around the corner, and Iím dreading it! My husband is coming home from Iraq in two months, and while I miss him desperately, and know I should be eager and overjoyed, Iím sad and nervous instead. Iíve gained at least twenty-five pounds while heís been gone. I donít know what to do, which way to turn. I have enough extra income to pay for a weight loss program, if Iím careful, but Iím going to feel horrible if I spend the money on a program that doesnít work. Please help!

Soldierís Wife

Dear Maggie,

Iíve been on the Atkins Diet for eight months, and Iíve lost a pile of weight. I love being slender. But at my last checkup, my doctor said she could tell Iíd been on it just by looking at my test results. My cholesterol is up, my kidney function is down, and my bloodwork shows something she seemed worried about, though I canít spell or pronounce it.

He recommends I got off the diet immediately, but Iím so afraid of gaining back the weight! And yet, I have a feeling he might be right. Iím tired all the time, my feet hurt and sores seem to take forever to heal. I just donít have any energy anymore. Do you really think it could be because of the diet?

Atkins Anonymous

Dear Readers,

I can tell itís nearly Spring just by the main topic of the letters I received this week! And since the above notes were so similar, I thought I would answer them all together. First, to the woman asking about the surgery: Do some research, talk to your doctors, and base your decision on what you learn. I know the estimated death rate from GB surgery is about 1/2% to 2%. Thatís pretty low. Now compare that with the risk of dying from chronic obesity, and youíll have your answer as to which one is putting you more at risk. My bet is that the weight might be more dangerous to you than the surgery.

Iím up to my neck in women thinking they have to sacrifice what they want or need for the good of the family. Is your husband going to be happy as a widower with his bills all paid off? How about your kids? Your funeral will likely cost you more than the price of the surgery.

Seriously, this surgery is a last resort. If thereís any other way, take it. Look into other bariatric procedures, as well, GB isnít the only one out there. There is the stomach stapling, there are the lap bands, and even one that involves the pancreas. So do your research. Then do whatís best for you. Trust your instincts. And get yourself into the best health of your life before the procedure.

And no guilt, whatever you decide. If you get fit, your family will look back on this and be overjoyed you made whatever decision you did. Youíll be so much happier, so much more involved in their lives, so much more active, and just an all around healthier person without that weight.

To the Soldierís Wife,

I know everyoneís probably telling you (and expecting me to tell you) that it doesnít matter how you look, that a man who loves you wonít care, that heíll be so glad to see you that nothing else will matter, that heíll love you no matter what size you are. All true, if you chose your mate well. However, this isnít about how HE feels, this is about how YOU feel. You are perfectly justified in wanting to feel beautiful, so you can fully relish what should be one of the happiest moments of your life Ė that moment when you first see him again. (Keep reading, thereís more below!)

To my Atkins friend,

What your doctor saw in your blood was probably Ketoacidosis. Itís too much glucose, not enough insulin. Youíre tired from that, and possibly from malnutrition. You might have signs of gout. Cholesterol is no good for your heart or bloodstream, and the rest of these problems are bad for your liver and kidneys. You could soon have stones to contend with before long.

These symptoms happen to chronic alcoholics, terribly ill people, and to diabetics with out of control blood sugar. These symptoms do not happen to normal, healthy people-- unless theyíre on a strict low-carb diet. That should tell you something.

To all of you:

Letís stop thinking about weight and start thinking about health. We donít want to be skinny at any cost. We want to be healthy. We want to look, feel, and BE healthy.

Iíve tried most of the programs out there, and Iíve got excellent news for you. The best, most effective program is also the most affordable: Weight Watchers. Iíve been a member forever. Give or take. And it has been years and years and years since Iíve fluctuated by more than a few pounds, maybe as many as ten, at the max, but thatís it. And ten is easy. Thereís a chapter right here in Norwich, itís inexpensive ($12 a week maybe?) and you buy your own food at your own grocery store. No prepackaged nonsense that costs hundreds and that youíd have to buy for the rest of your life to maintain any benefit. WW is totally different. It teaches you lifestyle changes that last forever.

Whether you choose to follow a program or go it on your own, though, the secret to losing weight is complex, mystical, and difficult to explain, but Iíll try. Here goes.

Eat less.

Move more.

Thatís it, and thatís all. Some lose slower than others, some lose faster, some have big bones and some have slow metabolism, but you cannot eat less than you burn and NOT lose weight. Itís physically impossible.

You can start slow, or you can dive right in. But if you put fewer calories into you than burn off of you, you lose weight. Itís a law. So exercise at least 20 minutes a day, even if itís only brisk walking, and then keep raising both the intensity and the duration until youíre up to a solid hour of something challenging by the end of a year or so. Change your diet gradually, making one major change a day or so, and giving yourself time to adjust before moving on. Old habits die hard.

To give yourself a jumpstart try these:

Instead of ... Try ...

Butter/Margerine Ė I Canít Believe itís Not Butter, Light

White Bread Ė Whole Grain Bread

Regular Bread of any kind ĖWonder Light

Regular Ice Cream Ė Slim-A-Bear or Weight Watchers Ice Cream

Whole or 2% Milk Ė Skim or Soy Milk

A ďbowlĒ of cereal Ė 1 Cup of Cereal with ? cup of milk

Ground Beef Ė Veggie Burgers

Regular Cheese Ė Reduced Fat or Fat Free Cheese

Regular Yogurt Ė Dannon Light & Fit

Chips Ė Baked Lays, Baked Doritos, Pretzels

Dip Ė Salsa

Soft drinks Ė Water, Green Tea, V-8 Juice

Mayo Ė Light Mayo

Creamy Dressings Ė Light or fat free dressings

And instead of ... Try ...

Frying Ė Baking

Breading Ė Seasoning

Estimating Ė Measuring

Remembering what you ate Ė Writing down every bite

Parking in the closest empty spot Ė Parking in the furthest spot away

Taking the elevator/escalator Ė Taking the stairs

Driving Ė Walking/biking

Watching TV on the couch Ė Watching TV on the treadmill

My friends and I have lots more tips to share. You can join with other people just like you on my e-mail discussion list, ďMaggieís Health and Fitness.Ē Just send a blank email to:

Itís completely free, no strings.

Donít forget, when you write me a usable letter, your e-mail address gets thrown in the hat for our autographed book giveaway, in April!

Good luck!


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