May 19, 2007

Dangerous Dieting

This piece by Megan Ogilvie in today's Star is just heartbreaking. A Toronto woman has been in a coma for the past seven years, after desperately trying to lose weight and having her heart stop.

Herbal Magic Systems International settled out of court for $3.1 million, admitting no blame. I see their ads everywhere, I see them recruiting for employees all the time, and indeed, they are the leading Canadian chain of weight loss centres.

I can't get past the second word in their title - magic. Obesity is becoming the leading cause of diabetes, heart failure and serious medical ailments in record numbers of Canadians and Americans, and at increasingly younger ages. And we're going to solve it with 'magic'?

We are fat because we've screwed up. We eat garbage, we feed our kids garbage, and we've traded a historically agrarian lifestyle for a sit-on-your-ass one. We watch sports, we don't play them. To achieve anything, we push buttons and pop pills. We encourage our children to do the same. We set ourselves up for failure by worshipping photoshopped pictures of people that don't exist, then assauge our lousy feelings over our inability to measure up by lunging for the Twinkies.

As this devastating article lays out, this is about health, not vanity. We are eating ourselves into early, costly deaths, and being encouraged to avoid that by dangerously medicating ourselves and ending up there anyway.

My mother was always on a diet. She was a wonderfully outgoing person, but always, always on some diet. How I wish I could have had more time with her now talking about anything but the damned diets, and how unhappy she was with the size of her butt. She was beautiful; in the end, when cancer was carving pieces of her off, she was even more beautiful, and finally not dieting.

You shouldn't be a great deal overweight because it's very bad for your health. The sooner you appreciate this, the better. Don't set your kids up for failure by feeding them crap. Learn how to cook - ask someone who can to show you how to make a few basic dinners, and stick with them. Get the kids to help.

If you gain ten pounds, walk it off sooner rather than later. Forget joining gyms, it doesn't work. Just make a promise to yourself to walk more and drive less. I knew a woman who gained ten pounds one year, and couldn't figure out why. Turns out she'd discovered coffee, and started drinking a double-double every day. Ten pounds in one year. Forget the cream - go to milk.

Talk to your doctor. You need an ally in this, and you need someone who will be tough with you. You need your blood pressure monitored, and your cholesterol levels. This is about health, not bikinis. Mark on your calendar one year from today as a goal. Yup. A whole year. Not the one month garbage those stupid ads promise - any lifelong change needs to take hold and be true.

Love yourself enough to do this; if you don't yet, love your children or your mate or your dog enough to realize how much they need you. We all know how to eat properly, or can find out quickly. Whatever you do to push yourself along through the tough times, whether it's food or booze or smokes, please understand that instead of some far-off imagined 'later' when you're dying, it could be tomorrow that you're begging for just one more day with your kids.

And some of us will be left silently begging for one more day with you as well.


Blogger Lynne Jury said...

I read this wonderful piece and just had to tell you how much I agree with every word you wrote! As a somewhat middle aged and presently overweight person (but former and sporadic anorexic) I abhore the eating habits we have and that we are teaching our children to have.

I have only lived in North America for three years and wince at the constant sight of people stuffing their faces at all hours of the day. Having lived in France for many years I came to appreciate their "ritual" of eating, sitting down, sharing, enjoying and cutting and chewing their food elegantly. It isn't in their culture to eat whilst walking/driving or doing some other thing at the same time. Food is venerated and enjoyed not just stuffed into a hole in their face. Drive throughs for coffee at all hours of the day do not exist, coffee is to be enjoyed at certain times of the day in a relaxed manner and as a relaxation activity. Rarely do the French eat or drink alone, it is something to be shared a form of communion. Family meals are the most enjoyed and the most worthwhile.

Teaching our children the art of eating, appreciating every mouthful, knowing about how it's grown, cooked and being grateful to the persons that provided and prepared it go a long way to teaching them the value of food and the effot behind it. Teaching them to be grateful will help make them less wasteful.

Just my two cents worth.

May 29, 2007 10:59 PM  

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