Friday, October 16, 2009

Weight Loss Goals and Scams

There are almost two internets- the "Lose Weight Web" and the "Porno-Net". Both industries seem to make more money online than any other. It seems that if we aren't concerned about what we're doing in the bedroom, we're freaking out about how people will perceive who we are there by our weight. The most frustrating thing for me as a woman is knowing that curves make the girl, yet those same curves are frowned upon by the media idea of womanhood.

This blog started a week ago when I started to research the pills, potions, sprays, gums and all that other stuff we're supposed to use to use to increase our metabolisms, lower our hunger, and discover the new skinnier self inside. I read blogs, advertisements, watched online videos, and even visited the top five "diet" sites- Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, EDiets, SparkPeople, and Nutrisystem. Then I spent money.

I am one of millions of women who struggle with the idea that Selma Hayak, Queen Latifah, and Kate Winslet, three of the most beautiful women in the world, are called "overweight" by press. They are each shaped like Venus, and each have seduced the world with their beauty, and yet, I turn on the TV, and eveyr show, eveyr commercial, every newscast features some gal who is built like a 10 year old boy from the neck down, but has the correct Botox dosage, preps brows and jawline with the same aculine approach, and the head itself sits twice as wide and three times the thickness of her waist. I have a woman's body, and complain about it. Diet businesses know this and that changes it all- they get wider bank accounts and I am supposed to get smaller hips. HA!

Nearly ever site I went through came down to two facts- put down the fork and get off your butt. Anything that gets you moving is exercise, including house cleaning, gardening, playing with your kids and pets, and yes, sex. Anything that has a high water content- fruit, veggies, oh and this stuff called water- will fill you up and keep you from being hungry- with very little to no calories. You can eat ALL of the arugula you want, fill up on watermelon, and wolf down celery- and you'll be in better shape than if you reach out for the items labeled Drakes or Hostess. And, best of all- if you want a piece of something - do it. If you don't you'll have the "When I CAN have it, I'll have A LOT of it" going in your head- so having a little now and then is just dandy. Wow, a miracle! Weight in control!

If you're like me, you graze all day. There's a fridge nearby. There is also a sink, which has lovely water. If I start getting in that "bessie-moo'd", I wolf down the water first. Every site states that having a full glass of cold water fills you up and helps keep you from craving foods. Not buying that- I see chocolate on TV, and that's my thought like a bad song stuck in my head for the day. But I know that if I end up indulging, I'm too full to eat much, so it's at least better than having an entire cake. Alone. In the dark. Ahem.

People always said I was "naturally thin". "You can eat all you want, you're so lucky!" But I wanted to scream "I just eat ONE meal a day, it's all I can afford, and oh yeah... I have no dessert!" When I had a job that paid more than minimum, it's amazing how much weight I gained! I went from 104lbs to 119lbs. I stayed there for nearly 23 years, though. Why? Every time I thought I was going to go for something in the fridge- I was too lazy to make it. Then all of the foods in the world started coming in Microwavable containers. Suddenly I went from 119lbs to 127lbs. I stayed there for a full 4 years more. Then a doctor decided he needed to give me Wellbutrin, which ballooned me from 127 to 140. I was miserable on that antidepressant. I go off of it, and SHAZAM! back to 130.

Then a doctor gave me prednisone. I went through YEARS fighting with the mediccal community about the effects. I gained 60lbs in less than 3 months and they actually said to me, "you must have eaten a lot in the last few months". What, a car? This is written about in so many prior blogs, all I will say is, I'm working hard to lose that medically induced poundage, and I thought long and hard about the options. I also figured, as readers, you too may have struggled with the myriad options that are supposed to stop us from eating, make our food fat-free, and all of that. And this blog is my resulting conclusion.

I cannot financially afford Jenny Craig. EDiets has many "coupons", but again, their food delivery services are very pricey, and if you don't spend $300 a month on groceries as a couple, trying to reconcile paying that much for two weeks for ONE person seems ludicrous. Weight Watchers takes one addiction- food- and turns it into another addiction "The Program", so that doesn't sit well with me. I saved up three months and paid for three months of Nutrisystem- they deliver by the month, rather than week, like other programs. I lost 11 lbs, after three months, but the soy based foods and I were incompatible- I got very ill on them, and couldn't fathom staying with them much longer. It also led me to multiple meals a day- which turned out to be a bad habit. SparkPeople charges NOTHING, for nearly everything you get in all the rest, and you can use any method you want. I stuck with them.

When I got off of the cycle of having 9 meals a day, (thanks nutrisystem- meals and snacks inclusive), stuck to 1200-1400 calories a day, and moved a bit, the weight started coming off. But, like everyone else, I reached a "We ain't leaving" poundage. The infamous Plateau arrived. I stopped losing. I went to WebMD, my physician, and every website I could and came to the conclusion that the only "magic pill" that would help me would be Alli. In a weird twist- I started as a tester for their website years ago, and never took the pill because at the time, I was on prednisone, and not able to try the product. That, and it was very expensive.

I started taking Alli this week, and I'm still watching the portion sizes of everything I eat. I eat what I want, though, and that's never changed. I just eat less of it, which I have worked on for a year now. I drink a LOT more water- which I gather is the biggest problem in weight loss failure. Most people have no idea how dehydrated they are by drinking sodas and coffee and nothing else. Neither the hubby nor I drink alcohol so I don't worry about those calories. I do crave orange juice, but I drink half as much as I normally would and have more water. None of the side effects have touched me at all, and in fact, I feel a bit energized because the program requires vitamin supplements. In the last three months I already added calcium and D, which I will blog about next week, but the increase in the rest of the minerals has changed my skin, hair, nails, and even sleep patterns.

At 45 years old, I can't waste time on fad TV-toys like bouncing weights, and chairs that twist. I can't waste money on capsules full of hot pepper sauce or cinnamon sticks. Having a Niacin makes me blush, but it doesn't do much to burn off those pounds. The one product that I do seem to respond well to is Green Tea, which I drink whenever I crave sweets. If I am jonesing a cheese pie, or a chocolate cake, I'll have a cup of green tea, or a capsule, and I just don't feel hungry enough to bother with it. At night when I think I'm heading for grazing mode, I will pop on the tea kettle and relax with some chamomile. Tea is a great product for so many reasons.

I read every single ingredient in the "Fat Burner" pills and the only thing I see in all of them is Caffeine, a natural diuretic, which may keep you in the rest room, but doesn't really change your eating habits. I also see quite a bit of Niacin- which gives you a warm feeling, and the B vitamin is good for your mood but isn't the big deal it should be in flushing those pounds away. You either get antsy on these, or irritable. What's the sense in being grouchy when you're trying to look your best? You'll scare all the people you're trying to attract away from you.

Finally the "natural" juice products are an interesting choice. People elect to "cleanse" the body of toxins. Water does that, with the digestive system. Anything else is just hype. I even read a blog from a guy who was angry because people were calling liver cleanses "a crock". He claims people were upset because they don't understand the green waste was cholesterol, gallstones, or other such biology. He complained that the olive oil solution is misunderstood. You pass bile, waste, and it comes in all shapes and sizes. This guy was actually furious at people for not believing that the bile waste wasn't gallstones. It's not, but he was pissed. According to real science, none of those cleanses works the way they're hyped to do. Studies done on the products we pass prove that the appearance of the waste may seem similar to the stones visually, but the fact is- it's bile in different forms, and we just pass that naturally. You cleanse yourself by eating greens, drinking water, and letting time pass between red meat sessions.

Noni juice, Acai, fruit tape and all of that is working just as every fruit does. You eat fruit which has water, and fiber, and you will pass waste that also has fiber and water. It's nothing miraculous, and it isn't going to make you lose weight faster. If you eat that stuff instead of a hamburger, you've cut 300 or so calories, and that is probably what makes the difference for you if you believe that works. Grapefruit is shown to have a natural appetite suppressant, but if you add spoonfuls of sugar to the fruit, you aren't really helping yourself.

Go to Ebay and type in Weight Loss. You'll find the craziest methods known to man. And, you'll find that people are buying them. Conversely, there are women and men who cannot seem to gain an ounce who are just as crazed in finding the solutions via potions, pills, and magic powders. Get your thyroid checked. Test your resting metabolism. Get your blood work done for hormone changes. Most issues not directly related to what you put on the fork appear in those tests. Keep the Koala Fat and Kim Chi diets, I'll stick with the safe path of being wise about what's on my plate.

So this week's questions- What crazy things have you tried for weight loss? What is the worst food you tried as a weight control? Have you found that your age has much to do with your weight? What do you think your doctor does to add or detract from your weight control?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Attention Deficiency in Adults and Diet

There has been an onslaught of news over the last twenty years on the progressive studies involving children and adults regarding Attention Deficiency Disorder. We've seen news shows, read magazines, and there are even ads in our children's magazines regarding the ADD, and ADHD diagnoses that seem to be part of every household, in every family. I was one of the millions who felt just sick and tired of the whole "disease of the week" fad attention, and really didn't want to care about it at all. To me, out of lack of experience, the disorder sounded like an advertisement for Pharmaceutical Companies and nothing more than an excuse to give children Ritalin.

But, I've experienced enough life to know that not all myth is fact free. I know that even those who think there are far too many medications piled upon us year after year see the increased numbers of people who are diagnosed as having ADD. And, I know that nutritionists have been screaming "PAY ATTENTION TO US! WE HAVE BEEN TRYING TO TELL YOU THIS FOR YEARS!"

Just out of my own curious nature, and through the study of depression, I found that several of the symptoms that are part of my daily life mirror those of ADD. And, I want to know why. I want to understand the reasons why I think I can accomplish much, yet spend most of my time starting much more. The irony is that I finish tasks for the betterment of others far sooner than I do those that would better my own life. I wonder if it hasn't always been this way.

I'm sure you remember sitting in school as a child. The years I spent during the 1970's were mired in distraction. I spent time drawing pictures and when other kids were trying to learn to spell or read, I was already on the fourth book of the week, bored, and waiting for something to happen that wasn't JUST school. If the diagnosis existed as commonly as it is today, it is likely I would have had the title of Attention Deficient. I spent more time with adults than children. I was writing and creating, and even spent days painting murals on chalkboards when other kids studied because my work was finished hours earlier. I ended up in "gifted" programs and spent weekends studying at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in their youth programs.

I was fortunate for having people in my life who saw that I got easily distracted when bored, and they took the time to nurture the boredom into something productive. But, I spent a lot of time during high school, and in the college and Navy years, spending less and less time on projects and more and more time just being not sure what I would ever complete. The more options I had available to me seemed to increase the "mind float", that took me off to new ideas and new options. It was as if my entire years from the age of 19 to 31 were spent wondering "What can I do now?" and I would be antsy for hours at a time. Computers aided in just creating more reasons of distraction- more shiny balloons of time stealing.

The antsy feeling was so strong that I would take long drives to no place in particular. Some days I would drive from Los Angeles to San Diego, while others would have me visiting Palmdale or Temecula. There were days I spent nearly in San Francisco, only heading back when I realized, I didn't have anything to do there. I had always worked more than one job at a time- usually three full time jobs, plus school. In all of the years I was diagnosed and treated for depression, no one ever said to me, "Perhaps you have a lack of attention." I know I brought up many times that I was unable to focus and never felt that I could complete anything. But, no therapist confronted me with this. I tried to get them to acknowledge this, but it just seemed to be who I am.

When one of my doctors put me on Prozac, suddenly I was writing full books. I was able to complete projects. Suddenly, I was focused on life, and what I wanted to do with it. Yet, I developed an immunity to the prescription and it seemed apparent that there wasn't a replacement to keep me in that same state of mind. During the next decade, I spent hours in doctors offices, hoping that I could get back that sense of control, and understanding. Again, I never heard anyone tell me "You probably are ADD, and could do well with a simple diet change."

No one said this to me, yet it seemed when I wasn't eating sugar, when I didn't have coffee, when I was sleeping properly, I didn't need a medication to keep me focused. For only days at a time, I had clarity of mind, and certain completed projects. But, I'm fighting for my health, and I am desperately seeking some solution to the Hashimoto's and the Ehlers-Danlos issues. I keep reading the same websites that are pushing for me to try Gingko, and to increase my Vitamin D, and Calcium. I keep reading that my age has a lot to do with my attention span. But I think that's not exactly correct.

What I do see is the pattern of options growing, and my mind is desperate to play in every sand box it finds. I find that the boredom I had as a child, that was a result of comprehending things a lot sooner than I was expected to, has grown with me, and I spend days trying to complete a single simple task. I always did well in jobs that had multiple roles, and multiple outcomes. I did well in classes that led to even more opportunities. I did better in relationships and friendships that allowed me to see other views. In all of this, I still kept patterns.

The patterns of behavior carried from childhood include that day-to-day battle of "What should I eat that won't affect me and make me feel miserable?" I still wake up thinking of at least one chore that needs completing, and I complete it. I still find myself battling a game of solitaire, and wondering if I should be doing something different instead. I still find myself procrastinating on something that is important, or necessary, and I do this daily, as a habit. The pain from the illness takes away other habits, like driving for hours, or walking at a park. Every day, I can recite the same conversations I'll have, and every day I am frustrated at the lack of completion on any task.

Yet, when I finally conquer a blog, or answer that email, I feel a weight lifted from me. It's "good girl" me. It's like the days when I finished homework in school- when most days I did it AT school, just before handing it in. The last minute deadline made the work immediately rushed, and often I did just as well as anyone else, but I still wonder, today, if I didn't cheat myself out of an education by not taking time, and spending the hours I could have. Today I can spend ten minutes learning Spanish and an hour playing piano, when I could learn much more by spending hours on each.

I looked at my food diary. I don't eat perfectly well, and I haven't ever done so in my entire life. But, the days that I have attention-drift are the days that I sneak in that doughnut, or have candy. It's the days that I haven't had enough protein, and haven't had any vegetation of any kind. The days that I drink less than four glasses of water seem to be just as bad for me as the days that I take in three cups of coffee. The calorie range is always and has always seemed to be in the 1200 to 1400 range, but my weight doesn't reflect that 120-140 lbs that should result from that range. When I feed my body poorly, my mind is also affected. It has to be, as it runs from the same engine.

My medicine cabinet contains minerals, vitamins and supplements. But, I'm not great about taking them regularly. I can tell you by looking at the birth control pill circle, when I am going to have my Irrational Days. This is part of my PMS that I am able to predict simply by watching the hormone levels. But, I don't have the same type of gauge for my lack of attention. I do know that I sleep better when I've taken Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Melatonin. I'm reading nutrition sites, and I keep running across the same diet deficiency. I need to increase the produce in my diet. I need to increase the proteins in my diet. I need to ensure that I am not eating the sugars, and caffeine, and that I have regular and correct liquids. I need to ensure I'm eating as well as I make my pets do- I need "People chow".

Since that doesn't exist, I am tasking myself with being parental to, well, to me. I am the one who has to regulate my eating habits, in order to help alleviate those drifty days when I just can't seem to accomplish things. It's up to me to discover if I have patterns that change based on the foods I've eaten. With all of the options, I have the ability to transform my eating habits easily. It doesn't have to be expensive to care for myself, as much as I want there to be a single pill to fix me. It won't. I need to be responsible and care for me.

Pharmaceutical companies want us to take Ritalin, Prozac, Paxil, or any of dozens of other compounds to cure us of our own human nature. In my case, I'm naturally drawn to distractions and bore easily. Yet, if I give myself the time and care for myself well, I do finish things, and I do complete projects. I don't have side effects, and I don't need a Prescription card. I just need to eat properly, sleep properly.

I think we can learn much from house plants in this. I bought many new plants when we moved into our home last month. I have seeds, and pots, full plants, and cacti. I noticed some house plants do better if they're started as seeds indoors, groomed to a specific growth, fed a bit of water, and then brought outdoors. Others are very difficult to raise from seedlings, and need to have specific light, specific water, and some require plant foods. But if I stray in the slightest way from the necessary nutrients, water, or day light, the plants wither. If I offer too much, the roots soak, rot, and die. If I offer too little, the plant starves, becomes weak, and dies. If I am inconsistent, the plants may grow well but suffer long term damage. Just like plants, each of us has our own requirements, and it takes time to discover what the right formula is for each of us.

Just like the cycle in my pills helps me figure out what days I'm less rational, the cycle may also help me focus on what days I need more proteins, or water, or green leafy veggies. There may be days when I'm not very well focused that I stray from caring for my roots properly- and it will have long term affects. So it is up to me to develop a consistent pattern, and a method of ensuring that I'm faithful to my own care. For me to be a focused, clear, attentive person, it's up to me to find the right combination that allows me to flourish. It's taken me 45 years to learn this, and it may take another few years to find the right combination of foods, but I will.

So today's questions- What patterns in your life do you attribute to diet, or sleep problems? Do you know if you have ADD or ADHD, and if so, have you taken medications for it? Do you think that diet is able to replace medications for us in general, or just for specific illnesses and disorders? What foods do you feel are the biggest issues for us and our mental acuity?