Sunday, June 15, 2014
// 6/15/2014 //
The Mitzvah I Ignored to my Peril (5), Do or Diet?
At 70 pounds overweight and on host of medication, I barely feel functional. Walking 2 blocks to synagogue puts me out of breath. And my last blood test from a year ago says I could flip to medical disaster at any moment.
Time to take action, if it isn’t (G-d forbid) already too late.
But what to do?
Diet? Dieting success is low (in the long term), and who knows what approach to take? Low Fat, Low Calorie, Low Carb, or Low Glycemic (low sugar)? Or cheat with drugs?
Exercise? I can barely walk 2 blocks to synagogue or up the stairs to work without being unable to catch my breath.
It's the conundrum that has kept me paralyzed for years (20 years). But I definitely feel I'm at the tipping point...
... My daughter visited some family. The husband is 70, but can barely walk from the house to the car. He rides around Walmart in the electric cart, but rarely goes out of the house because of the limitations. He looked like I do at my age.
...My uncle is a healthy guy, never overweight, always active. But he had a triglyceride problem, and recently barely survived his second heart attack.
...Multiple people in my synagogue, a few years younger, have become diabetic!
Shoin. It's time to do something before I have to try to survive on disability assistance (and with my family size, that would not be a pleasant survival).
We accept pain, we accept our situation. Change rarely drives from logic but is driven by emotion. If it doesn't hurt enough, we tolerate the situation. To drive change we have to FEEL it. I feel it, I've had enough of being barely functional.
But... Diet. Yuck. Exercise. Ouch.
Time to be a Jew. I've got a mitzvah to fulfill. And time to man up, enough of letting the situation drive me.
It's time for a diet and some exercise. First diet. But what's a "right" approach? Everyone has an opinion, some interesting, some traditional, some crazy. Low Fat, Low Calorie, Low Carb, Low Glycemic, Drugs / Herbs / Powders / Hypnosis / Acupuncture, Surgery (Gastric bypass, Gastric banding)?
I immediately discounted low fat because my wife – in following the health propaganda of the last 40 years – has been feeding me a low fat diet, doing her all to have a healthy husband. Didn’t work, I’m fat (without eating any)!
Low calorie? I get seriously hungry, and while I have a reasonable amount of will power, I don’t believe I have enough will power to fight off hunger pains for the next YEAR. Further, when I don’t eat I get fatigued. This is a normal body response to decreased food supply - decrease the body energy use. I’m not one to power through it, forget it. I don’t think I’ll succeed this way.
Low glycemic? Frankly going through lists to check the sugar level of every fruit or vegetable, and then trying to figure it out for any packaged products… too much food tracking and limiting, particularly hard on a glatt kosher religious diet (even in Israel).
How about drugs? Today’s drugs work. NOT the diet drugs, but others do! There are appetite suppressants that actually make a difference, but I’d tried one in the past and for me it didn’t. Besides, that still ends up with a drop in calories and the fatigue. But there is a drug secret… ADHD medications such as Ritalin seriously suppress appetite while increasing energy (unless you have ADHD) – and people taking these medications often drop 20-30 pounds quickly. Of course those medications increase risk of heart attack, of which I’m already at increased risk – not a good idea. Diabetes medications (Glucophage) change the blood sugar utilization and ALSO result in a 20 pound weight loss. Sounds good, but other serious side effects. I tried to talk my doctor into it – he wouldn’t do it without sending me for full diabetic testing and getting a diagnosis of diabetic (which also means never getting life or upscale health insurance again). So no drugs for me.
Herbs, I've tried some herbal things in the past - I'm not a fan. Mostly it was big expense with little effect - if not only negative effects.
Low carb? Having some sugar problems, low carb makes sense to me. But I've done it once in the distant past and remember "carb cravings" even after having eaten a full meal of vegetables and meat. I like meat, vegetables are fine. Maybe this is the one.
Overall this is really confusing. And I haven't even gotten to exercise yet. Low impact, high impact, aerobic, strength training, and how many more???
What's reasonable, and what can I actually do? (And given I keep a high kosher standard, what fit's my religious diet possibilities and religious community lifestyle?)
NEXT - what I tried and how I ended up in the hospital!
…to be continued.