Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

By James Wallace Harris, April 13, 2016

I know how to lose weight. I lost 29 pounds last year by following a plant based diet. I could eat all I wanted from an approved list of foods, didn’t go hungry, and my doctor was ecstatic. My blood work numbers hadn’t looked so good in decades. Then I started cheating on my diet. I didn’t gain weight, but I stopped losing weight. My blood work numbers ratted on me, and my doctor started nagging again. I cut back on my cheating. Three months later my numbers convinced her to do a happy dance. (For some reason I really love making her happy.) She even told me I could go six month without another blood test. In the moment of feeling successful, I foolishly promised I’d lose another 25 pounds.

Ha-ha, like some crazed sweet-seeking mammal I’ve since gained 8 pounds. I just can’t resist food. Why can’t I control my eating? Why can’t I lose weight? Why can’t I keep weight off once I work so hard to lose it?

Of course millions of people are asking these same questions. Why can’t we lose weight? Why can’t I be like Mr. Spock and do the logical thing? Evidently, I’m suffering from multiple personalities. One being inside me, the one writing this essay, wants to eat healthy, lose weight and be a different person. There’s another person in me that’s illogical and hungry. That person insists I go out for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but eat pizza on the way. And I’ve got to tell you, when Mr. Junk Food gets his way, we both feel pretty damn satisfied.

Mr. Spock advises me to write up a mission statement about what to eat, print it up on a nice card, and meditate on that message before every meal. But then my wife and I get hungry for dinner, don’t feel like cooking, or even going to a good restaurant, and end up pigging out on Taco Bell. I weighed two pounds more the next morning. Where did Mr. Spock go? Mr. Junk Food can shanghai my self-control in an instant. I need to kill Mr. Junk Food. Is that even possible? Self-exorcism? But what would life be like without that cute little devil on my shoulder?

Mr. Spock has already settled on a diet.  He assures me if I just followed it, I’d be healthy, happy and fat no more. He did get us to read a number of books, and took control long enough to prove that his solution works. I keep telling myself to read those books every day until Mr. Junk Food disappears—but it’s not working. I’m beginning to think Mr. Junk Food stunned Mr. Spock and transported him to another planet. He obviously overheard we were planning on dieting again.

Why can’t I be sensible? Why are my urges as polarized as liberals and conservatives? Why do I have friends who eat everything they can stuff down their gullet – and still stay skinny? Why isn’t feeling better incentive enough to eat healthy? My heart and back loved when I lost the 29 pounds. I think one reason I cheat is because I feel better, but I won’t let myself gain too much because I fear the return of pain. I remember what I felt like before I got my stent, and that helps fight off Mr. Junk Food. But only to a degree. Most of the spinal stenosis pain and numbness in my legs have gone away because of losing weight. The plant-based diet is also an anti-inflammation diet. When I follow that diet I don’t need pills, and I don’t feel the inflammation. Mr. Spock informs me of this logic every day. Why can’t I listen all day long?

Yet, eating two bags of M&M’s and drinking a Dr. Pepper would feel like winning a million bucks right now. Hell, I just realized just how bad off I am. I’d rather be a skinny person who could eat all the junk food they wanted than be rich. That’s how bad I want some Mint Oreos at the moment. (Who’s writing this essay now?)

 Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease - Caldwell B Esselstyn MDThe China Study - T Colin Campbell PHD

Eat To Live - Joel Fuhrman MDThe Forks Over Knives Plan

JWH

The Coca Cola Company Versus the Nanny State

By James Wallace Harris, Monday, April 27, 2015

I saw Fed Up last night on Netflix streaming, a documentary about how the food industry is acting like the tobacco industry when it comes down to choosing between the bottom line and the health of Americans. The documentary makes the case the Coca Cola Company sells only products that will make us fat, and it’s only value to society is the wealth it generates. To be fair, the film targets other food industries, but soft drinks are portrayed as one of society’s main causes of obesity.

What struck me was how food corporations defend dangerous foods in the same way the tobacco industry defended cigarettes.  What’s more, conservatives attack any effort by politicians to keep children from becoming addicted to junk food by referring to such laws as promoting the Nanny State. If you Google Nanny State you’ll find some very interesting political sites and news stories.

Are conservatives right? Should we have the freedom to eat whatever we want? You’d think, by the same logic, they’d be against laws that controlled recreational drugs. And if the FDA keeps our food safe and our medicine effective, is that coddling of the Nanny State?

Should the government regulate products that make us unhealthy? Or should we all be responsible for ourselves? We’ve known that junk food is bad for decades. We know that drugs and alcohol ruins lives. We know what’s bad for us, but how many people do anything about it? Fed Up shows that children have little choice in choosing good food at school, and become addicted to bad food. That’s exactly why we don’t want drug dealers selling to kids. Should kids need an ID proving they are 21 to buy a Coke and Mars bar? Or if the Nanny State theory is correct, should we let kids buy joints and beer in their cafeteria because to not let them takes away their freedom?

The epidemic of obesity has occurred in my lifetime, and I’m obese myself. I’ve been a junk food addict my whole life. This documentary makes a great case that the current obesity crisis is not due to lack of exercise or the ability to diet, but we’re conditioned to eat bad food. I now struggle every day to eat good food. I have to ask myself: Would I have preferred that bad food had been made illegal in the 1950s and 1960s when I was growing up and we lived in a Nanny State, or do I prefer the freedom of choice I’ve had for the past fifty years?

I’m suffering from the results of a lifetime of poor eating, I do wish I had lived in a Nanny State. I have an addictive personality. In the film, they showed an experiment with rats addicted to cocaine were offered cocaine or sugar water. Nearly all of them switched to the sugar water.

Is it really a Nanny State to keep children from becoming addicted to foods, especially when they are offered no healthy alternatives? We know these food makes us fat. We know even as little kids that fat is socially and sexually unattractive. Yet, kids and adults will keep eating the food  that makes them fat, just like rats in a cage. And that experiment has a ring of truth to it. Most people prefer junk food to drugs. Junk food makes us happy. Junk food fights boredom and loneliness.

Do we really have the freedom to choose? Do we really have freedom from the Nanny State when most of us spend our free time drinking Coke and eating Doritos and M&Ms, while playing video games and listening to the television? Is that what makes us free? Or does it really reflect that we’re rats in a cage sucking on a bottle of sugar water?

Is it really a Nanny State to make school cafeterias serve healthy food? Or do we live in a Corporate State where kids are forced to eat what makes the most money? Is it freedom to be free of laws, or to make laws that help make us a better society? I don’t know. I don’t drink or smoke because my parents were alcoholics that smoked like crazy. Will the next generation be horrified at all us fat people and choose a different path? Can they make that decision if they aren’t protected from addictive food while growing up?

JWH

The Soul Torture of Dieting

I need to lose weight for health reasons.  I have arthritis in my back that makes it hard to stand or walk for long.  I’ve bought Z-coil shoes that have shock absorbing springs in the heels that help tremendously.  They make me look silly wearing them, but those bouncy shoes proves that my weight is related to my degenerative back disease.  Even with the incentive of pain, for the life of me I can’t make myself lose weight!

Dieting is torture.  Craving fun food is hormonal tyranny.  Drug addicts argue over which drug is the most addictive, well I say the junk that’s the most addictive is junk food.  I can force myself to go months without eating my favorite desserts, but then bam, something snaps, and my will power breaks.  Dieting is the absolute test of mind over matter, and carbs beats the crap out of my gray matter every time.

Just because my mind lives inside this body doesn’t mean its cozy relationship affords any influence.  Actually, I think it proves that the mind doesn’t just occupy the our skulls, but the whole hormonal system.  Insulin affects my thinking just as much as any mind altering drug.

ben & jerrys chocolate therapy

A carton of Ben & Jerry’s can bring me such happiness, energy and creative stimulation that it’s torture to resist.  But I have resisted!  I haven’t had any B&J’s for months, but the desire for it never goes away.  But it doesn’t have to be anything as fabulous as ice cream for my hormones to torture me, sometimes I just crave an ordinary peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Just losing eight or ten pounds seems to trigger something that makes me lose all mental control and resolve.

I used to come home from work and stoke up on M&Ms, Coca-Cola, pies, cake, cookies and candy.  All those calories would jazzercise my neural activities so I felt like doing after being burned out from work.  When I diet I want to come home and veg out.  In the last ten years I’ve discovered that a nap after work will rejuvenate me like my surgery loves, but it doesn’t do away with the craving.

cake-and-ice-cream-1

Why isn’t eating simple and logical?  Shouldn’t it be a Mr. Spock like decision.  These foods will make me healthy, those foods are poison.  Okay, I’ll take the poison.  What sane person thinks that way?

Now scientists are telling us sugar is toxic.  That’s probably perfect true, but I’ve been developing a tolerance to sugar my whole life, and I can take on some high levels of that poison.

There is something incredibly unfair that desserts are evil.  We seldom get what we dream, but a carton of Ben & Jerry’s is something dreamy that’s easy to obtain.  Of course, now that my teeth are going, well just one, but another is feeling poorly, I feel I should have listened to those warnings against sugar all those years ago.  It’s like that old joke of Woody Allen, where his mother tells him that masturbation will make him go blind and he asks if he can do it until he needs glasses. 

I’m afraid I’ll be needing choppers and still wanting to eat sweets.  Or they’ll be cutting off my feet while I eat M&Ms.  Why is it so hard to say no?  On the news tonight they reported that there’s an epidemic of skin cancer among young women because they love tanning bed tans.  Will that news stop them?  What a silly question to ask.

Why aren’t we smarter?   Or to ask it another way, why do our urges trump our brains, because we do know the answers, and we even believe what we’re told, but we still do the things bad for us like lemmings heading for the edge of the abyss.  I suppose it’s the same thing with global warming – we can’t give up fossil fuels any easier than sugar or cigarettes.  We’re like one cell animals heading directly to the stimulus we love the most.  Becoming big brain beings didn’t overcome those basic instincts.  What good is a neo-cortex when it can’t control the mammalian and reptilian parts of our brains? 

Have they ever considered lobotomies for the lower brain functions?  Or would being healthy and logical like Mr. Spock feel like being a zombie?

JWH – 4/2/12