Monday, March 28, 2016

Fit to Fat to Fit on TV?

There is a series on "A & E" TV called "Fit to Fat to Fit".  The show has two protagonists.  One of them is an overweight person (usually quite overweight like over 300 or 400 lbs) and a personal trainer.  The personal trainer is usually very slim and fit and decides to put on some weight so he or she can "understand" how it "feels to be fat" (as the show states).

One of the shows I saw, had a lady who really did usually, watch her weight and was able to gain 40 lbs rather easily. But two of the shows had a male personal trainer who obviously was naturally slim (while eating healthy but having "cheat food" every so often).  When the male personal trainers tried to gain weight, they had to work very hard at it, eating 5000 calories or more a day and even at that, they could not gain much more than 20 or 30 lbs and didn't look overweight at all.  They too, however, at that point, said they now could understand how it felt to be "fat".

What annoys me, especially about the latter two shows, is that everyone I've known who is able to gain large amounts of weight (including me!), has genetic and metabolic issues which TV shows like the A&E programs do not take into consideration at all. Science does acknowledge this. For example, obesity scientist, Dr Rudy Leibel states that 60% or more of our size is genetic and/or physical rather than what we eat.

TV star, Al Roker, who had a gastric bypass, has told his audience that he does count his calories and also does 45 minutes of running several times a week.  He's not the exception - he's the rule.  Surprisingly, a study which included members of NAAFA, a social club for people of size as well as average size people, found that NAAFA members actually consumed considerably less food at meetings and banquets than did those of average size.

But sadly, TV which is the informing source of most folks who do not have the time to read, is telling a fairy tale.  People on TV asked how they got so fat, invariably say they eat too much but their "too much" is often less than the amounts that average size folks eat - those who do not become overweight.

I get very weary of TV shows blaming overweight people for their size.  Surely true that an overweight person can keep to a so called average size but it takes lots of work, including saying "no" to any type of fast food, in addition to counting caloric intake (and I mean writing it down or keeping it in the computer - the latter is made more pleasant by great clients such as "My Fitness Pal" etc).

I feel shows like "Fit to Fat to Fit" do a great deal of damage to folks who do have genetic factors and physical factors contributing to their size.  I know about this on a personal basis.  I was very active as a child and kept slim...until I had a tonsillectomy and right after that, I started gaining quickly despite not changing my level of activity (in fact, after, I was more active after surgery, because I wasn't sick in bed all the time like I was before surgery).

Later on, much later on, like when I was in my 40's, still pondering why I gained weight after my tonsillectomy, I read that 50-60% of kids who had tonsillectomies in the 1950's and 1960's, sustained damage to the pituitary gland which of course, would adversely, affect the metabolism.

So, after blaming myself for so many years for my "weight problem", I realized I had a medical reason why I gain weight so easily and since then, I, ironically, have been able to compensate for my lower metabolism through mild calorie restriction and have managed to lose and keep off 106 lbs since 2010.

Shows like "Fit to Fat to Fit" should be balanced out by a more realistic portrayal of obesity, and the genetic and physical factors involved, instead of intimating that all fat people do nothing but sit on the couch "eating bon bons".  Society as a whole would be better off.  Because the truth makes everyone free.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Diet Pills?

pillz, pillz, pillz don't work for losing weight!

A blog reader (who probably didn't bother reading either my blog or the blog she was advertising) left a message in the comments here, advertising a new weight loss pill.  When I looked at the ingredients of this medication, it was old home week - a couple of nutrients (which don't promote weight loss) and other chemicals I had encountered previously, many times, Ad nauseam...which have been well proven as ineffective for long term weight loss and some of which pose a risk to the heart etc.

Listed first was a form of Phentermine.  Perhaps older readers may remember this drug,  as a part of a weight loss combination, "PhenFen" which was taken off the market because it was not only, ineffective on the long term but more importantly, risked the health of those who took the medication. Phentermine speeds up the heart because years ago, it was thought that would cause weight loss but actually, it more endangers the heart than what it's supposed to do.  And as the wife of a spouse experiencing heart problems (he recently got heart bypass surgery), I would definitely state you don't want to mess up your heart for anything and especially, an ineffective weight loss drug.

Calcium and L-Carnitine are nutrients, Caffeine is totally ineffective as a weight loss drug (or else all the coffee drinkers would be slim!) and again, it's hard on the heart, and finally Chromium Picolinate, a substance that was thought to be effective for weight loss in the 1990's (I had a friend who desperately did not want to do Weight Watchers so she tried every new diet pill) but I have never seen it work as a good weight loss drug and several studies greatly questioned its effectiveness.

The blog this individual linked, supposedly an informational about this drug, was full of misinformation and included a photo of one of the Biggest Loser TV show winners (who, of course, did NOT use weight loss pills to lose her weight).  Although there was a passing mention that pregnant ladies and anyone on medication should consult a medical provider before taking this medication, the blog claimed the drug is "totally safe" etc etc. And by the way, this medication is not inexpensive - for a bottle of 30 pills, they want $69 bucks.

Bottom line - if you see an ad for a weight loss drug, run the other way.  It's likely healthier to remain "of size" than take drugs to lose weight - drugs don't work on the long run and as you can see above, many ingredients are likely to be, risky to your health.

Like the singer stated "There is no easy road to a place worth going."  And the time folks spend on ineffective (and risky) practices for weight loss, would be much better used on programs like Weight Watchers (i.e. sensible programs), or just getting healthy by making healthy food choices and starting a regular cardio exercise program.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

More Weight Loss Surgery ads on TV disguised as shows



Filmed in High Def and artistic cinematography and certainly scripted (as all "reality TV" is), the show, "My 600 lb life" is certainly watched by many and the producer who is the son of a Houston weight loss surgery surgeon, is definitely going to the bank.  A great improvement on earlier shows like the old series "Big Medicine", artistically speaking, one can be certain these shows have the same effect on the TV audience as the earlier offerings.  After every show on weight loss surgery, more than one weight loss surgery clinic remarked that their phones were "ringing off the hook" with prospective buyers.

  People featured on "My 600 lb life" i.e. the patients, not only do not get compensated for their appearance on the shows, but they also, have to pay for their weight loss surgery and/or skin removal surgeries.  There has been some speculation that the patients get a bit of a discount on the procedures but a couple of thousand bucks off on surgeries which can cost from $15,000.00 and up, isn't much of a financial aid.

This season, a new show has been added.   They call it, "Skin Tight" and is ostensibly about the plastic surgery that weight loss surgery patients (who lose the weight too fast for the skin to respond) often need.  Truly (and as the show portrays), many weight loss surgery patients have so much loose skin that they feel their bodies are more uncomfortable than they were when they were at their starting weight. 

The photography in "Skin Tight" is interesting.  The so called "skin surgeries" are long and very painful, a fact which is (of course) omitted from the show. Most patients I've talked to, describe it as more painful than the original weight loss surgery.  The skin surgeries involve long incisions and long hours under anesthesia and long healing.  But of course, the patients seen on "Skin Tight" all smilingly say it was totally, worth it because they "look so good" now.

However, if you watch the cinematography closely, you will notice that the patients who have undergone "skin surgeries" (most of them, have multiple procedures), are photographed from the front in the before photos and from the side or even covered up in  clothing in the after photos.  So even though the smiling patient says (according to the script) how wonderful life is, I wonder if the long scars and months of pain are really so wonderful.

It bothers me a lot how much of a business, the medical field has become.  Often, more expensive procedures are sold when a less expensive procedure (or no procedure) would do fine.  And often, despite the glowing reports we see on TV, the end result is fraught with problems and/or repercussions. 

There is no doubt in my mind that the public wants these surgical procedures because being of size in our society is considered worse than anything else.  But it seems that surgeons face a rather interesting dilemma.  Either they do invasive surgeries like the gastric bypass  which, albeit causes a large weight loss quickly (mostly muscle - good tissue you don't want to lose), can, in the long run, cause patients,  to suffer, many complications and can even shorten lifespan because of the malnutrition of fats and proteins and the lack of some 100 micro-nutrients a day which no longer can be digested.  Or they do the safer weight loss surgeries like the lap band or the gastric sleeve which do not offer the desired quick weight loss but also do not cause the complications of the more invasive surgeries.  

Surgeons who do the latter, often have to offer their patients diet plans including shakes etc.  But the truth of the matter is, that all weight loss surgery patients will not lose the weight unless they diet and exercise - these two things which, of course, cause a weight loss without surgery.

Best to remember the Buddy Valasco ("Cake Boss") statement, "It's TV, Baby!"

Or to recall a testimony by one of the major TV networks in the 1950's when they were caught cheating on the quiz shows.  Said one of the CEO's, "Well, the people were entertained, we made money and no one was hurt!"  

Unfortunately with today's shows, featuring weight loss surgeries, although the public is entertained, many people are hurt.  A sad thing to sacrifice a human's quality of life and longevity, for entertainment.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thoughts about the TV show "My 600 lb life"



As I watch the TV show, "My 600 lb life", I see many issues .... Elephants in the room, things left unsaid like, the fact that at least 2 of the patients featured on this show, ended up with severe complications such as neuropathy and guillian barre (which the provider attributed to "obesity" even though it was after the gastric bypass that these folks suffered these complications). One  patient uses a wheelchair now (he could walk before his gastric bypass). Another 2 patients that I know of, died a couple of years after surgery which is before they would have died without surgery.  (The bus driver featured in the first or second season, died about two years after his gastric bypass - he had a massive heart attack while driving a school bus.)

First, it seems many of the patients feel the 'before surgery' diet is temporary but in truth, weight loss surgery does NOT fix a damaged metabolism...that is the patient will have to stay on the 1200-1400 calorie diet for life if they want to keep off the weight... it bothers me that many patients don't seem to understand this and so their weight loss after surgery greatly slows down or in some cases, they gain.

Second, with weight loss surgery, there may be a large initial (after surgery) weight loss as the person cannot eat because there is a healing process going on, but after the surgery is healed, the appetite (which is centered in the brain) comes back strongly.

When weight loss surgery was invented in the 1960's, medicine thought the appetite centers were in the stomach and by making the stomach very small, that would control the appetite... Studies and a greater level of knowledge that we have now, have taught us that the appetite centers are in the brain and the size of the stomach makes little to no difference in how hungry most individuals feel... This means that the entire theory upon which weight loss surgery is based, may be outdated.  So one wonders why some providers still do the invasive procedures like gastric bypass?. Well, surgery is a cash cow for providers, unfortunately... and sadly, many patients who have become ill with gastric bypass or have regained, are made to feel ashamed if they speak out.  One of my friends called this a "conspiracy of silence".  She, a weight loss surgery patient herself, died at the young age of 54.  She had been ill with her surgery and bed-bound for several years before her death.

Do providers know that surgery does little to nothing to control the appetite for most folks?  Unclear... They really might think that the surgery helps... To keep up with all the advances in medicine, a provider would have to spend all his or her free time reading...

Most of all, one cannot gain to a very heavy weight, unless one has some serious physical metabolic issues going on.  And no one seems to acknowledge this, although it can be found in medical literature .... And especially not the provider on the TV show, "My 600 lb life"...who assumes that every one of these patients is really stuffing him/herself. However, a revealing study found that members of NAAFA, a fat acceptance group, actually consumed less food at conventions than their thin cohorts!  It's true that people who get very overweight may overeat at times, but basically, most of them eat like many other Americans who do not become extremely obese... And yet these people are made to feel like they are total pigs when it comes to eating. I can't help wondering why providers don't seem to know more about metabolic issues which can cause obesity... 

I stumbled upon my metabolic issue...after spending a lifetime wondering why, if I ate like most around me, I became very overweight... A goodly percentage of folks who had tonsillectomies in the 1950's and 1960's got pituitary damage after surgery... My tonsillectomy was in 1953 and right after surgery, I began putting on weight...That is, before this procedure, I, being very active, was on the slim side, however, after surgery...eating the same amount and with just as much activity as before, I gained weight...

So in digging through medical literature (for years literally), I found the reason why I gain so easily.  Now why don't providers let us know about this, I'm wondering...like those folks on "My 600 lb life", the provider really takes them to task, when they gain weight...

To defend Dr Nowzardan, it's possible he doesn't know about the latest research...he's 72 years old and this may be one reason why people of this age (over 70) should be retired... I am 71 and yes, I do NOT have the brain power I did when I was, even in my 60's, and trust me, it drives me nutz!  To paraphrase Buddy on "Cake Boss" , one might say with emphasis, "It's the aging process, baby!"

Undoubtedly, some of us, like me and those folks on the TV show, "My 600 lb life" have no set point and thus, we can gain easily up to astronomical weights, without especially overeating, at least not more than most Americans who do not gain so easily...

I've tried to explain all this to providers... And most of them naysay what I am telling them. 

Metabolic differences and pituitary damage from procedures like tonsillectomies,  seems  something which, apparently, is not included in the medical school curriculum...

Sue

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Weight Loss surgery and dieting


I have heard many folks sign up for weight loss surgery because they feel they will "never have to diet again".  The next step is they go to a "seminar" held by the surgeon they are thinking of hiring. But the seminars are really mostly selling sessions for the surgery (I can only think of one surgeon who actually gives very informed consent seminars, detailing risks as well as benefits - this does not cut the number of people who go to him - on the contrary, they appreciate the info!).

Today, I met a lady who had had a gastric bypass in Oct 2015 and had recently attended a weight loss group meeting. (and keep in mind, most surgeons are doing the less invasive sleeve now).  She had lost 80 lbs but lamented that no one had noticed her weight loss.  "But I lost it fast," she added.  That prompted me to ask her how and that's when she said she'd had a gastric bypass.  I explained that a fast weight loss like that was mostly muscle and that's why it didn't show a lot of reduction in size.  She looked sad and said that she knew that.  She was NOT told that surgery would not take off that much fat and she'd have to diet to do that - and she'd already been back to the hospital because she had developed ulcers after surgery and couldn't keep anything down so had needed more surgery.   I can't help wondering if, had this lady been informed of the risks, she might have gone a different route.

But the sad thing was she really didn't lose much fat with the surgery despite her inability to eat much and ended up joining the weight loss group, even - with having had the surgery.

I gave her my web site and also, some of the informed consent info she should have had before surgery.  "The advantage of a gastric bypass", I concluded, "is, it is reversible and you should probably consider having it reversed."  She told me her surgeon had told her only the sleeve was reversible (it's not reversible, because they cut off most of your stomach and throw it in the garbage i.e. "send it to pathology" as the surgeons call it). I said, "no, it's the opposite - the gastric bypass is reversible" and I told her how they reversed it., explaining that a reversal would still provide her with some restriction but give her normal digestion back.  Hopefully she will consider having it reversed.  I told her she might have to go to another surgeon to have this done.

Some surgeons send pre ops to my website to obtain informed consent information but obviously this lady's surgeon had neither given her informed consent info nor did he send her to my website.  Because the 80 lbs she lost was mostly muscle, she still was very overweight.

The bottom line with surgery is, it really, isn't that effective for weight loss.  This lady told me she thought it would kill her appetite but it hadn't done this and I explained that this is because they now know, the appetite control center is in the brain, not the stomach (as formerly thought in the 1960's when these surgeries were first conceived of).

As for the gastric bypass, it's very effective at greatly diminishing the ability to digest proteins and fats (and yes, we do need some fats) which is why most surgeons have switched to the sleeve which, albeit invasive, is much less invasive than the older surgeries.

Another interesting thing - when I told this lady who had had the gastric bypass that I knew several 300 lbs gastric bypass patients, she looked shocked - she didn't know that so many had regained the weight, although she was already having trouble with this.

All I can do here is *sigh*.  How I wish everyone would have the informed consent information that they need to really make the best decision for them.  Informed consent after the fact, can be bitter but this lady had several friends, also of size and I'm sure my information helped them in case they were considering surgery.... (the photo is of my friend who died in 2006 from the aftermath of the weight loss surgery she'd had in the 1990's. - she spent her last days, before her untimely death, warning folks to not have weight loss surgery.)

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Weight loss balloon - a good or very bad idea?



The news today, announced a "new" device, for losing weight. Basically, the patient swallows a pill which is attached to a long tiny tube catheter device.  When it gets down to the stomach, the medical provider pumps distilled buffered water into the pill through the catheter, which causes it to swell, not leaving much room in the stomach for food.  This is supposed to make the patient feel full and want to eat less.  The water in the device supposedly, leaks out in about 4 months ("if all goes well") and then the deflated pill passes hopefully, through the digestive tract and out through the bowel. As the article stated:

"If all goes as planned, the resulting grapefruit-sized (19-ounce) ball of water fills the stomach and significantly curbs the amount of food someone can eat before feeling satiated."
     This was tested on 30 some patients, who lost an average of 22 lbs.  And has not been approved by the FDA as yet.
     They are advertising it as "non invasive" and non surgical.
     But (and there always is a "but" right?), from where I sit, I can see lots of problems with it - like for example, a non food item like that could cause an gastric obstruction or other problems,  and... what if it doesn't deflate, what if it doesn't "pass out" through bowel, like it's supposed to etc etc.
     And the idea that a full stomach makes us feel like eating less is thought to be somewhat erroneous as we now are pretty certain, the appetite originates in the brain and NOT the stomach.  And that means, even if you have this device in your stomach, you still can be very hungry (and very frustrated if you cannot eat much or the food you ate isn't going down right... another 'elephant in the room' not discussed in the promo).
     One of the patients on my discussion group, had a type of balloon device and he suffered so much with it that he considered the invasive gastric bypass as far more comfortable.
     This device costs anywhere from $6000 to $10,000 bucks and insurance will not cover it.
     As the old saying goes "buyer beware" (and DH added "If it doesn't work, you can't just bring it back to the store!")

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Gastric bypass patients should consider reversal!

The good news is most surgeons have stopped doing the gastric bypass by now and have switched to the gastric sleeve which is a much safer procedure and just as effective as the bypass with weight loss (not very effective unless the patient diets and exercises which of course, works very well without surgery).

The bad news is many surgeons are not saying anything to bypass patients like telling them to consider getting their procedures reversed (which would effectually give them a gastric sleeve).  The reason they are not saying anything to the thousands of gastric bypass patients is, that would be like admitting the gastric bypass was a bad idea which it was, big time!  Mason who invented the procedure, stopped doing them in the 1970's because he said the repercussions were too great but he only wrote about this in medical literature.

Surgeons are afraid to tell you the gastric bypass is a bad procedure because of the possible lawsuits they might get (most WLS surgeons are facing up to 5 lawsuits at any given time!).  But if you are a bypass patient, consider getting the reversal procedure - you will still have restriction but will be able to digest vitamins again, hopefully...

We need some 100 micronutrients a day (which cannot be supplemented) plus a bunch of macronutrients like B12 etc which cannot be efficiently supplemented.  None of which the gastric bypass patient can digest.

As one WLS surgeon said, he "buries his mistakes".  Literally.  Dead people don't talk and live gastric bypass patients are afraid to detail the gnarley side effects of this surgery.

In the UK, they force a reversal of the gastric bypass after a couple of years - that's because the govt picks up the tab for all the side effects which kick in long term... if you are a gastric bypass patient, consider getting a reversal.  If you lost weight and kept it off, it wasn't the surgery, it was YOUR WORK and you can continue that without the bad side effects of surgery.

I have digestive problems from a lifelong case of GERD - they are very annoying albeit nothing like bypass patients suffer, but trust me, since I was clinically obese until 2010, digestive problems didn't help in the least, to keep my weight off.  (In 2010, I hit my Weight Watchers goal and lifetime membership - and have kept off 106 lbs ever since, being on program)

We did not become overweight because our digestive systems worked.  Just saying