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.