Tuesday, January 24, 2023

How the US went from healthy, to overweight to obese to morbid obesity: two words

This is a difficult blog post to write because I'm going to talk about one of the US's most uncomfortable elephants in the living room: obesity. When I was a kid virtually no one was overweight and obesity was unheard of. Let's look at how the US (and increasingly more countries) went from healthy weight, to overweight to obese to off the charts morbid obesity.  

First, let's establish if in fact, more people are overweight. CDC stats tell us that from 1999-2017, the number of obese, not just overweight but obese, people jumped from 30.5% (bad enough) to a staggering 41.9%. And morbid obesity shot from 4.7% to 9.2%. So I wasn't imagining things. 

That means nearly half of us weigh 50 or more pounds than we should. (BMI <30) and 1 in 10 weigh 120 or more pounds than we should. This isn't even taking into account those with extreme obesity such as gastric bypass patients on "My 600-lb Life" who weigh 3-5X normal weight. 

At 9 (left, 1973) I was deemed to be overweight. I weighed 100 pounds and was put on a calorie restricting diet, limiting me to 1000 calories a day. I was hungry and sick all the time. I only put on 20-30 more pounds into adulthood. So you could say calorie restricting worked to lose weight. But it didn't. I had my tonsils out and couldn't eat. 

 And then I hit puberty, lost any excess weight, got clinically too skinny for awhile and then leveled out. It wasn't until around 2004, after losing two stillborn babies, that I got overweight. That was due in large part to depression and taking the antidepressant Paxil. How I lost 100 pounds has been the gist of this blog. 

So 1000 calories wasn't enough to feed a growing child and isn't enough for an adult. Even Dr. Now of "My 600-lb Life" only requires gastric bypass patients to follow a 1200 calorie diet. But that's really not the point of this post which is how we went from healthy to overweight to obese as a nation (many other parts of the world are seeing obesity increases as well).

I blame two fails for the obesity pandemic: lack of exercise and portion control. We overeat routinely. Everything is bigger, more calorie dense and nutrition arid. And the logical result is people who are 504 pounds overweight like Geno on the most recent episode of "My 600-lb Life." Geno speaks of eating large amounts in a never-ending quest to feel full and satisfied. 

So I think we can see how this snowball gains momentum. Geno is talking about a sense of satiation that food will never provide. He could never eat enough to fill the void. And with the addictive nature of junk food and "comfort foods" they literally create a need for themselves that they by nature never fill. The more you eat the more you want the more you eat. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 

Part of how I lost 100 pounds was with portion control. And though it wasn't easy, it wasn't as hard as I thought. I'm hopeful for Geno because he has what many of Dr. Now's patients lack: a positive attitude. And a friend. His cuz Nico says he's going to lose weight with Geno and be his accountability partner. Let us hope and pray that these two pals will find the weight loss and healthier life and JOY that they deserve. 


Thursday, January 19, 2023

Yummy keto diet recipes for weight loss: food swaps for cheese soup and mac and cheese

Greeting friends! As part of my No Junk January weight loss challenge, I'm sharing de-junked versions of junk food favorites, so we can still satisfy cravings with calorie restricting and 1200 calorie diet friendly options. Today's feature keto diet recipes for broccoli cheese soup, cheese sauce and mac and cheese. 

Part of how I lost 100 pounds without gastric bypass, was with keto diet and calorie restricting on a 1200 calorie diet. Those might sound contradictory as keto and calorie restricting seem to be opposite approaches to weight loss. But one thing they share in common is reduction of junk carbs, breads and starches and sugar. 

One reason cheese and dairy are verboten for weight loss is their addictive nature, esp. cheese. Gastric bypass patients on "My 600-lb Life"(a reality TV show about morbid obesity) are always shown consuming huge portions of food covered in butter, gooey cheese, etc. Tacos, pizza, mac and cheese, pasta dishes, are all "overweight" on the dairy. 

However, cheese soups, cheese sauce and mac and cheese aren't really enemies of keto diet or the 1200 calorie diet, IF done right. Keto's problem with dairy isn't the fat. That's encouraged. It's the sugar. Low and zero sugar milk, cheese and other dairy are great for weight loss, both on calorie restricting and keto diets. 

Here are keto diet recipes for broccoli cheese soup and homemade mac and cheese that even gastric bypass surgeon Dr. Now of "My 600-lb Life" would approve of. The recipes aren't feature the same ingredients for the cheese sauce base and they're pretty simple: full fat cottage cheese (or plain Greek yogurt if you can handle it--I can't), Parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella, blue or feta cheese and avocado. 

So the best food swaps for the cheese sauce base would be Greek yogurt because it has almost no sugar and tons of protein. But it just doesn't hit that junk cheese sauce craving. Something about the sourness. So I blend full fat cottage cheese in my blender till it's super creamy and thick. Blended cottage cheese also cooks nicely without getting grainy or stringy. 

To hit that sharp cheese taste, I add parmesan, feta or blue cheese (just a smidge, or it'll overpower). I also blend avocado and mix half and half with cottage cheese. This make a great sub weight loss friendly sub for Velveeta in mac and cheese. Season with garlic, onion powder, celery salt, celery seed, dry mustard, white pepper and black pepper, and you've got a cheese sauce to die for. 

For cauliflower or broccoli cheese soup, simmer veggies in chicken bone broth for a WHAM of protein for virtually no calories. Then I mash them, add the cheese sauce, plus some shredded mozzarella or 6 cheese Italian and gently (GENTLY) simmer till smooth and melted. Don't boil or the cheese will fall apart. For the "mac" in mac and cheese,  cauliflower, zucchini, lentil or edamame pasta make great food swaps. Or sometimes I omit altogether and just used mashed vegetables. 

For fighting obesity and junk food cravings, keto diet recipes like this are win-win. They are comfort food, plus, protein punch (to curb hunger) plus yum-yum-yum. Many "My 600-lb Life" gastric bypass patients have been able to lose weight and overcome obesity with these simple food swaps. For more No Junk January diet recipes, keep following. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Self doubt, low self esteem and other joy killers derail weight loss

 Hi my name is mar and I'm a fear-of-failure-aholic. Low self esteem, self doubt and other joy killers have derailed so much good, or, should I say, prevented me from seeing good, in me. The loudest demon on my back, self doubt or insecurity, is so ever-present that he's become something of a pet, albeit an ugly one. These pernicious party crashers have even made weight loss more difficult, or more correctly the ability to celebrate weight loss. 

This blog explores how I lost 100 pounds without gastric bypass. And time and again, I've seen how mental and emotional health play as large a role as physical. How I lost 100 pounds was as much (maybe  more) about caging and managing negative mindsets as calorie restricting. And I realized today how insignificant and even non-existent dings to my self esteem can still send me spiraling. 

As relates to  obesity and weight loss, I call these negative mindsets, "fattitude" which I define as just those hateful, nasty head voices like low self esteem, feeling of failure, self doubt, self hatred and even self  harm. And yes, I'm hearing as I write how often the word "self" is used. Does that mean, on top of everything, that I'm selfish, self-centered or self-absorbed and that I have to feel guilt for that too?? Maybe, maybe, maybe and no. 

No, those of us who struggle with low self esteem aren't necessarily selfish, self-centered or self-absorbed. We can be but more often it means we were raised by people who were. People who may have weaponized their own low self esteem and it our problem. People who blamed, shamed and guilted us for their own insecurities. We thought it was our job to fix their issues and when we couldn't, felt we'd failed, felt hopeless, helpless and horrible. 

This topic obviously requires a ton more thought and discussion. If you identify with any of this, let me just end today's missive with this. Consider muzzling the negative self message beast. Work on, as Alanon says, taping over those messages with positive self affirmations. Get the trowel out and dig around to find from whence this negativity springs and uproot it. It was a real ah-ha! moment when I sourced my self-hatred. I felt so much freer and lighter. 

Like dandelions, the negativity sneaks back when I'm not vigilant. But at least now I know where it lives. Love to you all and peace be with you. 


Tuesday, January 10, 2023

"My 600-lb Life" Brittani Fulfer shows joy of weight loss but also cost of obesity

Gastric bypass reality TV show "My 600-lb Life" alum Brittani Fulfer debuted (Facebook image) her jaw-dropping 333 pound weight loss recently in a swim suit and it's obvious that the formerly very overweight woman has made huge strides since the days of morbid obesity, thanks to "My 600-lb Life" gastric bypass surgeon Dr. Nowzaradan and his team. 

However, the cost of obesity are shown in the scars from knee surgery, that the "My 600-lb Life" participant had to undergo, after literally blowing out her knee from carrying around so much weight. I know how being overweight leads to such problems. I've been sharing how I lost 100 pounds, without gastric bypass, in this blog. And there are multiple health problems, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, that I no longer have after weight loss. 

Does weight loss fix all chronic pain issues? No. Would that it did, but some, such as arthritis, scoliosis and tendinitis are structural and will probably never be completely healed. However, weight loss does improve them. And there is no health condition I know of that weight loss, if being overweight is a problem, won't help. 

It's not uncommon for people to blame overeating on pain issues. But the truth is, it's the other way around. The "elephant in the living room" as Alanon calls it, that we don't want to acknowledge, is that obesity damages our bodies. It's not the only thing, of course. I had to have shoulder surgery after getting to a normal weight, because of arthritis and that work I've done caused shoulder injury. Had I still been overweight, the recovery would have been more difficult. 

So I rejoice with Brittani Fulfer and anyone who has worked so hard to get better. And I urge anyone who is struggling with weight related issues and/or trying to lose weight to work that program. As Alanon says, practice makes better. Don't quit quitting. I'm rooting for you! 


(pictures are of my weight loss because I'm not

Monday, January 9, 2023

Long haul Covid recovery and still more bizarre and terrifying aftereffects


Hi Friends. As part of this blog on how I lost 100 pounds, I like to explore other aspects of health besides just weight loss. 17 months ago, my husband and I got Covid, prior to getting the vaccine. It was by far the most devastating illness I've ever had and I've had some challenging ones. Since officially recuperating from Covid (we're both considered long haul Covid survivors) we've both noticed some bizarre and frankly terrifying aftereffects. 

Earlier I mentioned the hair loss called Covid effluvium. That's weird but not so scary. But the exhaustion, social anxiety and inability to concentrate are more frightening. I've always been a fairly social person. But now I dread going out in public. I can do it for work but just the thought of group activities, even with family, whom I love being with, fills me with anxiety.

I think, in short, it's become a fear of people.  Irrational, yes. But none the less real. Or maybe a fear that I can't communicate. I feel like I'm losing a little more each day. If I'm honest, I have to force myself to interact and would avoid it if I could. And that horrifies me. It has nothing to do with loving others. I'd give my life for them. Just don't ask me to feel comfortable being around them. I'm sitting here crying as I write this because I don't want anyone thinking I don't love, care for, or enjoy them anymore. Because I do, so much more than they'll ever know. I don't tell anyone that I feel this way because I don't want to cause hurt. I can't help it. I don't want it. I didn't ask for it. It's so hard to explain and that makes it even more lonely and scary. 

Add to that I now struggle with remembering, orienting, planning, organizing, paying attention, making decisions and essentially just thinking clearly. I've always had a little ADHD but this is more like a fog or shroud that I'm drowning in. PTSD type dreams I've always struggled with are crazy bad since Covid. Breathing issues have gotten worse. Chronic pain has increased. I pray about it all the time but I can't get through. Just getting by takes strength I often don't have. 

 I know some people deny the reality of Covid or that the symptoms could be that bad. I hesitate to tell anyone because I don't want to face ridicule. It's real. I know it's real. I' think, feel and act differently since having Covid. I am fundamentally different. But if, on top of all the physical, emotional and mental struggles, I should have to deal with shame, I couldn't cope. 

 On a medical level, these symptoms make sense. I suffered a prolonged brain fever, hallucinations,  with extreme dehydration and all that goes along with that. I think we came closer to "life and death" than we realized. But making sense and living with it are two very different things. I'm afraid that I will never overcome it and that this is the new normal that I have no idea  how to live with.

I want my old self back. 

Saturday, January 7, 2023

No Junk January fail: Look to Alanon when diet derails

 Hi guys, 3 full days into my No Junk January weight loss challenge and already I'd failed. Sigh. What's a girl to do when the 1200 calorie diet derails? Look to Alanon and get back on the bike as fast as possible, obviously. But first, examine why diet failed and take stock. Literally. 

So I mentioned early that one crucial step in the No Junk January weight loss challenge was to de-junk the house. This means getting rid of all temptation from cupboards, fridge, pantry, etc. Take, or re-take stock of what's on offer, junkwise, before attempting to go no junk. My kryptonite, as I've said before in early posts on how I lost 100 pounds, were/are the three Ch's: chocolate, chips and cheese. 

My No Junk January weight loss challenge went off the rails because I still had some of those perps in my house from the holidays. Namely chocolate chips, tortilla and potato chips. So when nighttime rolls around, do my cravings go to broccoli? No. It doesn't take shows like "My 600-lb Life" to make it clear that obesity stems in part from inability to say no to junk food cravings. And I'm not better at it than gastric bypass patients on "My 600-lb Life" 

Talk as I might about eating healthier, if the diet derailing foods are there, I'll probably eat them. So sure, a little junk food can be worked into a calorie restricting 1200 calorie diet. But I can't eat much before the 1200 calories is used up. And one thing with junk food is that it generates a desire for itself. "My 600-lb Life" patients demonstrate time and again, when they try to sneak "a little" junk into the 1200 calorie diet portion control and trigger foods are mutually exclusive.  

So the addictive crap in junk food (sugar, HFCS, salt, "white food", etc) lead to overweight and obesity, don't satisfy hunger and create heroin-like cravings which propel us further down the overweight road to obesity. I find it better to avoid altogether. My plan is to eat up (with hopefully a lot of help from husband) opened items and donate unopened ones. The I'll restart (as Alanon says, get back on the bike) the No Junk weight loss challenge when there is less junk available. I'll keep working portion control and 1200 calorie diet as best I can. 

For more on how I lost 100 pounds without gastric bypass or drugs, keep reading! <3 Mar

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Bone broth for weight loss: Recipes to make bone broth not disgusting

Hi friends, day 3 of our No Junk January weight loss challenge finds me looking diet recipes and tweaks to make diet food palatable. The focus of No Junk January is not  just about what to avoid, but what to eat to lose weight and feel better.  Creating healthier weight loss friendly versions of favorite foods is how I lost 100 pounds 10 years ago (without gastric bypass). 

Today I'm exploring bone broth to lose weight. Now, let me just say, that I've tried bone broth before and if you can get it down without gagging, you're a better man than I, Gunga Din. Maybe it's the name, "bone" broth. I swear I can taste enamel or marrow or whatever icky stuff bones are made of. We're not just talking about the whiny fits folks on "My 600-lb Life" throw over eating foods like vegetables. Bone broth is flat out nasty. 

But it also crazy good for calorie restricting diets. One serving has 85 calories and a whopping 24 grams of protein and tons of nutrients. So how to make bone broth palatable enough to drink? Very simple. Learned this from our youngest daughter who offered us some for breakfast on our latest trip to visit her in Austin. Add spices. 

Here's a spicy recipes for chicken or beef bone broth. Ginger up (pardon the pun) chicken bone broth with ginger powder, garlic, turmeric, black and cayenne pepper and celery salt. If you can't stand the cayenne heat, try chili powder. For beef bone broth, add cumin, onion powder, celery salt and steep a bay leaf. For an Indian spin, add curry or garam masala. You can also add a little regular chicken or beef broth powder. 

Value added with these weight loss recipes is that all these spices are anti-inflammatory so help with pain relief. 

Monday, January 2, 2023

No Junk January Weight Loss Challenge: Replacing Fattitude with Gratitude

 Hello friends! This blog looks at how I lost 100 pounds and all that goes into weight loss. I've started this No Junk January challenge to mark my 10th anniversary of weight loss and to hopefully lose weight that I've accumulated over the last year. Part of how I lost 100 pounds originally was to replace unhealthy "fattitude" (what I call the obesity mindset) with an attitude of gratitude. 

First, what is fattitude? It's the unhealthy thinking that got me overweight in the first place. Fattitude includes negativity, poor body image and low self esteem but also the self pity, blame-shame game and weaponized incompetence of self-defeating behavior. In short it's what Alanon calls stinkin thinkin. We see it clearly in shows like "My 600-lb Life" where gastric bypass hopefuls demonstrate their path to obesity in unhealthy behaviors and dangerous mindsets. But every one of us who is dangerously overweight has exhibited stinkin thinkin and fattitude. 

So, to overcome fattitude (especially the whiny self pity and weaponized incompetence and "helplessness") I'm working on an attitude of gratitude. Instead of dwelling in negative oh-woe-is-me stinkin thinkin, I'm counting my blessings. And they are multitude. For example, since giving up junk food this No Junk January, stinkin thinkin would tell me to bemoan what I can't have. "My 600-lb Life" gastric bypass patients who do this almost always sabotage their own weight loss even after bariatric surgery. 

Gratitude is rejoicing not only in what I can eat but in how great it makes me feel! And actually, it's not that I can't have junk food. Fattitude feels sorry for itself, that some big meany is preventing me from having the goodies. But in reality, it's a choice I'm making and the goodies aren't good for me! I'm grateful that I can choose to eat more mindfully and bring about positive impacts in my life. 

And I give thanks to God for helping me to demilitarize my own self-harming behaviors and move forward. 

No Junk January Weight Loss: rethinking treats with my cat Mordecai

 Hi friends, it's day 2 of my No Junk January weight loss challenge and today I'm thinking, or rather rethinking treats, comfort food and junk food. And I'm using my cat Mordecai as a role model. Part of how I lost 100 pounds without gastric bypass was with calorie restricting using a 1200 calorie diet. But not just any old 1200 calories--I swapped out empty ones for nourishing, metabolism boosting, energy giving calories. And that's where Mordy comes into it.  

Mordecai is not your average feline. His definition of "treat" is avant garde to say the least. He's a health food nut, preferring green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes and other veggies. Oh he likes meat (see photo of him helping himself to canned cat food and brother Moishe requesting a share 😄) But just as much as he likes spinach. So imitating Mordy's eating habits is great for weight loss but it goes beyond that. It's about changing my mind about what actually constitutes treats and comfort food. 

"My 600-lb Life" is a reality TV show where patients with morbid obesity seek gastric bypass surgery for weight loss. It's heart-breaking to see very overweight people struggle. But it also illuminates what's wrong with our thinking about comfort food. "My 600-lb Life" participants speak of finding solace, peace of mind and even friendship in food--or rather junk food. The trajectory to obesity is clear--the more empty junk calories consumed the more tired, lethargic and overweight one becomes. 

Comfort food, in the "My 600-lb Life" (and a lot of our) definitions are sweets, salty snacks, fried foods, calorie forward pub grub basically. But as Mordecai has shown us, comfort food is that which feeds our bodies and souls, strengthens us and boosts metabolism (oh does he have high metabolism, lol)  not just our addictions. In fact, any addictive food, like sugar or salt, actually harms if overeaten. It kills energy, stalls metabolism and makes us sick. 

For weight loss and overall health, I'm choosing treats that treat my body in positive ways. For example, I just had avocado toast and I could actually feel my energy (metabolism) rising. The recipe was just light keto bread, a little salmon cream cheese, sliced tomato and avocado, cracked pepper and capers. These recipes are how I lost 100 pounds in the first place. And they'll help me lose weight again this No Junk January! 

Thanks for visiting! Stay tuned for more No Junk January weight loss tips. 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

No Junk January Weight Loss Challenge: So what ARE we going to eat??


Hiya friends! Day one of my No Junk January weight loss challenge commences. And in preparation, I've discussed what I'm not going to eat: junk food, sweet and salty snacks and fatty, fried and fast foods. But then, queried my  husband, what ARE you going to eat? Like, just sticks and twigs?? (He's not usually such a food Philistine). He's been down this long and winding road to overweight, obesity and weight loss with me. His support was a big help in how I lost 100 pounds. And he's generally a pretty healthy eater and doesn't need to lose weight himself (he makes the exception for sausage. There will always be sausage, sigh). However, with age even "he can eat anything and not gain weight" is finding that it's harder to  keep the tummy trim than in years past. Welcome to my world. 

So he does pose a cogent question. Having identified triggers and purged everything that will lead us into temptation (see previous No Junk January weight loss posts) what are we eating? We can't just remove foods to lose weight. We can't just eat a 1200 calorie diet of the same problem foods. We have to replace with better options that still satisfy hunger. 

So just a bunch of "sticks and twigs" (see also rabbit food, etc)?? Well, yes. Or maybe to be more precise, leaves and seeds and stems (make of that what you will). I'll be eating as close to my ancient forebears hunter gatherer diet as possible. Aka paleo-ish. 

When writing about how I lost 100 pounds and beat obesity, without gastric bypass, some foods that frequently "crop up" (pun) are of course fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts. Also lean meat. I  used calorie restricting on the 1200 calorie diet, said calories consisting primarily of foods that fed our hunter gatherers. Yeah, most are produced now, but, are much closer to the source than processed junk. 

So my calorie restricting diet, (honey, here's your answer) will in fact be: seeds (pumpkin, chia, celery, poppy, sesame, and berry fruits: pomegranate, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. High fiber fruits like apples, lemons and grapefruit. Nuts: almonds and peanuts (and some nut butter), leaves (lettuce, kale, spinach, collard greens, cabbage red and green) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower). Some nightshades like mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes. Plant protein powder shakes. Lean meat: chicken and beef mostly. I make a mean beef jerky that is crazy satisfying. And spicy bone broth, pho and other nourishing broths. A lot of these are considered "superfood". I'll blog more about broths as a diet. 

After the crazy that was Christmas I literally need to detox from the cookies, candy, ham, cheese, etc. I'm excited to start No Junk January weight loss challenge. Even if I don't lose weight, I feel better already. For more ideas, keep your dial set on this "how I lost 100 pounds" blog. 

No Junk January Weight Loss Challenge: Identify Triggers and Traps

 Hello my dear friends! Happy New Year, 2023! I've been blogging since 2013 about how I lost 100 pounds (happy weight loss decade-aversary to me 💋!) Needless to say, in order to maintain weight loss, I have to keep at it. But I also have to mix it up occasionally, using different strategies, diets and eating plans. My initial method was calorie restricting with a 1200 calorie diet (actually 7 calories X goal weight, so about 1150). I've used intermittent fasting, keto, cleanses and diet supplements as well. 

A big part of how I lost 100 pounds in the first place was not just calorie restricting but completely revamping how I ate. So, to both mix it up and revamp eating habits, I've decided to challenge myself to a No Junk January as an anniversary present to myself. Since the blowout that Christmas usually is, I've been purging the house of junk food, empty calories, sweets, baked goodies, salty snacks, fatty, fried and fast foods. I wrote about that a few days ago, but as per my MO, I neglected an important first step: identifying trigger foods. 

But maybe it's not out of order to purge first and determine triggers next. If I have access to other junk food, even if I don't like it as well as my favorites, I know myself and I'll eat the other stuff in desperation. 😏 Obesity stems from a variety of factors but I can pinpoint certain foods that helped me become overweight. My triggers were the three Cs and one W: chips, chocolate candy, cheese and wine. 

For No Junk January weight loss, I'm going to evict those troublemakers from my cupboards. Cheese, I'll still keep around because it's a good protein source and bedtime snack and because I'm better at portion control now, with cheese. But I'm also getting rid of all salty snacks and sweet foods so I don't sublimate with say, pretzels or tortilla chips instead. 

Oh, also, I'm cutting down on salt, sodium and salty foods in general. The DASH diet identified salt as one of the biggest, but also least addressed obesity causatives. when calorie restricting on a 1200 calorie diet I found that salty foods made me hungrier and also dehydrated.  

If you'd like to join this No Junk January weight loss challenge, begin today by figuring out what foods are your kryptonite. I can't promise weight loss but it's a pretty fair bet that eating healthier will have a positive net result.  And even if you don't need to lose weight, nixing junk, especially sugary, salty stuff will aid with pain management as both cause uncomfortable inflammation. And better diet is definitely a mood lifter! 

Here's to health! I pray your 2023 is all you need it to be. Love, mar


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