A tale to tell

I want to preface that this post may be hard for some to read: emotionally speaking. It was challenging for me to verbalize…and in the end, quite cathartic. I will try to be concise and to the point (that be the “tough-love” in me). This topic started as a post on Facebook a few weeks ago, and it’s still one that’s incredibly important to flush out.

Here’s the original posting:

To my friends who are actively participating in weight loss programs or doing their own program. I have seen/read/been told that some program are promising huge weight loss (more than 2.0 lbs per week and one that promised upwards of 5 – 8 lbs per week)…I must stress as someone who has lost a ton of weight, has their bachelor’s in Culinary Nutrition and actively works in the health & wellness industry that rapid weight loss is not good. In fact, it’s not sustainable. Several major clinical trials have shown this – looking at 10’s of thousands of folks across many cultural backgrounds and ethnicity. What does work is slow and steady. Sure – it’s not “ideal” but we need to realize the weight didnt come on overnight, it’s unrealistic for us to expect it to come off overnight. A good goal is to sustain a 0.5 – 2.0 lbs per week lost. That’s healthy. Steady. And something our bodies can manage. It’s about the long term – and being healthy. Above all, be safe on your journey and seek advice from a qualified health professional. Hugs to all ♥

This topic of  rapid weight loss, fad dieting and that “instant” fix people crave often creeps up (admittedly myself, too, at times…I’m not immune to the ways of the human psyche). So I want to take this post to talk about the following points:

  1. Diet Pills & Stimulants
  2. A man named Aesop

Diet Pills & Stimulants

It started when I hit my first plateau. I was still 17, and about 75 pounds lost. I needed to go to GNC after school to pick up some more vitamins. Unfortunately, I got way more than I was expecting. I saw a sign that said, “Plateau No More!!” Nothing more needed to be said. I took out my credit card and bought the bottle of pills under the sign. I went back to the dorms and read the bottle and it told me to take 2 pills in the morning, and 1 – 2 pills just shortly after lunch. It promised me an increase in my metabolism, rapid weight loss and so much more. So I did.

I felt alive. I felt energetic. Honestly, it felt great. So I went to the school gym and had the best workout of my life. After the gym I got my usual snack: a veggie hoagie with mustard on a 6″ roll (momentary digression here: I earned the nickname the “original Jared” later on in life since Subway by that time had not yet marketed the “real” Jared. But it’s all good – I had this sandwich nearly every day for about 3 years). Back in dorm with my snack/lunch, I realized I needed to take my next dose of pills. So, I thought to myself, “the bottle says take 1 – 2 pills after lunch…I’m big. I can handle 2 pills.” Yup…I popped two pills. I had that same feeling again…energized. Alive. I remember thinking, “where have these pills been all my life?”

I continued to take the pills for about 4 weeks. I lost almost 28 lbs in those 4 weeks…the most amount of weight since I had first started the journey. I was excited to say the least. So I went back to GNC for another bottle. And, in the heat of the moment before making the purchase I saw another sign, “Burn Fat While You Sleep.” So I inquired…It had a fancy name which I don’t remember, but I listened to the sales woman and bought the bottle. So my regimen was as follows:

  • 6:00 am Vitamins & 2 Xenadrine
  • 6:15 am First Visit to the gym
  • 7:30 am Classes
  • 12:00pm Lunch plus 2 Xenadrine
  • 3:30pm Second visit to the gym
  • 9:00pm 2 Nighttime Metabolic Fat Burning Pills

It wasn’t long before the jitters started. I could barely fall asleep. I would be up at 11pm, 12am, 1am doing sit-ups, push-ups…whatever I could do to tire myself out. Turns out, none of it mattered I was not tired. After dropping another 18 lbs in nearly 3 weeks, I started to feel something was wrong. My chest felt funny every minute. I asked my roommate to take me to the medical office, and it turned out – well, you can guess…I was having heart palpitations. I was admitted to the ER for overnight observation and told to discontinue the use of whatever pills I was taking. I was hesitant. I didn’t want to stop…I lost nearly 50 more pounds. I was so upset. But I listened – and within 1 week I was back to a normal sleeping pattern and back on the right track.

An aside: to my parent’s forgive me for not sharing this with you. It was something I wasn’t proud of. And to my mom: I remember you asking me how I was losing so quickly – and if you could take the pills too…remember? Well, it was after this all went down why I was entirely against it. I love you and dad.

A bit about Supplements

Here is a list of commonly advertised weight loss supplements. Please do yourself the favor and stay away from them. There is very little evidence-based research to show whether or not they aid in weight loss:

Bitter Orange, Chitosan, Chromium Picolinate, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), Ephedra (illegal in the USA – this was the supplement I took back in the day), Green Tea Extract (EGCG, EGC or the caffeine), Guar Gum, Herbalife, Hoodia, Hydroxy Cut, Ma Huang (another name for ephedra) and many other herbal concoctions. While somethings have a place in our healthy eating regimen, most do not.

A general rule: If something promises speedy, quick, immediate or instant results…they probably don’t. It’s called marketing. It’s what they want us to believe.

To Conclude

This brings me to my second point: A Man Named Aesop (you can read more about him here). Aesop always had a moral at the end of his fables…Always. There was always a lesson to be learned. A point to be made. The moral of this story: if something promises you grandiosity it probably is nothing but a bunch of crap. Sure, I lost a ton of weight take ephedra (marketed as Xenadrine). The part of the story I left out until now…I gained 15 lbs back within 2 weeks of stopping the pills. It killed me emotionally – and I had to deal with it. But, Aesop once said, “Slow & Steady Wins the Race.” The good news is that the lesson I learned was worth it’s weight in muscle (all puns intended). Rushing through a process like losing weight and taking control of our health should be one that’s slow. They say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” I say, “We didn’t gain our weight overnight…it’s unrealistic of us to expect to lose it that way.” Aside from the physical adjustments of weight loss, there are also the psychological ones…and those, too, take time to work through and heal.

As for guidelines on weight loss the ADA (American Dietetic Association), the WHO (World Health Organization) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) states that a slow, steady weight loss of 0.5 – 2.0 lbs per week is sustainable, healthy and most of all allows our body to adjust. Always seek the advice or a properly licensed/certified Health Care Practitioner.

I am blessed to work with people every day who struggle with losing weight…they get upset at losing 1.25 lbs per week. Then they look at me as I give them a huge hug – and the wonder why? “I only lost 1.25 lbs?” I say, “That’s 1.25 lbs you no longer need to lose – so let’s celebrate!”
It’s about the small steps we take. The small goals that we achieve (and I will have a whole post dedicated to goals & goal setting). It’s about getting to the end of the journey and being able to hold your head up and say, “I’m alive!” So when someone tells you about a new pill, or a new fad that promises something grandiose in return – just be content on your path. You’ll make it!

For now. Stay healthy.
JB

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