Well, it's the first of the year now, and already the news programs are starting to decry the epidemic of obesity in the U.S.A. *Sigh*. It's the same old thing. They drag out those videos of overweight people galumping along, bellies sagging, rear-ends bursting at the seams of too-small pants, and so on. Always shot without faces showing, and they think that makes it ok. *Sigh*.
People who struggle with obesity just can't catch a break. There are all these corporations messing with our food, trying to make us eat more, and then when we ruin our health, all of a sudden we're the bad guys. The freaks of nature. Then the folks who make exercise equipment or run workout centers or diet clubs come along and try to make us exercise our asses off (literally), in order to burn all those extra calories, when, really, if we just ate less we wouldn't have to work nearly so hard or spend so much time doing stuff we really don't even enjoy doing. So much for The Quality Of Life. But now we're addicted to food and nobody will give us any real help, they just keep throwing these band-aids at us. We log in miles and miles on the treadmill or the step machine or by spinning or whatever, so then we can have a piece of pie. Thus we keep the economy going by continuing to buy and consume large amounts of food, so we'll have the energy to work out, so we'll be able to burn off those extra calories, burn fat, and build muscle and there we are, like the hamster running on the exercise wheel in his cage. And we think this is how it has to be. Some people succeed at this, manage to lose weight, gain muscle, and so on, but they are in the minority. Most people just can't keep it up. They fail, and yeah, they're supposed to. Because without their failures, the "falling down, getting up, brushing yourself off, trying again", these businesses would fail. By all means, we mustn't lose weight by eating less, because then there would be less demand for food products and then prices would have to come down because of the Law Of Supply And Demand. No, no. We can't have that.
Oprah, well known for her struggle with obesity, has bought into Weight Watchers, so she's full-face on the TV screen, now, saying "Let's Do This Together". Watch THIS, draw your own conclusions.
I need not mention that ANYONE who has lost weight using ANY paid weight-loss service, is all over the TV screen now, and will be till after bathing suit season. I thought, the last time I saw Valerie Bertinelli on TV, she looked like she'd gained a lot of her weight back. But Hubs informed me she has a cooking show now, and I just went to her Food Network website, HERE. She looks great, doesn't she? I saw Marie Osmond's commercial just the other day, so she's still looking good. Kirstie Alley shows up, some years, but I haven't seen her yet this year.
But of course we know these weight-loss programs are not really about making people's lives better. This is all about big corporations making money on the big butts of all those people who want to lose weight -- whether they succeed or not. And to my mind, losing the weight is the easy part of it. The hard part is KEEPING IT OFF. If you can't TAKE it off without help from a corporation, you sure aren't going to be able to KEEP it off without them. So you're kind of joined at the hip. I don't think they help you maintain your new weight for free. Maybe they do if you're their spokesperson, I don't know..... But it's a mistake to think that, once you get to your goal, you're done. And we all make that mistake. Don't even get me started on that show called "The Biggest Loser". Don't. Just don't.
Like I've said before, NO ONE who has ANYTHING financial to gain by getting people to pay corporations to help them lose weight really wants anyone to lose weight and be able to keep it off. Unless maybe you're that corporation's employee, that is, and that's different. That's all about the Corporate Image. But as for the rest of us yahoo's, it makes no sense for the corporation to be that successful that they run themselves right out of business. And so they take out a little insurance by helping us drop off the pounds like last night's garbage. It's thrilling, really. But the problem is that it messes up the metabolism. Once that's happened, it's actually possible to put on five pounds overnight. Ask me how I know.
Don't get me wrong. I love Oprah. And Valerie, Marie, and Kirstie. I empathize with their struggle, as do many. Been there, done that, Oh, so many times. And I don't really count them among the people who are just trying to take advantage of all of us. They are the "prey", just like the rest of us, it's just that they haven't figured it out yet. And Oprah.... I worry about whether she's going to be able to keep it off this time. Because here's where things get risky. If she sells off her 10% stock interest in Weight Watcher's while it's going strong, could she be accused of "Insider Trading" if she gains the weight back and the stock goes down after the weight gain goes public? I mean, those millions she "made", overnight, is just on paper. She hasn't really "made" anything till she sells her stock, and its value is set on the day of the sale. I'm just an old Redneck Woman, and there's a lot that goes on around me that I just don't understand. But Oh, Oprah, I sure hope you know what you're doing. Stay safe, Hon.
Nothing, my darlings, is really going to change for those of us who struggle with weight control, until we fully understand how the food industry works. In a perfect world, our food producers / processors would be so concerned about their fellow Americans that they'd get on board with it and stop adding sugars and other addictive additives to processed foods. They know very well what they're doing. It's down to a science. They need to keep us coming back for more. If we didn't, that would mean the end of their profitability. What would YOU do if suddenly people had smaller appetites and stopped buying your product? Or, even, if they cut back to half as much? Well, you'd have to either go out of business, or do something to make them want to start buying again. Think about that. You might even have to start thinking ahead to the next generation. Think about that. Get those additives into bottle formulas and baby foods. Get those candy and pop machines installed where kids can get easy access to them. Run those candy and junk food commercials in between their TV programs. Convince their parents that sugar equals love and happiness. Make up logical reasons for why people ought to buy candy during holidays. Or maybe just a candy bar to improve the mood, as seen HERE. Where all that fails, sneak sugar into foods that people buy because they think they're healthy. Oh. Well, I guess THAT ship has sailed, hasn't it?
I've had a big bag of Craisins in the pantry for awhile, and I used up all my raisins, so I brought it up to the kitchen last week. My thinking process was just like anyone else's might be: "OK, ....dried cranberries. Cranberries are good for you. I mean, when the pilgrims landed, the American Indians were using cranberries for medicine. Therefore, Craisins are good for you." Not so, my darlings. Pop a fresh cranberry in your mouth. Experience the pucker as you chew. Whew! Now pop a craisin. Ack. Sugary. Read the label. 1/4C = 130 calories and 29 grams (or 7.25 teaspoons) of sugar. Do the math. There are 15 calories in a teaspoon of sugar. Therefore, 108 of those calories ARE FROM SUGAR. That's 84%. If you watch THIS video about how cranberries are processed, it states, at about four minutes into the presentation, that the seeded, smashed berries are "soaked in a sugar and water solution to make them sweeter". Pour some of these out in your hand and look them over. Do they look to you like a dehydrated whole berry? They look to me like a dehydrated berry skin. Have they thrown the baby out with the bathwater? I went back to the craisins bag and looked more closely at the back of the bag. Yep. Ingredients: cranberries, sugar, safflower oil added as a processing aid. The package says people prefer craisins over raisins. With ALL THAT SUGAR??? I think not! In fact, almost all commercially dried fruit has added sugar, except for maybe raisins. HERE is how they make raisins. No sugar. Just grapes and sunshine. I have dehydrated many different kinds of fruit at home: bananas, pineapple, pears, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and yes, cranberries. The finished product is worlds away from those sugary things they CALL dried fruit that is sold in the stores.
So let's look at cranberry juice. There are 110 calories in one cup of what Ocean Spray calls 100% cranberry juice. Ooops, pardon me. It's "100% juice cranberry". A technicality, if you will. If you look at the ingredients list, this is where the real story is told, and apple, grape and sometimes pomegranate juice play a part. This delivers 28 grams of sugars. There are about 4.2 grams of sugar and 16 calories in a teaspoon, or about 4 calories per gram. So 28 grams is a little over 7 teaspoons of sugar, or 112 calories. Is my math right? Because that's more than the calories listed. But, whatever, it's 100% juice alright. Just not cranberry, which contains minimal sugar calories in it's natural form. And those other juices are concentrated at that. If you think that the use of concentrated fruit juices is better than out-and-out processed sugar, you might be right, or you might not. Because they've got to process that juice to concentrate it, and my bet is that most of the nutrition is lost in the process. Now read THIS from Time Magazine, notice they say a cup of Lakewood Organic Pure Cranberry Juice has only 9 grams of sugar and 75 calories (36 of which are from sugar) per cup. A cup of whole cranberries has 30 calories and 2 grams (or 8 calories-worth) of sugars. Now, let's say we make juice at home. Cover your cup of cranberries with a cup of water and boil it till the berries pop open. Drain off the juice, should be about half a cup or a little more. You might not be able to stand to drink it in its pure form. But there are hardly any sugars in it at all, and your likelihood of being able to cure a urinary tract infection with it is probably a lot better. You might be even better off to just chew up a few whole berries and chase them down with a glass of water. Yeah, that's not pleasant.
You have a busy life. You don't have time to delve into the details of every dang thing that's presented to you on the grocery store shelves. So you see the words "100% juice cranberry" and you assume it means "100% cranberry juice". You see the words "No sugar added" and you don't realize it doesn't mean "No sugar(S) added", which would include extra fructose in the form of concentrated juice from fruit that is naturally sweet, like apples and grapes. Anything on the ingredients list that ends in -ose is an added sugar. Fructose, dextrose, maltose, lactose.
So is this enough on this topic? Not yet. We must not miss the absurdity of the recipe on the back of the craisins bag for cookies, which is nothing more than chocolate chip cookies with craisins added. So even if craisins were the healthy food the producers want you to believe, you'll ruin it, anyway, with added fat and even more sugar if you make this recipe.
All that we can do, those of us who have been made to feel like abject failures ALL OUR LIVES, is to recognize that we have a disease brought on by the greed of the producers of our food. They are not prohibited by our government from adding extra sugars, salts, chemical flavor enhancers, preservatives and coloring agents into everything. They find loop-holes in the laws that they have to work under so that they can trick us into thinking we're getting something we're not. Or vice versa. The growers of our food use chemical weed killers and fertilizers and growth-enhancers to increase their yields, and are systematically poisoning us with them. And they're messing around with genetics. At the same time they are unable to ensure that everything they produce is e.Coli and salmonella free.
OK, I know you. You're thinking, "Well, that's ok because I don't even like cranberry products." Yeah, well, guess what? Do you like tomato products? They're putting sugar in tomato soup, tomato juice, tomato sauce. This is why kids love tomato soup, but once they know what that tastes like, they won't like the soup you make from those fresh tomatoes out of your garden. Unless you add sugar.
It used to be that, when people found out you were dieting, the first advice they'd give you would be "don't eat bread.... potatoes.... anything white." So we bring "wheat bread" home from the stores and we think that's a healthy food. What we don't realize is that enriched white flour, which has become a staple in American households, IS wheat flour and therefore bread made with it IS "wheat bread". And so it is with that loaf of bread you brought home. Look at the ingredients list. Is caramel coloring included? THAT's why the bread is brown.
Even if we go to the trouble to find whole wheat berries, grind it ourselves, and make the bread that we eat, there are even those who say that, though they can't eat wheat that's grown in the USA, they can eat European-grown wheat products without problems. They say this is because European growers are still growing the old strains, while growers in the USA have been tinkering with wheat seed for years. And why? So they can grow more per acre, so they can harvest easier, and therefore cheaper. HERE is a reader's letter published by Mother Earth News. Be sure to roll down and read the comments. There's lots of stuff on the internet that will carry this discussion further, only a quick search away, using the search terms "American Wheat Vs. European Wheat". This is of vital interest to me, because in the 1980's, Hubs' brother, then in his 50's, was diagnosed with Celiac disease. They told us it was an inherited disease, passed down in families. Yet no one in Hubs' family, to their knowledge, had ever had this disease or it's symptoms before. This brother died soon after. And then, two of Hubs' sisters developed the same disease. Both of them were past middle age when problems developed, and they are now deceased. Today, Celiac disease, something relatively unheard of in the USA just fifty years ago, is commonplace.
I once had a doctor tell me that I was obese because my metabolism was very efficient. "If there is, in your lifetime, ever a food shortage," he said, "YOU, and people like you, will be The Survivors". I have the very uncomfortable feeling that the time he spoke of is now. It's not that there isn't anything to eat. It's just that unadulterated foods are getting harder and harder to find. And that probably means that those who can maintain a healthy weight while eating the LEAST of it will be The Survivors.
It's true that obese people are prone to more sickness than the non-obese. This is why, when obese people go to the doctor, the doctor may not even want to treat them. He stands there before them and says, "You're sick because you're obese, and I can't help you if you do not lose weight." And that hacks me off anyway, because they don't stand there and say to an athlete, "you have a sports-related injury because you play sports and therefore I can't help you till you don't play anymore."
Obese people do have those issues where weight-bearing joints are concerned, or where a contributing problem is that when people are fat on the outside, they're fat on the inside, too, and it crowds their organs and causes problems. Obese people have gastric reflux because of that and how they tend to keep their stomachs too full all the time. They're not as active and that causes poor blood circulation. But where it comes to cancers and certain other issues, I think it's entirely possible that obese people are more prone to those because they eat more low-quality, sugar- and/or chemical-laden processed food. That kind of food will always be around because I bet it can be made in a test tube.
So, you've read all this and you're thinking I'm not talking about you and me when I say, "obese". We're not fat, we're fluffy, right? I always thought that obese people were those people that were so overweight that all they could do was lay around in their beds. Those people that you hear about that, when they get sick, the paramedics have to take a door off their house and use that as a stretcher. So I was surprised to learn that I was considered obese, too. It has to do with your BMI and whether it's 30 or over. HERE is where you can calculate your BMI. It turns out that those folks who have to be carried out of their homes on their front door are considered "Morbidly Obese". What constitutes Morbid Obesity? Weighing 100 pounds over your ideal weight. Now, that's scarey because I was THERE in 2009. I wore a tight size 20, but I was still walkin' around, without my front door or any other kind of assistance. Not even so much as a CANE, at least until my back went out, and then they took me out of my house on an ordinary-sized stretcher.
But yeah. Even after losing 50 pounds (plus) in 2010 and then gradually gaining back 17, and then losing 25 pounds during 2015, I find I am still considered "obese", and I have quite a long way to go before it is otherwise.
But I will be continuing on with my sensible, self-managed plan, thank you very much. Those corporations can bombard me with their commercials ALL DAY, and all I will think will be about how many chemicals will be in their expensive foods, how obsessed people have to get about food in order to count calories or points or whatever, because it doesn't matter WHAT you're keeping track of. If it's something you have to measure or weigh and then look up on a list somewhere how many calories or grams or points it has, write it down and then add it up at the end of the day, it's all the same. I'm just eating when I'm hungry. Keeping portions small. Staying away from sugar but not completely. I do admit to honey in my tea and in the whole-wheat bread I bake every week, a spoon of homemade fruit jam in my yogurt. But I find I can tolerate that without turning on any switches that make me crave more. I have vegetables from my garden in my freezer and in jars in the pantry, and I make as much as I can "from scratch". but otherwise, I'm just as dependent on grocery-store products as anyone else. Organic products are available, but scarce and expensive. And I'm not sure I trust that they really are as organic as they are said to be, anyway.
During summer, there's more to keep me busy and I sometimes forget to eat. Also, it's a time when fresh salads are easy to pull together from what I have on hand, or a nice stir-fry. Commercially-produced salad dressings are another thing that's full of chemicals, so I use lemon juice, a little olive oil, sunflower seeds and a few shreds or crumbles of my favorite cheese, instead. Winter is a different thing. It would be nice to be able to hibernate and just wake up in the spring. But we humans are not made like that. We have to wait it out as best we can. And I find the temptation to "boredom eat" is often present. If forcing myself to find something absorbing to do doesn't work, if a nice hot cup of tea or coffee doesn't work, then I make soup out of various vegetables in my freezer and pantry. Usually tomatoes, onion, green beans, squash, kale or spinach or cabbage, carrot, sometimes peas or corn. Sometimes small pieces of sweet potato. Sometimes with beef, chicken, or pork. Usually not. It depends on whether I'm making it as something to keep in the refrigerator for myself, or whether I'm going to serve it to Hubs. Hubs wants recognizable meat. Potatoes or rice or barley or noodles or some other kind of pasta. If I'm feeling kind of like I'd like to eat, but maybe it's in between the times when I normally have a meal, I know I can have a big cup of hot soup. Or more, if I feel like it. I can still eat when it's "time to", if I still want to, without so much as a thought as to whether I can afford the calories or points or whatever.
I go with Hubs to the workout center, three times a week. I do not exercise strenuously, though some people there do. I use the recumbent bicycles with the "chair seats" because regular bicycle seats hurt my behind. I walk around the track enough times to equal half a mile. I use some of the weight machines. I'm not exercising to burn calories. I'm not necessarily trying to build muscle, even if muscle does, in fact, burn fat. I'm just trying to do enough to keep my back limber, to keep myself in good enough shape to be able to bound out to the garden and work, when there's a good enough day for it, without having to moan and groan with every movement the next day. And for sure, I'm not working up a sweat so I can go home and have a piece of pie. Pie is delicious, and I know it. But it's just not worth all the switches it turns on.
I have not yet purchased any new clothes, so I wear my size 20's, and they, once tight enough for any movement to cause stress on the seams, are now baggy. It's a good feeling to wear them, actually, because it reminds me, with every flappy movement, how far I've come. The scales, this morning, revealed one pound lost. Winter is my least favorite time of year. But, hanging in there. They ask how I am and I say, "Not Bad For An Old Chick".
You hang in there, too, OK? Whatever be your challenges, spend some time thinking every day about ways you can improve your life. Don't wallow in a bad situation: work THROUGH it. Try to keep a hopeful attitude. And Rock On, my dears, Rock on. Hugs xoxoxo