Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Obesity Virus

Recently on a cable news network – either CNN or Fox News – some medical “expert” explained why some scientists now believe obesity might be attributed to a virus.

If that’s true, I propose the name of the virus should be something like “Calorius Toomuchus,” or “Couchus Potatis.”

It’s not that I’m insensitive to people struggling with obesity. Several members of my extended family have struggled with this life-altering problem, and I have lost 30-35 unwanted pounds since my heart surgery two years ago. But it seems we are always desperately looking for either quick fixes, or handy excuses, for difficult problems – including being overweight. We demand magic pills, or instant-results fad diets. Anything not requiring hard work, determination and commitment.

True, some people rightfully trace weight issues to physiological maladies, but for most of us, the problem is simple: We eat too much, eat the wrong things, and don’t exercise enough.

A positive follow-up to my surgery was cardiac rehabilitation, which included training in proper exercise and healthy eating. Not only did I learn a balanced fitness regimen including cardio machines and weight training, but also discovered what I should – and shouldn’t – be eating. I’m learned about fats – saturated, unsaturated and trans – even how to read labels on packaged foods.

Those donuts I used to reward myself with after a power-walking session? No more. McDonald’s sausage biscuits, which contain 5 grams of cholesterol-producing transfat, became a dietary taboo. Instead, fruits, vegetables and nuts became a priority, and I learned to enjoy grilled foods, rather than fried. Thankfully, my cholesterol numbers improved dramatically as a result.

More than thirty pounds lighter, I no longer fear my first heart attack. We weight-challenged individuals need proactive, preventive action plans, not excuses.

I could write more, but it’s time for my next cardiac rehab class!

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