I Am Free – Many of you who know me, have always known me as a fairly lean, athletic guy who loves sports and working out. For those of you who knew me a decade ago or more, might remember when I couldn’t manage a pull-up and wore size 44/46” pants. My desire to finally share these thoughts has been building in me for quite some time. Then when I watched a depressing documentary on teenage obesity, it really set me off.
Please forgive anything insensitive I say, but my heart breaks for these kids who feel hopelessly stuck with the label of “fat kid.” Why? Because for the first 25 years of my life, that was my label. As I watched this U.K. based documentary, I really felt for the kids and was frustrated by the ignorance and attitude of all the adults involved.
The documentary included: Parents – mean or quitting on their kids and not doing any of their own research. Doctors – giving up on natural health and recommending stomach surgery options before age 20! Therapists – putting all the blame back on the kids “You are just a glutton! And lazy” was the implication.
Not one well-educated doctor or parent thought to ask, “Why? Why does a healthy kid under 18 years old, with a two-parent family and no history of abuse, become so depressed they can’t get out of bed? Why and how do they put on so much more weight than the kid next to them, even though they really don’t eat that much more?”
No one asked these simple questions, only, “Stop eating so much, exercise more… Oh, you failed again, we’ll you DON’T care, you just wanna kill yourself. You like walking around 100 lbs fatter than everyone else. You enjoy being laughed at behind your back and the only kid in school on a ‘diet.’” Are these parents/doctors crazy? Of course, these kids know all this, of course, they want to change!
Parents: I know you may struggle with being ashamed and worried about your child’s health. That you may feel it’s all your fault, but if you allow shame to influence your decisions and emotions, then the situation will own you and keep you from taking charge.
The worst thing you can do is react and “diet” your adolescent. Restricting them makes them feel like they are being punished, no matter how you justify it.
Being a parent in this world is super hard. You can’t give up, or your child will be set up for early death. However, you can’t restrict them or be too strict or you’ll push them away from you, and ultimately ruin their self-esteem.
So…doctors, therapist, parents…obese friends, what do we do?
Why Listen to me? My Bonafides:
- At age 10, I was active, playing sports, constantly outside and yet, pudgier than all my friends and little brother.
- As a 12-year-old, I was one of the most skilled soccer players in the area for my age group. But too overweight to make the all-star team…every year.
- As a 16-year old, I was a three-sport athlete in Soccer, Basketball, and Skiing. And 40 lbs overweight.
My friends who would eat as much or more than I did and worked out half as much as I did all were thin, and most had shredded abs. Me? At 5’11” I couldn’t get down below 230 at 18/19yr, logging all day, then going to the gym after, and playing basketball other days…I had a “slow metabolism” and my “genetics” were all wrong. No matter how hard I worked, I could never get to the place of being comfortable with my shirt off to swim. From the time I was 14, I can remember roughly 20-25 different diets. Vegetarianism (for a year+), eating for your blood type, Atkins, fasting/starvation, carb/fat separation, and any and all protocol in between, if we played, “name that diet,” I’d crush all competition!
Owning the Playground
Fast forward several years, I’m living in South Africa, married to the lady of my dreams, and going through a frustrating time. I stopped exercising and watching what I ate. The pounds piled on… we immigrated back to California in 2006. I was 26, and for the first time in my life, it was hard for me to run a mile, and my knees hurt just from walking. After almost a year, I finally had the guts to get on a scale – 289 lbs. I was shocked! I was not just a big guy or little fat, I had snuck into obesity.
The desire to run and play with my kids and grandkids kicked me in the backside. I determined to kill myself to lose weight, and I did. Eventually getting up to 8-9 workout sessions a week. I got into such good shape I could outrun and out hussle almost anybody on a basketball court, maybe not at first, but after two hours I would still be sprinting and they’d be quitting ; ) I loved it, the former-fat guy was balling!
Yet…after several years of being the crazy in shape gym rat, something slowly emerged that becoming impossible to ignore. I had to maintain a growing level of misery to keep my weight down.
Basically, starving myself more and more, and then living on coffee and diet coke at night to mask my hunger, and by Friday I was a monster and had massive mood swings. Then Saturday I would BINGE. Pancakes, chocolate, cookies, candy, chips all of it, at least 5000 cal worth. I would eat so much junk I would be “hungover” in the morning…and sometimes through Monday.
After becoming a father, and breaking the 34-year-old mark, I hit a brick wall. On Saturday’s, I couldn’t eat or drink half the binge food I had before, which meant during the week I’d get even hungrier. Adding to this was I discovered that my body developed an allergic reaction to diet soda (thankfully!).
It occurred to me after six months of fighting to stay under 200 lbs, I was winning the battle of weight but losing the war of health.
Hormones – Hero or Villain…both?
It was 12 years ago when I reached my peak weight of 290ish. It was 10 years ago when I first lost 100 lbs. It was two years ago, almost to the day I had crept almost back up to 220 lbs. But then, something fantastic happened.
1st – My brothers had introduced me to the Paleo and then I found the Ketogenic way of eating, which my wife and I followed for a year or so, and we did feel better in many ways. However, it wasn’t quite enough for me. Something wasn’t right. I still had to put up with hunger headaches and going to bed hungry to stay thin. I had to be miserable on Friday’s and was snapping at my wife and kids for silly little things during the week, but happy as a clown on Saturday when I could eat what I wanted.
2nd – I read a fantastic book by Gary Taubes called “Why we get Fat and what to do about it.” He puts forth the most ironclad case I have come across regarding weight loss. I urge you to read it or listen to it on Audible.com, it’s a must for anyone fighting weight gain and related health issues. The short answer is hormones – Your body decides what to do with the food in your stomach based on what you tell it to do. You tell it to either build fat or to build organ and muscle tissue. It makes these decisions based on your hormones. The number one deciding hormone for fat building is insulin. If your insulin is high, you build fat, if it is low you rebuild muscle and organs. The #1 factor for high insulin = sugar which includes simple carbs: fruit juice, soda, sweets, etc.
CONCLUSION – or BEGINNING?
What I’m about to say sounds a bit crazy and over the top. I’ll state it for the sake of the younger and younger folks fighting illnesses they should never worry about, much less fight at age of 18-20 years old!
SUGAR is the number one trigger to tell your body to build more fat.
There is absolutely no need for SUGAR in the human body.
SUGAR IS NOT a natural food, but a chemical compound. Or “organically” refined out of sugar cane or sugar beets.
SUGAR is an addictive drug and if you are feeling angry at me stating this, ask yourself why? I used to hate hearing this too. Because I needed an excuse to have my occasional cake and eat it too.
SUGAR is tied to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and lung cancer (with sugar, we would not have cigarettes, only cigar and pipe tobacco, thus leading to fewer cases of lung cancer).
I believe sugar is toxic and damages your cells.
If anyone tells you the above has not been “conclusively proven” just reply “nor has smoking been proven to cause lung cancer”, that doesn’t mean we can’t use some basic logic.
So, be a vegan, be a carnivore guy, whatever, but at the very least, we need to acknowledge the truth – sugar is not a food but a toxin, like nicotine – we don’t see it as a drug, as it’s deadly results are often shown only over a 20 – 40 year period.
But now, we have 20-year-olds killing themselves with food, and as more and more babies are born from sugar-addicted parents, generation after generation and that age continues to go down. Will we wait for 10-year-olds to have heart attacks and strokes? Is that what it will take to finally acknowledge and confront this truth?
I’m 38 now, I have two young kids and I don’t get much sleep at the moment. I exercise less now than I have in a decade; I don’t even belong to a gym. I eat without counting ANY “calories” and eat until I’m full. When I get hungry, I don’t ever get hunger headaches. I frequently have a full day of fasting and then a 90 min intense workout without crashing or running out of energy. I am in the best shape of my life. And I’ve stretched out another inch to 6’ over the past decade. 😉 and NOW, I wear 34” pants.
I have eaten sugar 5 times in the past two years and each time I felt like I was going to die the next day. Each time, I ate one sweet that day and my body craved sugar for the rest of the day. Now, I win the battle most days, the war is a lot easier, since I know who the real enemy is!
Will you win? Will you teach your kids to win? If so, you need to discover the truth for yourself and stop waiting for someone else to do it for you.
As a parent, I urge you. If you have a child who needs help with this, HELP THEM. Don’t restrict them.
1. YOU get educated: Who has the results you want? Who is someone that had significant weight loss and kept it off in a healthy manner, etc.
2. You educate them.
3. Everyone, husband and wife and all the kids, begin a new eating protocol, YOU lead your family in the right direction.
You don’t drink a beer with a recovering alcoholic, so don’t eat junk in your home around an obese family member, don’t allow it in the house or order it when you’re out.
Many parents don’t know, that there are kids with naturally low insulin because they are thin, but they eat all the junk they want and then become diabetic all the same in their 40-50’s, they are nicknamed “skinny-fat.” all sugar and junk will catch up to EVERYONE. As a parent with an obese child, you may have a blessing in disguise, to help you and your other children even if they “look” ok.
4. Find a coach to help you and your child. They need a new inner voice, and habit of lifting themselves up to how God made them to be: a beautiful creation, a winner, extraordinary and capable of anything! After the first 30-40 lbs, every person stalls and that’s when the inner voice says “you’ll fail…again.” We all need to be ready for this!
Lastly, what healthy fulfilling lifestyle change will replace the sugar? What type of food? Which activities? What will you and your family look forward to doing together?
As a friend and an anti-sugar nerd, I’m here to advise you – if you want. BUT, ultimately, you have to discover the truth and commit for yourself, try it, prove me right or wrong.
Disclaimer – I left out a lot of my eating protocols and discoveries because I wanted to focus on the number one evil – Sugar. If you want more of my thoughts on a great way of eating and stuff I do, I may do posts later, or you can message me. I also have lots of great research documentaries to recommend on the above subject matter.