The Lies that Stand Between Us and Good Health

I recently saw a young woman in my office who is in her early 40’s and weighs over 300 lbs. We talked about how her weight was increasing her risk of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and joint problems. We then started to brainstorm about ways to turn that around. This is a little of our conversation:

Me: What sorts things are you doing to try to get your weight under control?

Patient: I was doing really great last summer and lost a lot of weight when I gave up my “drug of choice,” Dr Pepper, and backed away from the carbs. I know what to do to lose weight, but then I fall off the wagon and gain it all back.

Me: What happens to get you off track?

Patient: It’s like being an alcoholic. Unless I stay away from Dr Peppers altogether, I can’t do it. After I have been good for a while I feel like I deserve to celebrate so have just one and the next thing you know I am drinking  them again.

Me: Are there other family members who struggle with their weight?

Patient: Yes, but I do have one cousin who lost 80 lbs several years ago and has kept it off. I can’t do it because am the best cook in our family. Everyone brags on what a good cook I am and I feel like I would be letting everyone down if I stopped cooking  and inviting them over to eat big meals. Besides, my primary physician told me that some people are just going to be fat no matter what they do! (I did not make up that last part, that is exactly what she said).

Me: I imagine that your cousin was likely told the same thing before she lost that 80 pounds.

Does any if this sound familiar to you? It certainly did to me. What are the lies you are telling yourself that are standing between you and a healthy weight? It is these lies that have placed us among the 85 to 90% of those who have lost a significant amount of weight only to gain it back within 2 years. I am trying to figure out through my research for this blog the secret to being in the 10 to 15% who not only lose weight and keep it off but have found the path to living a healthy life.  I am convinced that one of the keys to success is to rid ourselves of the lies that hold us back and to replace them with positive self talk and truth. The battle for good health begins in the mind.

Take my patient, for example. In just a brief conversation we discovered at least 3 deceptions that are holding her back.

1. We can’t achieve good health because we are addicted to junk food.

The biology behind sugar cravings is pretty straight forward. Simple carbs rapidly raise the blood sugar and signals the pancreas to produce insulin to move sugar from the blood into our cells. This causes a rapid dip in blood sugar level that leaves us craving more sugar. The brain sees sugar as a reward which makes you want more of it. The more sugar you eat, the more sugar you will want. The same is true for starchy foods like white bread, pasta, white potatoes and white rice. The way to get rid of sugar cravings is not to try go “cold  turkey”  but to replace those simple carbs with complex carbs which can avoid the extreme sugar spikes. We can gradually train our brains and taste buds to be satisfied with foods that are not as sweet by dropping one sweet food per week and putting less sugar in our coffee and on our cereal. Telling ourselves that we are hopelessly addicted to junk food allows us to play the victim of our own behavior. If we tell ourselves that we are powerless to change – we never will.

2. Cooking high calorie comfort foods is how we show our love to our families.

I grew up in one of those families of good cooks who cooked delicious calorie laden foods and were actually offended if you did not ask for seconds. My patient even expressed that her family members will be angry with her if she switches to cooking healthy meals. Often we think that obesity and related problems run in our families when the truth is what really runs in our families is poor eating habits! The people in our lives who love us should want us to be healthy, even if it means they can no longer come to our house to pig out. Encouraging and reinforcing poor eating habits is a selfish kind of love. Don’t fall for it. Love yourself and your family enough to prepare foods that promote good health.

3. Some people are just going to be fat no matter what they do.

This last lie is the defeatest attitude of a quitter. We believe it because even though we want to be healthy, we are not willing to do what it takes to get there. If we allow ourselves to believe that getting to a healthy weight is simply not possible for some people we give ourselves a license to eat whatever tastes good and to be sedentary. What difference does it make if a healthy weight is not possible for me? Shame on ANY health professional who would tell a patient this lie. It is our responsibility not to just treat disease but to counsel our patients in ways that promote good health and disease prevention.

So as we move forward in pursuit of good health, let us be careful to monitor our thoughts. Let’s take  “can’t “ out of our internal dialogue. Everything that we have ever accomplished in life required effort and started with a belief that we could do it. If we believe in ourselves and stop listening to lies, good health is available to us all.

Yvonne Moore

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.” 3 John‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

My Story

I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I was raised by a single grandmother who was a great cook. Weekend breakfasts often included homemade biscuits with ham and red eye gravy and rice. That has to be at least a zillion carbs! I was a book worm from an early age so the only exercise I got was in gym class. One of the more painful memories of my childhood was of having to order special gym clothes because I was too big for the standard sizes.

By the time I was 14 I tipped the scales at 185 lbs and wore a women’s size 18-20! By then my mother had moved to the DC area to escape an abusive relationship and met the man who was soon to become my stepfather. I rarely saw my biological father and really wanted my mother to get married to someone nice. They told me that if I lost 20 lbs, they would get married. They may have been just teasing me but I took the notion seriously. That was the moment when I went on the first of many diets.

That diet was self made and simple: no breakfast, a green salad and a diet soda for lunch and a single serving of whatever we had for dinner (as opposed to the seconds and thirds I usually had). I don’t remember how long it took but I lost that 20 pounds and got myself a new stepfather in the bargain! I was down to a junior size 15 and my grandmother no longer had to struggle to find age appropriate clothes for me.

The summer before I was to enter 10th grade in a new school, I spent in DC with my mom and stepfather. I experimented with different diets and exercise regimens and lost another 20lbs. By the time school started I was a size 10/12 and many of my friends did not recognize me! What a great feeling that was! In the process of losing the weight, however, I had become a diet junkie. You name the diet and I have done it all out of fear of going back to being that 185 pound girl again.

People in my life who have only know me as an adult think that I have always been the size that I am now. Few know of the many many diets and exercise programs or how many times I have gained and lost the same 15 pounds. All through high school, college, medical training, two pregnancies and raising my children I was either on a diet or putting on the weight that made me need the next one. I am the queen of the yo yo dieters.

In the early nineties I became a facilitator for a popular Faith based weight loss plan and taught weekly classes on the use of its methods. I had lost weight by learning to eat tiny amounts of food only when I was physically hungry and stoping when I was full and wanted to share that message with others. I loved it because you could eat whatever you wanted! You see I really LOVE food! I learned over time that, while I could keep my weight down with these strategies (basically portion control), I have not been blessed with genes that will allow me to ignore the content of my food. So at the age of 57 and after hundreds of diets I found myself with the diagnoses of not only hypertension but pre-diabetes as well.

In an effort to “run” from the diseases that were chasing me, I joined a local fitness group, Sisters in Motion, and started walking and running on a regular basis. I became more conscious about what I ate and continued to practice portion control but the more I exercised, the bigger the portions got. I started doing races and fell in love with the half marathon distance and started doing several of them a year as an interval walker/jogger (which I call wogging). Training to do all those races and averaging one half marathon a month emboldened me to eat foods that had forbidden myself in my less active years. So even with all that activity I started gaining weight again! At the same time I had family members and patients looking to me as a role model. Some role model!

I started this blog to share my current journey of seeking to find my way toward the healthiest me I can be, for the rest of my life. I desire that not only for myself but for those of you who choose to come along. I will seek to share healthy lifestyle tips not only about achieving a healthy weight but about all of the aspects of healthy living. In this blog I am not offering medical advice so much as offering information, encouragement and coaching to those of you are seeking to be healthy in body, mind and spirit. I am looking for partners in the struggle.

Yvonne Moore

#ymoore4health

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.” 3 John‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬