My Weightloss Progress in Numbers

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cheating one's way to losing weight... You really think?

"For basketball players, desperation is the full-court shot at the buzzer. For accountants, desperation is 11:59 p.m. on April 15*. For parents of an antsy kindergartner, it's a malfunctioning Spongebob DVD. But for prople struggling with weight issues, desperation is the feeling that comes when you've morphed from being overweight to going overboard. But here's the difference between most desperate situations and this one: While basketball players rarely make full-length heaves and 1040s can't be completed in sixty seconds, people with extreme weight situations do have a little raft that can change desparation to salvation: weight-loss surgery.

Most people view weight-loss surgery the way they view steroids in sports - that it's cheating, it's unnatural, it's an unfair advantage, it's cutting corners. But there are plenty of people -way too many, in fact- who have coffin-enticing obesity in the form of a body mass index of 35 or higher, with consequences like diabetes and high blood pressure. And for this segment of the population, especially if they have repeatedly tried and failed at a diet and excercise regime, weight-loss surgery may be an effective solution.

Some people simply can't lose weight lik everyone else and often beat themselves up about being undisciplined or out of control. Many are very disciplined, successful, and in control in other aspects of their lives but are just wired differently in the weight department. Finally, there's a real alternative for people who are incapable of succeeding without help: weight-loss surgery.

In nearly every other medical situation in our lives we experience a symptom, we try to treat it ourselves, and then we seek professional help if we can't. We need to start thinking about obesity as if it's any other health problem that prompts you to see a doctor - be it a bullet wound, a lump in your breast, or cholesterol numbers that need commas.

The truth is that many people have tried every over-the-counter antiobesity option; they have a library of diet books, a garage full of exercise equipment, and neurons full of frustration. But no matter what they try to do to lose weight, they either can't take it off or can't keep it off. For these people, the answer isn't always the over-the-counter way, because a life of obesity requires more than a commitment to a three-day all-juice fast or some ab machine that claims to banish your belly using electrodes. Heavy-duty bodies require heavy-duty help.

And that's OK. If you -or someone you love- falls into this category, then you have a serious condition that should make you feel you'd do whatever you could to try to reverse it. Technically, it's defined as 100 pounds** above the ideal weight for men and 90 pounds*** above the ideal weight for women, or men with 48-inch waists or larger and women with 41-inch waists or larger.

Think for a second: If you had a prostate or breast cancer (which both have about the same risk of death per year for people over fifty as does a waist size of 38 for women and 45 for men with risks like high blood pressure, sleep apnea, diabetes, and cholesterol problems), you'd take action. You'd talk to doctors, you'd schedule surgery to remove the tumor, and you'd make lifestyle changes that would help lower the chance that you'd ever contract the disease again. You wouldn't pop a cough drop, then throw up your hands in defeat if menthol weren't the magic tumor killer. You'd get a professional -even drastic- help. You would even let someone cut you open if the therapy was effective.

It's a mistake to think you're a weakling or a fool if you consider the operation option. Morbid obesity (morbid!) is as concrete a health problem as a sprained ankle, a heart problem, or cancer. In fact, at least 5 percent of morbidly obese people have a specific genetic problem that renders their brains unable to receive the leptin signals that they're full. So no matter what the cause of your weight problem, there's no shame in seeking one of the most effective cures for obesity that modern medicine has developed. Weight-loss surgery works. And it works more effectively -and faster- than any traditional dieting method for people with morbid obesity. Surgery can reduce your excess weight by half, whereas weight-loss drugs get you only 5 percent to 7 percent while you are on them, and lifestyle changes buy you on average another 7 percent total of weight if you're on your best behavior.

The success of weight-loss surgery is defined by the loss of excess weight - that is, not how much total weight you lose, but rather the difference between your current weight and your ideal weight.


Surgical options aren't for people who are just a little overweight. They're not for people worried about losing their runway-model job or their clothes not fitting. They're for people whose health is at extreme risk, who are four fries away from putting the grave-digger on speed-dial, because the effects of excess fat increase your risk of developing such day ruiners as coronary artery disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, infertility, chronic back pain, hernias, infections, gallstones, and depression."

-Michael F. Roizen, MD and Mehmet C. Oz, MD, "The Insider's Guide to Easy and Permanent Weight Loss: You On A Diet", pp. 340-342, Harper Thorsons, 2006

* This is mid-year for Australia (Taxation)
** 45.45 kg
*** 40.91 kg


Blossum Bandit said...

Well said!!

Cath said...

Hello Hijabi and congratulations on your blog.The article by Dr Roizen is excellent and one I can show my husband. Will follow your progress with interest. What has been the reaction of your friends and family? or haven't your shared yet. Cath

kerrie_woods said...

I am really interested in your lap banding journey, as I am researching the long term effects of Lap banding surgery.

If you would like to partake in a survey about your expereinces and opinions of Lap banding surgery, I would greatly appreciate it!

My e-mail address is, just drop me a line.
Many thanks

Hijabi Lapster said...

Hi Cath,

Sorry about the very very late reply. I haven't been able to login to my account for months and I finally managed to reset my password.

I have a very small family here in Australia. Just mum, sis (her immediate family) and my uncle (his immediate family). They all now I am going to have the procedure done. My sister has the same weight issues and is on the public waiting list, so they were familiar with the lap-band and are supportive of me.

In the beginning, my hubby didn't really want me to have the procedure done. In the end it is an operation, and he believes that no operation is small. So he wanted me to try to lose weight naturally.

This was early in our marriage, but when he saw with time that it wasn't that easy to lose 60-70 kg on one's own, he started coming around. Now he is my strongest supporter, because he has started to understand my situation. Before me, he had never been close to anybody who is overweight/obese, so he couldn't understand and all was strange to him. Hell, he thought I weighed 75kg before he found out my real weight! I laughed so hard when he told me this, because I weighed at least 40kg more than what he thought! :)

To cut a very long story short, I act quite casual about it, and most of my close friends know. My friends were the ones that gave the most negative reaction and they said I should do it on my own, naturally. However, they are starting to be accepting too now.

I just feel more comfortable if the people who I share the most time with know what I am going to do, because it is definitely going to change my eating habits, and I want them to understand why I will be eating very slowly or much less than usual.

Hijabi Lapster said...

Hi Kerrie,

I would be happy to do so, but my surgery will not be any time before December 2009 (if not in early 2010).