Saturday, January 10, 2009
Oprah and Me...2009
New Years has come and gone and for many of us we have new "resolutions" to either make or break in 2009. If such a tradition of New Year's resolutions causes us to change positively within or without ourselves, so be it.
My main resolution is unfortunately similar to the one I made for New Years 2008...get myself in better physical shape!
Much ado has been made in the press in the last week about Oprah's new battle with her weight problems. Here is an obviously successful and intelligent lady who is probably one of the most visible celebrities to underscore the cultural problem we Americans have in controlling our consumption. While I realize that many people have physical or genetic tendencies towards obesity, MOST of us are overweight because of our own daily choices of consumption and lack of physical activity. We tend to rationalize our acceptance of our less than optimum personal conditioning, but in the end it is always about OUR choices. No one else to blame here.
Personally, I can't blame genetics as some members of my family are in great shape while others of us have let ourselves droop way more than necessary. I realize that for me it is more about lifestyle. Too much of my time in front of computers, focused on business and money, feeding the brain more healthy stuff than I am feeding my body. Meanwhile, I am not balancing those activities with the other active things I like to do. I think this battle, and answers for it, are different for each person. Some of us like to run or jog. Not me. I enjoy a nice brisk walk and if it weren't for this warm year around climate that affords me comfortable opportunities to walk a bit, I can't help but wonder what weight I would be at still living in the cold North Country where I would get out less because of inclement weather.
I think everyone needs to find the exercise they ENJOY...and do it often. The healthiest sport I used to enjoy a lot is racquetball. I have heard of a club here and I am going to pursue that activity again because I don't have much discipline to do things I don’t enjoy, and I want the best work out in the shortest amount of time. To run, I have to be chasing a ball. I used to be fairly fast on my feet, and used to have the body type of a "Greyhound" dog. Much like them, I enjoyed racing as long as I was pursuing "something". Just running for running sake in space and time has never inspired me. Plus, I have inherited weak knees in my family and know many long term runners who ended up having used up ligaments before they were very old. So, hopefully I can find that racquet club. In addition, I enjoy hiking and nature...so if I can make more time for hiking and fishing this year, I think that will contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
Of course, the main culprit for our weight problems is what and how much we consume. From what I have read, it seems that Oprah's biggest issue over the years has been extreme "fad" diets that change her appearance drastically in short order and she has probably made mega millions as a poster celebrity for these various diets. Unfortunately, when the diet ends, it seems quite obvious she blooms right back to or heavier than she was before. So, for me, I am not interested in extreme or fad diets. I think the solution needs to be total and forever lifestyle change. Eat less, eat better, and get more exercise to burn off fat.
So...I now go public with my New Year's resolution with you my friends, family and extended network. I start the year at 201 lbs. First time I have ever topped 200. It's hard to believe I graduated high school at around 120. I think I read somewhere that after age 30 the average person adds 1-2 lbs per YEAR. Well, I'm much beyond that and it's time to reverse the trend. My biological father lost a lot of weight at about my age...but only after a heart attack and quadruple bypass. I think I want to avoid that route to weight loss if I can. So, it's time to act.
My goal is lose 5 pounds per month for the next 5 months...and then keep it off. I think I will be comfortable at between 175 and 180 for the duration. I don’t expect to look or act like 25 again, but in my brain that's my desire...to feel and have the attitude I had at 25. I think it's doable. And I even made a competitive bet with my wife who has agreed to join me with a friendly competition of who can lose the most in the next month. Friendly wagers sometimes add to the motivation as well.
That being said, at the core of staying in shape is personal pride and self respect. I've read many of the studies that say some people get obese as a psychological mechanism to protect themselves from the outside world or certain relationships. In reaction to other things in life they have been forbidden to pursue, they pursue food instead…even as an addiction. While I think there is merit in some people having this cause for being fat...it isn’t mine. I have just gotten too focused on business, computers, poker and other sedentary activities. If I want to prolong my life and retain my overall good health, I must balance things out. I actually DO want people to WANT to hug me...and be able to get their arms around me...at least mostly:).
Here are a few observations I have made or experienced about how NOT to deal with overweight or obese people. I think it is generally rude and insensitive to comment about people who have added weight. I think you have to be very close to someone and "earn the right" to comment on someone's physique. Even then, making critical or negative comments even to spouses or significant others are a great risk. It is best for the overweight person to recognize in themselves the need or desire to change...than it is for those closest to them to make comments or badger them about their appearance. While it is healthy and positive to look our best, it is not the end-all to being a wonderful or productive human being. It has been quizzical to me a few times where people FATTER than I am have made wisecracks or comments about MY weight gain over the years. Especially when it has come from people I have not seen in many years...it is amazing how free-wheeling some people are with their interpersonal comments about weight gain. As if somehow they think they need to make the person aware of their condition? And isn’t it a little funny in our human condition that the first thing we notice about people when we meet them is our "differences" of weight or appearance? If someone is missing an arm or a finger...or an eye...our minds right away want to know and understand what happened. We are so focused on such things that we miss the color of someone's eyes or whether they are smiling or frowning. How petty we humans can be sometimes. These behaviors are what cause many people to retreat from life, or ridicule themselves, or go into weight loss and other behavioral modifications solely for the purpose of measuring up to OTHERS expectations. Personally I think that a negative motivation and believe that it is better to have a more selfish purpose in keeping ourselves healthy and productive. Believe me, I am making changes for ME...not for you.
So, here's to a more balanced and healthy 2009. Anyone else that wants to join the sentiment or share their struggles or experience in this, feel free to share your comments. I think positive reinforcement from our friends and family is very helpful in reaching our goals though we can't always depend on that being there for us. To lose weight and be healthy is a very personal decision. To that end, I hope both Oprah and I are successful in our New Year’s resolutions, though I am quite sure that she will make much more money reaching her goals than I will:)...