Tuesday, July 12, 2005

UNC Greensboro Student Opens His Heart And Mind On Struggling With Weight

An op-ed piece from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro newspaper called The Carolinian pulls back the curtain on the thought process of someone who realizes he is packing on a few extra pounds. While I do not agree with everything he discusses in this article, especially his negative opinion about Atkins and livin' la vida low-carb, I think the author does a good job of presenting a very clear message that people should be doing something about their weight problem.

Joe Killian pens this satirical gem entitled "Out of My Head: Tales From the Fatside." When I read that headline, I knew this was not going to be your typical story.

Killian said he had an epiphany about healthy living when he watched the Morgan Spurlock classic documentary Super Size Me and after discovering this web site that helps you keep track of the foods you consume each day.

Recalling his high school days when he used to be in "great shape," Killian said he was active in his exercise routine fitting both cardio and weight training into his schedule. But, once he went to college with all the stresses that can bring on, he concluded that his "body can take the abuse."

Something funny happened along the way, though. His waist size grew four inches in two years and his once-stellar endurance as a runner was gone as he was gasping for air during a short walk. His sleep was also hindered and caused him to walk around like a "fat, wheezing zombie." OUCH! I can remember those days.

Despite this radical change physiologically that was happening to him, Killian remarked "somehow I didn't alter my behavior." That's not surprising. Most people who get fat don't want to admit it and will do anything and everything to avoid the fact that they have a weight problem.

We also justify our own weight problem by rationalizing that "you can always find someone fatter and more unhealthy than you." That's what Killian did when he went to the gym. He sought out people who had "a 48 inch waist and giant man-breasts waddling past you, nudging you out of the way to get to McDonald's." While that's quite a visual, I can see how he might not feel so bad about his own weight problem. I wonder what Killian would have done if he ran into me with my 62-inch waist, 410-pound former self at the gym? He probably would have celebrated his fitness at McDonald's!

Before long, though, Killian said his "lifestyle was pretty disgusting" and Super Size Me helped him realize that. He took the message of the great American film to heart and slowly allowed its message to percolate in his heart and mind about what he should do for his own health.

Realizing he would have to give up fast food and sugary soft drinks while eating more vegetables, Killian went to Nutrawatch to journal his food intake so he can visually see the cumulative nutritional content of the foods he had eaten for the day. Not surprisingly, Killian admits "the results horrified me."

As a soda junkie, he was consuming a lot of wasted calories and carbs because of all the sugar found in soft drinks. He also noticed he was eating way too much salt which could lead to high blood pressure.

At this point, Killian decides action needs to be taken to get a handle on his weight issue. He said his family was on the Atkins diet and he tried it himself. Here are his comments about my preferred method for weight loss and weight maintenance:

"Loved to eat that way - meat, meat and more meat - but in the end it wasn't much of a lifestyle; it was hard to eat out everywhere and I hated restricting myself so extremely that I couldn't enjoy dinner with friends. I love to eat and drink. I'm not a diet guy.

Wow, I was starting to like this guy and then he has to go and do something like this. I have stated it very clearly many times that the Atkins diet is not "meat, meat and more meat" if you don't want it to be. If all you are eating on your low-carb program is meat, then you are either a creature of habit or don't like to spice things up at all. I will not rehash all the wonderful foods you can have on a low-carb plan, but meat is just a small part of that.

As for low-carb not being "much of a lifestyle," why not? This way of eating has never felt like a diet to me and it is something I can and will do for the rest of my life. It is just the lifestyle change many people have been looking for because it gives you options about how to eat long after you have lost the weight.

Killian said it was "hard to eat out everywhere" while he was low-carbing it. Why? There are plenty of healthy low-carb choices for anyone who is eating away from home at many popular restaurants. Even if you love fast food, then you can still stay on your low-carb lifestyle with ease.

Feeling like he was "restricting himself" by livin' la vida low-carb, Killian said he just "loved to eat and drink too much" to choose this lifestyle. Say what? The low-carb lifestyle is arguably the one "diet" where you can eat more food than on any other program! That's what attracted me to it so much. I have always been a big eater and I'm STILL a big eater even after losing 180 pounds. Low-carb gives me the flexibility to eat more food while also maintaining my weight. It's the best diet I've ever been on bar none!

Killian said Nutrawatch requires you to come up with which weight loss plan you want to use. His plan was to cut back on sodas and fast food as well as watching his calorie intake. Good for him because he is doing something productive about his weight problem.

He even gives this in-your-face pep talk to people who need to lose weight:

"You're not SUPPOSED to be putting all that crap [junk food] into your body in the first place. It seems normal because everyone's doing it - and, with fatter, more disgusting people all around you tell yourself you're fine. But the numbers don't lie, my boy - and once you have some sense that what you're shoveling into your mouth is, in no uncertain terms, going to affect your health, you're at a good starting place."

Well, somebody's feeling spunky and passionate about this health thing, eh? Actually, I could not agree with him more!

He's lost 2 inches and 20 pounds over the past three months and Killian said he is going to "take full responsibility" for how the foods he eats are affecting his body.

"I look better, I'm in better shape and I don't feel like such an idiot."

He ends this article about his journey to becoming healthy with some sound advice:

"We forget, sometimes, that while food is delicious and Coca-Cola is God's gift to those in late-night study mode, food has an actual purpose: it's there to nourish you. It's the fuel on which you run and if you put the cheap stuff in and disregard your fluid levels, you're going to overheat and end up on the side of the road in the summer sun."

Your heart just breaks for people who fail to heed this simple message. Get healthy. It sounds easy enough, doesn't it? As someone who has been there, I know it is not an easy thing, but it must be done. Lose weight. Exercise. Do the right things for your body to be in tip-top condition.

Killian concludes the problem people have with weight is "mostly ignorance" which can be easily "corrected." What are you waiting for?! Start doing something about it TODAY!

Send Killian a thank you e-mail for his wonderful story of hope and triumph at


Blogger Joe Killian said...

Thanks for the shout-out.

My story is actually a lot less remarkable than the stories of some of the people I know - including members of our staff at the Carolinian who have lost 50 lbs or more after having similar revelations.

All the same, I think the point of my column is that however far we sometimes let ourselves slip - whether it's just a few pounds or, like me, a few pants-sizes, it's preventable if you own up to it and are pro-active.

I know plenty of people who swear by a low or no-carb lifestyle - and some of my family still do it. I just found it to be a bit restrictive personally as I enjoy wine, the occasional beer, and pasta a great deal. Everything in moderation for me these days.

7/13/2005 1:09 AM  

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