Monday, November 10, 2008

The Big 5-0

This week will mark a momentous occasion . . . I will see my handy-dandy SkinnyR chart reflect 50 pounds lost.

I still think it's a fluke. I've never lost 50 pounds in my life.

Sure, I've lost 10, 20, 30, and one time, I managed to banish 35 pounds for a minute before it stormed the castle of my metabolism, reinhabited it and brought 10 or 15 of its Atilla the Hun-like brethren along for the party.

It's been 8 weeks now since my surgery, and it's still hard to believe that all of this is happening. It's surreal, really . . . just the seeming effortlessness of it almost makes me feel like I'm not working hard enough, not struggling hard enough, not paying enough dues to deserve it.

Until I think about the $50 large it cost, and the recovery.

You know what, though? It's alot like what everyone says about having a baby. You soon forget about the pain once you have the results of the labor. When I concentrate on what I went through to get here, I have a moment of clarity, and realize that I HAVE paid my dues.

Except I have been reared, raised and weaned on the idea that this has to be hard. I mean, it always has been, right? Haven't I had doctors and specialists tell me my entire life that this is hard work, and if I have the right attitude and the right motivation and the right willpower that I would be able to solve my weight issue?

Isn't that what they always told me?

I was thinking about all of this as I watched the premiere of "Ruby" last night on The Style Network. I have been looking forward to this show for a month or so now, because I felt a connection with Ruby Gettinger. Like me, she's Southern (she's from Savannah). Like me, she has 2 tiny dogs. Like me, she seems to have an affinity for keeping her tresses red. Like me, she has been fat since she was a child. Like me, she has had family and friends give her well-meaning but pointless ultimatums (i.e. "I'll marry you if you lose weight" or "I'll buy you a new wardrobe if you stick to your diet."

She seems to be about my age, but I'm not sure exactly how old she is. According to the previews, she's nearly 500 lbs and has been as high as 700, but damn if she isn't beautiful. I was rooting for her before I ever saw the show.

Then I saw the show. Ehh.

It was an hour of watching Ruby hoist herself up and down and in and out of her house, uncomfortable chairs, even MORE uncomfortable visits with doctors that were quick to offer horror stories about what would happen if she stayed fat and short on good advice and treatment for what would help her live longer. Everyone (the doctors, specialists, friends, family) said the same thing: Willpower and exercise.


They filled the show with all of these extremely healthy fitness trainers and "experts" who assured Ruby that she was on the train to early death, and that she had it within her power to turn it all around with her treadmill, water aerobics and sensible eating.

Uhh, no, she doesn't. Wanna know why?

A shocking statistic that my surgeon shared with me stuck with me as I watched the show, and at one point someone whispered something similar, although it was quickly glossed over:

When you reach obesity the chances of you reaching and obtaining a healthy weight on your own with diet and exercise (what experts term long term success, which is 5 years of maintenance, kind of like cancer patients that are considered "cured" after 5 years of remission) are about 20%, so 80% of people that are considered obese will never reach or maintain anything close to a healthy weight with diet and exercise alone.

That was the bad news.

The WORSE news is . . . the bigger you are, the lower the percentages go. People that are morbidly obese (BMI 40+) have only about a 5% chance of long term success without surgical intervention. So, out of 100 really fat folks, 95 of them will die as big or bigger than they are today, more than likely from nasty complications of their obesity.

I'll keep watching, and rooting for her, but I sincerely hope that the Style Network isn't exploiting this wonderful woman for their own gain by putting her through some feel-good, shortsighted, odds-stacked-against-her-worse-than-Vegas craptables failure of a plan.

I wonder if she will ever get as pissed off about that as I did when I learned it. I wonder if she will ever see through all the smoke and mirrors and peptalks and demand better care for herself. I'm sure if she does, the show will be sure to point out (actually, they already have) that she is "a strong personality" and "manipulative" and "cunning", so the audience is already prepared to see any pushback on her part as some sort of ploy to get out of the "hard work".

Of course, if she fails, all of the experts have already said that she will die as a result of her own actions (or inactions) because she just couldn't control herself and "do the right thing".

'Cause it's supposed to be hard. We're supposed to suffer to solve this problem. Only a few of us deserve to make it, the ones that deserve to live because they make the personal sacrifice while the rest of us that can't do it on our own die.

Isn't that what they always told me?

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