confusing weight with health

CONFUSING WEIGHT AND HEALTH

Thinking that you are healthy simply because you fall into the perfect spot on a height / weight (BMI) chart is a mistake that is all too easy to make.   Think about how many times you have seen this phenomenon in action.  The neighbor, Mrs. Jones, would look perfect on a BMI Chart — she’s 5’3” and 110 lbs.  However, sitting in her living room and talking with her would reveal the truth.  She SMOKES THREE PACKS A DAY, is stooped with OSTEOPOROSIS, is DIABETIC, and has early ALZHEIMER’S.  On top of this, she routinely takes ANTIBIOTICS, has already had both a heart attack and a stroke, and would probably be considered “MONW“.   She also happens to be on 14 PRESCRIPTION MEDS

Combinations like this make height / weight charts meaningless as far as determining someone’s health status is concerned.  In this case it’s easy to see what I am talking about.  In many cases, the truth is much less obvious.

PHARISEES
The New Testament is loaded with examples of Jesus ripping the Pharisees.  Pharisees were the religious leaders of that time, and believed that the thing that made them righteous before God was keeping the law.  In order to keep the law, the Pharisees would go to great lengths to live their their lives according to hundreds upon hundreds of rules that God handed down to Moses in the book of Leviticus. 

But Christ blasted them, calling them snakes and children of Satan with mouths like whitewashed graves.   You see, Christ knew that despite their outward appearance of righteousness, their hearts were black and full of pride and hatred.   He was (and still is) not only interested in people’s actions but in the motivations behind those actions.  When the Pharisees claimed to uphold the Law, Christ said that if they had harbored hatred in their heart, they were guilty of murder; and if they looked at a woman with lust, they were guilty of adultery.

How do we typically like to think about the way that we live our lives and about the things that we do?  We like to tell ourselves we are “good” people.  The easiest way to convince ourselves of this is to compare ourselves to others.  When we compare ourselves to other people, it makes it much easier to think we are better than we are.  After all, it’s always easy to find people who are “worse” than us.  We even make lists. 

  • I helped a little old lady across the street today. 
  • I don’t cheat on my taxes.
  • I donated to the Save the Whales campaign.
  • I didn’t eat that second piece of chocolate cake. 
  • I am not overweight.
  • I am healthy.

In living our lives, our standard is to be Christ.  Not our pastor.  Not that person on TV.  And certainly not our politicians.  When it comes to health, our gauge cannot simply be whether or not we eat better than most people we know, or that we fall into that perfect spot on the chart at the top of the page.  You see.  I know how this game is played.  I used to  be a health Pharisee. 

MY LIFE AS A HEALTH PHARISEE
I used to think that as long as I had athletic ability, low body fat, and a ‘six pack’, everything was good —- I was “healthy”.  In other words, in my mind, my health was intimately tied to how my body looked and the fact that I was good at sports.  When I was younger I could eat copious amounts of anything and everything and not gain a pound.  I was that “hardgainer” in the gym who constantly struggled to put on weight. 

Higher education did not help me solve this problem.  While working on the dual degrees of Kansas State University’s Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Program in the mid 80’s, I fell under the spell of the LOW FAT / NO FAT CRAZE.  It was all the rage and what all my nutrition professors seemed to be promoting.   Thus, I began eating mass quantities of carbs.  And like so many others of that era, I bought into the idea that DIETARY FAT was the  “Great Satan” of health —– the thing that made people fat.  Thus; the thing that made people ‘unhealthy’.

Unfortunately, I carried this thought process with me into my first few years of practice.  But after awhile I came to the realization that “Fat Free” did not seem to be working for the general population — and it was certainly not working for me.  After several years of this “healthy” way of eating, I noticed that I was loosing some of the extremely high energy levels that I had always been blessed with.  I also noticed, after seeing a couple of photographs (pictures don’t lie like mirrors do), that I was starting to gain a few pounds around the midsection —- something I had never before had to be concerned with.  Remember; I was the guy who for the longest time had trouble gaining any weight at all.  And now I was gaining weight in all the wrong places without even trying.  Wondering how my paradigm could be failing me, I began to study.

As it was the dark ages —- the days prior to the internet —- I began reading books on the topic.  After reading reading several books including Dr. Atkins earliest offering, I began to see how my pea-brained thinking on this matter was almost 180 degrees opposite of what it should have been.  Shortly after that, I ended up taking several of Dr. Janet Lang’s courses on FUNCTIONAL ENDOCRINOLOGY and WHOLE FOOD NUTRITION.  As I changed my eating habits, the extra pounds came off and my energy levels returned.  Although I did not do “nutrition” in my office in those days, it troubles me to think of the people I gave bad advice to during that time, as well as the damage that I caused myself with those years of eating the way I did.  

It’s not like I shouldn’t have known better.  Although I could not tell you the name of the class at Kansas State, I recall the two or three weeks we spent covering the hormone INSULIN.  I well remember my professor calling insulin a “Storage Hormone” and saying that it was the single most anabolic (makes you bigger) hormone in the body.  I wondered at the time how this could be true when everyone “knew” that fat is what made people fat —- not sugar or starchy carbs (a friend and I were actually contemplating the “beer guts” so commonly seen on college campuses).  The truth is, it’s downright embarrassing that with my background in biochemistry and nutrition, I did not do a better job of figuring some of these things out on my own.  Bottom line; I hate to see others making the same mistakes I did, whether purposefully or unknowingly.

SO; HOW SHOULD WE BE EATING?

Ask this question to 10 different “experts” in the field of nutrition, and you’ll get at least 15 different answers.  In fact, probably the only thing that these experts will agree on is that fresh, organically raised vegetables are good for you (nope — they don’t agree on THAT either).  Beyond that, you’re likely to hear just about anything —- and I do mean anything.  So who should you listen to?  What kinds of things should you be eating?  The venerable Jack LaLanne said it best, “if man made it, don’t eat it“. 

If you are one of the 100 million Americans with an AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE or serious NEUROLOGICAL PROBLEM, you are going to have to take it a step farther.  If you want to get your health (not just your symptoms) under control, you are probably going to have to go GLUTEN FREE.  You’re absolutely right.  It’s not easy.  Healthy eating is a habit that takes some getting used to —- particularly if you’re really used to eating poorly (HERE). 

When it comes to health, it’s just too darn easy to fool ourselves.  Especially if you’re still young and active.   But don’t be fooled.  The appearance of health won’t last if you are regularly loading up on sugar, processed foods, and starchy carbs.  First you’ll burn out your ADRENAL GLANDS and your pancreas as your body fights to bring down your constantly-spiking blood sugar levels.  And it’s all downhill from there.  INSULIN RESISTANCE & HYPOGLYCEMIA are sure to follow.  They are two sides of the same coin —- the prelude to full-blown Diabetes —- a real nightmare —- the 7th leading cause of death here in America.   It’s important to remember that when one hormone of the ENDOCRINE SYSTEM is out of whack, it’s only a matter of time until the others follow suit.   The health problems that flow from this scenario are almost unlimited in number and severity.  This scenario is so common that I refer to it as THE NUMBER ONE HEALTH PROBLEM FACING AMERICA TODAY.

So; it’s OK to be concerned about your WEIGHT.  But not at the expense of your health.

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