This is a story about me—my obese self. The struggle with food and my weight goes back decades. I’ve written about this subject before, and I’m here again to tell you that this concerns me now more than ever. I’ve beaten back drugs, alcohol, and even my famous temper (Well, still working on that one). However, my weight? Damn, it’s an albatross around my waist and my internal organs. This is no joke, and I know it intellectually and feel it physically and emotionally, but this is hard to lose, especially at my age.
“Obesity is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It’s a medical problem that increases the risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.”Mayo Clinic
Since I last wrote about my state of health last November, I’ve been bouncing around in the 210-230 pound range, and trust me, for someone my size and age, this is dangerous territory.
No lie, I love to eat. I like to think of myself as a “Foodie” who loves tasting the world’s cuisines. I’m game for almost anything from any culture. And that would be okay in some planned moderation. The problem is that the word “moderation” doesn’t seem to grip my mind when I start diving into a pool of arroz con pollo or Texas BBQ or ramen or mole and the occasional pork something (no beef, please). Then, add the sweet stuff, the bread, the peanut butter, the bread (Did I already mention the bread?), add up the calories, and it all piles up inside of me like mounds of fat and whatever else goes along with it into your arteries and your organs.
Trust for America’s Health Trust (TFAH) is “a non-partisan public health policy, research, and advocacy organization,” according to its website. The nonprofit, funded by foundations like The California Endowment and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “envisions a nation that values the health and well-being of all.” I’m all for that. Shocker, according to TFAH, the obesity rate for adults in this country “passed the 40 percent mark for the first time in 2019, standing at 42.4 percent.” That rate for adults has gone up by 26 percent since 2008. Their annual report shows that poverty and discrimination have pushed the obesity rate up for particular “racial and ethnic populations.”
For a male seventy-three years old, a former smoker (cigarettes and mary jane), an ex-heavy drinker (What’s a better word than heavy?), and an ex-drug user, I sit here wondering what impact that amount of abuse does on my body along with my current weight load. I know I’m pre-diabetic, suffer from occasional sciatica bouts, and always feel tired. Let’s not even dive into a discussion about whether I have a case of mild asthma and acid reflux that causes me to suffer an occasional chronic cough. OMG, I’m falling apart!
Back to food. I know I love food, but sometimes I think I love the mechanics of eating more. How do you explain grabbing stuff I know is terrible for me and shoving it into my mouth? Breakfast sandwiches from MacDonald’s, BBQ pork ribs, fried chicken, donuts, pizza with extra Mozzarella, Ricotta, Gouda, and Goat Cheese. Really? And don’t get me started on ice cream. Ice Cream? DQ or Baskin Robbins. Doesn’t matter. Not a small-sized cup. But a waffle cone with two scoops of the most fat-creating flavors they got. At least I’m not asking them for chocolate syrup on it. Not yet.
Food, or at least certain foods, is like a drug. Remember, I’m an ex-junkie, and we’re never satisfied with just one shot of dope. No, even while we are still nodding over, we’re trying to figure out when we will get our next shot. Same with food. Not satisfied with two eggs and two turkey breakfast sausages, my mind tells me, “Hey, one more egg and turkey sausage ain’t going to hurt.” Except that I’m usually moving a short time later to feast on lunch with double what I ate at breakfast and then dinner with double I ate for lunch interspersed with that snack at ten a.m. and 3 p.m. and some dessert at 8 p.m., maybe some popcorn, followed by getting ready for bed an hour later. Imagine all that fat and cholesterol sitting in my stomach overnight, ripening into gas, and whatever else happens down there that creates the worst stomach hangover when you finally crawl out of bed in the morning and make it to the bathroom where you wish for a moment that you never see food again and that death could not come quick enough to relieve the pain you feel.
Now, that’s a problem.
I get the whole image and body shaming debate; however, this is a profoundly personal fear that has nothing to do with looking like I’m twenty-five or even fifty. As I said in my previous post:
“How many friends with similar challenges have I seen drop dead or end up in the hospital? Honestly, this time fear has slipped into the picture. I have too many things that I want to do before I pass on. Writing these words scares me because I know this is real. What I do next is up to me, and for my own health, I better get it right.”Antonio Ruiz
I hope I’m listening to myself and reading these words carefully because I know that I’m not going to walk down the runway at my graduation at California State University, Long Beach, in two years needing assistance due to my weight while my body is failing me.
I am just saying.