How do you change a habit, a behavior, a life pattern?
I have been a lifelong food abuser—eating an American diet rich in fat, simple carbohydrates and refined sugars. I have tried to compensate by exercising, but my quadruple bypass surgery and chronic high blood pressure indicates rather dramatically that exercise does not a trump lousy diet.
Since my near fatal heart catastrophe almost exactly three years ago I have recovered well—and gained 40 pounds. Complacency conspired with my lifelong love affair with bread and cookies to add the weight, ounce by pleasurable ounce. My wife and kids have been hounding me about my weight but I have shrugged them off. Risa tells me how scared she is, Noah rountinely embarrasses me at the office, Ari arranged a contest between us to shed weight, and Sarah just worries.
And none of it really made me change.
But three weeks ago I met a friend from grade school, Norman Sack, who I hadn’t seen in 40 years. Norm was always fat as a kid. He spent a year at Duke on the old “rice diet” and lost 100 pounds only to gain it back.
Today Norm is thin and I couldn’t believe it when I saw him. He lost 110 pounds and his chest pains by rigidly adhering to a sensible diet low in fat, carbs, and sugars.
The day before I reunited with Norm I watched Dr. Juel Fuhrman advocate his plant based eating regimen on Public TV. And the next day CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta did a one hour show about how such a diet can make you almost heart attack proof.
It all finally clicked for me. Why should I sabotage my life for the ephemeral taste of a croissant or an Oreo? Life is sweet and I don’t need sweets.
Over the last 17 days I have not eaten a slice of bread or licked a spoon of ice cream. And I don’t even miss it. I’m doing it for me—for life—and I love beets and carrots and hummus. Life is good. I’ve lost a half a watermelon of weight already.
And this is for me and that’s the only way it can work.
Question: What do you think is the cause of the American obesity epidemic?