Every new diet, book, product--I would try it. In the long run, I always failed.
Then I'd wait until I couldn't stand it any longer, and I would try something new.
On commercial weight-loss programs, I watched my weight go down--then up again. I repeated this frustrating and disheartening process six or eight times over. I tried Atkins (becoming very ill by following his entry program for too long), hypnosis, Metrecal, behavioral therapy--you name it, I tried it. I drank it, measured it, weighed it, and exchanged it. Whatever it took, I tried it. But nothing took the weight off and kept it off. I founded the Philadelphia chapters of Overeaters Anonymous. I even tried water fasts (once for forty-two days while I continued working and going to school). But it was the same old story we all know too well.
In the end, the only thing I lost was my health. The years slipped by, marked mostly by which weight-loss program I was currently following. By the time I was in my thirties, my health had become seriously impaired. My heartbeat was irregular, and I had already suffered at least one episode of tachycardia (in which the heart literally beats out of control and no longer productively pumps blood). My high blood pressure was wearing down my cardiovascular system, and it was only a matter of time before my heart simply gave out.
By the time I was thirty-five, my triglyceride level was three times normal, I was twice my normal weight, and my body was literally collapsing.
At that time blood pressure medication was not something that was typically given to people my age, so each new visit to the doctor brought only more blame and shame and yet another preprinted diet sheet. With the advent of routine blood fat testing, a triglyceride level of more than 350 (more than three times the ideal level) left both me and my doctor speechless.
At thirty-five the rest of my body started to show the effects of the high blood fats, blood sugar swings, and excess weight. I was in pain almost all the time; my feet and knees were collapsing under the pressure. The blood sugar swings left me in a fog for hours. I was irritable and unhappy and devoid of hope. A cold and searing pain clutched my heart whenever I exerted myself at all. My heart was enlarged, and the lining that surrounded it was inflamed. My life was slipping away, like grains of sand between my fingers, without ever having been lived, and somehow, for some reason, though I really tried my best, everyone said I was responsible for this dismal situation.
My body seemed to be some kind of "fat machine," making blood fats and body fat by the carload.
Like my parents and brother before me, I was well on my way to an early death. With each doctor's visit or hospital discharge, I was cautioned to watch my weight and my diet, but I had tried that over and over again, and though I nodded in agreement, and though I knew I could be a very determined and strong person in other areas of my life, deep down I knew that no diet ever had, or ever would, work for me. Still, though I just didn't know what else to do, I could not let myself give up.
My exercise regimen was exhausting. Had I seen results, I would have stuck with it, but I ached all over each time I finished a session, and I was just too tired to keep it up. For all the discomfort, it simply didn't seem to make that much of a difference.
My body seemed to be some kind of "fat-making machine," turning all the food I ate into fat instead of burning some of it as energy. Even when I mustered every bit of strength and forced myself to hold on and not give in, I seemed to gain weight on the same amount of food that caused others to shed pounds. And to make matters worse, as my body fat increased, so did the levels of fat in my blood. I was desperate, watching myself spiraling into a pit, knowing I was to blame for my own failure, but unable to pull out of the tailspin.
Excerpted from The Carbohydrate Addict's Healthy Heart Program by Richard & Rachael Heller/Frederic Vagnini. Copyright© 1999 by Richard & Rachael Heller/Frederic Vagnini. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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