in the United States we are facing a plague worse than
SARS; something so dangerous that it claims the lives
of 300,000 people very year. A plague that is so serious,
there is no cure. Yet this plague is constantly overlooked.
Obesity was, is, and forever will be a problem in the
I remember when I was in sixth grade and the film Heavyweights
came out. You know the flick that I’m talking about:
the film about life at fat camp. If there is one lesson
to be learned from the film, it is that fat people always
get picked on. They are the easiest targets. Trust me,
As a child I was a toothpick. I wasn’t a picky eater;
I just had a quick metabolism. When kids are young they
tend to eat less and be more active. By the time I reached
the fifth grade, I was getting fat without paying much
attention to the accumulating pounds. After all, at twelve
years old who thinks about their weight? By the time I
was in eighth grade, despite the constant admonishment
of my parents to watch what I was eating, I was obese.
What do you think about when you hear the word “obese”?
Maybe the pictures you have seen while waiting in line
at the Supermarket on the cover of the Weekly World News
of, “1106lb woman with 1100 lb children”.
That is beyond obesity. Obesity is defined as “an
increase in body weight beyond the limitation of skeletal
and physical requirement, as the result of an excessive
accumulation of fat in the body.” Ultimately what
this means is that your weight prevents you for carrying
out some sort of action you should be able to perform.
A 15-year- old should be able to run a mile. I couldn’t.
I knew that I was fat. However, I could not reprimand
myself for being fat all the time. As a result, I learned
to live with being fat. To most fat people, the constant
admonishment of others to watch their diets doesn’t
matter. “Andreas, do you really need that piece
of cake?” my mother would say. “I don’t
care, I am hungry,” was my usual reply.
No self-control. That was what my mother would say was
my “faiblesse” (French for “weakness”).
I was not able to control my urges. I would relent to
any desire. Whenever I went outside, I would have to buy
candy. It was a sickness. I really wasn’t concerned
with my appearance, as is the case with most fat people.
There were times when I would contemplate weight loss
but after a week I would give up. I had no perseverance.
Time passed and by the time I was sixteen, my waist 40-inches
around. What this meant was that if I had gained any more
weight, I would have to shop at Big and Tall. I needed
to do something, but I had no willpower. After my sixteenth
birthday, I promised myself that I would attempt to lose
weight by myself. Accomplishing a goal with external help
is not the same as doing it yourself, especially if it
is something that you are capable of doing. In my case,
I had such a bad eating pattern that cutting certain food
groups out would psychologically kill me. I had to attempt
portion control, the most difficult kind of diet. It was
hard for me to leave half of my sandwich on the plate.
My excuse for finishing my plate was, “What about
all the starving children in Ethiopia?”
However, after the first two months of summer I had developed
a steady eating pattern. When I returned from a summer
in France my parents had noticed a change in my appearance
and were content to see my attempt to lose weight. I continued
on the same diet accompanied by heavy exercise through
August. When I returned for yet another year of school
in September, I learned that my friend, Assaf, had begun
the Atkins diet. So with a couple of tips from him on
how to get started I began my new diet. In December, I
had dropped to a 34-inch, and as of May 16, I wore a 30.
This was by far the biggest accomplishment of my life.
Reflecting back on that sinuous path I had to follow to
reach my goal, I realize that it can be done. After following
a strict diet for several months, I developed a thorough
understanding of the food pyramid. In my attempt to read
whatever I could find about weight maintenance, I learned
why America was the most overweight country in the world.
In fact, obesity rose six percent nationally between 1998
and 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC). In addition, recent CDC reports
indicate that diabetes increased by 33 percent among American
adults during the 1990s, reflecting a surge in obesity
during the same period. Most Americans have a poor diet.
They eat carbohydrates all day long but then don’t
exercise to burn it off. These carbohydrates then develop
into fat and accumulate. The reason for America’s
poor diet is the abundance of junk food on the market.
M and M’s, Snickers, Lays, Doritos, etc, all dump
millions of dollars into advertising. These companies
then market these products cheaply and effectively to
a large consumer body.
Ultimately, the reason for these companies success is
the large division between the rich and the poor. Whereas,
many New Yorkers have the luxury of shopping at quality
supermarkets and the money to support a decent diet, the
rest of United States cannot. Chips, candies, and sodas
are cheap snacks that everyone can afford and thus play
a large role in many lives. Another reason that Americans
are overweight is their lack of will power. They do not
know when to stop eating. I was in a taxi a couple months
ago, and I heard on the radio some lawsuit regarding an
obese man trying to sue McDonalds. What has the world
come to? Did anyone force you to eat at McDonalds? If
the man had any idea how bad that food was for him, he
would have eaten lunch at Subway’s with Jared.
Now that I have achieved my goal, I have received a lot
of attention. “It feels good doesn’t it? “
my guidance counselor asked me in school. “How did
you do it?” For those of you who want the simplest
plan to lose weight here it is: First and foremost, buy
a scale. This will be your best friend for the next several
months. A scale will allow you to monitor your weight
during your diet. Do not switch scales. If you remain
using the same scale your weight will not fluctuate as
Second, be realistic. “Yes, I want to lose 60 pounds.”
This is a very ambitious statement. Lose ten pounds and
work with that. Once you lose the first ten pounds and
develop that mental state the rest is easy. Next, choose
a particular diet: Atkins, Zone, or a low fat diet. Then
research the diet. Compose a list of what you can eat
and cannot. For example, the Atkins diet calls for you
to monitor your carbohydrate intake. This means no bread,
no pasta, and no chips. No, that is not the end of the
world. Instead, the diet calls for a high protein intake:
meat, fish, and vegetables. On a diet you must count your
fats, carbs, protein, and calories. By doing this, you
can slowly reduce your intake and begin rapid weight loss.
Do not starve yourself, but rather make sure your portions
are not too large.
Lastly and most importantly, exercise!! I cannot emphasize
this statement more than anything I have said so far.
Burn those calories!!!