Livin’ Not-So-Large – August 30th, 2003
by Bing Futch
Over 90 million Americans past the age of 20 are overweight or obese; an astounding statistic that translates into “one out of every four adults.” I wonder if this has anything to do with the reported fact that “one out of every three” people in America will be employed by the McDonald’s Corporation at some point in their lives. Neither of these truths is particularly heartening, but there only seems to be so much that one can do to avoid joining merrily in with either faction. Regarding time served under the Golden Arches, dropping fries and pushing spatulas over black, sizzling grills, you can always make the astute choice to seek higher ground in your employment search. However, you can choose your vocation but you can’t choose your genetics. Many folks suffer from medical conditions that make them predisposed to weight gain. The only excuse for the rest of the country is that we live in a got-to-go society which leaves little room for exercise and good eating. Add to this mix the hard-earned bad habits resultant of a life spent seeking the next reward or relief and you’ve got beer-gut, chocolate thighs and butter-butt to last a lifetime. No wonder so many of us are toting around extra chins and bellies – we worked hard for them while living it up.
In the field of human health, overweight or obese individuals are at risk for a number of debilitating afflictions ranging from diabetes and high blood pressure to heart disease and the inability to drive small foreign cars. Heavyset humans also run the risk of supreme social stigma – since everybody knows that in order to get anywhere in life, you need to be attractive, in-shape and able to wipe your own ass. At least that’s what you might glean from the overpowering gauntlet of media, which insists that only beautiful people find love and happiness; everyone else wallows in unfortunate character development. Fat is a fact of life, after all! Not everyone can conquer their cellulite demons, nor should they be made to overcome based on the whims of an intolerant collective of pop-culturists keen on a race of Kate Moss-ish types (and even she’s looking like some indulgence has crept into her daily routine.)
But for those who have desire to slim down for health purposes or reasons of well-being and a renewed body image, I have a testimonial that may serve as inspiration.
Blessed with decent genetics, I haven’t had to strain myself trying to fit into a pair of size 33 jeans – but years of alcoholism and no real dietary clue began to take their toll upon my frame right after my metabolism slowed down. It seems to happen around the late 20’s for most people, just as you’re rounding the oh-so-important curve of 30-something, food begins to hang out with you for longer than it used to. As if thinning hair, memory loss and lower back pain wasn’t enough to get your goat – add to that the humiliation of realizing that you just can’t get away with pigging out anymore and you’ve got the same reality that millions of Americans face each year. It’s time for a revised look at our diets. And I believe that I’ve found something that works.
My fiancee’ and I began the Atkins Diet (www.atkins.com) in May of this year with a solid resolve to lose some of the unwanted weight that we were both packing on. Of course, I was skeptical of the diet as a “fad”; some friends I’d known had tackled the carb-counting program and left off of it, unhappy and frustrated. Still, a lifestyle change was calling out to the both of us and we answered by going into the “induction phase” of the diet together. Atkins works by changing how your body burns fat. Carbohydrate intake is decreased which causes your body fat to be burned as a primary source of fuel, rather than a reserve source. By limiting your daily accumulation of carb grams (20 per day during induction), the process of burning off all that fat is begun. This means no alcohol, no sugar, no “a whole lotta stuff” until the minimum two-week long induction period has been traversed. After that, your total daily allowance of carbs can be either maintained or increased, depending on how much weight you wish to lose.
Sounds none-too-shocking until you start planning your meals and realize that you’ll be eating a lot of what doctors, nutritionists and mom have been warning you off of.
Full-on dairy in the form of eggs, butter and cheese – some carbs present, but they’re “good” carbs. Any kind of meat protein whatsoever, which means that you can have pork chops, pork salad, pork rinds, pork butts and pork out on pork until you feel, well, porky. It’s all good, says the Atkins Diet. You’ll burn it off. Though some challengers of the diet say that this kind of high-fat eating will only cause other sorts of problems, the Atkins folks insist that they’ve been monitoring the lifestyles of people for years; and they know that the system works. Part of the reason for this is that Atkins isn’t a “diet” per se, something that you just tackle for losing weight and then rescind as soon as the desired weight is reached. This method is a “lifestyle” change that means just that: it’s for life. Once you get on Atkins, you stick with it for always, which means getting to know your food on a cozier level, what it does to and for you and, most importantly, to know your limitations.
Will Atkins work for everybody? Obviously not for those people who are genetically predisposed to being overweight. Personally speaking, I’ve dropped three jean sizes, to the point where most of my clothes are hanging off of me like scarecrow rags. Jae, likewise, is now fitting into outfits that she’d kept around the house, dreaming of the day that exercise would allow her back into them. And though I attribute a good portion of the weight loss to our renewed approach to liquor (we champion Michelob Ultra, it has under 3 grams of carbs per bottle), our success also has a lot to do with simply eating right; with discipline and moderation.
I like to see people succeed and I know quite a few folks who have been struggling to achieve their weight goals and spending stupid amounts of money on treatments, hypnotherapy, questionable quack diets and even abstinence in order to slim down. Though I had a few questions regarding the solidity of the Atkins findings at the start, I’m beginning to sing the praises of this clear-headed approach to good health and nutrition. Like any great effort, changing your lifestyle requires encouragement and support. I wish you the best of luck in finding happiness within yourself if you’re agonizing over your shape. Not that it matters that much ultimately. This thin-obsessed society is far removed from the healthy, well-padded frames of centuries-ago Europe, where a little belly was considered sexy, or in the islands of the Pacific Rim, where weight gain is a sign of fertility. Maybe more people should remain content with their girth as opposed to removing it in order to “fit in.”
Or maybe there are just too many tiny foreign cars on the market to ignore.
On August 30th, 1999 – three guys walked onto the stage at the House Of Blues at Downtown Disney and played their very first show together. An auspicious beginning, to say the least. Now, four years later – Mohave continues to roll merrily along, telling stories, raising hell and encouraging audiences to live loud and love lots. I realized some time ago that the band was like a tribe – people moved in and out of its circle, but always remained a part of its lore. As Mohave moves on into its next chapter, I’d like to thank everyone who has ever witnessed the band in action, taken the time to explore the music or stuck with us through every twist and turn of the storyline. To close out this column, I’ve got a little video that I’d like to share with you, commemorating four years of music and magic. Tonight, we’ll celebrate proper at Logan’s Bistro (802 Virginia Drive, Orlando) with a crowd of friends and strangers, great food and sweet beer and wine. Happily, I realize that most of the cuisine at Logan’s is Atkins-friendly, so “porking out” on roast tenderloin won’t be a concern. Blessings to all who frequent this happy place and its portholes. We’ll be back sooner with more that we promised. Be well.
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