Book Excerpt from Lie There and Lose Weight by John J. Ordover - Lie There and Lose Weight by John J. Ordover

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Lie There and Lose Weight
         On October 13th, 2015, I set myself the goal of losing 100 pounds and keeping it off. This was after years of going up or down 50, 60, 70 pounds and reaching my highest weight at 305.6 pounds. It took me a year to lose those pounds, and it was tough going every single day of that year. It is tough now keeping it off.
         Losing weight, no matter what any book, magazine article, or television commercial says is an incredibly difficult thing. Along the way I learned a few tricks and figured out others that helped me take the edge off, which I’ll share here, but there is nothing I know of that can make losing weight easy or fun. I’m sharing what I thought and felt as I lost weight in the hope that it will be of some help to others trying to do the same thing.
         I documented my struggle starting on October 13th, 2015, on the Facebook Social Network Service. The support and advice I got from my Facebook friends was instrumental in my being able to get through this challenge and right on through to today. Male or female, there is so much shame connected to being fat in our society. Going public with my weight struggle was hard but it helped immensely.
         Interacting with other people with the same struggles or who are professionals in this area also taught me what I needed to do to succeed, and I’m sharing that here as best I can.
         That there was always someone on Facebook willing to listen if I wanted to complain, or who agreed to reward me in various non-monetary but significant ways for making certain goals, was wonderful. So this book is in part a compilation of my Facebook posts over that year (and a bit more) and includes some quotes from my Facebook friends as well. I thank them for allowing me to include their encouraging words.
What I’m Not Going to Do

         October 13, 2015
         Week 0: 305.6 pounds
       Starting new weight loss program. Goal is to lose 100 pounds then see where I stand.

         Anyone who knows me, heck, anyone who has ever met me or heard me speak, would expect my writing a book that is entirely about me to be not only easy for me but inevitable. I love to talk about myself, love to be the center of attention, I’m quite loud and quite talkative. If it seems I’m the kind of guy whose favorite topic of conversation is himself, that conclusion is quite probably correct.
         Nevertheless it turns out writing entirely about my own physical and emotional experiences, really letting people behind the wall, is a struggle. I’d much rather go with my naturally bossy nature and just tell people what to do. It’s far easier to point out other people’s flaws and challenges than it is to take a hard look at my own. It’s a lot more fun to tell other people what to do than to do it myself. Despite the self-restraint required I will not be telling people what to do in this book.
         That said, here’s the one thing you must do: consult your doctor before starting any weight-loss plan. See how easily that comes to me?
         Here’s what I’m really not going to do:
         I’m not going to tell you what diet you should be on. Any diet that restricts calories will work as well as any other and it is likely you already have all the information you need to go on a diet. Anything that worked for you before will likely work again. The challenge is sticking to it.
I’m not going to provide you with recipes, or limit your food choices, or tell you to adopt one program or another. While Weight Watchers worked well for me, nothing in this book is drawn from their program, and no advice I give is under their direction. Any opinions I express in this book, living or dead, are not necessarily something Weight Watchers endorses or agrees with.
         I’m not going to use euphemistic terms like “lifestyle change.” Minimizing my struggle with euphemisms didn’t work for me. For me a diet by any other name was still a diet and calling it a lifestyle change wouldn’t have made it any less unpleasant. Plus, I wasn’t “heavy-set” or “overweight” or even “obese.” I was fat.
         I’m not going to tell you I had gastric bypass surgery because I didn’t, although I’m often asked if I did.
         I’m not going to try to sell you anything, or rather anything other than this book which you already bought, or at least someone did, or you wouldn’t be reading it. Or maybe you stole it, in which case shame on you.
         In a country with more fat people per acre than any other, everyone who struggles to lose weight feels entirely alone. At least when we’re not looking out of the corner of our eye and thinking “that guy’s fatter than I’ll ever be!” only to wake up a year later fatter than that guy and scanning for someone even fatter.
         What I am hoping to do by baring my inner self on these pages is connect with the isolated fat person who feels imprisoned, limited, or undeserving of love: you are not alone, you are not unloved, you are not less than human.

Getting Fat

         October 20, 2015
        Week 1 of my new weight-loss plan: lost 2.4 lbs. At that rate, only 41.6 weeks left to go.
         So how fat was I? I topped off at 305.6 pounds but numbers don’t really paint a picture. I am 5'11" tall with a normal frame. At 300 pounds plus I wasn’t stuck in my house or anything, and fit through doorways, but I was certainly fat enough people seeing me walk down the street would think, and sometimes say, “look at that fat guy, how’d he let himself get that way?” Or old friends would think or very helpfully say “you’ve packed on a few pounds, I see” or other such comments. I recall being singled out as a funeral broke up by someone pointing at me from not as far across the room as they thought and saying “Well, John probably knows all the good places to eat.” Charming comments like that. I fit in theater seats but only barely, in airline seats I needed a seatbelt extender. So how’d I get that way?
          Getting fat was not a goal I set when I was 14 (until then I had been average-to-skinny) but something that came with adolescence. Pounds came with the pimples. The appetite of a pubescent boy is legendary, and when mine came on it came on hard. I went from a skinny nerdy kid to a fat nerdy kid in one year. From my point of view I was only eating when I was hungry and only as much as I wanted to eat (more on that later) but pow, I was growing out as well as up. Doing that for forty years, with only short breaks for temporary weight loss programs, was what got me to three hundred and five-point-six pounds.
       Clearly something was wrong.

The Hunger Switch
         October 27, 2015
         Tuesday Weight Loss Report:
         I have lost another 3.4 pounds, for a total weight loss of 5.8 pounds over two weeks, leaving me at 299.8. Since my goal is to reach 205, that leaves me another 94.8 pounds to go.
         At my current average weight loss of 2.9 pounds per week, that leaves me with another 32.6 weeks to go. I am doing this on a disgustingly healthy diet, so no concerns there.
         I am always hungry. I am hungry as I write this. I’m hungry as you are reading it. If I ate an entire pizza, I would be hungry again within thirty minutes. This is simply a fact of my life. What was up with that? Maybe I was hungry because I was stressed or anxious or under pressure or not dealing with a trauma or another psychological situation; maybe I had some kind of poorly understood biological issue. Maybe something like that was behind it all. I didn’t know what my issue was and I still don’t (and certainly don’t know what yours is).
         Whatever it was, though, I experienced it all as hunger. Somehow my “hunger switch” was broken, locked into “always on.” If I was going to lose weight and keep it off, I was going to have to accept that I was hungry and deal with it some way other than eating.
Doctors and Friends

         Nov 3, 2015
         Tuesday Weight Loss Report:
         I have lost another 1.8 pounds, for a total weight loss of 7.6 pounds over three weeks, leaving me at 298 even. Since my goal is to reach 205, that leaves me another 93 pounds to go.
         At my current average weight loss of 2.53 pounds per week, that leaves me with another 36 weeks to go.
         I consulted with three different doctors during my diet: two metabolic specialists and one psychiatrist whom I have been seeing for 25 years off and on. At the height of my weight curve, Dr. David Case laid my options out for me: my health was so at risk at over three hundred pounds, between my blood pressure, my heart rate, cholesterol and all the usual suspects, that I had to seriously consider gastric bypass surgery of one kind or another. I met with a friend who had had the surgery done and he outlined what I would have to do to care for myself after the procedure, and that sounded far worse to me, or at least no better than what I would have to do to lose weight. Plus it is major surgery with a painful recovery period and a huge host of its own risks.
         I rejected surgery and told Dr. Case that it wasn’t for me (although it was certainly right for my friend), and I have no idea if it would be right for you, dear reader, or not. This time I would lose the weight once and for all. He had expected that response; he had suggested the surgery to drive home the seriousness of my losing weight. I took his point.

The Emotion Explosion

         November 10, 2015
         Tuesday Weight Loss Report:
         I have lost another 2 pounds, for a total weight loss of 9.6 pounds over four weeks, leaving me at 296 even. Since my goal is to reach 205, that leaves me another 91 pounds to go. At my current average weight loss of 2.4 pounds per week, that leaves me with another 38 weeks to go.
         I had several emotional reactions as I started my diet. These were among them:
          “Why me?” How come everyone else gets to eat as much as they want and they don’t gain weight? The answer is that Hunger Switch I spoke of before. My Hunger Switch is set wrong, and despite all the talk about the mythical “set points” for the body, there is no way to reset it.
          “This sucks!” Which I felt because having to diet really does suck. You can pretty it up however you want, but it totally sucks.
          “This is really hard!” I felt because it is really hard. “I don’t want to have to do this!” I whined because I didn’t want to have to do it.
And so on.
         That said, I have a friend with failing kidneys. He goes in for dialysis at least three times a week. He absolutely hates it. Loathes it. Is sometimes in tears about it. But he does it right on time every week because the other option is sickness and an early death. Those same conditions applied to me. I have a teenage son who is autistic and who has limited ability with language. He and my wife need me to be part of their lives as long as I can be. I was free to hate the diet, but I had no choice but to be on it.


Are there emotional issues that contribute to eating too much?
         Probably, since emotional issues influence everything we do. What’s certain is the emotional battering someone would get if somehow they woke up fat tomorrow. All of the following examples really happened, although not all of them happened to me:
         Walking into a room and having everyone look at you, categorize you as beneath them and look away, or look at you with pity.
         Declining dessert at a restaurant and having the server say “Watching your weight, huh? Good for you honey!” or even worse, “Trying to lose weight? It’s about time.” Or ordering whipped cream on your pancakes and the server saying “You sure you need that, honey, aren’t the pancakes enough?” Or putting your plate down at an all-you-can-eat diner and having a stranger next to you say “Be careful, that’s how you got so big in the first place!”
         Being told by someone you used to have a crush on “Why didn’t you tell me you felt that way? Looks aren’t that important to me.”
         Hearing a clerk in a clothing store say “I’m afraid we have nothing in your size!” in a very loud voice, clearly desperate to assure other customers that no one your size shops at their classy establishment.
         Someone coming up to you and saying “Where do you get your clothing? I have an aunt almost as big as you are!” Or asking “Is your whole family as big as you?”
         Having a friend of the appropriate sex say “I’m so horny I could have sex with anyone!” while you’re sitting right there, and when you raise your hand they say “Well, not you of course” since fat people are sexually invisible.
         That’s just the tip of the iceberg, of course. It gets far worse and I could quote examples all day. I won’t speak to what’s going on in the minds of the clerks, servers or strangers, but whatever it is, Wil Wheaton’s “don’t be a dick!” comes to mind.
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