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WHEE (Weight, health, eating and exercise) is a community support diary for Kossacks who are currently or planning to start losing, gaining or maintaining their weight through diet and exercise or fitness.  Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated.  If you are working on your weight or fitness, please, join us!!  You may also click the WHEE tag to view all diary posts.

Turtle here... now that my diagnosis is in the can, now t hat I am no longer obese by the definitions put forward by the scientists themselves, and now that I have taken charge of my own health and fitness and KNOW THE RULES which are peculiar to my own body, I have accumulated enough information and research not only to direct my own health plan and convalescence, but also to offer some advice to those who have persistent underlying problems to help manage chronic issues related to health, weight loss, eating, and of course, cooking.

If you have a persistent "weight problem"then you have a persistent problem of an underlying cause.  Overweight is not a problem in and of itself.  It is a symptom of an unusual condition or circumstance which causes the body to be öff the charts.  Baseball players, due to their overall high aerobic capacity in their sport, are heavily muscled, and those short-to-medium-sized men who benefit from their brief height and large muscular legs and calves, slide into home base more often than the tall, lanky ones who seem to catch well in the outfield.  None of them have a "normal Body Mass Index."  The Body Mass Index, as Edward pointed out some months ago now, is a quick and dirty way of assessing whether you fit onto the scale of "normal"weight.  And I do mean WEIGHT, not MASS.  Mass is the actual material existing in gravity, and the mass of bone, the mass of muscle, the mass of WATER or FLUID inside the body, and the "lean muscle mass"of the skeleton and muscle in total can be far more accurately measured.  Athletes do these measurements to determine whether they are fit.  Geeks like Edward go in for a BodyBugg to determine what their efficiency rating on the machines that we call our bodies, yield each day in order to fine-tune a fitness program for their overall, long term health.

Nobody can use BMI to tell you that you are obese.  It just isn't accurate.  Trust me on this: the sheer weight x height values on my medical chart at Health Partners gave me an automatic diagnosis of 'morbid obesity.' That implies dangerous amounts of fat in my torso.

But I don't have dangerous amounts of fat in my torso.  And I am not at risk for heart disease.  OR stroke.  But there is no doctor who can take credit for that.

My point is, I am not alone.  And if you've read enough here to spurn the medical profession entirely, I also think that is a mistake.  Because once you take charge of your OWN situation, unflinchingly and without embarrassment, remember that doctors see it all.  And without them, without surgeons who intervene to save lives and restore function to the war fighter in Afghanistan and Baghdad, without primary care doctors who provide life-saving therapy in the E.R., without the intervention of research endocrinologists who discovered the disease from which I suffer - and which lies undiagnosed like a ticking time bomb in the population at large which is about to explode all over the new health care initiative as the working poor gain better access to insurance, wellness care and treatment for underlying risk factors, these men and women (and women make up the majority if new entrants into the medical profession every day) are our main line of defense against premature mortality.  They should not be spurned.  But we DO need to educate them.  Here is my advice from my own experience.  And I do believe, and will maintain despite my own lack of confidence in the average doctor who may never see a "rare disease"before, there are men and women who are open-minded and inquiring, and who will, if you follow some simple steps, work with you and help you solve your problems.

Be Your Own Database:

Use or another free online program, and generate your own statistics.  Weight, body measurement, food intake, food values.  IF NOTHING ELSE, recording a month of food diaries will confirm, or rule out, dietary sources of underlying health problems leading to over - and - underweight.  THEY DID IN MY CASE.

Food cravings are not a sign of Weakness, but they could mean HYPOGLYCEMIA:

Everyone has 'trigger foods' if they eat compulsively.  Or so-called "comfort foods"  They are rarely green beans, roughage, fresh fruit or high-nutrient whole grains - they are refined foods.  Why?  Because most cravings are easily satisfied with a blood sugar boost (refined calories from processed fats and sugar).  I had such cravings when I hit cortisol exhaustion, because the mild stimulant effect of sugar, caffeine and fats in chocolate snacks would give me a hit and stave off the exhaustion to help me keep going through the swoon and passing out that I often did at my desk.   It works for other kinds of weakness and malnourished condition as well.  If you have a craving for chocolate and are hitting the snack machine for that, and nothing else will do - then it is time to evaluate your fasting blood glucose with your doctor.  You might be having hypoglycemic reactions.  GET THAT TEST.

Cravings for Red Meat Aren't Politically Incorrect:  THIS COULD BE MALNUTRITION!!!

I had dinner with my brother - whose weight fluctuates wildly but has generally been normal all of his life.  He does, of course, have the same condition as me, undiagnosed and possbily only at "carrier"level, which means no overt symptoms of 11-beta hydroxylase deficiency.  He would have, however, some of the same malnutritive factors such as low intrinsic factor (or vitamin B-12 deficiency.)  And he would certainly have a low DHEA level in his serum lipoids.  And if he has any bumps, sores, coldsores or other skin abnormalities, non-viral in nature, particularly sores inside the mouth or recurrent sores, he is missing essential amino acids.

The combination of supplements I take are DHEA (and I take about 3 times the amount recommended), B-12 chewable (this will assist in food absorption), vitamin E - which is not a vitamin per se, it is an essential oil that nourishes the skin and nerves and eyes), retinol - otherwise known as vitamin A, which nourishes the connective tissues of the eye.  Most of these are fat soluble.  And for anyone who has fluid-retention, allergies, sensitivity to foods, celiac disease or absorption problems in their digestive tract, you could eat all day and get little satiety, store fat and/or fluid and gain nothing.  I suggested that he choose fatty fishes, which is what I eat.  King salmon, loaded with triglycerides and omega-6 oils.  Supplement his diet with daily megadoses of lysine and DHEA.  Hit the supplements counter for organic sources of E, which is absorbable through the skin.  

When he gets adequate amino acids - which are easily found in your nice fatty T-bone steak in abundant quantities, along with very high cholesterol of the bad heart-threatening kind but can be gotten in the fatty fishes and supplements - then he will stop "craving red meat"- because what he is craving, is missing and malabsorbed nutrients.


Don't go on a starvation diet.  Who are you kidding?  If you have malabsorption issues, if you have malnutrition, if you are overeating sometimes and abstaining at other times, you are putting your body at great risk.  Don't do it.  Bears eat like - well, bears - in order to hibernate in winter.  Humans do not hibernate - no not even in Finland.  You will not gain permanent fat loss and regain your fitness over the long term if you drink NutriSystem like Oprah did.  All you will do is give yourself the temporary giddy high that comes from dropping ten or fifteen or - in my case, 40 - pounds of retained fluid that will come back with frightening ease - since it's fluid - once you return to potato-chip eating chocolate-snacking normalcy.  Get to the root of the problem, look at what you really eat, write it down, and face the truth.  No doctor can help you rule out underlying medical conditions unless you comply with the rules of science, and that means the rules of nutrition science.


Taking vitamins and OTC drugs is not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about drugs, people.  DRUUUGS.  Many people abuse alcohol for self-medication because it impairs cognition, is perfectly legal and is socially very acceptable.  But if you abuse alcohol for self-medication of underlying problems, you are setting your liver to an early expiration date, and without a liver you don't live long.

Same with street drugs.  Ironically, the narcotic pain relievers are among the least harmful of all drugs - when given in pure form or in aspirin compounds.  But recently, over the past forty years I mean, most all narcotic pain relievers, hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, thebaine and other semi-synthesized opioids, are in rampant abuse, and compounded with acetaminophen, are liver-destroying poisons.  DO NOT CHUG THESE DOWN IN QUANTITY!!!

Rush was right when he got scrips for oxycontin - why?  because it's got a very low amount of acetaminophen in it, and he may very well have saved what's left of his cold hard liver from his drinking days.  But the rest of you out there have a 2 gram per day hard limit after which the acetaminophen WILL KILL YOU.  

Drugs you cannot abuse safely:  Percocet.  Darvocet.  Vicodin.  Codeine cough syrup.  

Drugs you can abuse with greater safety but which are almost NEVER PRESCRIBED any longer:  Percodan.  Darvon.  Codeine with aspirin.  why aren't they prescribed?  Because doctors have pressed the FDA to consider aspirin, with millennia of safe use behind it, a danger to the stomach lining and the chief cause of bleeding ulcers.  Bleeding ulcers can kill you - if you happen to cause one by rampant abuse of huge doses of aspirin.  I mean GRAMS AND GRAMS AND GRAMS OF IT.

Not so with the "cet" drugs.  They will kill you, over the course of 24 hours, systematically, when you reach 2 grams.  Maybe four, depending upon your body size and metabolism.  For people like me, I believe the threshold is lower.  The maximum daily allowance of liver-destroyer I mean acetaminophen plunges as the age and body weight get smaller.  Thousands of children are killed each day by tylenol-lade cough syrups and unintentional overdoses.

Don't medicate yourself.  You don't know enough to know you can be killing yourself.


But mostly they are experts in what they are experts in. If you have a problem and they start doing a million tests and charging you fee for service, then it's time for you to consider your doctor is NOT a specialist in an area for which you need expert advice.  Find a better expert.  If you have gone back and back and back and keep getting contradictory advice, it is time to put a kind hand on that doctor's arm and say Ï need you to refer me to someone who knows more about it."  And if he/she can't, or worse - won't - it is time to hit and start the kind of research project I did.

Do the research.  That's why you were born with a brain.  Don't be a passive recipient of health care, because you will get the reward of that passivity: a wrong diagnosis, and you will not get your health back.

That's what I know.  I hope it helps.

Originally posted to louisev on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 05:27 AM PST.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for this. (9+ / 0-)

    I'm an Iraq vet and I "self-medicate" to deal with PTSD.  I also eat a lot of fast food because of the high cost of groceries and my inability to cook.  I want to learn how to eat healthy but don't have the slightest clue how to do it.

    There's a voice in my head that says to not be so mean to the conservatives. I work very hard to ignore that voice.

    by djtyg on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 05:41:06 AM PST

    •  Let me suggest two things for you (10+ / 0-)

      First of all- a crock pot.  Crock pot cooking is the easiest cooking out there.  You put things into a crock pot, turn it on and come back in a few hours to a healthy meal.  There are tons of recipes online, and if you're not the sort that minds eating leftovers you can cook several days worth of meals with the right sized crock pot.

      Second- get a steamer.  Steaming vegetables is one of the fastest, most nutritious ways to cook.  You can also use steams to steam fish if you're so inspired.  

      You can learn to cook.  You absolutely can.  Just start slow, take it easy, build on your success and learn from your mistakes.

      "I'm living in an age that calls darkness light." -The Arcade Fire

      by electricgrendel on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 05:48:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  freecycle dot com (8+ / 0-)

        might have cooking utensils, crock pots, etc.  Register at and get FREE STUFF.

        DailyKos: the "Free Ice Cream for Everybody" crowd!

        by louisev on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 05:49:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I also have a second problem. (5+ / 0-)

        I have no clue how to eat healthy.  There's a lot of vegetables that I just can't stand (onions, peppers, raw tomatoes) and that places a lot of limits on what I'll eat.  I also just have no clue as to how to cook healthy without going hungry at all.

        There's a voice in my head that says to not be so mean to the conservatives. I work very hard to ignore that voice.

        by djtyg on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 06:33:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A lot of vegetables taste different and (7+ / 0-)

          milder when they are cooked - they also often taste better in combos. Do you like pizza or spaghetti with red sauce? If you do then the key may be cooking the vegetables.

          I wonder if it might be time for a recipe diary, where wheebles could share their favorite good food recipes. Many of them are fairly simple.

          Also, one of the most important parts of eating well is eating breakfast. If you're not eating it now, let me know your preferences and I can suggest an easy one to try.

        •  If you find it hard (6+ / 0-)

          to get started cooking, identify one or two things that you know you like, and learn those well.  When I was a kid, I was in charge of making spaghetti sauce whenever a family spaghetti dinner was needed.  I was also responsible for chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.  Until I got to college and a living situation that involved cooking instead of cafeteria, those were really the only things I could cook.  Don't try to cook things you don't like or aren't sure about.  If you're not a huge vegetable lover, don't make it your task to learn how to cook with lots of vegetables first.  Think of things that are maybe halfway to vegetableness (chili with beans?  split pea soup with ham?) and learn to make those, then slowly ramp up your vegetable content.

          I'm not a huge vegetable lover.  I don't like leafy greens and I'm allergic to some of them.  But, as I track my food I find that my basic diet tends to have enough fiber and a decent balance of nutrients even so.  I compensate for my lack of desire to scarf down huge quantities of vegetables by, say, eating whole grain muesli with dried fruit and nuts for breakfast, eating whole grain bread, and eating lots of whole fruit (not juice).  I get my five a day even if it's 5 apples.

        •  Well- a difficult palate can be cumbersome. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama, 1864 House, Pandoras Box

          My suggestion is to keep an open mind.  There are things that I do not like to eat, but I try them occasionally to make sure that I still do not like them.  Also- vegetables have different flavors depending on how you cook them.  A raw onion, a sauteed onion and a caramelized onion have different flavors and textures.  It's also my experience that if you sit down and eat things then you eventually acquire a taste for them.

          Barring that, then you'll need to find vegetables you do like and make a diet out of them.  Do not think of it as a chore, but more like an adventure.  Good luck!

          "I'm living in an age that calls darkness light." -The Arcade Fire

          by electricgrendel on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 03:56:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I can help you (9+ / 0-)

    I suffer from the most PTSD of all PTSD's - ongoing childhood sexual abuse.  there are special considerations, diet-wise, behavior-wise and other ways, to deal with it.

    The first things you need to do are environmental.  And this might surprise you - get some after-Christmas-sale Christmas lights.  GREEN and BLUE.  Alternate the colors.  Put a string of them in the room where you are near the computer.  Don't get the twinkly harsh bright ones, get the soft ones, or better yet, ones with a random slow flash.  this has a direct calming effect on the nervous system and will reassure you mentally using strong color therapy.  I know this - I keep a lamp burning all night, every night, and I use a little soft flicker of green and blue.

    Put glow-in-the-dark stars on your walls and ceilings - they glow green-white.  Better yet - add planets.  They come in little plastic kits that are very cheap.

    EAT REGULARLY.  It doesn't matter what it is - but force yourself to eat.  You cause stress in your body by avoiding eating and then eating in starvation mode.

    Sit down to eat.  Don't gulp, and don't eat in front of the monitor.  Get in touch with your body and its nourishment and the process of nourishing you.  If yoú're going for fast food, go to Taco Bell or a nourishing thai or teriyaki place, don't hit Burger king.  You might as well just buy a pound of hamburger and a block of salt and fry it up yourself if you're going to do that.  Make your own fast food hamburgers from Costco, they even come in buns, and they are much higher in nutrition.

    Healthify your fast food choices by buying bulk quantities of the things you really do crave.  Get baked chips instead - Lays makes them.  Yes they cost more, but you will eat less of them.  The lower the salt content the more satisfied you will be.  Get sea-salted tortilla chips.  Buy those Mexican-made corn tortillas, because corn is more nourishing than wheat, and roll yer own tacos, make yer own taco meat.

    If you're into guacamole, the recipe will choke you with its simplicity.  I'll give that to you if you are.  LEt me know your fast food quick hits and I can tell you how to make them for 25% the price, and learning some basic cooking skills will also help you deal with the stress of having to deal with eating.

    DailyKos: the "Free Ice Cream for Everybody" crowd!

    by louisev on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 05:48:54 AM PST

  •  I seek comfort foods and crave red meat (7+ / 0-)

    especially around my periods.  I know I have dad had it and I got it the old genetic route, I guess.  My comfort foods are all about salt and grease - I nearly never crave anything sweet.

    "We struck down evil with the mighty sword of teamwork and the hammer of not bickering!" - The Shoveler

    by Pandoras Box on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 06:29:37 AM PST

  •  Response- some agreement some minor corrections (9+ / 0-)

    BMI is a basic measurement, you are correct of weight divided by height. It works for most people in defining whether you are underweight, normal weight, over weight or obese. It doesn't work for people who have more muscle mass than usual. Low tech, combining the BMI with a waist to hip ratio would give more information. Higher tech would be one of the measurements of body fat, there are some scales that do this and some hand held instruments. If you have a high BMI but low body fat, then you have high muscle mass. If you are in the obese category by BMI, but you are confident you are not obese because of your muscle mass, you may want to get your %body fat measured, just to confirm what you believe.

    I agree that starvation diets are harmful and usually self-defeating, they do not help in the long run.

    You mention that B12 assists in food absorption. I've never heard that. Some people with stomach problems, including pernicious anemia, have trouble absorbing B12 because they have low or no intrinsic factor. About 1% of B12 can be absorbed without intrinsic factor, so you can take B12 in oral doses of 1000 mcg daily and therefore won't need monthly B12 injections. We need about 1 mcg daily. So taking oral B12 at high doses can correct for those who have trouble absorbing B12, but B12 is used in manufacture of red blood cells and other body chemistries, I have never heard that it is useful in food absorption.

    There are a lot of inconsistencies in your discussion of pain medications to take and not to take. I would start off by saying opiods (narcotics) are helpful for short-term pain relief. Codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin), propoxyphene (Darvon) are in that category. Short term pain relief usually means after surgery for a few days or after an injury for a few days. Do not take for long term or chronic pain because of the risk of addiction. Medications are added to opiods to potentiate the effect of the medication, so acetamenophen (tylenol) or aspirin are often combined with the opiod. The exception to the chronic pain is, of course, people who are terminally ill who should receive what they need for pain relief.

    Both tylenol and aspirin have issues when combined with the narcotic portion of the pain medication. Tylenol is liver toxic, as louisev points out, and if you take more pain pills than ordered you could overdose easily. More than 8 pills in an 24 hour period of Vicodin 5/500 (5 mg of hydrocodone and 500 mg of tylenol) would be an overdose. The risk for liver damage is increased by chronic, heavy alcohol use. If this is you, then you could ask to have your hydrocodone with ibuprofen (vicoprofen).  Many people take more than 2 grams of tylenol a day and it doesn't kill them or harm their liver. People on chronic tylenol should periodically have a liver enzyme test to check the function of their liver. People who drink heavily should not take tylenol.

    Aspirin is a platelet inhibitor, which means taking a daily baby aspirin is helpful to people with heart disease, as it keeps the platelets from clumping together or forming clots. It is not helpful for people with stomach ulcers or other sources for a bleed in the gastrointestinal system, so taking high doses of aspirin with your opiod could be a problem.

    Whether to add aspirin or tylenol (or which to add) to the opiod to increase its effectiveness would be based on your particular medical history. If you are concerned about the combinations, you can ask to have your opiod plain. Another alternative pain medication is Tramadol (Ultram), which is opiod like and this form does not have tylenol.

    I wouldn't recommend oxycontin to anyone, has tremendous addiction potential,  it shouldn't be typically ordered for someone with run-of-the-mill post op pain. Consider for terminally ill patients for pain control.

    •  But what if it works best? (4+ / 0-)

      I wouldn't recommend oxycontin to anyone, has tremendous addiction potential,  it shouldn't be typically ordered for someone with run-of-the-mill post op pain. Consider for terminally ill patients for pain control.

      I get what you're saying here, but I can't help but think that the "addiction potential" fear is overblown.  Why shouldn't a chronic pain sufferer take whatever works best?  It isn't as though the pain is going to suddenly go away, leaving no "medical" reason for the oxy but still leaving an "addictive" reason.

      If oxy manages chronic pain, what difference does it make that it's addictive?  Heck, if I suffered from chronic pain, I'd be addicted to ANYTHING that made it go away, no?

      "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression." -Thomas Paine

      by sierrak9s on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 07:21:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The problem with addiction (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pandoras Box, Clio2

        is that you get less pain relief from the medication over time, that you need higher doses to get the same response, that you have violent physical reactions when you don't take the medication. As you increase the dose, you increase the risk of side effects and overdosage and death.  Once you become addicted, it is very difficult to get medications you want legally since most medical professionals will not increase your dose even thought that is what you need to get pain relief. Once you are addicted, it overtakes your life and all you are thinking about is getting your next dose and it is never enough.

        If you have chronic pain, there are pain specialists that can work on developing a proper plan for your pain, perhaps alternative medications can help (tricyclic antidepressants and some antiseizure meds treat chronic pain without causing addiction, perhaps some nerve blocks, perhaps you need surgery or physical therapy, etc.

  •  I really hate to admit this (8+ / 0-)

    because it took so frickin' long for me to admit it to myself, and I ended up wasting years of my life more depressed than I had to be.

    Exercise is the only self-medication that has ever worked for me.  (I haven't tried yoga/meditation; don't know if it has the same effects on endorphin levels).  But I still have to kick myself out of bed every morning to do it.  Why is that?  

    Forty minutes on the bike and I can tell the difference an hour later -- the world looks manageable, I feel great, eat better, know I'll sleep better that night.  But I'm still fighting that good old American cultural zeitgeist: there must be something, a pill, a magic potion, that will do everything exercise does for me without the work.

    There isn't, people.  Get up and get going.  If I can do it, anyone can.      

    I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones. (John Cage)

    by dotalbon on Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 08:12:50 AM PST

  •  Spent Christmas evening at the local ER (7+ / 0-)

    My son began to choke during dinner. He ended up having an emergency Esophagogastroduodenoscopy. The hospital called in a surgical team on christmas evening to work on him. They found his dinner stuck in a ball in the lower esophagus. It never passed through into his stomach. They think he has a connective tissue disorder and said this isn't normal for a 19 year old. My health insurance just kicked him off on December 1st for dropping down to a part time student. So no insurance, a battery of tests they want performed and perhaps a $10k hospital bill. He only makes $500 a month at his part time job. I hope Medi-Cal will take him. He is 5'7" and about 110 pounds. He has always had trouble keeping weight on. Today he goes on Ensure again to help him maintain his weight. I must say they took excellent care of him at the hospital and never once considered if he had insurance. But getting him care now may be another problem.

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