I was a medic in the military and that paid for my college
education -- there was a real "GI Bill" back then.
I attended Eastern Kentucky University where I majored in
Criminal Justice and minored in Emergency Medicine. I graduated,
"With Distinction" in the top of my class.
I applied for a position as a federal agent. When my chance
to participate in the, "War on Drugs" came, I
couldn't get to Florida fast enough. I was the Honor Graduate
at FLETC, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in
Glynco, GA, and served as a Special Agent, US Department
of the Treasury/USCS.
I investigated cases related to Money Laundering, Narcotics
Trafficking, Drug Smuggling, etc., and was assigned to the
Organized Crime Strike Force in Miami for a few years. It
was "Miami Vice" world of Black Hawk helicopters,
go-fast boats, guns, arrests, search warrants and drug seizures
- I loved every blessed minute of it.
Somewhere along the line, it looks like I lost my enthusiasm
for life - I honestly, truthfully, don't know what happened,
or exactly when it happened. I just stopped living and started
I gained weight slowly at first, until I quit working out
- then I gained a lot more, a lot faster. The more weight
I gained, the less I felt like doing and . . . you get the
Somewhere along the way, the man that I was and I got separated.
I liked that guy, I liked being that guy, and I cannot say
that I am all that pleased with the "new me."
I guess anyone can slip and fall, and sometimes it can
be a long way down, but lying around making excuses and
feeling sorry for yourself isn't much of an answer. As a
single parent raising four children, I cannot afford to
lay around and die - I have much too much to do. This "new
me" has got to go, so I am resolved to kick his fat
butt to the curb with the rest of the trash.
I am an investigator by profession. I approached this just
as I would any other case assignment and used my capabilities
and resources as effectively as possible. Through Lexis,
I can become an instant expert on virtually anything - I
studied the latest weight loss theories/programs and reviewed
various reports/clinical studies on dietary supplements
and training regimens.
There have been a zillion diet gurus preaching that the
secret to success is everything from pineapples to beer
- yeah right! If beer was the secret to success, I wouldn't
be here. I read and researched the mountain of written material
about diets - Hollywood, Mayo Clinic, Cabbage Soup, Mediterranean,
Neanderthal, Somers, Carbohydrate, Rotation, Zone . . .
as touted by the names we know - Atkins, Ornish, Pritikin,
Katahn, Sears . . . tell you what, just for example, let's
just look at Dr. Barry Sears and his "Zone Diet."
Dr. Sears claims that the secret to dieting success lies
in the "ratio" of carbs, proteins and fats consumed
- the "Zone" is described as 40/30/30. In other
words, if you consume 2000 calories a day you need 800 carb
calories, 600 protein calories and 600 fat calories to,
"increase mental focus, enhance physical performance,
slow the aging process, decrease likelihood of coronary
heart disease, and reduce excess body fat."
Dr. Sears proffers "irrefutable evidence" in
support of his 40/30/30 mantra, citing an article from the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the fact
that the Stanford University swim team (that had been getting
it's butt kicked by Texas for years) went on this diet and
suddenly started kicking a little butt of their own. Stanford
got healthy, the University of Texas got their comeuppance
and Dr. Sears made a ton of money and became a sensation.
Well, it's axiomatic that every two-bit grifter in the
world drops names like dandruff and people trying to sell
you on something love to quote articles from prestigious
publications - and why not? Do you just happen to have a
copy of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
on your coffee table? If you did, and went to the trouble
to see what they actually said, you'd find, "The
results of this study showed that it was energy intake,
not nutrient composition, that determined weight loss in
response to low-energy diets..." (Golay A, Allaz
AF, Morel Y de Tonnac N, Tankova S, Reaven Gl. Similar weight
loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets. AJCN 1996;63(2)174-178)
Furthermore, the American College of Sports Medicine
(ACSM), the American Dietetic Association, the Women's
Sports Foundation, and the Cooper Institute for Aerobics
Research - published a joint statement critical of Dr.
Sears. It seems that Dr. Sears neglected to mention that
the Texas swim coach transferred to Stanford and brought
a bunch of first rate swimmers too.
Finally, the Stanford swim team's doctor wasn't impressed..
He is quoted as saying, "I am unaware of any evidence
to support a correlation between those who follow the 40/30/30
diet and the athletes performance." He also
stated, "since athletic success is multifactorial,
any attempt to give credit for Stanford's athletic success
to a diet is insulting to the coaches and athletes whose
talent, incredible dedication, and hard work are the primary
factors for their success." (Carpenter RA, et al.
Questioning 40/30/30. ACSM, ADA, WSF, CIAR 1998)
So much for Dr. B.S. and his "Zone."
In things I have written, I always make it clear that I
have no credentials with regard to parenting and claim none.
I am, however, knowledgeable on the subject of con artists,
swindlers and frauds. How many times have you heard someone
say, "You cannot con an honest man." That
may be the single stupidest statement I ever heard in my
life. Con artists capitalize upon the dreams and/or desperation
of honest people every day.
The fact is, there are millions of people in this country
ranging from overweight to morbidly obese and many of them
are utterly desperate. Consequently, the weight loss industry
is a huge market with a lot of money involved; I have seen
estimates of $33,000,000,000 a year (Yes, you read that
right - $33 BILLION). Even a little piece of $33 billion
dollars is serious money.
In a number of ways, those of us who are overweight are
our own worst enemies - our collective willingness to believe
in silver bullets and magic cure alls has created a theater
to which the "beautiful people" come and swear
that the secret to their success is "(whatever some
huckster will pay them to say - you fill it in)." In
the face of all the hi-dollar hype, it is really hard for
us to figure out how to lose weight. Most of what we spend
a year is a total waste.
Investigative research is what I do - so I did it. The
first thing I discovered is, there is no "silver bullet."
Just as there is no magic combination of foods that melts
fat away - there is no magic PERIOD! The pills, potions
and plastic devices are scams and the associated "guarantees"
are meaningless. That was the bad news.
The good news was that everyone seems to agree that the
"Atkins Diet" actually works and a lot of people
out there swear by the "Body-for-Life" approach
espoused by Bill Phillips.
Dr. Atkins book, "Diet Revolution," about his
low carb approach to dieting is very complicated - he claims
that a diet very low in carbohydrates causes a change in
body chemistry called ketosis that causes the body to shed
fat quickly. There is a lot of debate about how this works,
and whether or not it is good for you, but there is no doubt
that- a diet low in carbohydrates causes ketosis which
On the other hand, a lot of learned people with impressive
credentials are very critical of the "eat all the
meat, cheese, butter . . . you want" claims made
by Dr. Atkins and his acolytes. Many of these detractors
seem to acknowledge that the diet works but they express
concerns that other health issues might thereby be created.
Still, there seems to be no doubt that cutting out
the carbs will make the hunger go away without pills.
I liked Bill Phillips book, "Body-for-LIFE."
If you don't read anything else, look for this at the library.
Money is tight here but I bought copies for family members
who are overweight. I liked this book because it offers
no "magic secret" - it's inspirational, common
sense and totally devoid of egotistical self promotion.
It reads like your athletic older brother saying, "OK,
forget the nonsense - this is what you gotta do."
In his book, Bill Phillips says the secret to changing
your body and your life is to "eat right and exercise."
With regard to the hype that confronts us, he says, "What
we have really got is a junk heap of false conclusions,
endless contradictions, and half-baked exercise and nutrition
theories that are creating so much uncertainty and confusion,
most people don't know which way to turn."
Just as I know BS when I hear it, the truth has an unmistakable
ring all its own, especially when you hear it again and
again. Bill Phillips' advice mirrors the advice I got from
my doctor the last time I tried to lose weight - "it's
diet and exercise or be fat."
Two years ago, phentramine induced starvation and a lot
of exercise knocked the weight off me pretty effectively
but, like the vast majority of people who do that, I gained
back more than I lost. I didn't make the changes in my lifestyle
that my doctor urged me to make so a lot hard work, and
some expensive (and painful) "sports injuries,"
turned out to be all for naught. I'm not at all sure that
my shoulders and lower back are up to that again.
I like the book and I like the fact that Bill Phillips
has produced an inspirational video he will send you at
his expense if you will commit to making a donation to the
Make a Wish Foundation (the nonprofit organization that
tries to make a wish come true for children afflicted with
terminal illnesses) if you find his video worthwhile. You
know that most people just take the video and forget their
concomitant obligation, but he does it anyway for those
who don't. That's class.
I also liked the put up or shut up nature of the Body-for-LIFE
"Challenge." There's nothing vague or ambiguous
about it. Bill Phillips claims that if you do what he says
for 12 weeks, you'll get remarkable results and he publishes
an enormous list of before and after pictures to prove it.
Personally, I'd do 12 weeks in San Quentin to get any part
of what his followers claim to have achieved.
In researching it, I particularly liked several of the
personal home pages where people who tried the Body-for-LIFE
challenge and didn't do all that well posted their before
and after pictures. Some of them were painfully candid about
their failures to follow through and achieve earth shaking
results. It struck me that nobody was saying, "I
did what they said, but it didn't work."
I have been an investigator for a long time now, so I tend
to be something of a skeptic. I checked out the "Winners"
of the Challenge posted by BfL on their web site. - I verified
that they are real people. If there's a "truth"
out there, I think this approach is probably it.
In my life I have fought for a lot of things; I'm older
now, but there are still things that are important enough
for me to fight for. I have a very special teenager who
has stood with me through tough times - I want to see that
young man full grown, married with kids of his own. I also
have two boys ages 5 & 6, and a 4 year old daughter;
I want to play ball with those boys and, when the day comes
to dance at my baby's wedding, I want Meggie to be as proud
of me as I'll be of her.
The propensity to get fat is one big, ugly, "900 Pound
Gorilla" - an enormous monkey on our backs that robs
us of life while we're living it. I really believe that
I can whip this thing and I have signed up for the Body-for-LIFE
Challenge that begins September 24, 2001. (I had to wait
until I could financially recover from the August "back
to school" ordeal)
I am going to follow the BfL approach of small meals, regular
exercise and use the Atkins low carb concept to eliminate
hunger. The BfL book also preaches a restricted carb intake
so I'll do it their way and decline to eat all the high
fat foods that the Atkins approach allows. I am going to
give this BfL Challenge a shot; I am going to do exactly
what they recommend the way they recommend, document the
results and publish them right here.
I have a big, bad gorilla to whip - stay tuned!