11/1/2000 - (Welcome travelers from www.howstuffworks.com)
Changes A tale of one person’s change
By Marshall R. Goldberg
Former fat man
September 12, 1997
It was one of those times in my life when everything was going well. My relationship with Cynde couldn’t be better. We had been living together for over 6 months and in spite of getting to know more and more about how each other ‘ticked”, we continued exploring with child-like intensity and curiosity all aspects of our lives – sex, travel, ideas, people, attitudes, toys, and food. Oh my god! Food. Now therein lies the rub, dear readers. Food. I am a compulsive eater. I love the taste, texture, and feeling of lots and lots of food. Compulsive eating is a difficult addiction. First, the addiction itself is hell. You are hooked to the calories and go through wicked physical symptoms when trying to kick the habit. Second, the itch to eat too much doesn’t go away. You need to exert control similar to an alcoholic, and at the same time keep ‘drinking.’ (eating) You must eat to survive and can’t just quit. Third, there are the politics of being fat. <Let me quickly shut my mouth before getting into serious trouble here.>
My health problems always loomed in the background but never overwhelmed us. Like just about everyone else in my family that was fat, I had developed a case of type 2 diabetes, (adult onset) and high blood pressure. The treatment seemed effective enough. Take lots of pills, pretend to reform diet, worry a bit, see the doctor from time to time, and kvetch about how someday I needed to get a grip and really lose the weight.
I wasn’t a fat kid, but from age 9 to 16 managed to gain weight as I grew through puberty until I was a 223 pound behemoth at 5’9”. When I was 16 I decided enough was enough and went to see the family doctor and friend, Sidney Koretsky. I can see Sidney today in his neat bow-tie and spectacles carefully explaining all the terrible things being fat would do to me and how I needed to lose weight. (Boy, was he right!) I complained at how difficult that would be. Sidney said they now had drugs that would help me get my appetite under control. He prescribed a pill popular during that era to help me control my appetite. The pill consisted of a strong dose of dextroamphetamine with a soothing downer to soften the rough edges. They were known in the popular vernacular as “sunshine” pills for the sun-shiny euphoria they induced.
I remember the first day of my diet. There I was sitting in algebra class. Due to my “colorful” personality (some things never change) and a major falling out with Mr. Kelley, the fascist that ran the math department, I was excluded from the advanced class and stuck with the jocks. Fortunately, the teacher I had was good and I actually liked the jocks a lot better than the effete intellectual crowd. Hunger seized my body. I was cold and clammy and hollow to the bone. My stomach turned and teased diverting all my consciousness to nothing but feeding my fat cells. Each cell screamed in unison – FEED ME !!! FEED ME !!!! Then I took the sunshine pill. WOW !!! The warmth gushed through my body slaying all traces of hunger, lighting up my eyes, and standing my hair on end. THIS WAS HEAVEN !!!
Yes, the diet worked great. I wound up down at 165 pounds. Thank you Dr. Koretsky! Then from 16-26 I went up to the upper 170s. After getting married to my late wife in 1970, I discovered to both our delights that Kathie was an incredible cook. My weight then drifted back up to the 190s. During this time I was getting tons of exercise. I would ride my bicycle around Boston for hours a day. I had my own little business; loved the freedom; and worked enough to pay the bills. The rest of the time was ours. How I loved the rides around the Esplanade. Across the Mass Ave. Bridge with the shimmering Charles River basin. Sunsets. Warm spring days. Hot summer days. Cool autumn days. The concerts. Arthur Fiedler. I can see him now.
And then along came a bad broke Christmas. It was hell for me. Here I had a “Mrs. Christmas (heavy on the Santa side)” filled with the joy of the season for a wife, and we didn’t have a pot to piss in. I remember standing on the stairs of our building with 50 cents in my pocket feeling about as low as a person can feel just longing for a time when could go out and buy the people I loved presents without worrying and fretting about every nickel.
Lucky break. When I was in the process of dropping out of college, I learned to program the crude computers of that era in the Fortran computer language and in assembler machine language and was pretty good at it. After setting up Boston’s first free speech BBS, The Boston Bullet, I met a wonderful fellow on-line, Dave Maddox, who turned me on to contracting. Quickly got the call and the rest is history . . . well its my history, right? And the call – Marti Tatlebaum: “$20 per hour, start Monday at 8 AM.” Me: “But I don’t know 8088 assembler.” “You will learn.” And so I did. $20 per hour sounded like a million dollars to me - I could hardly believe it!
And the lunches! We would all traipse over to the Peking Garden for the World’s Most Fattening Beijing Style buffet. I ballooned. OUCH! Picked up almost 30 pounds in less time than it takes a porker to eat a pumpkin pie. March 1983 - June 4, 1997. Range 215 – 250 + pounds.
June 4, 1997: Kidney damage? How? No other side effects? Hah? Who knows why? What forces conspire.
To think I always knew what to do. I walked out of the doctor’s office without a doubt and knew exactly what had to be done. No excuses. No Bozotron plans. No Fen-Fen. No herbal Fen-Fen. No HerbaLife. No speed. No Richard Simons. No WeightWatchers. No 20-20 program. No Atkins. No Scarsdale. No Zone. No Susan Powter. No Pritikin. No Vatican. No comprendo. <OK I am getting carried away.> 1200 calorie target. Counting and measuring. Estimate high. No excuses. All throttles on Full Fanatic. All power sources focused and locked on to target. Anti-Fat photon torpedoes engaged. FIRE !!!!!!
Bozotron alert! People giving me so much bad advice.
“Did you know the energy to digest oysters uses more calories than what is in the oysters?”
“Did you know that digesting fat is more efficient than digesting fish? Fish calories don’t count as much as fat calories.” (On the way down, a calorie is calorie is a calorie.)
“You don’t need to worry about anything but fat.” (Just one of many, many ridiculous comments about fat.)
Withdrawal. Dizzy. Cold. Hungry. Hollow. Crabby. Testy. How could she tolerate me?
Counting calories. Slice bran bread – 90 + 1 Tbsp. Jam = 125. Half Sandwich - 250. Fruit – 200. Home cooked dinner – 550. A little more fruit. And repeat. And repeat. Never yielding to the forces. No ice cream. No pizza. (Perhaps I could do another story here about pizza – the fatties best friend. Fast calories cheap. Yummy meat and oil with cheese and a high calorie dense carbo all in one easy salty serving.) At times, it felt like the fat was literally melting. From June 4th to early September I plummeted from 220 to 175. Clothes that were tight looked like bags over my body. Clothes I saved from age 18 fit loosely. My waist went from 42+ to 35. My neck lost over 2 inches. Incredible.
Hey! I always told you I wasn’t really fat but just a thin guy living in a fat man’s body.
Diverted my love of cooking to a different manifold I call “controlled calorie” as opposed to low calorie. Modified super-hot Thai style curries with lots of yummy veggies. How I never appreciated the potato until I cooked some Yukon Golds in a thick masaman curry sauce with fresh cauliflower. And eggplant. The dieters best friend. Bulky with the texture of meat yet super low in calories with the ability to absorb yummy flavors of rich non fat stock and various flavorings like Chinese hot bean paste. Fresh sweet corn – Kandy Corn variety my favorite in this part of the country. (See Recipes)
So fast. So strangely fast. I can look down and see my whole body. I can lie flat on my stomach. I can crouch again for long periods. My feet are smaller. I don’t get cramps any more. My face is thin. Fingers thinner. Blood sugars ridiculously low. Blood pressure lowest I have ever seen. Hard to picture myself as I am now. All in all, it doesn’t feel all that different. I am still me. With one big difference.
Well, enough for tonight. I have the munchies and am off to take some fruit.
July 20, 2000:
Today more than 3 years later, my weight is still around ~155 pounds having been stable since early December, 1997. My waist size is ~ 33”. And best of all, my kidneys are stable and there is absolutely not a trace of the diabetes. I am a member of the University of Pittsburgh study group of people that have succeeded at long term weight loss and serve as a living example and teacher to people that you can indeed change your diet forever. YOU CAN DO IT !!!!
August 3, 2008:
Thanks to knee surgery in 2005 due to - get this - too much cartilage - and other factors, I stopped counting calories and wound up punching through 200 pounds again and the diabetes came back with a vengeance. Taking my own advise, I started counting calories again and am now back down under 170 pounds and dropping. Just as during the first Great reduction, many folks assume I must have cancer or some other deadly disease. You just don't do this without side-effects. No big deal. I feel great and don't regret finding the path again. Just remember one thing. YOU CAN DO IT !!!!