Extreme Weight Loss
Too Much Exercise?
Last week, my sister called my mom complaining that her legs were swollen. They weren’t just slightly swollen, but had grown to about 1.5 times their normal size. And they were painful; she couldn’t walk without limping because the pain radiated from her ankles to her thighs. My mom was worried enough to advise her to call her doctor to schedule an appointment, which she promptly did.
During her visit, the doctor reportedly examined her legs and asked what she’d been doing lately. My sister, who has convinced herself she gained 10 pounds during Christmas and is now the largest person on the planet, replied, “Exercising daily.” She's been jogging in place, doing jumping jacks, and various other fitness moves. Because of this, her doctor told her she'd pulled tendons in both of her legs, which was now causing the pain and swelling.
After several x-rays and a thorough physical exam, the doctor prescribed water pills and pain-killers. She also issued a stern warning for my sister: “Stop exercising until you’ve healed, and after that, take better care with your body. You’re not 18 years old anymore, you need to pace yourself.”
The HCG Diet
Similarly, I had lunch with a friend who ordered a plate of plain, steamed vegetables and ice water. That was it. Just looking at her sorrowful fare made me hungry. Concerned that she was depriving herself, I asked what she’d had for breakfast. “A boiled egg,” she told me, “and a mug of black tea.”
“Aren’t you starving?” I asked, watching as she bit daintily into a limp red pepper. My stomach rumbled at the mere thought.
“No,” was her immediate response. “I’m using an oral HCG spray that keeps me from getting hungry. I just spray it under my tongue three times a day and presto! I’ve lost six pounds in less than a week. Can you believe it?”
The truth is that I couldn’t believe it. My friend isn't a liar, so I didn’t question the validity of what she said. I did, however, question if she was in her right mind. The HCG diet is highly controversial and has sparked an ongoing debate since the 1970s. In 2012, The Dr. Oz Show did a four-part series on this hormone-based regimen in an attempt to educate women.
Now, posted on the Dr. Oz website is this warning: “The FDA is warning consumers that over the counter HCG products marketed as weight loss aids are unproven and illegal.”
Still, the number of people who use the HCG “protocol” swear by its efficacy. And when you read the personal accounts of success, including weight loss of around 20 pounds a month, it’s tempting to try for yourself. But the fact that HCG products reset your hypothalamus makes me think the weight loss simply isn’t worth the long-term damage to your body.
These two stories of my sister and friend are vastly different in circumstances, but very similar in context. Both women are willing to go to extreme measures – even to hurt themselves – in order to be thin. This way of thinking frightens and worries me. Is physical beauty worth all of this danger? And what is wrong with society that we promote such distorted thoughts?
I really wish that we could learn to embrace ourselves the way we are. Fat or thin, tall or short, when will it be okay to just be human? And is fat the worst label one can have? Wouldn’t you whether be overweight and kindhearted than thin and malicious? At this point, I’m afraid the answer might be no.