Samuel A. Kojoglanian, MD, FACC, FSCAI
Tony just got back from a cruise, had gained ten pounds, and wanted to let me know exactly what he ate on his trip. Though 40 years old, he’s had several stents placed in the past because of coronary artery disease.
He started telling me about breakfast: oatmeal, no sugar. Then lunch: small size of chicken breast, no bread. Then dinner: 4 ounces of fish. A group of gymnasts and models were traveling with his group and he observed them carefully to see what they ate, and followed suit.
The cruise boat had a deck he walked on daily, back and forth. He challenged me by saying, “Call my wife and ask her how stringent I was in eating and how faithful I was in walking!”
I said, “Tony, one day, a patient of mine had brought me Twinkie cakes. So when no one was watching, I unraveled the wrapper and placed one of the cakes in my mouth. It was so good, I thought, ‘let me have the other cake,’ so I did! My Twinkie delight…and no one knew! Then I asked myself, ‘what in the world did you do?’ So I looked at the wrapper and saw that I just ingested 270 calories, and was shocked because it took my only 20 seconds to eat!”
Tony kept on looking, his inquisitive mind wondering where I was going, so I continued. “When I got on my elliptical, it took me 20 minutes to lose the 270 calories. Imagine that! 20 seconds of delight and 20 minutes of sweat. How absurd!”
It hadn’t sunk in yet, so I said, “Tony, numbers say it all. There should have been weight loss with what you described. It takes a short time to eat, but a long time to lose. You gained ten pounds. One pound equals 3,500 calories; you just gained 35,000 calories! That’s a long time of walking on the deck! You can eat a Twinkie, you can eat what you want, but are you willing to sweat the calories?”
In our culture, the idea of losing weight is connected to the idea of going on a diet rather than changing one’s diet. Going ON a diet means coming OFF that diet, which usually means a return of hard-fought lost weight. The best diet is one that’s not a diet. The best diet is a lifestyle change, a mind set, a heart change, being true to self, being good to yourself, enjoying food without feeling guilty, yet willing to come to terms with the numbers, and allowing them to speak the truth.
Twinkie delights are a treat, but a change of heart is the sweetest “diet” of all!