Friday, February 1, 2013

There’s No Magic Bullet

 I wish I could tell you magic bullets exist. We want one for weight loss, getting off medications, and just feeling energetic. As a personal trainer, and from being a gym rat most of my life, the real magic bullet (drum roll please) is…ta-dah…diet and exercise. OK, what did you think I was going to say? Wink, wink.

bullets, healthMy best girl friend has been fighting lifelong obesity. Debbie, we’ll call her, and I have been close since high school. 
Debbie often asks me about food and exercise. Like me, she’s tried every diet. Her latest fad is the expensive HCG diet. She says she lost 20 pounds in a few weeks. Debbie told me she took hormones every day. 
“What kind of hormones,” I asked. “I don’t know.” “Are they human, horse or what? Premarin is a hormone replacement therapy often given to menopausal women…do you know?” I persisted. How could she not ask, I wondered. Premarin is made from horses…hence the root word, “mare.”  The HCG site says they use human pregnancy hormones and restrict you to 500 calories per day. That was tough, Debbie said.

Before I jump on the soapbox, I’ll admit I did some unknown hormone-shot weight-loss insanity in college decades ago. Like so many of us who have yo-yoed, that same 25 pounds is so darn stubborn. My last (and I hope it’s my last) “diet,” eating vegan or “plant-based” has been my magic bullet, combined with an almost daily regimen of running and weight training.

Obesity is linked to cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to avoiding these often very preventable diseases. Many of you may remember the “Sun” story about one of my cooking class students who lost 120 pounds in 8 months, never counting calories, never being hungry, and loving the food. 8 years later, she is still eating healthy vegan.

I asked Debbie, “How are you going to keep the weight off now that you’re off of the hormones?” “They have a maintenance program,” she answered. Most diets do. And most people, not saying Debbie will be one of them, gain the weight back…sometimes triple fold. Our bodies go into starvation mode and think they must hoard food in our fat cells for the next famine. I keep quiet.

The next day is a fundraiser race a state park. I never register for races in advance now, since my book tour dictates my schedule and I don’t know how I’ll feel until race day.

At registration in this gorgeous park I ask volunteers, “Which race has the most senior ladies registered?” “The 5K,” they said. “I’ll do the 10K, then.” I figured my odds would be better. Wrong. I “only” got 7th in my age group. Can’t wait till that 60th birthday this year when I’ll morph to the youngster in the new age group. The spectacular trail was a lot of tough, dry sand. The organizing runners’ club did a nice job organizing two back-to-back races.

I was struck by how few kids did the 10K. It was a dark, foggy, humid morning. I’m sure if I were 15 or 20, I would roll over and go back to sleep too.

I felt surprisingly good after the long run. The more I race, the more the belly fat creep stays away. Muscle definition comes back. No magic bullet.

On my way to my car over a bridge, I saw 6 kayaks bumping into each other on a narrow stream. These folks didn’t seem to be enjoying the day as much as the 600 runners had. Whatever floats your boat and gets you out the door.

Ellen Jaffe Jones is a former Emmy-winning TV investigative reporter turned popular national speaker/author of the best seller, “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day,” a certified personal trainer (AFAA) and certified running coach (RRCA). For consultations or availability, she can be reached at

No comments:

Post a Comment