Governor Christie: I Relate

Governor Christie: I Relate

By Ken Walker-

When I saw New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on NBC News recently talking about his weight struggles at 50, I could relate. I will never forget my 50th birthday, and not just because my wife threw me a surprise birthday party.

With dozens of guests, I got a lot of gifts that year. As I sat and opened them, I didn’t feel like I just had a roll on my belly. I felt like I had a roll on top of my roll.

Just like Christie said that dieting had been part of his life for 30 years, I had been on a yo-yo for that long while steadily drifting upward. At one point, I had said, “Well, I’ll never get over 200 pounds.” That night, I thought, “It sure would be nice to get down to 200 pounds.”

Defeated By Diet

It is amazing how otherwise intelligent, rational people—which I considered myself to be—can be suckers for the Standard American Diet. You know: the meat-and-potatoes, bread-and-butter, ice cream-cake-and-pie-laden, calorie-rich, filled-with-fat diet.

For the next year I mainly fretted about my inability to lose weight. Finally, in desperation when I saw an ad for a weight loss study at a research center in Louisville, Kentucky, I called.

I went in, filled out the paperwork and started on a seven-month journey that led to a loss of more than 23 pounds. Not knowing if I was part of the control group or had received a new diet pill they were trying out, I can’t say if eating less helped. But it didn’t hurt my efforts to regain control of my waistline.

Everything went fine for the next couple years, until a disastrous holiday season. It started with an out-of-town speaking engagement, followed by two family visits before and during Thanksgiving.

It didn’t go much better at Christmas. By early January I had put on close to eight pounds over five weeks. Three weeks later our daughter dropped dead one Friday night of a heart attack. All semblance of discipline went out the window.

By the time I showed up at my first Weight Watchers meeting that April, I had regained 19 of the 23 pounds I shed in that weight loss study. Regaining that much weight and feeling like a tub again didn’t do much for my mood.

Too Little Too Late

Although following a more sensible eating plan helped me lose some pounds, it proved to be a case of too little too late. In July I went to the doctor after getting so winded cutting our lawn a 25-minute job turned into a 90-minute routine because I needed rest breaks.

He sent me for a stress test. That morning, the cardiologist quickly shut down the treadmill and ordered me to the cath lab, where they found blockages of 60 and 98 percent in a heart artery.

The following year can only be described as misery. And though I continued with Weight Watchers, I never could keep the weight off. I got back down under 200 again, only to drift back up.

By January of 2008, after again experiencing mysterious, unreasonable fatigue, I was back in the cath lab. My cardiologist found another blockage in the same artery and said because of its location, my best option was bypass surgery.

If I could urge Chris Christie anything, it would be: Stop! Stop what you’re eating and change to a low or no-meat, vegetable-and-fruit heavy, fresh food diet. You don’t ever want to be cut open. That is pain that you never want to experience.

The Change

Fortunately, a door opened to enroll in a lifestyle program at the hospital where I had my surgery. They taught my eight classmates and I how to enjoy a vegetarian, low-fat, low-sugar lifestyle. It helped that my wife ate the same way during an intense routine during the first 12 weeks.

I dropped 20 pounds during those three months and am a few pounds lighter today. Not bad, since a doctor whose new book I edited says most people can’t sustain significant weight loss for five years.

To say that I don’t struggle today would be a lie. Pizza didn’t stop tasting good and I still love ice cream. But I know I would not likely be alive today, and not feel nearly as good as I do, had I not changed the way I eat.

For the sake of Governor Christie’s life, I hope those who advise him, or his family, will convince him to do the same.


One Response

  1. Dennis Walker says:

    Ken: Interesting new book on diet & food industry: “Fat Chance: Beating the Odds against Sugar, Processed Foods, Obesity,and Disease” by Robert Lastig, published 26 Dec 12. I heard author in a PBS interview. He is on to “Big Food’s” con of the whole world. Two interesting assertions: (1) “A calorie is NOT a calorie.” and (2) “Sugar is NOT sugar.” #1 means that different foods’ calories are absorbed as a whole or partially. hence almonds calories are absorbed by the body at less than 100%, while other foods are absorbed by body calorie for calorie. #2 means that sugar in the form of “sucrose” is (simultaneously) the cheapest form of sugar, the form of sugar most rapidly absorbed @ 100% of the calorie count, and the most likely to taste good to all human populations. That’s why corn syrup is added to infinite variety of foods these days. Other forms of sugar (contrary to food industry claims) would result in lower obesity levels.

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