darryl james

Darryl James

*The woman cut me off in traffic and pulled up next to me at the light to curse me out.

I stared at her and then laughed at her.

I thought it was so ridiculous for a woman to be so wildly angry and aggressive.

And then, her rant turned in a direction that made me look at her like she was crazy and then feel sorry for her.

She called me a “skinny bastard” and said that I probably dated “skinny bitches” who are not sexy and that I was depressed because I didn’t have a “fat bitch” in my life.

She was morbidly obese.

She was sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV and was literally leaking into the passenger seat.

And then she proceeded to talk about how “cute” she was.

It was sad.

It was frightening.

But it wasn’t all that unusual, save for the severe aggression.

You see, in America, many people have gone from simply accepting obesity to celebrating it.

There are now nightclubs dedicated to “chubby chasers,” or men who love overweight women.

It is a perverse version of how some men from yesterday held an affinity for women with “something to hold on to.”

Now, it’s about celebrating those with too much to hold.

Some people thought that my first installment of “Dying “To Eat” was hateful to overweight people.

But the truth is that while some overweight people may be good-hearted and wonderful people, they just aren’t healthy.

The lies we accept about being big and beautiful or perverting the word “healthy” to refer to big people are killing us.

Those lies are also harming our kids.

No matter what propaganda we promote, the simple fact is that overweight children are speeding towards lives rife with health problems–both physical and mental.

With millions of overweight children in the nation, there are a few things that we had better do if we want the next generation to live beyond 40.

While body image and self-image should not be tied together in a perfect world, the reality is that they are.  And if we help children feel better about themselves, they will have better lives.

In Lithonia, Georgia, Yvonne Sanders-Butler, principal of Browns Mill Elementary was on the verge of a stroke. Once she changed her diet and dropped some weight, her health improved tremendously.

She launched a campaign at her school that had positive and powerful results: Improvement in student test scores and a decrease in disciplinary problems.

That campaign included a change in diet and addition of exercise.

Certainly, it’s easier said than done, but its possible.

Part of our problem in America is our obsession with snack foods.

That obsession seduces us into a relationship with Trans fat, which is formed when vegetable oil is turned into solid fat. Food processors do this through a process called hydrogenation to prolong the shelf life of food, but it doesn’t prolong your life. Trans fats raise bad cholesterol levels in the blood and increase the risk of heart disease.

Speaking of cholesterol, let’s talk about what it is and why people should be paying attention to good and bad cholesterol.

First, cholesterol is found in the bloodstream as well as all of your body’s cells.  It’s a soft waxy substance your body uses to make cell membranes and some hormones.

Your blood can not dissolve cholesterol.  A high level of it in the blood places you at a high risk of coronary heart disease.

The two types of cholesterol are LDL, which is considered bad and HDL, which is considered good.

LDL Cholesterol is considered bad because too much of it in the blood can build up on the walls of your arteries and help form plaque, leading to clogging of the arteries and a greater susceptibility to heart attack or stroke.

If your LDL level is 160 or above it is considered high.  It should be less than 100.

HDL Cholesterol is considered good, because it is believed to carry protection against heart attacks.

According to medical experts, HDL Cholesterol transports cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver, where the body can dispose of it as waste.

If your HDL level is less than 40, you are considered to be at higher risk of heart attack.

So if HDL is good, how do we increase the level in our bodies?  Part of the answer is simple—increased physical activity, which has other benefits, including heart and respiratory health, as well as weight loss.

Nine million Americans are morbidly obese.  Many more are overweight.  For those who want to change, the hardest part is starting a program to improve the body.

For some people, finance is an issue.  For others, plunging into the next fad diet or undertaking an intimidating workout plan spell certain failure.

You don’t have to join an expensive gym, starve yourself, or make challenging drastic changes in diet and exercise to make a difference.

Small steps are more realistic for most overweight people, and the results will also be realistic as well as lasting.

In terms of exercise, you can start small by taking a walk in the evening after your last meal, or a walk in the morning before work. Any increase in activity, no matter how small, will make a difference in the long run.  The key is to get started and do something.

A smart and practical plan can begin with small changes, including changes in eating habits.

Start by eating your last full meal of the day before 7pm.  Try to make that meal as healthy as possible, particularly including vegetables and whole grains.

Second, if you must snack after that meal, make the snack fruits or nuts.

Third, while you might continue to eat some of your favorite foods, either make substitutes or additions of vegetables, fruits, fiber-rich foods, and fish.

For example, eat whole wheat bread, instead of white bread, or try to make your favorite meals with steamed or baked meats instead of fried meats.

Remember—small steps.

And, no matter what lies the soft drink industry tells us, diet soda hurts more than it helps–with zero nutritional value. Carbonated drinks can actually stimulate us to eat more than we would without them.

Finally, drink more water.

Just making these small changes will make a difference.  And, since the changes are small but deliver real results, there will be a feeling of success, which will make the person feel better about continuing.

Keep in mind that you didn’t get fat in thirty days, so any short-term diet should be avoided like the bad food you’ll end up eating when its over or when it fails.

The goal should not be to deprive yourself, but to make real changes in your life that will have realistic results and make you feel good about yourself.

Watch what happens when you walk three times each week, eat earlier and make small changes in your diet over a one month period.

Take your children and watch their changes.

Remember, they’re watching you.

You don’t want them Eating To Death.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.”  James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles in 2011and returns to the stage in March of 2012. View previous installments of this column at www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at [email protected].